A few days ago a co-worker remarked during a conversation on the economic downturn that â€œItâ€™s a sign of the end, the end of days.â€ Well, maybe so and maybe not. The end is certainly nearer today that it was yesterday. But, maybe in his case itâ€™s just a sign of bad exegesis.
Have you ever thought of the details of the miracle worked at night long ago at the edge of the Red Sea; the one that left Egypt leaderless and their military decimated the next day?
You probably know archaeologists and scientists (along with more than a few religious teachers and people) are quick to discount the record of the scriptures. They know there is only a scattered mention of Israel in hieroglyphic or hieratic text; and to date, there is no mention of this event or anything remotely like it found anywhere in the records of ancient Egypt.
Take a look at the Biblical text. Moses and the Israelites were cast out of Egypt and walked to the edge of the Red Sea. The scriptures tell us that Pharaoh changed his mind once Israel got out of sight and immediately took after them with more than 600 battle chariots and the rest of the chariots in Egypt, followed by the entire Egyptian army.
Here is some of the record found in 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 many 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.”
Move down to verse 21 to conclude our look at this.
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.
Soon Pharaoh and all of his charioteers blinded by arrogance as to what was going on around them drove down into the middle of the Red Sea after the slaves. You just read that the record says the water was piled up “like a wall” on each side. It also states that it was in plain sight.
Here are the physics of it: one Imperial gallon of water weighs 10 pounds, and one cubic foot weighs 62.4 pounds. In order for as many as two-and-a-half million people to pass through the Red Sea by the beginning of the next day Israel had to march through the sea on a path perhaps a mile wide. I am certain that the Egyptians had not forgotten where the shoreline of the Red Sea ran and they had to have known there was no dry pass across where this one had appeared. The scriptures tell us that God confused them and mighty Pharaoh never considered what was happening. The text says the entire army of Egypt went down into the sea that day with the water piled up on each end: that means army, cavalry, chariots, and rear echelons drove down there. And while the angel confused the Egyptians, God played out the final act.
Had the curious events in and around Egypt escaped the attention of the people who worked and lived in the cities around the palaces of Pharaoh? The record says they were hit by the plagues just as Pharaoh’s house. They saw and felt what was going on. It affected everyone. They lost crops, livestock, and children too. Then they watched as Pharaoh and his army rode off toward the sea. When everyone with the lord of Egypt failed to return; they had no king or army and all that was left was some bodies along the shore of the Red Sea. We just read that every Egyptian with Pharaoh was “overthrown in the sea.” So though they knew where Pharaoh took off to, no living Egyptian knew what had happened. No one made it back to Memphis to tell the priests or to sell their story to the ancient equivalent of a newspaper.
It is equally certain that soon someone ventured out to the Sea to see where the army had gotten off to and why they failed to return. You have heard it said that dead men tell no tales. The mighty king and his army were gone with hardly a trace, hardened hearts and all.
It was the most numbing defeat ever recorded. Have you heard or read of anything like it? Egypt lost everything before they got through the middle of the sea bed. So if you had gone looking for them after that day, and found nothing but some corpses, what would you have decided to tell your family and friends when you got back? And what would you carve in stone on the temple pylons to “glorify” your nation; and what would you leave for history to read at the temple and palace?
Do we believe the record or is it just another tall tale that goes in one ear and out the other, never making its way down into our heart? God’s book says that it is accurate and true from beginning to end.
What do you say?