Is it still possible today that God parts the Red Sea?
Have you ever felt trapped like you were on the edge of the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s war chariots charging toward you? And it didn’t look like there was any way to escape? Fortunately, God parts the Red Sea today, He opens a way for us just like He always has. But each time it looks different depending on the situation.
This week’s episode is going to be a little different. It’s going to be mostly a testimony of deliverance.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the story in the Bible when the Children of Israel leave Egypt and begin their long journey in the wilderness toward the land of Canaan. The Book of Exodus describes in great detail what happened that finally impelled the king of Egypt, Pharaoh, to let the Israelites leave.
There are so many parts to this epic story, but today I’m talking about that moment of realization when the Israelites were on the edge of the Red Sea and saw Pharaoh’s war chariots charging toward them. They felt trapped and were absolutely convinced they would be slaughtered. You can read this part of the story in Exodus, Chapter 14.
What if you had been there?
Take just a moment and try to imagine what it might have been like to be in that crowd of terrified people on the shore of the Red Sea. There’s no place to go. And you see Pharaoh’s army rapidly approaching. How would you feel?
Would you been one of the ones who complained to Moses.
…and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’” Exodus 14:11, 12 NLT
I would like to think, if I had been there, that I would have trusted God to protect everyone, but realistically, I probably would have been afraid just like everyone else.
But Moses was not afraid, because he had heard God tell him what to do and what was going to happen.
The crucial moment
What Moses tells the people next is one of the most important parts of this story.
But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus 14:13, 14 NLT
But God had a different plan for the Children of Israel than just to stand still passively and watch what God was going to do.
And the LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. Exodus 14:15 NKJV
God was requiring participation, not just observation.
Again, imagine you were there and just heard Moses tell you to go forward. There was no possible way to go forward. You were right next to the Red Sea and you probably didn’t know how to swim. Pharaoh’s army was coming from the other direction. There was no escape.
God parts the Red Sea
But then the unexpected and unexplainable happened. God commanded Moses to stretch out his staff over the water. A strong east wind blew all night and parted the Red Sea. Then you walked through the Sea bed on dry ground.
How would you have felt when you first stepped into where the water had been just a few hours earlier? How would you feel part way through? How would you feel when you got to the other side and then saw the waters come back together?
It must have been an amazing experience.
And you might think that the Israelites would never forget it and that it would increase their trust in God in future challenges.
But it wasn’t long before they were murmuring about not having enough food and water. And later when Moses was up on Mount Sinai for forty days talking to God, the people all too quickly forgot how God had protected them at the Red Sea and provided water, manna, and quail out in the middle of nowhere.
They even persuaded Aaron to make a golden calf, which they worshiped as their deliverer from Egypt. You can read that part of the story in Exodus, Chapter 32.
And the story goes on for forty years. The Children of Israel slowly learn to trust God. And when I say slowly, actually I mean hundreds of years, thousands of years. We’re still learning to trust God more. But this story became part of their history and they passed it down from generation to generation.
Have you ever asked this question?
When you read this story of God parting the Red Sea, do you ever wonder why God doesn’t do these kinds of things today?
That’s exactly what Gideon wondered during a time the Israelites were being overrun by the Midianites.
An angel appeared to Gideon, and saluted him,
When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” Judges 6:12 NIV
But Gideon shot back,
“If the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” Judges 6:13 NIV
Have you ever asked that question? If God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites, if God did all those mighty works, both in the Old and New Testaments, why isn’t He doing those things in our lives today?
God parts the Red Sea today
Can God still part the Red Sea today? Yes! Does He? Yes. It just looks a little different.
Let me give you an example that happened just last week.
This modern-day parting of the Red Sea took place over a period of about three years and culminated last week.
My wife and I went to help a family member move from one state to another.
About three years ago, this family member finally realized and admitted to herself she had to get out of an abusive relationship. She had been married for over 30 years. Her husband had been manipulative, controlling, and constantly belittled her. Because he isolated her from family, friends, and church members, no one knew how bad the situation was.
An abusive relationship
He insisted on making all the important decisions, since his theology assured him he was the head of the household, even though she was the only bread winner and he hadn’t worked, earned any money, or contributed any effort to the running of the household for over 15 years.
