What is the main theme of the Bible? It is REDEMPTION. God saving and restoring His people to a right relationship to Himself. Our own redemption, through Christ, as Christians, is pictured in God’s saving His ancient people, Israel.
The Lord Fights For You – SERMON AUDIO
You know the story, right? (see previous Exodus posts) God made a promise to Abraham;
Genesis 12:1-3 Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
The promise to Abraham is mentioned seven times in the first six chapters of Exodus! In order to bring that promise to pass, God brought a famine to the region and, through Joseph increased the power of Egypt. Then He brought the people into the land where they eventually became slaves. God raised up Moses and prepared him to lead the people out of bondage, but Moses was a little shy. God sent Aaron, his brother, to help him and brought ten great plagues on the Egyptians because Pharaoh was stubborn and would not heed the Lord’s command to let His people go. All of this was a part of God’s plan. Speaking to Pharaoh, God says;
Exodus 9:16-17 “But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth. 17 As yet you exalt yourself against My people in that you will not let them go.”
As we get to the point where God finally delivers the people, we see this happen;
Exodus 13:15-18 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all males that open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ 16 It shall be as a sign on your hand and as frontlets between your eyes, for by strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.” 17 Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.
This is not the end, but “the beginning of the end” for Pharaoh and the armies of Egypt. God’s goal here is twofold;
- To let His own people see His power in order to strengthen their faith. They are going to need help because, just like us, their faith is weak!
- To demonstrate to Pharaoh and the Egyptians (as well as the other heathen nations around) that He is the One True God and the ultimate Power in the universe.
From here, God leads the people into the wilderness and Pharaoh’s heart grows ever harder, thinking that the people are lost and don’t know where to go. He exalts his own heart and mind yet again;
Exodus 14:1-10 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn and camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon; you shall camp before it by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, ‘They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in.’ 4 Then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. 5 Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. 7 Also, he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them. 8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children of Israel went out with boldness. 9 So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon. 10 And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.
I believe that the Lord “hardened Pharaoh’s heart,” not through some mystical operation on it, but through His providence as He lead the people into the wilderness. Pharaoh’s pride told him that he would be able to outsmart God. The hardening of his heart was the increase of his inclination to rebel against the command of God. Since man’s heart is naturally hard, circumstances are really all that is needed. (See God and Hard Hearts, Exodus Pt. 6) God, in His wisdom, knows what circumstances will do the trick!
As Pharaoh follows after God’s People, God is setting him up with a summons to his trial as a rebel and a traitor. God brings him to the Red Sea where He will judge him and vindicate His own people. A common ancient custom in this region was to throw someone who was suspected of a capital offense, into a river (which was believed by them to be a god). If the suspected criminal survived, he was innocent, if not, he had been judged and found guilty. The Lord was setting up this trial by water in order to speak to both sides in a manner in which they would understand.
Exodus 14:16-31 But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 17 And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” 19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 And the Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the LORD looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians. 25 And He took off their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” 26 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.” 27 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained. 29 But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 30 So the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses.
So, the stubborn oppressor and rebel is judged as guilty and consumed in the waters of judgment. The people of God are vindicated in the same waters as The Angel of The Lord (the Pre-incarnate Christ) passes through those waters with them. This is a stark picture of what Christ has done for His elect! The Apostle Paul gives us the anti-type as he writes to the Colossians;
Colossians 2:11-15 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
This is amazing stuff! But I am running out of space to write about it. I really, really encourage you to listen to the audio of the sermon and see how, if you are a Believer in Christ, the LORD, has fought the battle for you and vindicated His own!
The Lord Fights For You – SERMON AUDIO