Bible Book: Exodus  14
Subject: Trials; Tribulations; Hardships; God, Power of; Deliverance


A resident of a mental institution fancied himself as a professional artist. A kind doctor gave him a room for a studio, with paints and brushes. One day the patient invited the staff to come for the unveiling of his masterpiece. He pointed to an untouched piece of canvas mounted on the easel and asked, "How do you like it?" "Fine," said the doctor, "but what is it?" He answered, "The Israelites going through the Red Sea." "Where's the sea?" asked a nurse. "Rolled back," he explained. "Where are the Israelites?" asked an aid. "They've passed over," he said. "Where are the Egyptians?" asked another doctor. "Oh," he replied, "they've been drowned."

But let us see what the Bible has to say about it. It is written in Hebrews 11:29, "By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians attempting to do, were drowned."

I. Mark The Divine Plan

Every architect has a plan for his building. Every mechanic has a plan for his motor. Every sculptor has a plan for his statue. And God has a plan for His people. He delights in making His plan known, but He won't demand that you take it. He works for you, in you and with you only as you consent.

A. Listen To The Counsel

He said to Moses in Exodus 14:2, "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon; before it shall ye encamp by the sea."

How definite and detailed was the counsel. No room was left to doubt. You and I, are not accidents, we are incidents. We are not irrelevant, we are important. God's people are dear to his heart, and He takes a detailed interest in each one.

"Yes," you may say, "I see where He took a detailed interest in the Israelites. But what about me in the here and now?" His guidance is personal, for He says in Psalm 32:8, "I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go." It is perpetual, according to Isaiah 58:11, "The Lord shall guide thee continually." It is particular according to Isaiah 30:21, "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, this is the way, walk ye in it."

God does not promise us a trouble-free life, but He does promise to make us triumphant. He does not guarantee us calm weather, but He does guarantee to carry us through it. In fact, the one who is led by God discovers that God is able to turn an obstacle into an opportunity, and tragedy into triumph.

B. Listen To The Control

It is written in Exodus 13:21-22, "The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light' to go by day and by night. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people."

As pilgrims and strangers in the wilderness world, you and I can count on His presence and power. The Father is above us, controlling all things. The Savior is before us, conducting us through all things. And the Spirit is within us, counseling us in all things. He gloriously guarantees, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

With our Lord going before us, nothing can come to us unless it first passes through Him. And He is not going to let anything come to us that is not for His glory, and our good.

The devil and his demons cannot touch us without the Lord's permission and then only for our good. Not everything is good that comes to us, but the Lord will make everything that comes to us for our good.

C. Listen To The Cognizance

Our Lord said to Moses in Exodus 14:3, "For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, 'they are entangled in the land and the wilderness hath shut them in.'"

D. Listen To The Conditioning

It is written in Exodus 13:17-18, "And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the Phillistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt. But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea: and the children of Israel went up armed out of the land of Egypt."

The Lord is more interested in our maturity than our mirth, more concerned about our development than our delight. But we saturate our bodies with attention, while our souls dry up with neglect. We tend to put comfort above character, the world above the Word, ease above effort, the short way above the sure way.

E. Listen To The Check-up

The Lord allowed His children according to Exodus 14:3, to be "hemmed up."

When ever He allows His children to be "hemmed up", He is right there with them. He allowed the Hebrew children to be hemmed up in the fiery furnace, and He allowed Daniel to be hemmed up in the lion's den, and He allowed the Israelites to be hemmed up by the Red Sea; but in each case He was there with them, and He will always be there with you.

Now here is an interesting thing. While the Lord allowed the Hebrew children to get into the fiery furnace, He did not allow the fire to get into them. While He allowed Daniel to get into the lion's den, He did not allow Daniel to get into the lion's mouth. You, too, may be hemmed in, but our Lord will not allow you to be hurt.

Should you need strength, He will give it to you. He said in Isaiah 41:10, "I will strengthen thee." Should you need supplies, He will give them to you. Philippians 4:19 says, "My God shall supply all your needs." Should you need succor, He will give that to you. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "God is faithful, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

The devil tempts you to bring out the worst. But God tests you to bring out the best. This Red Sea experience was designed to test Israel's faith. And they passed it with flying colors. How do you make out when you are tested?

