The Exodus from Egypt

Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses” (v. 31).

- Exodus 14

One of chief metaphors for salvation in Scripture is deliverance from an enemy. This is especially true of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, that act of divine redemption whereby God rescued His people out of slavery.

Israel’s salvation from the pharaoh and his army was finally accomplished at the crossing of the Red Sea, an event described in Exodus 14. Within this account we learn several things about the way the Lord works. First is the fact that God is pleased to do things that we might not expect in order to advance His purposes. In verses 1–4, the Lord instructs Moses to have His people make a “wrong turn” and confuse the Egyptians into thinking the Israelites are lost and confused. Instead of having Israel take the most direct path out of Egypt, He had the people go another way, which certainly would have been hard for the Israelites to understand. But as we see in verse 4, God’s purpose in saving people is not only for their benefit but for His glory, and in the case of the exodus, having the people turn and go another way was the means through which he would get the greatest glory over pharaoh. When things happen that we do not understand or God calls us to do what is perplexing to us, we can be sure that it is for His glory.

As we would expect, the Lord’s plan works perfectly and Pharaoh misinterprets Israel’s wrong turn as a sign he can reclaim the slaves that have just escaped his grasp (vv. 5–9). This puts the Israelites in a precarious position. With the Egyptian army pursuing and overtaking them, they are now faced with certain death. So they cry out to God, which is always the right decision in times of trouble (vv. 10–14; Jonah 2). Caught between the sea and the mightiest empire on the planet (Ex. 14:9), Israel has no one else on whom to rely save the Creator Himself.

This is precisely the way God wanted it so that His people could learn a vital lesson — that salvation is from Him alone. Under His direction, Moses lifts his staff, the sea is parted throughout the long night, the Israelites go through it safely, and the Egyptians are drowned (vv. 15–31), illustrating the two sides of the Lord’s redemption: the salvation of His people and judgment on His enemies. On our own we cannot defeat the cruel masters of sin, Satan, and his minions. Only God can save us.

Coram Deo

Salvation is a gift wholly from the Lord from beginning to end. He accomplishes our redemption on the cross and gives us the faith to appropriate that redemption for ourselves. It can be easy to forget this truth, but we must always be clear that His work alone can redeem us. Let us take hold of this truth and remember that it is what sets biblical Christianity apart from all other religions.

Passages for Further Study

Nehemiah 9:9–11
Psalm 136
Hosea 13:4
2 Timothy 1:8–11

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