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.
Everyone is aware of what can happen to the best laid plans of mice and men. But when the plans of men are in conflict with the purposes of God, they are destined for defeat. More than once the pages of Scripture record that God reversed an evil plan designed to destroy His people (cf. Esther 7:10; Daniel 3:22; 6:24).
The ancient Egyptians had been subjected to the ten most torturous plagues in history. The last of these plagues brought death to the firstborn of every Egyptian family, including the family of Pharaoh. The king called for Moses and Aaron and commanded them to get out of his land. Soon, however, because his heart was bitterly hardened, Pharaoh regretted letting his Israelite slaves go, and he quickly assembled the Egyptian armies, including an elite corps of 600 chosen chariots. The troops mustered, Pharaoh pursued the Israelites and overtook them at Pi-hahiroth. God's chosen people were trapped. With the wilderness to Israel's side, the vast Red Sea before them, and the Egyptian armies closing in, a wretched grin must have crossed Pharaoh's face. There was no way out for Israel, and the Egyptian king knew it.
Yet God had warned Moses not to fear but to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. At nightfall, without warning, the angel of God removed the pillar of the cloud from before the Israelites and placed it between their camp and the Egyptian armies. From this vantage point the cloud lighted the breadth of the sea for the Israelites but at the same time obscured the view of the Egyptians, causing them to grope in the inky darkness. As Moses stretched forth his hand, the Lord caused an east wind to howl with such force that it pushed back the waters of the Red Sea. The children of Israel, 600,000 men, plus women and children, crossed the sea on dry land between the walls of water. All night long the crossing proceeded. Finally the Egyptian charioteers apprehensively pursued God's people into the midst of the sea.
"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" (Exodus 14:24). The Lord caused the wheels of the heavy Egyptian chariots to clog with mud and soon they began to break off. Panic-stricken and exhausted, they began to flee from the Israelites. But it was too late. The Lord commanded Moses to stretch forth his hand over the sea. When the first light of day appeared, the walls of water thundered together and not one Egyptian soldier was left. The bodies of Pharaoh's men washed ashore as a visible reminder to Israel of God's salvation.
Once a public school teacher, who was prejudiced against the Bible, was explaining to her class that the Jews' crossing the Red Sea was no miracle. "The water was only six inches deep," explained the godless teacher. "The Jews had nothing to worry about." From the back of the room came a little boy's shout, "Praise the Lord, Hallelujah."
"No, Johnny, you didn't hear me correctly. I said the water was only six inches deep where the Jews crossed the Red Sea. It was no miracle."
Johnny replied, "Oh, that's not what I was praising the Lord for. I was praising Him for the miracle that Pharaoh's army could drown in just six inches of water."
Once again Israel's situation was completely reversed by God. That which was to be the downfall of the children of God proved to be their salvation. The Red Sea became a great symbol of victory instead of a story of defeat. Israel was now rejoicing in the Lord on the other side of a miracle.
Safe is my refuge, sweet is my rest,
Ill cannot harm me, nor foes e'er molest
Jesus my spirit so tenderly calms,
Holding me close in His mighty arms.