This family member came to believe everything was her fault, and was told that if she just prayed more and supported her husband, things would get better. But they didn’t.
There’s a lot more to what was going on to make this an unbearable relationship, but you get the idea. I’ve just given you the tip of the iceberg so you can appreciate how God delivered our relative. It felt very much like the parting of the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites. There were lots of little parting of the waters all along the way.
About two and a half years ago, this relative and her daughter moved out of the house into their own apartment when she realized the marriage could not be salvaged. It was her first glimmer of freedom.
A supportive church
She had talked to the pastor of her church and explained the situation. Naturally the pastor wanted to try to help save the marriage and invited husband and wife to talk. But after seeing for himself the husband’s behavior and attitude, not to mention his refusal to admit any wrong doing, the pastor quickly realized our relative was in a very abusive marriage and that it was a danger to her emotional, spiritual, and physical health, to remain in the relationship.
I just have to say here that I am deeply grateful for this pastor, who is a member of a denomination which sometimes insists that a wife should stay with an abusive spouse, no matter what, in the effort to redeem the relationship. But this pastor, and the church as a whole, supported our relative to seek a divorce.
She actually had tried to save the marriage. In addition to talking to their pastor, she got him to go to a counseling session. But he refused to go back, because, in his mind, he didn’t have a problem. The counselor said it was the most severe case of narcissism she had ever seen.
A painful divorce
The divorce process took two and a half years to finally be resolved and was finalized last spring.
Suddenly she had to get the house ready to sell, following the direction of the court after the divorce. Once again the husband did nothing to help, but instead tried to hinder the process. He had been living in the house all this time and had never done anything to take care of it or keep it clean.
When he was forced by the court to move out so it could be sold, the place was a complete dump with trash and piles of paper everywhere. He was a hoarder and had every piece of paper, every magazine, and every book he had ever read.
Here again, the members of our relative’s church came to the rescue. A virtual army of people came over for six weeks to clean, repair, and paint, along with whatever else needed to be done to get the house ready to sell.
Freedom from abuse at work
During all this time, this family member was also being undermined at work. A younger person had come into the department and slowly usurped her position and authority. The work environment had become toxic just like her marriage had. Even though she didn’t feel she could afford to retire, she decided that was the best thing to do and was able to turn in her retirement paperwork at the last minute before a policy change took effect that would seriously downsize her retirement benefits.
All during this time, we were praying, her church was praying, and this family member and her daughter were praying for God to show them what to do next. Each step of the way was made clear just when it was needed. The Red Sea parted so many times, it was inspiring to watch.
God parts the Red Sea leading to a new job
Then, a couple of months ago, the daughter applied for a teaching job in another state. She got the job and her mother decided to apply for a teaching job in that same school system. She also was hired.
The only problem was that, by that time, they both had to report for work in just a couple of weeks. That meant they had to pack up everything in their apartment, find a place to live in the new state, and move in a very short period of time.
The Red Sea continued to part and things kept falling into place. My wife and I flew out to help her finish packing. She rented two trucks, a 26 foot and a 16 foot, and hired three men to pack the trucks on a Saturday.
That Sunday, we got to go to church with her and meet this amazing pastor and congregation, who had been so loving and supportive. It was really rewarding to be able to thank them in person for all they had done.
A long move to a new state
Early Monday we left for what should have been about an 8 hour drive, but turned out to be 12 because the 26 foot truck wouldn’t go over 50 mph. My wife drove the 26 footer and I drove the 16 footer. Mother and daughter followed in their car with Susie, their dog.
We arrived exhausted but grateful that evening in their new state and spent the night with her sister in a nearby town.
The next day, Tuesday, three guys came to unload the trucks. My wife and I had planned to leave early Wednesday morning, but quickly realized we needed to stay longer to help this relative get more situated. On Wednesday and Thursday, we helped her unpack all the kitchen boxes, arrange the furniture, and hang pictures. We left late in the day on Thursday and the next day both mother and daughter started their new jobs.
Interestingly enough, the week we were needed to help with this move, was the only week we could have both been there. And it was quickly clear we both needed to be there.
Their lives had been a whirlwind of activity for months, culminating in the last two weeks with the unexpected move, new jobs, and a new home, but the Red Sea continued to part and every detail fell into place each step of the way.
