Introduction: We come to an end of our notes on Exodus this week with one last look at how Israel’s deliverance at the Red Sea took place – through the cloud and fiery pillar. That same Angel of the Lord who appeared to Moses in the burning bush in Exodus 3 appears again in His fiery holiness to save Israel from the Egyptians in Exodus 14:19-20. This Angel of the Lord, who carries Israel through the Red Sea and then through the desert, is none other than our Savior. May we rejoice at God’s saving grace, protection, guidance and even atonement as we see them in this week’s notes – provided directly from “within the cloud” by which God’s Son is present with God’s people.
Monday/Tuesday: read Exodus 14:10-14; Isaiah 63:9-10 and Deuteronomy 33:16. Israel’s response to the fearful sight of Pharaoh’s army is to rebel against Moses and the Lord in Ex. 14:10-12 – accusing both of bringing them into the desert only to die. Their hearts immediately return to Egypt as they declare bondage to the Egyptians to be favorable to death in the desert. For the next forty years, this will be their frequent complaint against God. As Isa. 63:9-10 point out, Israel was frequently “in distress” and needing to be carried “all the days of old.” Why? Because they so often “rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit” (Isa. 63:10). How then was God able to bear with them so patiently, insisting that Moses not treat them as their sins deserve? How were the words of comfort to such an undeserving people able to be repeated so often: “Do not be afraid…” (Ex. 14:13)? The answer is that the mighty Angel of the Lord, whom we will see in all His fiery power in Ex. 14:19, was at the same time willing to condescend and be “distressed” in the place of His rebellious people (Isaiah 63:9), saving them again and again “with His glorious arm of power” (Isaiah 63:12). It was the grace of this Divine messenger – the very same favor which dwelt “in the bush” (Deut. 33:16), but which now dwelt in the pillar of cloud and fire – which explains how this stubborn, hard-hearted nation of Israel could survive for so long in the desert with Moses.
Meditate and Pray: Marvel anew at God’s grace to His sinful people. Sing about this grace (which we need every day just as much as Israel of old) with hymn # 82 in our Trinity hymnals:
Great God of wonders! All Thy ways
Are matchless, Godlike and divine;
But the fair glories of Thy grace
More Godlike and unrivaled shine,
More Godlike and unrivaled shine.
In wonder lost, with trembling joy,
We take the pardon of our God:
Pardon for crimes of deepest dye,
A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood,
A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood.
Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Wednesday/Thursday: read Exodus 14:15-28 and Romans 9:17-24. These verses in Exodus describe the stalemate between Pharaoh’s army, confident in their power to destroy the slave race of the Hebrews, and the terrified Hebrew nation itself – able to survive the long, sleepless night of Ex. 14:20 only because God placed His fiery pillar as a rear-guard between His people and the Egyptian army. Can we not see this moment as frozen in time – a snapshot of the destinies of these two nations? Egypt’s doom is sealed. As Ex. 14:18 puts it, God will “gain glory” for Himself by the destruction of the Egyptian army later in Ex. 14:25 & 28. These foes of God have already been “handed over” to their doom. God has borne with Pharaoh and his servants, as objects of His wrath, “with much patience” (Rom. 9:22). But now their destruction has come. The very same Red Sea crossing which spelled freedom for God’s people spells the end for Pharaoh and his army. No wonder, throughout Israel’s history, this destruction of Pharaoh and his army is celebrated as one of the great moments of salvation for God’s people!
Meditate and Pray: Celebrate this victory over Pharaoh and the enslaving enemies of God’s people with the words of Psalm 136: 13-15 and hymn # 3 which declare God’s enduring love for His people:
To Him who divided the Red Sea asunder – His love endures forever.
And brought Israel through the midst of it – His love endures forever.
But swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea; His love endures forever.
Sing hymn # 3 by Isaac Watts:
Give to our God immortal praise;
Give to the Lord of lords renown,
The Jews He freed from Pharaoh’s hand,
He sent His Son with power to save
Fri./Sat./Sun: read Exodus 14:29-15:8 and Mark 14:62-65. We cannot end the book of Exodus without following our Savior at the Red Sea through the rest of Scripture: beholding His repeated victories over His foes, and the redemption of His own. For example, follow the “Cloud” of the Angel of the Lord (Ex. 14:19) throughout the rest of the Bible:
- “By the cloud” the Lord Himself looks down on the Egyptian army and throws them into confusion by the blinding light of His face (Ex. 14:24).
- “By the cloud” any one of God’s people could seek counsel and wisdom at the Tent of Meeting, taking his vexing problem through Moses directly to the Lord (Ex. 33:7-9). This was signaled by the “pillar of cloud” coming down and staying at the Tent entrance (Ex. 33:9). No wonder all Israel bowed with hope in verse 8 that Moses would bring back an answer directly from the mouth of God when they saw the cloud descend!
- “By the cloud” God’s glory filled the house of worship where sacrifices and prayers were offered on Israel’s behalf – see Ex. 40:34-38. Not even Moses was able to enter and serve God when that cloud came down in all its fullness – see Ex. 40:35! Why? Because that Angel who dwelt in that cloud – He alone was able to truly offer sinless sacrifices and prayers worthy of God’s glory! Moses must stay out when the glory of God’s cloud comes down!
- “By the cloud” Jesus Christ ascended back to Heaven after His victorious death and resurrection. Having ascended where not even Moses could go, back up to Heaven “in the clouds,” with the perfect sacrifice; He one day will return in exactly the same way. This is what Acts 1:9-11 promise. Behold Him coming back, riding on the very same cloud of God’s glory to save His own and judge His foes – just as He did at the Red Sea!
- “By the cloud” our Lord Jesus promises to return– even as He declared to the Jewish judges who condemned Him to death – See Mk. 14:62-65!
- “By the cloud” of His wrath against sin, Satan and the wicked, the Lord Jesus will slay His enemies on that great Day of the Lord. As from the cloud of His wrath His breath blew on Pharaoh to destroy him and his army (see Ex. 15:8 & 10), so His breath will flash like fire and lightning to destroy Anti-Christ in 2 Thessalonians 2:8. “The splendor” of His coming on the clouds will mean the instant destruction of all who stand against Him! Hallelujah!
Meditate and Pray: Think about that great “Day of the Lord” when “every eye will see Him coming on the clouds.” Oh to meet Him as His redeemed, safely brought through the “Red Sea” of sin, Satan and the bondage of this world! Sing about that great prospect with hymn # 545:
When this passing world is done,
When I hear the wicked call,
When I stand before the throne,
Even on earth, as through a glass