Bible Study Review: Exodus 14 and 15:21

The Story so Far: The people of Israel settled in Egypt during the time of their ancestor Joseph, who saved both them and the people of Egypt from famine.  Generations later the people grew into a large group and a new king came to the thrown who “did not know Joseph” and forced the people into hard labor.  God took notice on the suffering of the people and was moved to act, choosing Moses, a Hebrew raised by Pharaoh’s daughter who ran away from Egypt and began a new life in Midian, as the agent through which the people would be set free.  Moses initially tried to get out of answering God’s call but God rejected Moses’ objections and Exodus 4:18 sees Moses prepared to go and do what he’s been commanded to by God. Pharoah rejected Moses’ request to let the people go, setting up a head to head conflict between Pharaoh (considered to be a god) and God.  After ten plagues (the final being the death of the firstborn throughout Egypt), Pharaoh finally allows the people to go.  For more details about what’s happened already in Exodus check out previous Bible Study Reviews.


Exodus 14


  • As has been the case through out the story, once the initial threat is past Pharaoh forgets what caused him to act.  He gathers his army to bring the people back.  Once again there is the idea of God “hardening Pharaohs’s heart.”  In this exchange it seems obvious that Pharaoh would have pursued the people in any case, God allows him to go through with it despite it being a bad idea.


  • When the people see the army coming after them they complain to Moses and about Moses, they do not cry out to God
    • They don’t see this as an event dealing with God’s power and sovereignty, in fact they don’t think of God in this moment.  Instead they look at the situation as a reflection on Moses’ leadership.  They take what should be a discussion of faith and make it about politics
      • This becomes a repeating occurrence in Israel’s history: when they’re face with moment that require faith they put it in their political systems/leaders rather than God
        • This comes to a head when they ask for a King, they don’t ask the tough question about how they’ve fallen short of God, they look to change their system to work better in their favor.


  • God responds to this moment by separating the waters to produce dry land, something that has in it echos of creation.  This is a “creation” moment for the people, by passing through the waters they are being recreated as the people of God.
  • The Egyptians get the opposite: instead of a new creation they experience a return to chaos.  The waters crash down and the army is destroyed.

Exodus 15: 1-21

  • Two of the oldest poems in scripture.  It is interesting to note, Miriam (a woman) is the first person to be given the title of “prophet of God.”
  • The verses speak of Israel’s existence in terms of liberation from slavery and entry into life.
    • The life of their nation is shaped by being freed from bondage and gaining access to liberated well being.  Life in Christ is the same principle: we die with Christ and raised into new life.  We’re freed from the bondage of sin and led into new life of freedom.

Takeaway: Faith is trust in the power of God in the face of threat.  The people had to believe that God had the ability to deal with a very real physical threat despite not being able to see any evidence.  Likewise, we are called to to trust against evidence, to take a risk in the face of negative odds, to believe that God reigns in our public lives just as much as in our spiritual lives.

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