Shemot (Exodus) 13:17–17:16
A year ago, I wrote regarding this Scripture portion Parashat Beshalach (When He Sent): “…when it comes to the Word of God, I love the way the Hebrew language reveals that which is to come. Sometimes, important details can get lost in translation, so to speak. In Exodus 13:18, the English translation of the verse reads, ‘Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt.’ In Hebrew, the name for the ‘Red Sea’ is ‘Yam Sof’, which literally means, ‘the end (or final) Sea.’ The name of the sea actually foretold what was to happen to Pharaoh and his army, which also marked a new era for the children of Israel.”
In this week’s Scripture portion, I would like to focus on Exodus 14, because it describes such a significant event that took place, marking not only the final judgment over Pharaoh and his army, but also a new reality for the Children of Israel. This is also an incredible prophetic picture of the end times.
As a reminder, Exodus 12:13 speaks of Israel’s “first” redemption: “And the Blood will be for you a sign on the homes where you are, and I will see the blood and I will pass over you and I will not be to you as a destruction disease when I smite the land of Egypt.” I am calling it the “first” redemption since it was not the final judgment on Egypt.
Exodus 14:1–4 tells us how God was preparing the children of Israel for that which was to come…
Now the Lᴏʀᴅ spoke to Moses, saying, “Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ Thus I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lᴏʀᴅ.” And they did so.
I love the fact that God not only redeemed His people, but He also continued to show His love, grace and faithfulness to them by telling them what would come; this is something that He does for us, His disciples, today as well! In verses 5–9, we see that exactly what God said would happen, happened:
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” So he made his chariot ready and took his people with him; and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. And the Lᴏʀᴅ hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out boldly. Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
When reading the text, it would seem obvious that after witnessing all that Almighty God did on their behalf, the Children of Israel would trust Him! That was not the case, as verses 10–12 show us. Their quick response to panic is not unlike ours, though! Not only are our memories short, but we also do not easily let go of our past – our supposedly “secure” place – in order to follow God’s call for us:
And as Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lᴏʀᴅ. Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? “Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
Moses’ incredible response to the Children of Israel contains the most important words in this chapter:
But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lᴏʀᴅ which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lᴏʀᴅ will fight for you while you keep silent. (Exodus 14:13-14)
Moses tells Israel to watch the salvation of the Lord unfold before them—this was the final judgment over Egypt. It is interesting to see the use of the word “salvation” or “redemption” within this context, because the Children of Israel already received their first redemption when the angel of death “passed over” each house that was marked by the blood of the lamb. Here we see a second and final redemption over the entire nation of Israel in the final judgment over Egypt, which was the most powerful kingdom of the world at that time. The last phrase in verse 14 says, “The Lord will fight for you” which are very similar words written in Zechariah 14 in regards to the final battle over Jerusalem:
Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished, and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. Then the Lᴏʀᴅ will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. (Zechariah 14:1–3)
This will be the final redemption of Israel as a nation during the end times when the Lord will bring the final judgment over the kingdom of the world. The text also reminds me of Matt 24, when Yeshua tells His disciples not to worry when all the final trials will come to the world, but rather that they should keep their eyes on Him. We are reminded that this will also happen in the future as described in Revelation 19, where the Yeshua—King of Kings, and Lord of Lords—will come to supernaturally fight for Israel in the final battle:
And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies, assembled to make war against Him who sat upon the horse, and against His army. And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat upon the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.(Revelation 19:19-21)
In closing, I want to encourage you to keep looking ahead to what God has promised! Maybe you are a follower of Messiah who received the “first” redemption through faith in Yeshua and, like the Children of Israel, you keep looking backward to your old “secure” place instead of setting your eyes on what is to come. Maybe you allow the kingdom of this earth and its ruler to take your eyes off Yeshua. Be encouraged that the Lord tells you the same words that Moses said to Israel: Be silent and watch at the salvation of the Lord!
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel, January 25, 2018, and reposted with permission.