Walking Across A Sea
by Peter Kek
Pastor Of Grace Reformed Church
So again, I’ll like to welcome all of you back here. As I said before and I will say that again that every week, we seem to be welcoming back people. We have Emily and friend, Daffy if I’m not mistaken, and we welcome back Grace alright. You know every week we are kind of looking out like the father for the lost son, and this week we see Grace coming back. And welcome you back to our series. We have just started a new series called “Amazing Stories”, and I’m sure you know of the many amazing stories in the Bible. And you might be wondering that we have heard it all before, so why are we looking at them again?
Now let me tell you we’re looking at them again because these are amazing stories. And not just because they are amazing stories, but because these amazing stories have amazing truths for us to learn, and that’s the reason why. And the truths are so amazing that we will never get tired alright of studying them again and again and also to want to tell them to others alright, to proclaim this truth to others again and again. For parents, I’m sure you’ll want to tell this truth to your own children. I mean it is a shame alright, a pity if you’ve never told this truth to our children. These are just amazing alright- amazing stories. Now, this morning we’re going to look at another amazing story in the Bible, and I’ve entitled this morning’s sermon called “Walking Across A Sea”.
Now some of you might remember or might know that in 1927, Charles Lindbergh caught the world’s attention when he made his solo flight alright across the Atlantic Ocean. Now flying across the Atlantic Ocean today is no longer amazing, so nobody talks about it alright. I think many of you have flew over the Atlantic Ocean before alright, and you never came back and say “Oh, what amazing story is”, then everybody “Whoa”. Did you? But walking across a sea will always remain an amazing story alright. Anyone of you have walked across the Atlantic Ocean? Never. Never heard of anyone alright. So, walking across the sea will always be an amazing story. And that is what we see here in Exodus 14. Now listen again. We have read this chapter through just now. You have heard it, but listen again.
Verse 21: “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and Yahweh 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. 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.”. So that is what we are talking about here. So here we have in these two verses give us a picture, a mental picture of what happened that day when the Israelites walked right into the sea as on dry land, with waters beside them. Now I say that we are studying or we are looking at all these amazing stories not just simply because they’re amazing, but because of what these stories are about. And so, we want to from the very outset ask: So why are we even studying this? Why are we considering this amazing story? What is this story about?
Well, the text tells us. The text makes it clear why we should be looking at this because in verse 13, verse 13, it says here: “And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of Yahweh, which He will accomplish for you today.””. That is what it is about. He says you stand back, you sit still and listen. And think about this: What is this about? It is about the salvation of Yahweh. Or in verse 30: “So Yahweh saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians”. That is what this story is about. It is about God saving His people, and it is a great salvation. Verse 31: “Thus Israel saw the great work”, or the great deliverance, “which the LORD had done in Egypt”. He saw that this is a great salvation. And salvation is a great deliverance or that this deliverance is a great salvation. Our salvation, it is no small thing. Our salvation is a great salvation.
And that is how the writer to the Hebrews put it in Hebrews 2:3. Listen to this verse. He said: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation”. Now in these stories and elsewhere in the Bible, now God wants us to understand something of your salvation and my salvation, and the salvation of everyone in this world. It is no small thing. It is a great salvation because salvation is God saving us, is God delivering us. From what? Look at this story, from what? And how? Well, salvation is God delivering us from Satan, delivering us from the whore of sin. And therefore, the great distinguishing mark of a Christian or someone who has been saved by God is deliverance from sin. Now that is a great distinguishing mark of a Christian. And that’s why the Bible tells us that a Christian, now Paul puts it this way: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation”.
You are a new person. You’re totally changed. You’re a completely new person. That is how great a salvation, how great deliverance that is. And therefore, we can see that in the Bible that Paul was a new man. And you read the salvation of Paul, how he was being delivered. He was once like this. And then when he was saved, he was a totally different person. That Matthew was a new creature in Christ when he was being delivered. That Zacchaeus was a new man in Christ when he was delivered. Are you a new man, a new woman in Christ if you are a Christian? Now that is what this story is about. That is what it means to be saved, and Exodus chapter 14 is a picture and an illustration of this truth.
