Scripture: And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” Exodus 14:24-25 ESV
Observation: The Lord, having cloaked the Egyptians in a cloud that blinded them from seeing and attacking Israel, directs Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea. Yahweh then commands a strong east wind to blow through the night, forming a path to safety for Israel’s escape. In a glorious spectacle of God’s sovereignty over his creation, the waters not merely push back but shape into two magnificently towering walls that absorb the moisture from the adjacent bare seafloor (14:21-22). Thus, two million Israelites with livestock and accouterments in tow march on to freedom.
Now that the Israelites have a headstart, the cloak of darkness lifts, providing visibility for Pharaoh and his men. Blinded by anger, they pursue God’s people into the sea’s divide (14:23). But as the sun rises, the fireworks begin. God rehydrates their segment of the path and clogs their chariot wheels, throwing the Egyptian forces into panic and confusion. At this point, they reassess their chances of prevailing (above verses), but it’s too late.
Takeaway: Throughout the Bible, various authors use anthropomorphisms (human characteristics applied to God) to convey our Lord’s attributes and nature. Here, the message is that our Lord is watchful, that he sees and knows all that is and will take place. And Moses describes the conflict as an unfolding drama of good versus evil. The bad guys willfully but unwittingly play their part according to the script. Indeed, Pharaoh arrogantly and incorrectly presumes that he is in control and can overcome all obstacles each step of the way (whether the ten plagues or the cloud’s blanket of darkness).
So how does this story apply to us? We all have a bit of Pharaoh in us. It is in our fallen nature to think that we can sort things out for ourselves and overcome any obstacle, or, to the other extreme, give up hope for a better life. But how much more will we overcome our anxieties and gain clarity amid our sin-marred world when we trust that our watchful and attentive Lord sees and knows all. Indeed, when we give up control and rely on his and his Son’s good graces, the Holy Spirit will lead us through our stormy seas from harm’s way to our eternal Promised Land.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for faithfully watching over us and providing for us as evidenced in the life, death, and resurrection of your Son and the sending of your Holy Spirit. Would you please help us trust in your attentive care and sovereign power and follow your Holy Spirit’s lead? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling