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Exodus 14:1-16

Between a Pharaoh and a Red Sea

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • August 21, 2022

What if God decides to take us “through the valley of the shadow of death” which can be translated “the valley of deep darkness” or “valley of harm”? What if God brings us to a place where we are between a “rock and a hard place”? What is God trying to teach us? How does God want us to respond?

In Exodus 14:1-16, we are going to learn faith-strengthening lessons from Israel’s history; when God brought them to a place where they were stuck “Between a Pharaoh and a Rea Sea.”

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Between a Pharaoh & a Red Sea
Exodus 14:1-16

August 21, 2022                       


Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

  1. The first three verses of Psalm 23 have brought comfort to countless souls throughout the ages.
  2. But what about the last three verses?
  3. What if God leads us “through the valley of the shadow of death” which can be translated “the valley of deep darkness” or “valley of harm”?
  4. What if God bring us to a place where we are between a rock and a hard place?
    a. How would God want us to respond?
    b. What would God want us to learn?
  5.  Tonight, we’re going to learn what I believe are faith-strengthening lessons from Israel’s exodus out of Egypt; specifically focusing on when God led Israel to a place where they were stuck “Between a Pharaoh and a Rea Sea.”

Exodus 14:1-16


  1. After ten devastating plagues, Pharaoh finally buckled and told Moses to leave Egypt with over two million Israelites.
  2. The Lord led Israel with the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.
  3. Israel was in their infancy when it came to walking by faith, so God was carefully guiding them to a place of greater maturity in their relationship with Him.

Transition – Last week, we noted during our study of Exodus 13 that God’s way is always the right way. This week, I would like to add that. . .

I.  God Always Knows Where He is Going (1-9)

ILLUS – Not all GPS platforms are created equal.

Transition – Last week, I also shared that God’s way is the always the right way even when God’s way is the long way. This week, I would like to add that God always knows where He is going. . .
A. Even when the path looks like a dead end

  1. In verses 1-4, God gave Moses new instructions.

a. Change course and camp by the Red Sea. Why?
b. So that it would appear to Pharaoh that Israel was wandering aimlessly in the land and ended up boxed in by the mountains and the Red Sea.
c. Please note that God gave those instructions so that Moses and Israel would know beforehand what God was doing and not wrongly conclude that God had somehow lost His way.

APPL – Again, as I shared last week, sometimes the easiest route, from our perspective, is not the best route because it will not achieve God’s highest good and purpose.

Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

  1. Pharaoh took the bait, just as God said, and pursued Israel to bring them back to Egypt and make them his slaves. (5-9)
  2. From Pharaoh’s perspective, everything was falling perfectly into place; likely a sign from one of Pharaoh’s false gods:
    a. Israel was surrounded by natural barriers on three sides.
    b. Pharaoh simply needed to box Israel in on the fourth side.
  1. But Israel’s change of direction was not the doing of one of Egypt’s false gods; it was a setup, a divine misdirection play orchestrated by the God of Israel.


APPL – Why did God lead Israel to a dead end, between a Pharaoh and a Red Sea?

  • First, to reveal to Egypt that the God of Israel is the only true God. (4)

Isaiah 45:5-6, I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other

Second, to defeat Pharaoh once and for all.

  • God did not want the Israelites to ever look over their shoulders again in fear of Pharaoh.
  • In the Bible, Pharaoh is a ‘type’ of Satan.
  • And God never wants us to fear him again either.

Colossians 2:15, When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

1 John 4:4, greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
B. God can make a way through any dead end

  1. God may lead His people to a dead end, but God will never leave His people alone at a dead end.
  2. God uses dead ends so that His people may see things the way they really are.

APPL – What does God want to us see more accurately?

First, God wants us to see who we really are.

  • God wants us to see our limitations. Why?
  • So that we will not rely on our strength and wisdom. (8)

Second, God wants us to see who He is.

