The book of Exodus tells the story of God saving and providing for the people of Israel, and teaching them through His servant Moses. The stories told throughout Exodus have had long lasting lessons through many different faiths such as Judaism and Christianity. Through the faith of Moses, God leads His chosen people from captivity to freedom through a series of miracles. The story of Moses leading the people from Egypt by crossing the red sea is a miraculous story of mercy and love, and symbolizes the birth of God’s chosen people in a new land. The miracle of Moses splitting the red sea encompasses several lessons, such as the renewal of the faith from the chosen people, and the obedience of Moses.
The story of the red sea is told in chapters 13 and 14 of the book of Exodus. After a series of plagues, the pharaoh in Egypt agrees to release the people of Israel from slavery; However, soon after he changes his mind, and sends a large army to recapture the newly freed people. God leads the people of Israel day and night to leave Egypt, and finally frees His people from slavery by splitting the red sea to allow the people to safely walk across. By this time, God had already performed several miracles through Moses, but the people did not entirely believe in God because they were still enslaved in Egypt. One of the most interesting lessons that is taught in this story, is the transformation of the people of Israel. God had continuously shown the people of Israel his power through the acts of Moses, and provided food and safety for them; however, the people of Israel continued to lose their faith numerous times. While fleeing Egypt, the Israelites saw the Egyptian army in pursuit of them, and they considered returning to slavery instead of trusting God who had just brought the plagues that had freed them.
“Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness” (Exodus 13:12). Despite God continuing to show his power, the people of Israel cannot trust God when they are in a perilous situation. This situation is particularly interesting in the context of the story because God chooses to lead the Israelites to the red sea because He knows that any other way would lead to the people continuing to lose their faith or turning back to slavery. God did not simply want to free the people, His goal was to free His people and also set Himself above their captors in such a way that was undeniable.
Despite witnessing several miracles that led them to freedom, it was not until the splitting of the red sea when the Israelites became faithful to God. In a plan to show true power over the Egyptians, God actually gave the pharaoh the courage that was needed to pursue the Israelites. “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, so that I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord” (Exodus 14:4). This story is God’s display of saving power, and His desire to be recognized as the one true God by both the Egyptians and the Israelites (Lang). In the same moment, God saves the Israelites and destroys the Pharaoh’s army. If the Israelites were to only flee from Egypt, their faith in God would not have changed.
It was required for the army to be destroyed during the same miracle that saved them for the Israelites to acknowledge God’s true power. This story is one of the most significant acts God performs to save His people. This moment in Exodus is also symbolic of the rebirth of God’s people.
Throughout the teachings of many different spiritual teachings, a common theme is rebirth. Moses teaches the Israelites to repent of their sins through sacrifices, and God will in return wash their past transgressions away and make them clean. The story of the red sea is symbolic of God washing away the past enslavement of the Israelites, and fulfilling a prophecy. God literally washed away the Israelites’ captors when they attempted to pursue them through the red sea. This moment is a bookend to a chapter in the history of the Israelites, and marks the beginning of a new era (Feiler).
The act of washing away the Egyptian army is symbolic because it shows the Israelites that they cannot return to their past lives, and they must move forward into the promised land ahead of them. God still grants all people free will, but through this story He shows without question His power over their lives. By washing away the Egyptians, God is forgiving the Israelites of their lack of faith before they even repent of it.
Because of God’s love, he chooses to lead the Israelites into the promised land to wash away the enemies that pursue them. Despite the many miracles they have seen, the people of Israel do not thank God until after they have crossed the red sea and are celebrating on the other side. God wants His people to trust him before the trouble emerges, but He is merciful enough to save them despite the lack of faith.