God Parts the Red Sea


Exodus 15:11, ESV

Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?


Exodus 13:17-22, NIrV

17 Pharaoh let the people go. The shortest road from Goshen to Canaan went through the Philistine country. But God didn’t lead them that way. God said, “If they have to go into battle, they might change their minds. They might return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people toward the Red Sea by taking them on a road through the desert. The Israelites were ready for battle when they went up out of Egypt.

19 Moses took the bones of Joseph along with him. Joseph had made the Israelites give their word to do this. He had said, “God will surely come to help you. When he does, you must carry my bones up from this place with you.” (Genesis 50:25)

20 The people left Sukkoth. They camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud. It guided them on their way. At night he led them with a pillar of fire. It gave them light. So they could travel by day or at night. 22 The pillar of cloud didn’t leave its place in front of the people during the day. And the pillar of fire didn’t leave its place at night.


Exodus is a perfect name for the second book of the Bible. It means "exit." And what is the book of Exodus about? God's people exiting the land of Egypt! After pounding Pharaoh with ten powerful plagues, the stubborn king finally let his Israelite slaves leave the land of Egypt. But where were they supposed to go? God made the answer to that question easy! He led the way as a gigantic pillar-shaped cloud in the sky. Wherever the cloud drifted, the people followed. But you can’t see clouds at night, right? So during the dark, God lit up the nighttime sky as a floating tower of flame!

+ Where was God leading the Israelites? (vs. 18)

+ What did Moses carry with him as they exited Egypt? (vs. 19)


Exodus 14:1-9, NIrV

1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses. 2 He said, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back. Have them camp near Pi Hahiroth between Migdol and the Red Sea. They must camp by the sea, right across from Baal Zephon. 3 Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land. They don’t know which way to go. The desert is all around them.’ 4 I will make Pharaoh stubborn. He will chase them. But I will gain glory for myself because of what will happen to Pharaoh and his whole army. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites camped by the Red Sea.

5 The king of Egypt was told that the people had escaped. Then Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them. They said, “What have we done? We’ve let the people of Israel go! We’ve lost our slaves and all the work they used to do for us!” 6 So he had his chariot made ready. He took his army with him. 7 He took 600 of the best chariots in Egypt. He also took along all the other chariots. Officers were in charge of all of them. 8 The Lord made Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, stubborn. So he chased the Israelites as they were marching out boldly. 9 The Egyptians went after the Israelites. All Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen and troops chased them. They caught up with the Israelites as they camped by the sea. The Israelites were near Pi Hahiroth, across from Baal Zephon.


When God is your line leader, you can be sure you're headed in the right direction. But as the Israelites followed the pillar of cloud, it looked like their leader had no idea where he was going! But this was all part of God's secret plan. Everyone in Egypt was about to see exactly how powerful the Lord of Israel was! When the news of the wandering Israelites reached Pharaoh's ears, he thought, "What in the world was I thinking? I should never have let my slaves go!" So he scrambled his soldiers and chased after the Israelites. Pharaoh didn’t even realize he had just fallen right into God's trap!

+ What did God say would happen after Pharaoh chased after his people? (vs. 4)

+ How many special battle chariots did Pharaoh bring with him? (vs. 7)


Exodus 14:10-14, NIrV

10As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked back. There were the Egyptians marching after them! The Israelites were terrified. They cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Why did you bring us to the desert to die? Weren’t there any graves in Egypt? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 We told you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone. Let us serve the Egyptians.’ It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die here in the desert!”

13 Moses answered the people. He said, “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm. You will see how the Lord will save you today. Do you see those Egyptians? You will never see them again. 14 The Lord will fight for you. Just be still.”


Try to put yourself in the place of the people of Israel. Behind you lay the waters of the Red Sea. And in front of you is the most powerful army on the face of the planet, marching closer by the minute! Though they had just seen God defeat Pharaoh with ten powerful plagues, you can understand why the people cried out, "Moses, did you drag us out here to die in the desert?" God's people were shaking in their sandals, but Moses wasn't breaking a sweat. He knew God was going to fight this battle for them. All the people had to do was to sit back, zip their lips, and enjoy the show!

+ When the Israelites were afraid, what did they say to Moses? (vs. 11)

+ Who did Moses say would fight for the Israelites? (vs. 14)


Exodus 14:15-20, NIRV

15 Then the Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people of Israel to move on. 16 Hold out your walking stick. Reach out your hand over the Red Sea to divide the water. Then the people can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will make the Egyptians stubborn. They will go in after the Israelites. I will gain glory for myself because of what will happen to Pharaoh, his army, chariots and horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord. I will gain glory because of what will happen to Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

19 The angel of God had been traveling in front of Israel’s army. Now he moved back and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved away from in front of them. Now it stood behind them. 20 It came between the armies of Egypt and Israel. All through the night the cloud brought darkness to one side and light to the other. Neither army went near the other all night long.


