Sxteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Sep 24th)

Pastor's Summary of Exodus 14:19-31

After suffering from plagues sent by God, the Pharaoh has allowed the Israelites to leave Egypt. While the direct route to Canaan is along the coast of the Red Sea, God has led them toward the Sea of Reeds (13:17-18), out of concern that they may abort their mission if beset by enemies. Finding the Egyptian frontier forts too strong, they have turned back at God's behest. He has fooled the Egyptians into thinking that the Israelites were trapped, and then pursuing them. His plan will show Israel's God to be victor over Egypt and her gods.

The Pharaoh has had his chariots prepared for battle (14:6). the appearance of the Egyptian army has struck fear in the Israelites-they have complained (14:11, for the first of many times in the Exodus sage) about Moses' leadership (and God's): they prefer slavery to certain death. But Moses has calmed his people, by assuring them of rescue=with God fighting with them-if they do not panic. God has commanded Moses to divide the sea.

The "pillar of fire and cloud" (v. 24) may have their origins as markers carried at the head of an army or caravan, but from this event on they become symbols of God's presence. The "angel of God" (v. 19) comes between the Israelities and the Egyptians protecting God's people and confusing the Egyptians, as does the "pillar of cloud".

The Sea of Reeds ("the sea",m v. 21) is shallow and surrounded with marshy land. God uses a natural phenomenon to achieve his purpose: east winds strong enough to blow away the water do occur. The battle turns when the Egyptians chariots bog down in the soft earth (v. 25). The story was handed down orally from one generation to the next; that "the waters" (vv. 22, 29) form a "wall" suggest that it grew in the telling. Vv. 30-31 are probably a later editorial comment: God saves; subjugation to the Egyptians is over; the Israelites have seen the marvel which God has done for them, so they hold him in awe and trust in him. We do not know precisely what happened at the Sea of Reeds, but we see the result: God sets his people on his way, led by Moses.