So here is a picture and illustration of this truth. Now to understand something of the great deliverance of God or to understand something of our salvation, we must first see something of our great despair. So, we shall first consider the great despair of Israel. The great despair of Israel. Until you see your trouble alright, you will never see how great a salvation that is alright.
So, the great despair of Israel. So the first 12 verses alright, we see the great despair of Israel. Now let’s look at this. Now, first of all, we see that Moses tells the people of God’s plan alright- of God’s plan. Now after the tenth plague, remember they were in Egypt and God was bringing them out, and God sent plagues alright. And after the tenth plagues, now Pharaoh allowed the children of Israel to leave alright. So they were leaving Egypt. And then in chapter 13 of Exodus alright, we are told that they have left Egypt and they were en route to the Promised Land, Canaan. Now the start of the journey alright gave all the promise of success. They were leaving and they were going towards Canaan, and everything seems to be going well.
Now Pharaoh was not in pursuit, and there was no reason to expect Pharaoh to come after them. And they had completed one leg of their journey because in chapter 13 and verse 20: “So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. So they moved from Succoth to Etham alright. And God was clearly with them because in verse 21, we are told that the LORD or Yahweh here “went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night”. So they were going by day and night, and God was clearly with them, leading them in the way, providing them that direction and guidance.
And then when they come to chapter 14, the first two verses, now here we see God giving them a kind of a strange instruction because in verse 1 we are told that God or “the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “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.””. So this is instruction given by God. In other words, God is saying that as they were moving, God said you turn back. You turn in that particular direction. And because God wanted them to camp by the sea, and this is a strange instruction because this is not a straightforward way to go to the Promised Land. In fact, there are three possible routes to go to the Promised Land. The shortest route, you know, will be by the land of the Philistines, and you know the other routes. But this is a very crooked route alright.
And God says you turn and turn back, and I want you to camp there by the sea. Now God was not leading them to Canaan. Actually, we are told earlier on the reason why, because they were not ready yet. But God had a different thing alright, God had something in mind. And so that was the strange instruction given by God to the people alright as we look at the beginning of this chapter. Now then it goes on to describe alright. There is some events, a turn of event here alright in verse 3 onwards. Now then the chapter goes on to describe or to tell us about Pharaoh’s change of mind, Pharaoh’s pursuit. And so “Pharaoh”, in verse 3, “will say of the children of Israel, ‘They are bewildered by the land; and the wilderness has closed them in.’ Then I will harden”. God says, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them; and I will gain honour over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.”
In other words, God changed Pharaoh’s mind. And now Pharaoh is regretting his action. And so Pharaoh decided to pursue the children of Israel. Now apart of course from the working of God in changing Pharaoh’s heart, we might also want to ask, you know humanly speaking, perhaps we want to think about, we want to kind of guess, why? Why was this change of mind or change of heart in Pharaoh? Well, Pharaoh regretted. He changed his heart. And I think there are possible a number of reasons. One, for example, he may suddenly realize that he is now being deprived of two million, at that time there were two million Israelites alright. Now he suddenly realized that he was deprived of two million foreign workers. And these were people in Egypt and they were doing him service. And he will probably be wondering to himself: What is going to happen to my megaprojects?
Now perhaps they were building the PWTC. Not the Putra World Trade Center alright, the Pyramid World Trade Center. Or they may have the twin, not the twin tower you know, twin pyramid tower. No, you see, Pharaoh may be having all his megaproject, and here we have free labour alright, these foreign labour in his, you know, building his projects here. And now they are gone. And also as we read earlier on, he also heard that they are also trapped. Maybe this news, they thought: Oh these people who have left, you want them back, it’s quite easy. They have nowhere to go. They’re going round in circles. And so in verse 6, we are told that Pharaoh mounted up a huge military campaign. Verse 6: “So he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. Also, he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them.”.
And so he mounted a military campaign. I’m not sure what he called that campaign. You know, we have many military campaigns like the “Operation Desert Storm” you know when the Americans were going after the Iraqis. Maybe he, you know Pharaoh will call his “Operation Desert Slaves” alright, let’s go after them alright. And so he was sending all his troops alright, it’s estimated there are probably about hundred thousand alright chariots and horsemen, and they were all going after the Israelites. Meanwhile alright, while this is happening, a huge military campaign being mounted, we read in verse 10. Israel in verse 10, they were now camping by the Red Sea. Now they were by the Red Sea, they’re kind of stuck, didn’t know where to go alright, in front of them is the Red Sea.