The Red Sea parting as a metaphor
Now you may be thinking, Hey James, this is not quite so big a deal as the parting of the Red Sea was. And in one way, you’re absolutely right. There were not over a million people trying to get from one place to another with a powerful army pursuing them.
But if you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship or work environment, there may not literally be 600 Egyptian war chariots charging toward you, but it can sure feel like it.
Having prayed each step of the way, seeing how everything fell into place, and how every obstacle had been overcome in unexpected and surprising ways over the last three years, the parting of the Red Sea is an incredible metaphor for how God delivered this family member and her daughter from an abusive and toxic marriage and an abusive and toxic work environment.
Now this may not be anything even close to a situation or challenge you may be having, but it shows the power of God to bring solutions to a problem. It shows the power of God to close and open doors. It shows God’s attention to every detail. God still parts the Red Sea in whatever way is needed.
And it also shows the true spirit of how a church can be supportive and helpful. The cool thing is, the church members saw the results of their prayers and support. They saw first-hand God in action in the life of our relative. How would your church respond in a similar situation?
This family member has a much stronger faith than she did before. She told us she has never felt so loved by God and so many people before.
Does this mean she won’t have any more challenges in life? Of course not.
Remembering the original Red Sea parting
Just because the Israelites saw the parting of the Red Sea and got to the other side, didn’t mean their faith would not be put to the test in the future. Sometimes that faith would falter. Sometimes it would hold strong.
This is true for our relative and it’s true for you and me. But we remember the times God has parted the Red Sea in the past and that strengthens us to meet challenges in the future.
In fact, people in the Bible continued to remember this event to strengthen their faith for their own times.
After the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall, under the supervision of Nehemiah, the Levites prayed,
You saw the suffering of our ancestors in Egypt; you heard their cry at the Red Sea. Nehemiah 9:9 NIV
The book of Psalms has multiple reminders of what God did. Here’s just one example.
He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; he led them through the depths as through a desert. Psalm 106:9 NIV
In the New Testament, Stephen mentions the parting of the Red Sea in his defense before the high priest.
He led them out of Egypt and performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the wilderness. Acts 7:36 NIV
The parting of the Red Sea was a part of their heritage. Let it be part of ours as well.
God never condones abuse
One of the lessons that this family member learned, and in fact her whole church family saw this, is that God never sends or condones a toxic, abusive relationship. He delivers us from it. God was not testing our relative to see if she was faithful. He was opening her eyes to see the abuse for what it was and providing a way to remover herself from it.
The situation was a result of how her husband used his theology to justify his bad behavior.
One of the other lessons here is that God often requires us to go forward, as He did with the Israelites in front of the Red Sea, even before the water is parted and the way appears.
As I said earlier, you may not have been in this kind of a challenge, but the fact that God will part the Red Sea, so to speak, to deliver you from harm, regardless of what the problem is, gives us hope.
Do you have a Red Sea in your life?
Is there a Red Sea in front of you right now? Is there something that seems to keep you from going forward, at the same time when evil forces are closing in on you? Remember the Children of Israel and how the Red Sea was parted from them. Remember the experience I just related of our family member who was delivered from an abusive relationship and job environment. And remember how God had helped you in the past.
And if you are not having a Red Sea moment, then I hope you will be alert to help someone who is, just like the church members and pastor helped our relative and her daughter.
Sometimes these Red Sea moments are not so big; sometimes they are enormous, but God is always able and willing to deliver His children, that’s you and me, from abuse, from a toxic environment, from evil of any kind.
James Early, the Jesus Mindset Coach, is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster. He conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
Exodus 14:11, 12 NLT
11 and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt?
12 Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”
Exodus 14:13, 14 NLT
13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.
14 The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”
Exodus 14:15 NKJV
15 And the LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.
Judges 6:12 NIV
12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”
Judges 6:13 NIV
13 if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
Nehemiah 9:9 NIV
9 You saw the suffering of our ancestors in Egypt; you heard their cry at the Red Sea.
Psalm 106:9 NIV
9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; he led them through the depths as through a desert.
Acts 7:36 NIV
36 He led them out of Egypt and performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the wilderness.