The story of Moses parting the Red Sea is a familiar story to many of us. As I read the Bible narrative again, the parting of the Red Sea may not be as dramatic and fast motion as I have always thought it to be. Below are the few verses that describe this magnificent miracle of God.
“19 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. 20 So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night. 21 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. 22 The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” – Exodus 14:19-22 (NASB)
First observation was that the pillar of cloud moved from leading the Israelites to the back as a seperation between the Israelites and Egytians. Without the buffer provided by God, it is hard to imagine the Israelites, young & old with all their belongings and animals, not overtaken by the well-trained and equipped Egytian army. The Israelites were sandwiched by the Red Sea and Egytian army the WHOLE NIGHT! This is enough reason to be in high panic mode. TRAPPED.
Second observation is on Moses. In this high-stressed situation, Moses obeyed God and stretched out his hand over the sea with his staff. Not for a second, not for a minute, not even for an hour. He held out his hand with his staff for the WHOLE NIGHT! My hands would give up within 10min, maybe 20min if I use one hand at a time. The Red Sea did not part immediately when Moses stuck out his hand! He WAITED a WHOLE NIGHT! I doubt I have the physical strength to hold out my hand throughout the night.
I did speculate that Moses was able to hold out his hand throughout the night because he saw the Red Sea parting in stages and thus the sight becomes an encouragement for him to hold up his hands.
The third observation is God provided a strong east wind. A strong wind is needed to push the waters to the sides to part the Red Sea. Is there any significance in such a specific description of the “east wind”? The east wind blows from the east. The Red Sea or the Gulf of Aqaba runs north-south. You can refer to the map below to help you visualize the location of events that were unfolding. The strong east wind came and first met the Red Sea at the eastern side. The Red Sea started parting from the east side. Moses & the Israelites were at the west side of the river. This means that when the Red Sea started parting in the east side, Moses had no clue that it started from where he was. All he could see was the sea, and no sign of dry land as the night gets darker. It was only in the last stage that he realized that the Red Sea has parted. Quite a number of books and videos depicted this scene with the Red Sea parting immediately in front of Moses when he lifted up his hand. From the information given, the Red Sea parted from east to west rather than from west to east, right before Moses.
The parting of the Red Sea requires a super-duper-supernatural amount of faith from Moses!
Here is a video excerpt of the old movie, Moses. I got really impatient watching the parting of the Red Sea for this version as it took so much longer than the usual movies. Yet this is possibly a more accurate depiction of the stretching of Moses’ faith before the great miracle happened. Perhaps you will have greater appreciation of Moses’ faith in this after watching it.