Protection in the Red Sea
And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” — Mark 4:39–40
Trust is delicate. It’s hard to earn and easy to lose. Trusting someone else takes time. Especially when it comes to our own protection. We were designed with a high level of awareness around our need for self-protection, and at the slightest threat, we fight, fly, or freeze.
If someone breaks our trust, we naturally become guarded. When someone proves they are trustworthy, our confidence in them grows and we feel safe enough to let our guard down. Why? Because there is a consistent pattern of faithfulness demonstrated.
- This is the kind of trust Moses developed with God. He could trace God’s past faithful protection over and over.
Moses had seen God help him do what seemed impossible: leading the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt. Just when there seemed to be no way Pharaoh would ever heed Moses’ demand to let the people go, God demonstrated His unexplainable protection by using His power over nature to get Pharaoh’s attention. God unleashed 10 plagues over Egypt, which eventually convinced Pharaoh to let the Israelites go.
Then God demonstrated His unexplainable protection again when He led the people in a less direct path to the promised land:
But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. — Exodus 13:18a
Exodus 14:4 reveals God’s plan to yet again show His people His ability to protect them: “
And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.’ And they did so.
Just as God planned, with the Egyptians marching after them, the Israelites found themselves facing an angry sea in front of them and an angry enemy behind them. The only way for them to be saved would be for God to do something that could never have even been dreamed up with the human mind... Again it was God’s unexplainable protection.
Israel’s Path and God’s Protection
- God unleashes 10 plagues over Egypt — Exodus 5:1-11
- Pharoah lets Israelites go — Exodus 12:31-42
- Israelites on wandering path — Exodus 13:17-22
- Pharoah/ Egyptians coming after Israelites — Exodus 14:5
- Parting of the Red Sea — Exodus 14:19-31
Read Exodus 14:10–12.
01 What does the people’s response to Moses show about their mental and emotional state?
Notice a common thread in the reaction of the Israelites as we’ve been studying together? Let’s also not forget there was more going on. The Israelites were not left alone or unprotected.
Read Exodus 14:13–14.
02 We don’t have a record of the people’s response after hearing Moses’ direction. What would your response have been?
The initial response after crying out to God to fight on their behalf was silence. The Israelites surely thought Moses’ advice made no sense. However, Moses was leading the people to use silence as a spiritual discipline. Moses told the people to sit silent and watch God protect them and fight on their behalf. If we were the Israelites, we would have probably demanded an explanation for what seemed like such an odd response to such a serious threat.
As we consider our own use of silence in the midst of threats, there can be many benefits. One purpose of silence may be to focus on the simplicity of God’s power over all things. Another benefit might be to quiet distractions and interruptions that tempt us to explain away God’s protection in our lives.
Maybe silence and solitude are ways for us to process and find peace with things that seem so unexplainable in our lives.
What would happen if we practiced the spiritual discipline of silence today by spending focused time meditating on the protection and provision of God in our lives? What if we intentionally remembered to trace God’s faithfulness in the past until it helped us feel more safe and secure in the faithful and secure hands of God? The Israelites were aware of this truth through tangible and visible examples but, in that moment, needed to pause and remember.
Read Exodus 14:19–20.
03 Who was also with the Israelites? Describe what was happening.
The end of the story is the protection of Israel through God’s powerful authority over nature itself. God splits the Red Sea in half and creates a passageway of safety for His people to find rescue and deliverance.
As one Old Testament scholar has said, “Israel’s escape route became a classroom for them, a period of testing in time and space that shaped the people Yahweh was making.”1
Read Exodus 14:15–18.
04 Scripture demonstrates that sometimes God allows trials in order to reveal His power. Why would God work this way?
The experience at the Red Sea was a formative experience, helping the people of God better understand and live out trust in their Creator.
When we think about Jesus there are so many connections back to the Red Sea. The Israelites faced the Red Sea which was a sign/symbol of death, chaos, and disorder. Jesus faced the cross, a sign/symbol of death. The Israelites had to go through the Red Sea. Jesus had to go through the cross. On the other side of the Red Sea was the promised land for the Israelites. Jesus victory over sin and death brings the promise of the new heavens and new earth to those of us that put our trust and faith in Christ.
- The more we remember what Jesus has done for us and what it means for us, the more we will be assured of His absolute devotion to protecting us.
Every moment we are with God, we are with His protection whether we realize it or not. And part of that protection, if we will trust Him and stay with Him, is how He will form us and shape us through what we experience.
05 Read 1 Corinthians 15:49. What is the goal of all of this shaping and forming?
The more we are shaped and formed to be like Jesus, the more we will be confident in God’s protection. But even more than being confident, with Jesus we can have unexplainable peace in the process. Philippians 4:7 reminds us of this truth:
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
As we conclude today, let’s turn to one more story involving another sea. In this New Testament story, found in Mark 4, Jesus is asleep on a boat in the middle of a storm on the Sea of Galilee. This is the type of storm that would put true fear in even the most seasoned sailors. In a moment of desperation, the disciples cry out to Jesus to provide protection for them. Jesus simply wakes up, rebukes the wind, and tells the sea to be still.
Simply the presence of Jesus and the voice of Jesus in the midst of the storm establishes peace. Where Jesus is present, peace is possible.
This doesn’t mean there won’t be storms, trials, tribulations, and hardships. Certainly the children of Israel and Moses experienced these. The disciples in the New Testament experienced these. And we will, too. But we are never left alone He is with us. With Jesus, even when our circumstances don’t feel peaceful, we can choose to do things His way and, in doing so, have peace that passes all understanding.
And in the end, if we will just remember to reflect on the many ways we’ve seen God move in our past and the peace available to us in the present, we can know we are being protected.
- Eugene Carpenter, Exodus, ed. H. Wayne House and William D. Barrick, vol. 1, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), 503.
Excerpted with permission from 30 Days with Jesus by Lysa TerKeurst and Joel Muddamalle, copyright Lysa TerKeurst and Dr. Joel Muddamalle.
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Can you trace God’s past faithful protection in your own life? How does that shape the way you feel about your current troubles? The presence of Jesus and hearing His voice in the middle of the storm gives us peace because where Jesus is, there is peace. Practice the spiritual discipline of silence today and invite Him in. ~ Devotionals Daily
Listen to Lysa & Dr. Joel on the P31 podcast.