The orderly battalions of liberated slaves, with Moses out front, followed the visible manifestation of God’s glorious presence until they came to a place called Baal-zephon on the banks of the Red Sea, or the Sea of Reeds. “The Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to lead them on their way during the day and in a pillar of fire to give them light at night, so that they could travel day or night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night never left its place in front of the people” (Exodus 13:21–22).
Look at a map. Egypt and the Nile Delta is west. The Sinai Peninsula is east. The Mediterranean is north. The Red Sea or Gulf of Suez is south. If you are looking at a modern map, you can see the one-hundred-twenty-mile-long Suez Canal, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Suez. The Israelites camped at the northwest side of the Red Sea. The All-Knowing God directed them to that exact spot.
The Egyptian king, still licking his wounds after the sound thrashing of ten plagues, possibly sent out scouts to watch the Hebrew’s exodus. Maybe reports of Israel’s progress came for merchants or travelers. “When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about the people and said, ‘What have we done? We have released Israel from serving us.’ So he got his chariot ready and took his troops with him; he took six hundred of the best chariots and all the rest of the chariots of Egypt, with officers in each one. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the Israelites, who were going out defiantly. The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his horsemen, and his army—chased after them and caught up with them as they camped by the sea beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon” (Exodus 14:5–9).
Camped at Baal-zephon, the liberated slaves could see the Red Sea ahead and the billowing dust-clouds created by Egypt’s advancing army behind. They were trapped. Like an old-west wagon-train in a box canyon with Indians on the war path, there was no way out. “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and there were the Egyptians coming after them! The Israelites were terrified and cried out to the Lord for help” (Exodus 14:10).
Our instinct is fight or flight. God said, “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and see the Lord’s salvation that he will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you must be quiet” (Exodus 14:13–14).
When Jehoshaphat prayed for protection against his enemies, God said, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast number, for the battle is not yours, but God’s ... You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. He is with you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Tomorrow, go out to face them, for the Lord is with you” (2 Chronicles 20:15–17). God won. He’s undefeated!
Don’t be afraid. “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:10–11, ESV).