Crossing the sea in the 1956 movie "The Ten Commandments" (PARAMOUNT PICTURES)

Exodus 14:1–15:21: Seventh day of Unleavened Bread teaches repentance, salvation and righteousness

The seventh day of Chag Matzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread) is a memorial to the crossing of the Red Sea. It’s not only the zenith of most movies about Israel’s flight from Egypt but also a parable about every believer’s path to repentance, salvation and righteousness.

Mankind can only serve one master: God or sin. We can’t serve both. God purchased all of Israel with the death of the first born to serve Him. God owns all of Israel. God is not only teaching Israel a lesson but Egypt as well. When God covered the children of Israel with the cloud and then sent them through the sea, this was a form of baptism.

Repentance is something that happens on the inside, the water is a physical representation of that repentance. Repentance doesn’t pay for your sins. Repentance is merely step 1 of our walk with God. It clears the conscience so salvation can enter. Step 2 is filling one’s life, so “Egypt” will never return.

Israel didn’t leave Egypt unaccompanied.

“When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, ‘What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?’” (Exodus 14:5 NASB)

We know that Egypt is a representation of the darkness and sin that the righteous are supposed to leave. The burden of Egypt is a burden of sin, transgression and iniquities. Egypt, embodied in the Pharaoh, is also the master of those things.

Mankind can only serve one master: God or sin. We can’t serve both. God purchased all of Israel with the death of the first born. God owns all of Israel. God is not only teaching Israel a lesson but Egypt as well.

Chiasma of Exodus 14

This chapter has three chiastic structures.

First structure (Ex. 14:13-21)

“But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever.” (Exodus 14:13 NASB)

Salvation is independent of mankind. We are recipients of salvation but we merely stand still as God does all the work. The Egyptians here are a representation of sin and God is saying here that there will come a day when we will never see sin again.

“As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.” (Exodus 14:16 NASB)

This is repeated:

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided.” (Exodus 14:21 NASB)

The theme of God mastering over Pharaoh is also repeated in Ex. 14:17, 19.

“As for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. Then the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen.”

The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them.” (Exodus 14:17–19 NASB)

The punchline of this structure:

“Then the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen.” (Exodus 14:18 NASB)

Hence, God shows His supremacy, His mastery over sin. Yeshua, who was God in the flesh, conquered sin.

Second structure (Ex. 14:22-28)

God teaches sin a lesson by fighting for Israel against the Egyptians. The punchline:

“He (God) caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty; so the Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from Israel, for the LORD is fighting for them against the Egyptians.’” (Exodus 14:25 NASB)

Sin is not a living thing, it’s something within us. When we leave sin, and move towards God, sin tries to follow us, begging us to come back. Sin doesn’t want to let us go. Sin tries to cling to us and makes it difficult for us to leave. Sin wants to control us and is uncomfortable when we no longer want sin to control us. Sin seeks mastery over us and when we choose God as our master over sin, sin struggles to regain mastery over us.

When God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it was not arbitrary. Pharaoh was going where his heart was naturally inclined anyway. No matter how long you are traveling down the wrong road, it is always the wrong road and it’s best to repent, turn around and get on the right road. The wrong road will never turn into the right road no matter how long one walks on it.

When sin understands who God is, it will flee because sin doesn’t want God as its master.

God wants sin to learn who is the real master of mankind. God also wants sin to flee from Him.

We don’t make sin obey us, we can’t make sin obey us. We have to bring something stronger than sin to master over us and over it.

Third structure (Ex. 14:29-31)

The punchline of this chaism is in Ex. 14:30. The “salvation of the LORD” is when sin dies.

“Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.” (Exodus 14:30–31 NASB)

How does God conquer sin?

He baptized the people with the cloud and with the sea. The cloud was first and then the water. The cloud was the guide. The cloud went over them and protected them. The water represents repentance.

Repentance is something that happens on the inside. The water is a physical representation of that repentance. (Matt. 3:1–12)

When we try to fix sin on our own, we end up in a panic and we create chaos. When we sit still and let God do the work, the matter is fixed properly.

Step 1: Repent

Repentance doesn’t pay for your sins. Repentance is merely step 1. Repentance clears the conscience so salvation can enter in. The New Testament has much to say about the path from repentance to salvation and righteousness.

“It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ And they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men.” (Acts 19:1–7 NASB)

If we stop at the point of repentance and don’t fill ourselves up with something, sin will come right back in and we will be worse than we were before.

What we need to do when we repent is to fill up with the Holy Spirit. Both sin and the Holy Spirit can fill us up but which do we want filling us up? Do we want sourness and sin to fill us up or holiness and righteousness to fill us up? There’s a reason that the Holy Spirit is compared to breath of life and to the wind.

Step 2: Fill up the hole left by sin

If we don’t clean our conscience, God has no room to move in. If we clean our conscience but don’t ask God to come in to fill us up, sin can easily sneak back in.

What does that look like? It looks like what befell the Israelites in the wilderness as they spent more time grumbling and complaining about their situation than being grateful to God they were no longer slaves to Egypt. The Apostle Paul recounts their illness and their remedy in 1 Cor. 10:1-13.

The children of Israel did not fill themselves up with God. They had never really left Egypt and let Egypt fill them right back up again. That is why they had to die in the wilderness and weren’t allowed to enter the Promised Land.

What John the Baptist did in the Jordan River was not new. God always called Israel to repent and clean their conscience, but that was only the first step, not the only step.

We have an inherent problem when it comes to dealing with sin. God provided the way for Israel to escape from Egypt. God also provides a way out to get away from sin. If you are filled with God, sin can knock all it wants but it can’t come in because the house is full. The way out is always to fill yourself up with God, but we have to fill up daily. Just as Israel had to fill up with manna on a daily basis, we need to fill up with God daily too.

Being clean does not mean being free of suffering as Peter admonishes us (1Peter 3:8–22). Suffering gives us endurance and also teaches us there is a way out of sin. Cleanliness is important, but there is still temptation and suffering. Being clean and being filled with God is a process (Eph. 4:17–32).

When we experience temptation and suffering, it is not God who tempts us or causes our suffering. God wants us to learn how to treat one another by our experiences of temptation and suffering. Suffering and temptation teach us to restrain our anger and helps purify our conduct. God builds us up and we are to use what God gave us to build up others.

When you make the right choices over and over again, we now have valuable life lessons to share with others so they can be built up (Col. 2:11–23).

For example, if you have a habit of traveling 90 miles an hour in a 65 mile an hour zone because you’re always running late for work, you can avoid the temptation to speed by giving up your car. Although you are no longer risking a speeding ticket because you no longer have the car, you haven’t solved the real problem, because you still need to get to work at the same time you needed to before, but now you’ve made it even more difficult to get to work on time rather than easier. The more realistic option is to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier so you can get to work on time without the risk of spending quality time with the police. On the surface, it’s easier to work on the externals than the internals but we are better off in the long run when we spend our time working on the internals. The external issues will fall in line with practice.

How do we fill ourselves up? Prayers, singing psalms and hymns, and bible study (Col. 3:13–17) .

Just as you won’t amputate your hand just because you have a rash. You would first work on it with ointment, massage, etc to heal it, we also should not be quick to disown a fellow believer who is irritating us. We need to work to heal that relationship, treat it, massage it and work on it carefully.

When you make it through a tough time, sharing the lesson with others is a way of passing on what the Messiah gave you to others who need your experience.

Summary: Tammy. 

Banner image: Crossing the sea in the 1956 movie “The Ten Commandments” (PARAMOUNT PICTURES)

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