The Lord had the people turn back and camp in front of Baal-zephon, by the sea. “Baal Zephon is connected to Tahpanhes in Jeremiah 44:1; 46:14, in turn identified as Tell Dafana, about twenty miles west of Sile. If they camped near here, Lake Balah would be the closest sea. (IVP BBC OT) This gave the appearance to Pharaoh and his servants that there was no intention to the Israelites movements. They were aimlessly wondering. The Lord had them do this to get Pharaoh to chase after them. He did this so that the Egyptians would know that “I AM.” What the Lord planned to do, not only eventuated in the belief of the Egyptians but in the belief of the Israelites and in his servant Moses. Pharaoh and his servants had benefited greatly by the service of Israel in Egypt. Realizing their loss of laborers, Pharaoh sent his army after the sons of Israel. The sons of Israel were on foot but the Egyptians chased after them with horses and chariots. They overtook them at the Israelite camp site in front of Baal-zephon beside the sea.
The situation must have seemed hopeless to the sons of Israel. They called on the name of the Lord to aide them but lashed out at his servant Moses for leading them to their death. They believed that slavery was better than death. The Christian is often faced with this, continue in the ways of the world and the world has no problem with you but flee from the world, they will try to bring you back and even kill you. However, is slavery to sin better than the promise of eternal life in the new heaven and new earth, even if that means suffering and death in this world?
Moses told the sons of Israel to wait and see what the Lord does for them. The Lord told Moses to lift up his staff and stretch out his hand over the sea. When he did, the sea was swept back by a strong east wind. No amount of wind could eventuate in splitting a sea; therefore, no natural occurrence could explain the parting of the sea. The angel of God, who was in a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day, came between Pharaoh’s army and the sons of Israel. Somehow darkness came upon Pharaoh’s army; therefore, they could not see were they were going, which aloud the sons of Israel time to get away.
Recently, I visited the brethren in the country of Cuba and this text has a great appeal for them that someone living in the U.S.A does not understand. American law regarding people fleeing from Cuba: If the Cuban makes it to dry land, he/she is not sent back to Cuba, but if the Cuban is found floating at sea, he/she is sent back to Cuba. The Cuban understands that making it across the sea on dry land means salvation.
The Lord saved the sons of Israel but pharaoh’s army meet their death at sea. “The sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” The sons of Israel were saved in the midst of the sea because the Lord gave them dry land to walk on. When they saw the power of the Lord, the people of Israel revered the Lord and they believed in him and in his servant Moses. Salvation has an assume effect on a person!