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Stand Still, Watch, Then Sing

Key References: Exodus 14; 15:1-21; Patriarchs and Prophets, chap. 25, pp. 281-290; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 2, pp. 127-138; Our Beliefs nos. 22, 11, 3

Power Text

“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him” (Exodus 15:2).

Power Point

We praise God for His power in our lives.

Think of a time you were really afraid. When have you ever felt that you were all alone and there was no one to help you? Remember when you prayed and were surprised by the answer to your prayer?

Moses looked out over the tent city by the edge of the Red Sea. It wasn’t quite the place that Moses would have chosen to camp. They were backed into a corner with nowhere to go. But Moses trusted God and knew that since God had told them to camp there, God had an escape plan.

Back in Egypt, Pharaoh began to realize what an awful mistake he had made. He had just allowed all his free labor to escape. Perhaps he thought, How will the state building program continue? Who will build the palaces? Who will mend the roads? Maybe he called a cabinet meeting, and as they began to discuss events, it became clear that everyone else was wondering the same thing. They needed to act immediately to get things back to normal. Pharaoh’s intelligence chief reported that the Israelites were camped by the Red Sea and were a sitting target. It would be no problem to round them up and bring them back. Pharaoh ordered 600 special chariots prepared to lead the other available chariots.

After the thrill of leaving Egypt, the Israelites camped and waited. Time dragged. They had time to reflect. Here they were out in the desert, camped by the sea. They were a sitting target for anyone who came by. This was not the Promised Land. What was going to happen to them? Being a slave was pretty grim, but was living in the desert any better? At least in Egypt they had food and shelter. They began to grumble among themselves.

The news spread like wildfire through the camp and with it panic. The Egyptian army had been spotted on the horizon. The people went to Moses complaining, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14:11, 12).

Moses listened patiently to all their complaints and fears and then reassured them, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still“ (verses 13, 14). Reluctantly the people went to their tents, and Moses went to talk to God. What should he do?

God told Moses, “Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground” (verse 16). As God spoke, the large pillar of cloud that had been leading the people began to move over them and placed itself between the Israelites and the advancing Egyptians.

As darkness came, the cloud turned into fire on the Israelites’ side and lit up the campsite. God sent a strong wind that blew all night, making a path through the sea. Tribe by tribe, all the Israelites went through the sea to the other side.

The Egyptians began to feel uneasy. They realized that this darkness wasn’t normal. Maybe they should go home. Suddenly the darkness and the cloud lifted. The Israelites’ tent city had disappeared! They looked in disbelief. Then they saw the pathway through the sea. Fear and panic were replaced by anger at the thought of their slaves escaping their grasp. The Egyptians charged after them.

The chariots began to get stuck in the soft mud. Then with a shout of panic the Egyptians tried to turn and run for safety, but it was too late. The waters began to flow back. The army was destroyed— men, horses, chariots.

The Israelites stood on the beach on the other side, hardly able to believe their eyes. God had told them to stand and watch, and He would deliver. And that was just what had happened. God had delivered them. What an awesome God!

People hugged each other and laughed and cried. They began to sing. They sang a new song, a special song. A song of redemption. A song of hope. Moses’ sister, Miriam, took up her tambourine, and soon other women joined her, making music and dancing while the rest of the people watched and sang, celebrating God’s great power and their deliverance.