II. Mark The Divine Proclamations

A. Look At The Children of Israel

They encamped before the Red Sea. Around them are the mountains. Behind them are the Egyptians. Ordinarily people find safety in one of two ways - in fighting or fleeing. But the children of Israel could not do either. Did the Lord leave them in a lurch? No, He never does. Moses said, "The Lord shall fight for you."

But at first there was fear. Exodus 14:10-12 reports, "They were in great fear; and the children of Israel cried unto the Lord. And they said unto Moses, 'because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this that we did tell thee in Egypt saying, "Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians?" For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.'"

B. Heed The First Proclamation

"Fear not." Why? When you are fearful you hurt yourself. Fear maddens your mind, ruins your reason, saps your strength, blights your body, and slays your soul. And when you are fearful you hurt God. You doubt His guidance, His guardianship, His goodness, and His grace. Where there is fear, there is no faith. Where there is faith, there is no fear. So the Bible says, "Fear not! Have faith in God."

C. Heed The Second Proclamation

"Stand still." One of the hardest things to do is stand still. We will do almost anything else. We will walk, trot, or run; we will sing, preach or teach; but we will not stand still.

Most of our songs indicate this. They speak of service, not of standing still. Hear them: The Fight is On; Onward Christian Soldiers; Stand Up for Jesus; We're Marching to Zion. But we need to Take Time to be Holy.

D. Heed The Third Proclamation

"See the salvation of the Lord which He will show you today; for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."

The Israelites had seen the foe, and they had become fearful. Now they are directed to see the Father. He will fight for them. And faith sprang up in their hearts.

Too often we look at the circumstances, and not Christ; at the storm, and not the Savior; at our grief, and not God. Think of Peter. He got his eyes of the Savior and onto the storm. What happened? He started to sink. Think of the Israelites. They got their eyes off their Father and onto their foe. What happened? They became fearful. We, too, will sin and become scared every time we get our eyes off the Lord.

But think of this. What did they fear? Peter feared the storm. Christ brought a calm, and the storm disappeared. The Israelites feared the foe. The Father fought for them, and the foe disappeared. Are you struggling in a storm or facing a foe? Look to the Lord. Your storm will cease. Have faith, the Lord will fight for you. That which you dread so deeply will disappear. And you will see the salvation of the Lord.

His salvation is something to enjoy, not endure; something to delight us, not disappoint us; something to be finished, not forsaken. And it is altogether of the Lord. Thus the secret of faith is to see the Lord.

It has been told that, before His battles, Napoleon would stand in his tent alone, and he would summon his commanders to come to him, one by one. When they would come in, he would not say a word to them, and they would not say a word to him. They would look him in the eyes, and he would shake their hand, and they would go forth to conquer. When you and I come to a task straight from the presence of God, nothing and no one can defeat us. The secret of victory is to face God before we face man.

E. Heed The Fourth Proclamation

"Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward." Sometime later, after the children of Israel were defeated at Ai, Joshua fell down before the Lord in prayer. He heard Him say, "Wherefore liest thou upon thy face? Israel hath sinned."

Prayer is not a monologue. It is a dialogue. We are to talk, but we are also to listen. When we listen, from time to time, we will hear the Lord say to us, "What are you praying for? It is time to put feet to your prayers. It is time to right some wrong. It is time to confess some sin."

One evening, while a wealthy farmer was praying, he cried, "Oh, God, poor widow Jones does not have any food. Help her." Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder. His little boy looked up and said, "Daddy, we just butchered a cow and canned some vegetables. Let's answer your prayer."

Sometimes it is a lot easier to talk to God about man, than it is to talk to man about God. Sometimes it is a lot easier to pray, than to perform a task. So we talk to God, we do not testify and we do not toil. Let us be quick to pray; but let us be just a quick to put feet to our prayers, and go forward.

Go spite of your foes, your faults, your failures, your frailty, or your feelings. Your business is to trust, His business is to transform. Your business is to act, His business is to achieve. Let nothing slow you or stop you.

When Christopher Columbus was crossing the Atlantic, day after day they saw no land. His sailors threatened mutiny and tried to make him turn back. But he refused to listen to their declarations of discouragement. Each day he entered in the ship's log the dramatic words, "Sailed on!"

