Exodus 14:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.
3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.
4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.
5 And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of 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 And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him:
7 And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.
8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.
In the opening verses of this chapter we see that the LORD is never in a hurry. He knows the future. He gives man opportunity to turn to Him in repentance and be saved. He also knows the nature of the hardened heart. With these facts in mind, the LORD told Moses to camp near the Red Sea, on the Egyptian side, for the night.
We as people try to make sure we are as safe as we possibly can be. We like to put as much distance between ourselves and the enemy at all times. The Bible tells us to flee youthful lusts. We need to separate from sin. Lot did not do himself or his family any favours by moving into Sodom and then hesitating to leave when God told him to leave. He should never have moved there in the first place.
There are times when God has other plans for His children. It is not that He wants them to linger where sin abounds. It is that He wants to teach them to trust Him in Biblical separation.
The apostles show us that there are times when we just need to stay where we are and be sure we are walking in obedience to God’s Word. True Christians are called to be a light in the world. There are some necessary factors that need to be in place. The person needs to be saved. He needs to be Scripturally baptized and a member of a true local church. A true local church will be faithful to the Word of God and will be a light in the place where God puts it.
In our text, the nation of Israel was on their way out of Egypt. As a large group, they could only travel so fast in a day. There was no need for them to panic about what might happen. Israel was going to school. This was God’s school where they would be given further opportunity to know Him and to trust Him.
In verse 3 the LORD told Moses what Pharaoh was going to do. As we mentioned, the LORD knows all about us. He had not preprogrammed anyone. Because He knows everything, He knows how people will respond, based on the condition of their heart.
In Canada we were warned over the weekend of two native men who had gone on a murder spree in Saskatchewan. They killed ten people and injured another eighteen. Since that happened, one of those men has been found dead and the other one was arrested yesterday and then later died. According to reports the surviving murderer has at least sixty previous counts against him. Some have wondered why this man was even out of prison. Of course the officials have all kinds of excuses for their ineptitude. They probably never expected these two brothers to act in this manner. If we had some God-fearing men in our justice system, they would have understood that a person with a wrap sheet like that is a danger to society. Our society is so concerned with being “politically correct” that it gives excessive leniency to criminal minds like these two men, while it wasted thousands of tax-payer dollars chasing after a person who expressed discontent for the government but had no criminal convictions and did not express any interest in causing any crime.
God is not like our foolish government. He knows the heart of man and in our text, He warned Moses of what was coming. God knew all about it and He was prepared to protect the entire nation of Israel from the wicked plans of Pharaoh. God was also prepared to put an end to this Pharaoh and his army’s lives. They had squandered every opportunity given to them. They rejected the LORD’s omnipotence and His omniscience. Now they would experience first hand His eternal judgment.
In verse 4 the LORD again reminded Moses that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart. The LORD would be honoured upon Pharaoh and his host. The goal was that the Egyptians would know that He is the LORD. Even though Pharaoh had no interest in knowing the true God, he would be used by God as an object lesson for others to pay attention to. It is never wise to reject the LORD. He will do His will. He will accomplish His purposes. For the saved person we have many promises. One of them is:
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
God does not leave things undone. Those that He saves will be a work in progress in His almighty hand. Those who are lost will be used by Him as object lessons for others to take heed.
In verse 5 Pharaoh was told that the Hebrews had left Egypt. Pharaoh had been grieving his loss of his firstborn for a very short time. Rather than trembling in fear and in awe of the power of the LORD, he took this loss as a further trigger to build up his anger against the LORD. We see in verse 5 again how the leader can influence his subjects.
Lost people are so power hungry and so full of pride that they ignorantly and foolishly follow the blind. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for being the blind leading the blind. That is what we have in our country and sadly that is what we have in most religious circles as well.
In verse 6 Pharaoh did not waste any time getting ready to pursue after the children of Israel. Verse 7 tells us he took six hundred chosen chariots and all the chariots of Egypt and the captains over them all. This was going to leave a massive hole in the nation of Egypt when God was done with them. God would protect those left behind in Egypt from another country invading them, even though they would be defenceless. God would also protect the people of Israel from this massive force that was coming down upon them. Chariots are no threat to the LORD. We will see that.
Verse 8 tells us that Israel went out with a high hand. God’s deliverance is always with a high hand. In our text it was a physical deliverance. However, the goal of the LORD was to provide the spiritual deliverance the children of Israel needed. They were not willing to accept God’s ways. They did not like His “high hand”. They would rather complain because things did not happen the way they expected them to. They were not willing to trust God. They would rather tell God what He should do. What a foolish attitude.
The LORD has a perfect plan. Man rejected that perfect plan in the Garden of Eden. Since then, the majority of people have walked in defiance against God’s plan. They have tried to ignore Him and pursue their own plan. God has shown the foolishness of that approach over and over again. He is very longsuffering with man. He also warns man that to persist in his stubborn rebellion will end in disaster. We will see that with Pharaoh.
We are once again reminded of the importance of knowing the true God and trusting Him. Moses was given forewarning. He did not take the same approach that the children of Israel took. He sought to encourage them and he did not wait for them to agree with him. He followed the LORD’s commands and the nation of Israel was given opportunity to be blessed by a faithful God and a faithful human leader.
Today, we also are given opportunity to trust in the true God and to choose to follow a godly human leader. God still has some godly churches available for people to attend. Godly Churches are places where people can learn the truth and learn how to trust God. It all starts with the new birth. No one can skip that all important need. Those who are saved need to be taught how to “observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you.”