Verse 10: “And so 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 Yahweh.”. In other words, the picture here is, while that was going on initially without them knowing alright with the Egyptian were coming, the Israelites were trapped or were stuck alright here by the Red Sea, and they were probably discussing their next move alright, their travel plans. Now imagine them discussing, talking about what to do next. Should they go south? Maybe some suggested that “I think we should be going southward”. Or should they go north? Others might dispute alright, always the case alright, we have people having differing opinions alright. Now let’s go south, or let’s go north. And perhaps someone jokingly says, let’s just go right through alright the sea.
And suddenly, this is no longer a joking matter alright. Let’s go right through alright the sea. And now it is no longer an academic thing. Now sometimes we can be talking about you know important issue like antioxidant. We attend a seminar and talk about remedy for cancer you know, and what is pancreatic cancer, and what is this, and all the feedback of knowledge. And suddenly, you realize from your medical report you have cancer. And now it’s no longer an academic thing. Now you are in desperation. Now you need a solution. And so they could be discussing their plans, and suddenly as we are told in verse 10, they saw the Egyptians coming. They saw the Egyptians, they saw the chariots, and it was a fearful sight as we see here in verse 10. So they were very afraid. And the children of Israel cried out to Yahweh. In other words, suddenly they see the B-52 bombers were coming, and the fighter jets and the tanks all coming after them, and they are now in great fear. So what do they do in a situation like this? What did they do in a situation like this?
They do what we all normally do alright, cry and complain alright. That is what they did in verse 11: “Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt so with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone. Let us die in Egypt, serve the Egyptians’?”. And so they were crying, and they were complaining, and they were murmuring. And what were their complaints? They say Egypt got no grave, is it? And we know that actually Egypt was very well known for their, you know it’s known as the land of tombs. And they have their version of the Nirvana Memorial Park alright. And maybe they call it the Mummies Memorial Park alright. And so this, they were crying, they got no grave in Egypt, is it? Why you lead us here to die here in the wilderness, in no man’s land?
And so we see Israel’s problem. The Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and Pharaoh were behind, and the Red Sea in front. Desperation. So verse 12 you know, you see there’s complaining. We are kind of stuck here. Now so the first thing to understand the great salvation of the Lord, the great deliverance of the Lord is to see the great despair of the children of Israel here. Now every Christian knows some things of this despair. In other words, every Christian, I say our salvation is a great salvation. So every one of us who have been saved knows something of the problems that we were stuck in. From what were you delivered? Sometimes people think that they deliver from our loneliness. That is not the great despair that you were in when God delivered you. That was not their great despair. The great despair that they’re finished, they’re doom alright. They know that there was no hope for them.
It is in light of this in this context we now see the great deliverance of God alright- the great deliverance of God. And so the first 12 verses is to kind of create a setting here for us to see the great deliverance of God. That is the problem that they were in, in no man’s land, and at their wit’s end. Now we see the great deliverance of God from verse 13 through the end of the chapter. So the question is: How can God help us if this is our problem? How can God help us? So there are a few things I want to show here as we look at God’s great deliverance. One is, what did God tell them to do?
Now it’s interesting alright, what did God tell them to do? Did God tell them to go left? Did God tell them to go right? Look at verse 15. Verse 15: “And Yahweh said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.””. If you are those who underline the Bible, you want to circle ‘forward’. God told the people not turn left, not go backward, not go to the right, but to go forward. Do you know what that means? Well, what that means, God is saying, you trust Me and I’ll do the rest alright- you trust Me, and I’ll do the rest. And then God turned to Moses, and God said to Moses: “Tell the children of Israel to go forward”. And then He turned to Moses and gave him this instruction in verse 16: “But” you Moses alright, “lift up your rod, stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it.” Now, don’t you like you know to see that look on Moses’ face when he heard that?
