We often hear the story of the “Red Sea”, from Exodus chapter 14, in light of Moses’ miraculous parting of the water and the Israelites crossing over on dry land. And that’s definitely a good story to know. But, what about the rest of the story?
Just prior to the parting of the Red Sea, Pharoah had decided to catch and enslave them again. Then those same Israelites had some harsh things to say to Moses!
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 dealth thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?
Is this not the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.Exodus 14:11-12
The Words of Moses
It was only then that Moses uttered those famous words, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD,”.
But there is still more to story before the parting of the water took place. We see The LORD speak to Moses:
And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.Exodus 14:15
He went on to tell Moses to lift up his rod and stretch it over the sea and divide it. But I thought it interesting that He first asked why they were crying out to Him.
What Must It Have Felt Like?
Can you imagine, standing there between a vicious Egyptian army and the expanse of the Red Sea? Moses and the Israelites didn’t have so much as a single piece of armor, nor any fighting weapons, while the Egyptians inched ever closer with chariots and horsemen, and all manner of weaponry. I imagine it must have put their hearts in their throats to imagine being completely lost at sea.
Ah, but then! Moses lifted up his rod and did exactly as God had instructed, stretching it out over the sea. The waters parted, the Bible said, and became a WALL on either side of them, and they crossed on DRY GROUND. Not mud. Not silt. And not creek rock. Dry ground!
And you have to understand, this wasn’t a quick process!
We know that there were 600,000 adult male Israelites, according to Exodus 12. That gives us room to assume that there were at least as many adult females in that group. Still, there was the fact the Egyptian policy of killing all the male children that were born, in Exodus chapter 1. So the female population could have been much more than that. We can also assume that each Israelite couple had at least two children. But then, according to Exodus chapter 1, the children of Israel were “fruitful” and “increased abundantly” and “the land was filled with them” which leads us to now believe there were far more than that. But for the sake of counting, we’ll assume about four children for each family.
So with 600,000 adult male Israelites, a guestimate of about 600,000 adult females, and approximately 2.4 million children (and remember, there could have been many more), that puts us at roughly 3.6 million people crossing over the Red Sea. Some commentators, however, believe the numbers were actually between four and six million that were in that group.
Moses & the Crossing Over
There’s a lot of speculation on HOW the Israelites crossed over the Red Sea, how many crossed shoulder to shoulder, how wide the group would have been and how long it might have taken. The Scriptures do not tell us about that. However, we do know that Pharaoh released them sometime after midnight after every first-born in Egypt was slain (Exodus 12:29). After Egypt started chasing them again, we read in Exodus 14, how the cloud pillar came between Egypt and the Israelites, and neither came near the other.
By the time the morning came, the sea closed back up. It covered the entire Egyptian army. God destroyed them all. And as the Israelites looked back, after coming safely to the other side of the sea, they saw the dead bodies of the Egyptians on the shore.
From Fear to Faith
It seems like there was a massive expanse between the time the Israelites cried out to Moses with their sharp words and the faith they exhibited as they watched walls of water form on their left and their right.
By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.Hebrews 11:29
Sometimes… just sometimes… you feel like YOU are the one lost at sea. Then, at the very last moment, God shows up. And when the smoke clears and the waters calm, it is your ENEMY that was actually lost at sea.