The exodus of the Hebrews is one of the most disturbing records in history. You probably know that archeologists and ancient historians (and just one or two others) discount the scriptures because of those events. You should also know that aside from the Biblical record there is no other. Furthermore, there is only a scattered mention of Israel in any of the known Egyptian hieroglyphics and in hieratic texts. This promotes skepticism and allows the scientific community and others to wholesale dismiss the veracity of the text of the exodus as it is found in Moses’ second book, as well as anything else found in God’s Book. Nothing is carved on any temple or monument wall. While we have mentioned this text and these events previously, have you ever thought about these things?
Let’s suppose for a moment that you are a cub reporter for the Egyptian Times. Suppose you and your buddies wonder what could be taking the king so long to return from his little trip out to round up a bunch of ragtag slaves. You were there when the plagues happened and you know that things are not so good right now. So when you got the news of a disaster, you wonder how that could have possibly happened. And you run and grab the last seat on a wagon out to the edge of the sea to interview some of the returning forces. When you get there, there is nothing to see — all the soldiers and chariots are gone. Pharaoh is nowhere to be found. No one will tell you what has happened. Only the rear echelon and the supply folks remain of the army that went out on that day. And they won’t talk. All you can get out of them is that Pharaoh is dead and the entire army is gone – lost in the sea. You can see bodies washing up on the shore and you want to know what happened.
What do you suppose you might have recorded of the utter destruction of the world greatest armed force of the day? Egyptian national pride sank to zero. They rode out to round up an unarmed nation of slaves (who were on foot) and they were all slaughtered. Talk about shock and awe – how could this have happened? The common Egyptians had already gone to their homes without their firstborn sons; and now their king and his officers were all dead. Their heads were bowed low as they closed the doors on their mourning. This was the most humbling event ever recorded in world history. There has never been anything like it before or since. No great power was ever so roundly defeated by events which began to unfold within a one month period and culminated in so decisive a way and in a single day. No nation the size and might of Egypt had ever had anything on this scale happen to them. They lost everything without ever letting go the first arrow. Do you see that? What then do you suppose you would have left for future generations to read about those dismal events?
Moses and the Israelites were cast out of Egypt and went to the edge of the Red Sea and camped. The text tells us that Pharaoh had a change of heart once they had gotten out of sight and he went after them with more than 600 chariots (the high speed assault vehicle of the day).
Exodus 14: beginning with verse 5:
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about the people. And they said, “What have we done? We have released Israel from serving us.” So he got his chariot ready and took his troops with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots and all the rest of the chariots of Egypt, and officers in each one. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh King of Egypt; and he pursued the Israelites who were going out triumphantly. The Egyptians – all of Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his horsemen and his army – chased after them and caught up with them camping by the sea beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw the Egyptians coming after them. Then the Israelites were terrified and cried out to the Lord for help. They said to Moses: “is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you took us to die in the wilderness? Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians. It would be better for us to serve the Egyptians, than to die in the wilderness.”
But Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and see the Lord’s salvation, which He will prepare for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet.”
The Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to break camp. As for you, lift up your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I am going to harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them, and I will receive glory by means of Pharaoh, all his army, and his chariots, and horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I AM the Lord, when I receive glory through Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
Take a look at verse 21.
Then Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back with a powerful east wind all that night and turned the sea into dry land. So the waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right and their left.
All of Pharaoh’s charioteers may have thought they would be the all-time winners as they drove down into the middle of the Red Sea with a wall of water standing over them on each side, north and south. After all, who could defeat mighty Egypt? It was business as usual. How do you think you would have felt about it?
Do you know that in order to get roughly two million people through the Red Sea on the next day that Israel had to move quickly through on a path over a mile wide? The water had to be piled up a few hundred feet on each side and all of it out in plain sight. Do you know that one imperial gallon of water weighs 10 pounds, and that one cubic foot weighs just slightly less than sixty two and one half pounds? Have you ever thought of the sheer force that was piled up out there that night? What impression would that have made on you if you had been standing on the edge of the sea watching those events unfold? Do you suppose no one was doing that? You should know it was the custom of armies then (and in many places still is) to bring their wives and families along with the various supply groups. Do you suppose the great Pharaoh and his 600 plus officers and charioteers went out into the desert toward the Red Sea without any provisions or backup?
God did this work with no effort expended on his part. We would need to build a dam the size of the modern one at Aswan to hold back that much water and it would take thousands of men and twenty years to get it built. God managed it all overnight. “And they passed through on dry ground.”
So, do you suppose these curious events escaped the attention of the common people who had worked and lived in the cities around the palaces of Pharaoh and the rest of the ruling class? The record says they were not immune to the plagues. Even if they only learned when the king and his men failed to return – they had to know it meant they had been dealt an incredible disastrous defeat. They knew what had happened whether or not anyone had seen or witnessed things. It affected them all. They lost crops, livestock, and worst of all, their children. Then they lost the army, the king and the pride of Egypt in one fell swoop. Do we see the scope of this defeat and the humbling of the great nation of Egypt, the premier empire of that day?
The Egyptian soldiers followed down the path of death because they felt secure in their position. Any commoners were along for the ride because they had been born and bred into this godless society just like the rest. It was all they had ever known. They sought nothing else because they knew nothing else. But I cannot doubt even for a minute that those signs troubled some of them and perhaps even made their hair stand up on end. They knew where the sea was and could fix its boundaries – except it seems on that day. All the contrary signs were just not sufficient to wake them up out of their stupor and to make them to swallow their pride and see what was happening right in front of their eyes. They should have turned those chariots around or run as fast as they could, regardless of what any Pharaoh or officer had to say about it or may have wanted to do.
But then you cannot outrun God. And so they did not get out of the middle of that dried seabed before the water came crashing back to its place. The trap had been set, and so it was sprung. And they were destroyed for being against the Lord God Almighty, even though they knew next to nothing about him. Their learning curve had been short. But they had seen and witnessed the mighty signs and they chose to ignore them.
So, what would you have chiseled into that pylon wall over at the temple when you returned? What would you have written on the lotus paper? What would you have reported? What would the next Pharaoh have left for the record?
We need to see the danger stretched out on each side of us along our path. We need to respect the will of the God of all creation; and we need to make the right choices. Don’t get caught where we should not be – eternity is forever.