Story profiles provide a simple overview of the story along with highlights and points of interest. The story summary is written for kids. When possible, we try to provide an approximate date for the event covered in the story. A printable PDF for this profile is available here and all related activities are listed here.
Bible Story: God Led His People (AKA: The Crossing of the Red Sea)
Bible Text: Exodus 13:17—14:31
God’s Unfolding Story Element: God chose a special people.
After all the terrible frogs, flies, calamity, and death that God sent to the Egyptians, Pharaoh was ready for the Israelites to leave. The Egyptians even gave the Israelites silver, gold, jewelry, and clothing. The Egyptians gave them anything they asked for. They really wanted them to leave!
Very quickly, the Israelites packed their animals and began their trip to the place God would show them. God told Moses exactly which way to go and promised to be with His people. God provided a huge cloud to lead the people during the day and another cloud of fire to lead them at night. God was always with them. The people were excited about their new home.
Soon after the Israelites left, Pharaoh became angry that he had let them go. He decided to go after them and bring them back to Egypt. Pharaoh gathered his soldiers, chariots, and horsemen and set out to catch the Israelites. They had to ride fast to catch up with God’s people.
Moses and the Israelites had walked a long way and were almost to a great body of water called the Red Sea! Now the Egyptians were behind them and the great sea was in front of them. What would they do? They cried out saying, “We are afraid!” God told Moses to tell the people, “Don’t be afraid, I will take care of you.”
God told Moses He was going to do something that would make both the Israelites and the Egyptians know He was God. He told Moses to hold up his staff over the sea. When Moses held up the staff, the water of the sea parted and left a dry path for all of God’s people to walk safely across.
The Egyptians saw this and decided to follow. But God told Moses, “Stretch out your staff again.” Moses obeyed, and the waters went back over the path and the Egyptians were no longer able to hurt the Israelites.
When the Israelites saw this great power that the Lord God used against the Egyptians, the people knew that God was a great God. They sang a song to God. They said, “I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted” (Ex. 15:1b).
- The pillars of cloud and fire provided assurance of God’s direction as well as His presence as they made their journey. God’s direction and His presence are two fundamental elements of biblical theology… God is a God who reveals His will and He is always present.
- God led His people in such a way that a miraculous and dramatic deliverance through the Red Sea would be necessary. This was done so both the Egyptians would come to know He is God (Ex. 14:4,17) and the Israelites would believe in Him (Ex. 14:31). God is always in control to accomplish His greater purposes.
- The bottom line reality we should carry from the story of the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea is that God is the sovereign Lord over all people and the gods we create. The showdown that God orchestrated here was specifically designed and intended to demonstrate His sovereign and unequalled power over all people as well as nature itself.
Point(s) of Interest:
- The story of the crossing of the Red Sea is told in such a way as to heighten the drama for the reader or hearer. This is a good reminder that these early stories as recorded in the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible) were first intended to be vocalized as stories with a listening audience. Imagine a mother telling the story to her child at bed time or a community story teller dramatizing the event around a campfire with spellbound neighbors listening and hanging on every word. Remember, there would have been infants in the host of Israelites passing through the Red Sea in the arms of their mothers. They would have been too young to remember the event themselves, but it would be only a few weeks or months before the parents were recounting the store for them with vivid clarity. What a story!
The Exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea probably occurred around 1446 B.C*.
*See Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., EBC, p. 291. Compare with Bright, p. 123. We’ve chosen to go with an early date for the Exodus event.