The Receding Waters

We are told that when the children of Israel, fleeing before the wrath of Pharaoh, reached the shores of the Red Sea and were seemingly shut off from all escape, they were sore afraid. Penned in on either side by the wilderness, the sea ahead, the Egyptians behind, destruction seemed certain. But they cried unto the Lord, and through their leader, Moses, He answered them. "The pillar of the cloud," by which God had led them thus far on their journey out of Egypt, "went from before their face, and stood behind," shutting them off from the pursuing Egyptians and furnishing them light through the night, at the same time encompassing their enemies in darkness, so that they came not near the Israelites "all the night." It is not stated in the Biblical story just what the children of Israel, who were so sore afraid, did through that night, nor how long it may have seemed to them. We know only that Moses, in obedience to God's injuction, stretched forth his hand over the sea and the waters were divided, so that the Israelites might cross the sea on dry land. The narrative continues the story, saying, "And the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night."

"All that night"! And the Egyptians just on the other side of a pillar of cloud and fire, the wilderness on either side, the sea ahead! Suppose the waters were receding, might it not be that before the sea opened and dry land appeared, the enemy could find a way around the pillar of cloud and fire, or a means of getting through it? Or might not day come to give them light to continue their pursuit? Might the waters not cease to recede, or the Pharaoh who had persecuted them so long by some means reach them and destroy them? Was Moses really endowed with the ability and authority to rescue them? During that night of fear and doubt, who knows what terrors may have presented themselves to the children of Israel? Yet during all these hours of the night the waters were swept back before the wind, and the way was opened by which they were to escape from the enemy they were to see henceforth no more forever. Perhaps they did not see each wave as it receded or perceive the path as it opened, yet the Lord's work was being accomplished and their escape made possible.

Working Out Our Salvation
October 3, 1925

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