To calm the nerves of his worried people, Moses told them, “The Lord God will fight for you. You just need to be still.” He was confident the same God who pounded Egypt with powerful plagues would pulverize Pharaoh’s mighty army. But if you asked him, “Hey Moses, how do you think God’s going to rescue us from the Egyptians?”, never in a million years would he have come up with the wild instructions that God gave him: “Hold up your staff, split the sea in two, and waltz on through between the walls of water!” That was a plan so incredible, only the Lord God would ever think it up!

+ What did God say Pharaoh’s army would do? (vs. 17)

+ What did the pillar-shaped cloud do after God spoke with Moses? (vs. 19-20)


Exodus 14:21-22, NIRV

21 Then Moses reached out his hand over the Red Sea. All that night the Lord pushed the sea back with a strong east wind. He turned the sea into dry land. The waters were divided. 22 The people of Israel went through the sea on dry ground. There was a wall of water on their right side and on their left.


If you made a list of the greatest miracles in the Bible, the parting of the Red Sea would probably come in second place (right behind Jesus rising from the dead). God created an escape path right through the middle of the sea. Not only that, the wind completely dried up the ground so they didn't end up with mud all over their sandals! For the Israelites who watched in wonder as they walked between walls of waves, it was a day they’d think about for the rest of their lives. I can imagine, years later, their grandkids asking them, "Grandpa, tell me the story of God parting the Red Sea again!"

+ What did God use to divide the waters in two? (vs. 21)

+ What does this miracle teach us about God?


Exodus 14:23-31, NIRV

23 The Egyptians chased them. All Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24 Near the end of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud. He saw the Egyptian army and threw it into a panic. 25 He jammed the wheels of their chariots. That made the chariots hard to drive. The Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for Israel against Egypt.”

26 Then the Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “Reach out your hand over the sea. The waters will flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 27 So Moses reached out his hand over the sea. At sunrise the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians tried to run away from the sea. But the Lord swept them into it. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen. It covered the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the people of Israel into the sea. Not one of the Egyptians was left.

29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground. There was a wall of water on their right side and on their left. 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the power of Egypt. The Israelites saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 The Israelites saw the amazing power the Lord showed against the Egyptians. So the Israelites had great respect for the Lord and put their trust in him. They also put their trust in his servant Moses.


After suffering through ten powerful plagues, you would think old Pharaoh would have learned his lesson: you can't win a battle against the Lord God of Israel! But he didn't. As he watched the Israelites walk away between walls of water, the stubborn king of Egypt ordered his troops into the sea to catch them before they escaped.

Pharaoh’s army rode in on mighty chariots pulled by fast horses. In a normal battle, they would have easily been able to catch up with the Israelites. But this was anything but a normal battle! God clogged up their chariot wheels so they wouldn’t spin. And he filled their hearts with panic so that Pharaoh’s bravest warriors behaved like scaredy-cats!

In the end, the Egyptian army was defeated without a single strike of a sword. All Moses had to do was hold his staff into the air – God did the rest! As Moses’ staff went up, the walls of water came rushing down and swept away Pharaoh’s mighty army!

The story of the Exodus (or exit) from Egypt gives us a powerful picture of what the Lord, the God of the Bible, is like. He’s a God who loves to rescue his people from disaster. And he’s a God whose power makes even the mightiest army on the planet look as scary as a troop of teddy bears! After ten powerful plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, no one in Egypt or Israel would ever doubt the Lord’s power to save!

About 1,500 years after sending Moses to rescue his people from Egypt, God began a second rescue mission. This time, he sent his own Son. Like Moses, Jesus came to rescue us from slavery. While the Israelites were slaves to the evil Pharaoh, the Bible book of Romans tells us this: every human being on the planet is a slave to sin!

Because of sin, we were headed for a forever, fiery death outside of God’s good kingdom. But Jesus paid our punishment by dying in our place. Our sins were paid for on the day Jesus was nailed to the cross. Like the Exodus rescue mission finished spectacularly with the parting of the Red Sea, Jesus’ rescue mission finished with an even more spectacular miracle: he raised himself from the dead on the third day!

The Bible is filled with lots of good news stories, true tales of God rescuing his people from disaster. But two of these good news stories stand out from the rest. First, there's the good news story of Exodus. It makes us marvel at God’s power to snatch his people out of the hand of the most powerful man on the planet and march them out to live in a promised land. Second, is the great news story of Jesus. We praise God for sending his Son to rescue us from our slavery to sin to give us forever life in his good kingdom!

+ What two things did God do to keep the soldiers from reaching his people? (vs. 24-25)

+ After seeing the parting of the Red Sea, what did the people of Israel do? (vs. 31)

© 2023 Andrew Doane. All rights reserved.