And God said to Moses, you know what you’re supposed to do. Tell them to go forward. And for you, you take a rod over the sea and divide the sea. Perhaps one day in heaven, we might get to watch you know Israel’s funniest home movie alright, a home video, and then you see Moses’ face alright. Maybe you can think of some icon aright, some emoji you know to describe his face. The look. So what’s going to happen next? Now you see all this instruction, you look at it. Verse 17, and then God says that and I will indeed soften the hearts of the Egyptians. Ah, no alright, that’s not what He says. He said: “I will indeed harden the hearts of the Egyptians”. You children of Israel, you go forward. Moses, you put up your rod up there alright, and the sea will be divided. And the Egyptians, they are not going to go backward. Their hearts will be hardened, and they’re going to come after you.
Now you see all these, you can tell how great a dilemma they were in alright, and what really is needed if they were to be saved. It’s kind of no humanly possible solution for them. So that is what God told them to do alright- go forward Moses, open the Red Sea, and the Egyptians will go after you. Now, what must they do? So that’s what God told them to do, but what must they do? Now that’s always the question: What we are told to do, and what we must do. In fact, that is the question of the Philippian jailer. What must I do to be saved? What must they do to be saved? Well, what they must do is already mentioned to them in verse 13 alright. It says, “Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD”. That is what they must do. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. And then God will do the rest.
Verse 19 alright- verse 19: “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.”. So verse 20, when it came, “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.”. Now can you see the little picture here? And here they are stuck before the Red Sea, there’s no other way to go, you have to just go through. But God says, no problem, just walk through. I will open up the Red Sea. But the Egyptians are coming. God says, don’t worry. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. And now they are beginning to see the salvation of the Lord. When the Egyptians are coming, the angel of the Lord is kind of blinded them you know as a cloud that gives light to the children of Israel, but darkness, no light to the Egyptians.
And so from the start, you see the beginning, you see everything about this whole thing is a miracle alright. You begin to see the great work of God in saving them. And then verse 21: “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and Yahweh 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.”. And so that’s what happened. And verse 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.”. Now imagine. Now pause here and imagine this point here. What must have gone through the minds of the Israelites? Imagine us here: Oh, in front of the sea, and then we see Moses lifting up his rod, and we see the waters being divided.
Now what might have gone through your own mind? You say illusion, you know. Cannot be you know, it might be some you know David Copperfield you know, trying to divide the Great Wall of China or something like that. Now you see, there will be a lot of things that will be going through their minds, wouldn’t it? And imagine the first person to walk in. Now, who would be the first person to walk in? You sometimes must ask the question today: Who would be the first person prepared to go for the vaccine, Covid-19 vaccine? Now I’ll tell you who would be the first person to walk in if we were in the crowd. I think Ezra would run in first. Now I can imagine the children will be the people who run in first. The adult or the mother, and you can see Grace right, “Ezra, Ezra!”.
Now we will be afraid alright. We don’t know what will happen, once you walk in and the water comes back. Really, maybe we are you know, we are seeing floaters you know in our eyes. Maybe the water was not really divided, and the children were already running in. Now you see, the situation that they were in and the things that must gone through their minds and their hearts. And so that was the situation, but that was what they must do. They must just walk right through. Now how could it be possible alright? How could it be possible? Because this is just something so unbelievable, it’s that so amazing. All these instructions and what they must do, it’s just unbelievable. How could it be? How could this be possible?
So how did God do it? We say it is possible because God was doing it alright. It was a miracle. It was a miracle. We do not know how it happened, how the waters were divided. We have no explanation. The only explanation is that God did it. We know that there were people who tried to give all kinds of explanation of what actually happened that day when the children of Israel walked through the Red Sea. And one common explanation is this: they say that “Oh, it’s quite easy to explain that you know that phenomena there alright. They say actually that day, what people didn’t know is that the water was only knee-deep alright, only up to your knee. And so it was easy for these children of Israel just to walk right through alright. But if that were true, then it would be a greater miracle because that knee-deep water killed all the Egyptians. We have got no explanation. We just have got no explanation. We do not know because it was a miracle.
There is no explanation for our salvation and how God saved us. It is the work of God. So we do not know how God opened the Red Sea, just as we do not know how He opened our hearts, hardened by sin. How He opened our eyes blinded by deception. “I know not how the Spirit moves, convincing men of sin, revealing Jesus in His Word, creating faith in Him.” We do not know because it is the work of God. How could God save a wretch like me? I say salvation is a miracle. It is a miracle.