III. Mark The Divine Performance

It is written in Exodus 14:16, "Lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it." Before the Lord displayed His force, Moses had to display his faith. Before the occurrence, there had to be obedience. Why? We walk by faith, not sight.

A. Look At The Division Of The Sea

It is written in Exodus 14:21, "Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided."

When did the sea go back? It rolled back during the night. When was the Lord working? He worked all that night. Are you going through a night experience? Has sorrow put out one star, and suffering another? Is your life dark and dismal? That is just the time the Lord will work for you. But it is going to take all night. The Lord's clock is never slow. And He will work all through the night, and when dawn comes, you will have your miracle.

For the story continues in verse 22, "The children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left." There were walls of water on both sides; nevertheless, they walked and did not worry. Even though the soldiers were behind them, they did not scamper. They had faith, not fear.

What about the trial that you face? The Lord who divided the sea is able to deal with your situation. There is no prayer too hard for Him to answer, no problem too difficult for Him to solve, no need to great for Him to supply, no misery too deep for Him to relieve. He can do anything. Just trust Him, and take one step at a time. That is all He expects you to do. He will wall up the waters, and give you a firm footing on dry ground; but you must trust and obey. It is not necessary for you to see any help in sight, nor is it necessary for the Lord to have any relief on hand. He does not need anything to begin with. Trust Him, and He will see you through.

B. Look At The Destruction Of The Soldiers

It is written in Exodus 14:23, "The Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen." "Well," you may say, "isn't that exactly what the Israelites did?" Oh, no. The Israelites went in by faith, the Egyptians by feeling. The Israelites were led by the Lord, the Egyptians by lust.

When people try to do what faith alone can do, they will experience frustration and failure for the Bible continues, "The Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea...and Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared...and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea."

It made a big difference whether you were an Israelite or an Egyptian. The Israelites had light, the Egyptians had darkness. And today the Lord's a light that give life to those who believe, and He is a darkness that gives death to those who do not believe.

There was another difference. The Israelites had dry ground, but the Egyptians had the sea. People who trust the Lord find Him working for them. People who transgress against the Lord find Him working against them. Even nature works against them. The sea is ready to drown them, the earth to swallow them, the sun to smite them, the winds to blow them, and the fires to burn them.

There is yet one more difference. The Israelites were saved, and the Egyptians were lost. Yes, it does make a difference which side you are on. You cannot be on both sides. Wouldn't you rather be on the Lord's side?

C. Look At The Deliverance Of The Israelites

It is written in verse 30, "Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore." The same waters that formed a barricade for those who had faith, formed a burial place for those who did not. Those who had faith walked through the sea to a garden. But those who did not have faith walked into the sea to find a grave. Well did the Psalmist say, "The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish."

IV. Mark The Divine Practicality

Mr. G.A. Young wrote: Some through the waters,

Some through the flood, Some through the fire, But all through the blood;

Some through great sorrow, But God gives a song,

In the night season and all the day long.

From the song and especially from Scripture we see that the children of God are sometimes called to face trials and tests. What are we to do? "Fear not," and "stand still." As we pray we will see the deliverance of the Lord. When He says, "Go forward!" let us go forward. Faith in God turns a barrier into a bridge. What is impossible with man is perfectly possible with God.

And from this experience we see that it was not the foe that put the Red Sea in the path of the children of God. It was the Father. His purpose was not to drown His children, but to deliver them. You and I will come to our Red Sea, and let us remember that it is not to destroy us, but to develop us; not to give us grief, but glory. Annie Johnson Flint saw this and wrote:

Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life? Where in spite of all you can do,

There is no way out, there is no way back, There is no other way but - through? Then wait on the Lord with a trust serene Till the night of your fear is gone;

He will send the wind, He will heap the floods, When He says to your soul, "Go on."

And His had will lead you through - clear through Ere the watery wall roll down,

No foe can reach you, nor wave can touch, No mightiest sea can drown;

The tossing billows may rear their crests, Their foam at your feet may break,

But over their bed you shall walk dry shod In the path that your Lord shall make.

In the morning watch 'neath the lifted cloud, You shall see the Lord alone,

When He leads you on from the place of the sea To land you have not known.

And your fears shall pass as your foes have passed, You shall be no more afraid;

You shall sing His praises in a better place, A place that His hand has made.