  • What is impossible for us is not impossible for God.
  • God wants us to surrender to Him and give Him room to fight our battles.

2 Chronicles 16:9, For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

ILLUS – Nine-year-old Joey was asked by his mom what he had learned in Kid’s Church that day.

Jeremiah 32:17, Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You 

Third, God wants us to know what victory really is.

  • How do we define victory?
  • Is victory when we are proven right?
  • When we are vindicated?
  • I believe such definitions limit our view of what true victory looks like to the Lord.
  • Our definition of victory must include a faith in God that is maturing.

ILLUS – Peter asleep the night before his execution. (Acts 12)

James 1:2-4, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Transition – You can be vindicated, proven correct, and delivered but still not learn God’s lesson and remain immature in your faith.

  • Next, when you find yourself “Between a Pharaoh and a Red Sea”. . .

II. Walk on Water (Be Bold in Your Faith) (10-31)
A. Follow God, not the crowd (11-14)

  1. In life, there will always be naysayers and doubters, people who look at dead ends and see defeat.
  2. Israel fell into this trap.

a. Whenever Israel encountered a difficulty, they immediately forgot God’s promises and focused on the dead end.
b. Whenever Israel encountered difficulty, they doubted God and blamed Moses.
c. It is a trap that anyone can fall into when our fears overcome our faith.

Warren Wiersbe, “Fear and faith cannot dwell in the same heart; if we trust God, we need not be afraid.”

  1. By faith, Moses rose up against the opposition.
    a. When a person decides to walk by faith, he or she will become an easy target for blame whenever there is a dead end.
    b. But God’s people must point others to the Lord and stand firm when opposed.
    c. We might be the only voice, so speak loud and clear.
    d. God has called us to be His witnesses, His mouthpiece, His messengers.
  2.  By faith, Moses gave three great commands for Israel and us to remember when we encounter a dead end.
    a. “Do not fear,” meaning, do not let your emotions or your circumstances weaken or dampen your faith.

Romans 8:31, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

b. “Stand by,” meaning, be still. We cannot walk by faith until we learn to stand still by faith.

Psalm 46:10, Be still, and know that I am God

c. “See the salvation of the Lord”

  • “Your enemies will be no more”
  • “The Lord will fight for you”
  • “While you keep silent”

APPL – May we rise up and testify like the saints who have gone before us.

  • David against Goliath. “The battle belongs to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 17:47)
  • Elijah against the priests of Baal. “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him.” (1 Kings 18:21)
  • Peter and John against Sanhedrin. “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)

B. Again, Go when God says, “Go!” (15-31)

  1. “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.” (15)
  2. “Lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it” (16)

APPL – There is a time to pray and there is a time to move after we have prayed.

  • Faith is an active response to the Lord’s leading.
  • By faith, Moses stretched out his staff.
  • By faith, Moses stepped into the Red Sea.
  • By faith, Israel followed.

Hebrews 11:29, By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.

APPL – It’s tempting to wait for someone else to take the step of faith so that we can see what will happen to them.

  • But what do we gain by waiting for someone else?
  • Who will rise up and walk by faith in your marriage?
  • Who will rise up and walk by faith with your family?
  • Who will rise up and walk by faith at work?
  • Our church, neighborhood, community, nation? Who?

Esther 4:14, For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews. . . And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?

Quote: It has been rightly said, “There is never a wrong time for faith.”


APPL – In closing, if you ever find yourself between a Pharaoh and a Red Sea, please remember. . .

  • God knows where He is going.
  • Even when the path looks like a dead end.
  • God can make a way through any dead end.
  • Be bold in your faith.
  • Follow God, not the crowd.
  • Be ready to go when God says “Go!” 

Psalm 20:7, Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (NIV)

Exodus 14:1-16     NASB

1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 Thus I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.
5 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?” 6 So he made his chariot ready and took his people with him; 7 and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out boldly. 9 Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

10 As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

13 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. 14 The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”
15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. 16 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.

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