God wants his people to live in the freeing reality that they are his. To keep this truth fresh in their hearts, he commands them to celebrate their Egyptian rescue with a yearly week-long festival and to consecrate all the firstborn baby boys and male livestock to him. Every Passover and every firstborn birth is to be a reminder—freedom and life are gifts from God.
God leads the Israelites on a roundabout route through the wilderness—avoiding the land’s inhabitants and potential confrontation. Pharaoh soon feels the loss of his missing labor force, and he sends Egypt’s powerful army after the Israelites in horse-drawn chariots.
Meanwhile, God guides his people with a pillar of cloud during the day that turns to fire at night. In a seemingly suicidal military mistake, the Lord leads his people to the bank of the Red Sea, where the Israelites soon find themselves staring down the world’s mightiest army with the sea at their backs.
But God puts his pillar between his people and their enemies. He blows a mighty wind across the sea, parting its waters. The Israelites walk across the dry seabed. But when the Egyptians follow, God releases the waters, and the Egyptians drown. Standing safely on shore, God’s people praise him.
The King’s Heart
The enemies were coming. They were bearing down hard with chariots and weapons and Egypt’s finest warriors. The terror must have been overwhelming.
The Israelites had lived in Egypt for 430 years, enslaved for many of them. That’s many years of barked orders. Many years of timed bathroom breaks. Many years of the baking sun. Many years of longing for a better life for their children, yet hopelessly watching as those children sweated out their lives fulfilling the desires of another power. Many long years.
Then God stepped in. And he annihilated their enemies in a matter of minutes.
Many years of torture, gone. In minutes.
We tremble in the face of our foes. They rob us of peace of mind, of sleep at night. But it is a misguided trembling. God, our God, could wipe them all out in a minute. It may seem like our enemies are in control, but that is a lie. God always is.
When the Israelites left Egypt on Passover, they took Joseph’s bones with them—leaving behind an empty tomb. This pointed forward to another Passover—Jesus’ death would also result in an empty tomb.