How the Sea Became Dry Land

Exodus 14:1 to Exodus 15:1

When the Israelites escaped out of Egypt their goal was to travel at once to the land of Canaan, the country of their ancestors.  The shortest route was that the one following the shore of th Great Sea.  They would enter Canaan on the southwest.

But there was a problem.  A group of people called the Philistines lived in that region.  They were a strong and warlike people.  After being slaves for so many years, the Israelites were in no shape to fight battles.

The other way to get to Canaan was by the southeast, through the desert of Mount Sinai.  Moses knew this land well, because he had been a shepherd there for many years.

So the Israelites, led by the pillar of cloud and fire turned to the southeast, directly toward the Red Sea, which was between them and the desert.  Soon they came to the shore of the sea.  Deep water was in front of them, and high mountains on each side.

As soon as the Israelites had left Egypt, and were on their journey, Pharaoh was sorry that he had let them go.  Now he didn't have them as servants to do all his work.  Word came to Pharaoh that the Israelites were lost among the mountains, and stopped by the sea in front of them.  In other words, he thought they were trapped.

So Pharaoh called out his army, chariots, and horsemen.  They followed the Israelites, intending either to kill them or capture them.  Soon the Egyptian army was close behind the Israelites, and the people were terrified.  They cried out to Moses saying, "Why did you bring us out into this terrible place, closed in by the mountains and the sea?  Our enemies are close behind us.  It would be better to be slaves to the Egyptians than to die here in the wilderness!"

"Don't be afraid," answered Moses.  "Stand still, and see how God will save you.  As for the Egyptians that are following us, you will never see them again.  The Lord will fight for you.  You will stand still and see your enemies killed."

That night the pillar of fire, which was in front of the Israelites, went behind them.  It stood between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of the Israelites.  To Israel it was bright and dazzling with the glory of the Lord.  But to the Egyptians it was dark and terrible, and they didn't dare enter it.

Moses stretched his hand over the sea.  All that night a mighty east wind blew over the sea, so that the water was blown away.  When morning came, there was a ridge of dry land between two walls of water, one on each side.  This made a road across the sea that reached the land on the other side.  On each side of the road, the water lay in great lakes, as if to keep their enemies away from them.

Moses told the people to go forward, and the pillar of cloud again went before them.  The people followed, like a great army.  They walked across the Red Sea as if it was dry land, and passed safely over into the wilderness on the other side.  So God brought his people out of Egypt, into a land that they had never seen.

When the Egyptians saw them marching into the sea, they followed with their chariots and horses.  But the sand was no longer hard.  It had become soft, and the chariot wheels were stuck in it.  Many of the wheels broke off the chariots.  The horses also became mired in the mud and fell down.  Now the army was confused and frightend.  The soldiers yelled out, "Let's get away from these Israelites!  The Lord is fighting for them and against us!"

By this time, all the Israelites had passed though the Red Sea, and were standing on the high ground beyond it, watching their enemies slowly struggling through the sand.  They were all in one massive heap of men, horses, and chariots.

Then Moses lifted up his hand, and at once a great tide of water swept up from the sea on the south.  The road over which the Israelites had walked in safety was covered with water.  The army of Pharaoh, with all the chariots and horses, were drowned in the sea before the eyes of the Israelites.  They could see the bodies of the Egyptians tossed up by the waves on the shore.

Moses wrote a great song, and all the people sang it together, over this great victory that God had won for them.

Adapted from Mother's Story of the Bible, copyright 1905.

Review Questions

1.  When the Israelites left Egypt, where were they headed?

2.  What caused them to be trapped?

3.  When Pharaoh heard they were trapped, what did he do?

4.  How did the Israelites get across the Red Sea?

5.  Why couldn't the Egyptian army cross the sea in the same way?

6.  What attributes of God are demonstrated in this lesson?

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