And the children of Israel went into the middle of the sea on the dry ground: and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand…
The great mistake of most people is, that they trust too much to their own eyes. They will not take into consideration anything that lies beyond the field of sensible experiences. Now God and his eternity, though manifested in this field, are practically outside it; the spiritual eyesight is more reliable than the physical, because that which it sees is safer to rely upon. Natural sight shows us obstacles, spiritual sight shows us how they may be surmounted. Try to walk by the one and you must stand still; try to walk by the other and nothing can long keep you standing. Notice here: -
I. FAITH'S SECRET, The story illustrates this; it shows us: -
1. What the Israelites saw. Their position looked bad enough. Behind were the hosts of Pharaoh; before, the sea. They were shut in. Trusting only to their eyes they could hardly do other than despair (Exodus 14:10-13). Better to have been "let alone" in Egypt, than thus delivered, to be destroyed in the wilderness. A clear head, if the heart be faint, is not much help to any man.
2. What Moses saw. He was in the same position as the people whom he led, yet he could see more than they did. He looked not merely before and behind, he looked also up to God. Faith enabled him to ignore sight, and inspired him to encourage his sight-fascinated followers. Soon the word came which justified his faith, obstacles were nothing, let them wait the word of command and then "go forward." Often difficulties seem to surround us - no way of escape anywhere visible. Even so faith can sight the way, for faith can sight God who sees it. Stand still, wait his word; refuse to allow that for those who trust him any difficulties can be insurmountable. Faith would not be of much good were there no obstacles to test it. Faith is not of much good if it cannot learn to ignore obstacles.
II. FAITH'S SUCCESS. The path of faith not merely leads out of danger, it turns dangers into safeguards and transforms them into a protection for those who tread it. When the word came "Go forward," the waters no longer "shut in" the Israelites; instead: -
1. They protected them during their passage. The Egyptians could but follow, they could not circumvent. "The waters were a wall unto them" on either side; no wall could have been more impregnable.
2. They secured them against the fury of their pursuers. Israel once across, the waters returned, overwhelming the armies of the enemy. So too faith, facing the flood, found that waters which drowned the world upheld the ark and floated it in safety. So too faith, facing the waters of death, finds that though they overwhelm the unready they float the faithful into a safe harbour. So too with all difficulties, faced in faith, they are our best helpers. "The hand of the diligent' not only "maketh rich," it cleaves a way for him through the sea of difficulty, and leaves his pursuers, sloth, ignorance, all the deadly sins, overwhelmed and swallowed up behind him.
III. FAITH'S STRENGTH. HOW comes faith to do all this? It is not faith that does it, but the God in whom faith trusts. Nothing is impossible to faith, because nothing is impossible to God. The Egyptians are sure of their prey; the Israelites are sure of destruction; because, whilst reckoning with what sight sees, they fail to reckon with the unseen God. Moses is sure of safety because he is sure of God, and knows that he is more than a match for all the seeming tyranny of circumstances. Application. How many people are shut in, faithless and discouraged before some sea of difficulty! "I cannot do this," "I cannot do that," and yet no progress is possible until I not merely can but do. "O ye of little faith, wherefore will ye doubt!" "I cannot;" no, but God can; and what he bids you do that he will strengthen you to do. Don't stand facing the difficulties, but face the God who is above them and beyond them. "Stand still and wait" until the word comes, but when the word does come, "Go forward" (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10). - G.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.