So we read on in verse 23: “the Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 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, He troubled the army of the Egyptians. He took off”, or you know stuck, “their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the face of Israel, for Yahweh fights for them against the Egyptians.” Then Yahweh 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.”
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. 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.” Now that’s what Israel saw. They went through safely and then they looked back. They saw that God has destroyed completely their enemies. Israel is now safe from the dominion of their enemies, completely and forever, and eternally. Complete salvation.
And so it ends alright. The story ends with these words: “So Yahweh saved or delivered Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptian and Israel saw the Egyptian die on the seashore. Thus Israel saw the great work which Yahweh had done in Egypt; and they feared Yahweh, and believed Yahweh and His servant Moses.”. Salvation is a great work of deliverance by God from our great despair. Now I want to ask you this morning: Is this true of your experience? And if it is true, isn’t this something to sing about? Isn’t this something that we sing about alright? And that is what we see here. Following this chapter is chapter 15. Chapter 15 is a song.
Look at the first few verses of chapter 15. “Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to Yahweh and spoke, saying: “I will sing to Yahweh, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea! Yahweh is my strength and song, He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him. Yahweh is a man of war; Yahweh is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea. The depths have covered them; They sank to the bottom like a stone.”” Now note here in these few verses in their song of praise to God as the salvation always breaks forth in the song. It gives us joy. Now we can listen to the testimony of people who have been saved by the grace of God. It is always “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound”.
Now C.S. Lewis wrote of his conversion experience, and he calls that “surprise by joy”. Now it is always there. It’s always breaking forth in songs. And that’s what we find here when they understand something of the great deliverance of God. But I want you also to note here that in their song, there was no praise about themselves. There was no praise about their own action. There’s no praise about their faith. You know I believe in Jesus, that’s why I am saved. Because of my decision, I accepted Christ. I. There is no nothing about them and about their action. Nothing about them walking into the sea. So you know, because we walk into the sea, we got the courage to walk right into the sea. Someone said because I walked down the aisles. Nothing about what they did. Nothing about Moses lifting up his rod over the sea to divide the sea. Rather, in the song of praises, it’s all about God. It’s all about God.
You see in verse 6: “Your hand, O Yahweh, has become glorious in power; Your hand, O Yahweh, has dashed the enemy in pieces.”. It’s all about God. Verse 7: “in the greatness of Your excellence You have overthrown those who rose against You; You sent forth Your wrath; It consumed them like a stubble.” It is God. It’s You, You who have done this. Or in verse 10: “You blew Your wind, The sea covered them; They sank like lead in the mighty waters.” Verse 11: “Who is like You, O Yahweh, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? You stretched out Your hand; and the earth swallowed them. You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength in Your holy habitation.”. It’s ‘You’ and ‘Your’, and ‘You’ and ‘Your’ all through the song of this praise of God’s salvation.
Now note: Israel never sang in Egypt, they only cry. But salvation brings joy to them. Salvation always brings joy to people. And therefore when we sing hymns of praise, we are singing hymns of joy alright. Hymns of praise are hymns of joy to God when we sing about our great salvation. When we sing I’m praising, I’m singing for my Lord, everywhere I go. I want to ask you: Do you sing? If you’re a Christian, do you sing praises of your God? Do you sing His praise to your friend, telling them what great salvation that you have experienced, how God has saved you? Do you sing this praise of God’s great salvation to your neighbour, to your coursemate, to your loved ones? If not, why not? It’s either you have never experienced this great salvation, or you are simply ungrateful. You have forgotten the great deliverance that God has delivered you. Let us pray.
“Our Father in heaven, O Lord we want to thank You again for this story in the Bible. It’s amazing how that happened. We know that there’s no explanation except that we know that it is the work of the Lord. We know that it is the same about our salvation, that the fact that we are saved from our hardened heart, from our sinful past, from our blindness. Lord, we have seen this in many, many people, how Saul became Paul, how Levi became Matthew, how Zacchaeus was delivered, and how so many through the ages, and today You continue to do this marvellous work of salvation in the lives of people. And we want to thank You perhaps most of all for that work of salvation in our own lives. We know O Lord that this is all Your work. Help us to learn to rejoice in this and sing of Your praises to everyone around us, to want to tell them of this great salvation of the Lord. So, we want to thank You, for all this we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.