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Winds Of Deliverance
The Israelites had come out of Egypt in The Exodus, but they were not, yet, entirely free of their oppressor. The Pharaoh sent his army after the Israelites - who immediately lost their faith and became panic-stricken.
"14:8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel [see The Goshen Refugees and The Israelite Egyptians]: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.
"The LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided"
As he would be doing for the next forty years, Moses reassured the people that the LORD would defend them, if they obeyed Him.
"14:13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 14:14 The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace." (Exodus 14:13-14 KJV)
The LORD (i.e. Christ - "10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 10:2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 10:3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ" 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 KJV) then commanded the people to move forward, into the sea (see Why Through The Sea? and the Fact Finder question below).
"14:15 And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: 14:16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 14:17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. 14:18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen." (Exodus 14:15-18 KJV)
The LORD then moved from the front of the column, where He had led them out of Egypt, to the rear - to protect them from attack for whatever time they needed to make an orderly crossing of the sea.
"14:19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: 14:20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night." (Exodus 14:19-20 KJV)
The waters were then "divided." Note that it was not instantaneous, as is most-commonly believed (and as is portrayed in the famous The Ten Commandments movie), but rather was done through the night "by a strong east wind" (see the Fact Finder question below).
"14:21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 14:22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left." (Exodus 14:21-22 KJV)
The Pharaoh's pursuit was representative of what happens when people repent and seek to come out of the world's way and live according to God's true way. Very often, persecution and hounding of true Christians comes from people who think that they are Christians - while living their lives and basing their beliefs on teachings that are contrary to what Christ, and the entire Word of God, says. For the Israelites, the sea was their way to life; for those who attacked them, the sea was their doom (see Why Through The Sea?).
"14:23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 14:24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, 14:25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.
The waters were live-giving for some, life-extinguishing for others.
"14:29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. 14:30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. 14:31 And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses." (Exodus 14:29-31 KJV)
Fact Finder: How did the sea actually part? What "walls" of water did the Israelites cross through?