Why Did God Save Israel at the Red Sea? (Exodus 14)

Here in Exodus 14 we have the doubt and grumbling of Israel placed in the middle of a God Sovereignty and Glory sandwich. Right before Israel grumbles and right after God declares that He will get glory for Himself over the Egyptians. Notice His main purpose is His glory and to make His name know with a side benefit of the protection and provision of His people. His main purpose is not the protection of His people, though it does accomplish that.

God saved Israel at the Red Sea to get glory for Himself and let people know that He is God
“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.”
(Exodus 14:4 ESV)

“The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
(Exodus 14:15-18 ESV)

What was Israel concerned about? They were only concerned about themselves, not God.
“They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘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.”
(Exodus 14:11-12 ESV)

The selfishness described here is staggering. Would it really have been better for them to have stayed in Egypt? Think about the blessings they would have missed out on if they had stayed in Egypt:

  • The Miraculous 10 Plagues
  • The Passover
  • The Miraculous crossing of the Red Sea
  • Plundering Egypt
  • Lead by God with a cloud by day and a fire by night
  • The construction and use of the Tabernacle
  • The Ten Commandments
  • Miraculous water from a rock
  • Miraculous bread from Heaven (manna)
  • clothes that didn’t wear out
  • The godly life and leadership of Moses
  • many, many, more

It would not have been better for Israel, in fact it would have been far worse for them had God not brought them out of Egyptian bondage. Yet, in the moment, it was very easy to look at their current circumstance and think it was not best. In that moment they couldn’t understand how God could possibly be working the situation out for their good and His glory (though that is precisely His purpose). Instead of exercising their faith and trusting that He would somehow take care of them as He promised, they chose to grumble against God and doubt His goodness and His sovereignty. How often I am like Israel. Too often we do not completely place our trust and faith in the goodness and sovereignty of God. In these situations we, like Israel, usually do one of the following (1) Sinfully doubt God and place our faith or trust in our own strength or (2) Blame others (including God) for our suffering. We must repent of this thinking and trust in the sovereignty and goodness of our God. Also, it is good for His children when He gets glory for Himself, it is never wrong for God to attract glory to Himself since He is the most glorious object. When God does things which glorify Himself He is loving His people.


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