Exodus 14:24-27  The End of God’s Mercy

Ex. 14:24 And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 

Ex. 14:25 clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” 

Ex. 14:27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the LORD threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. 

This is the kind of passage that critics of Christianity love to use when saying, “how could a loving God judge sin?”  The truth is Exodus 14:14-27 doesn’t make God look very loving.  

After all the Egyptians in 14:26 are fleeing (running away from) Israel and confessing they had no chance of escaping God.  It’s possible that if the Lord had let them go they would even worship Him instead of their pagan Gods!

Instead of having mercy God picked pharaohs army up, and then threw them forcefully into the red sea so none would live [1].

The Lord does this to teach a very important lesson…there  is an end to God’s mercy.

Actually there is nothing the Egyptians could have done to escape the judgment of God because the crossed the point of no return long before.

Note the words of God in Exodus 14

Ex. 14:2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 

Ex. 14:3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 

Ex. 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. (emphasis added)

God tells the Jews Pharaoh will believe they are trapped and pursue them into a trap God had prepared for him.  The really interesting thing is God told them He would “harden Pharaoh’s heart.”  

This phrase speaks to the response of Pharaoh whenever God took  away one of Egypt’s plagues.  Every time he would ask Moses to pray it would be removed (with the understanding the Jews would be set free) but he always hardened his heart, or refused to obey.

In Exodus nine, after Moses is asked to take away a plague of painful boils on the Egyptians we find a different phrase.

Ex. 9:12 But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had spoken to Moses. 

Do you see the difference?

Pharaoh’s hardening his heart meant he willingly chose to disobey

God hardening his heart meant he had no choice but to disobey

In other words, pharaoh could not choose to do the right thing, even if he wanted to. From that point forward he and all the Egyptian army were destined for destruction.

I don’t believe that God hardens the hearts of individuals today so that they cannot accept Christ as their Savior (the Gospel is offered to everyone) instead Egypt’s destruction is a warning to those who take the Grace of God for granted.

We do serve a gracious and merciful God who gives us many opportunities to turn or repent of sin.  But any individual (Believer or Unbeliever) who continually refuses to obey will have no choice but face His judgment.

There will come a time when we all repent of our sins and beg God for mercy.  Unfortunately some of us like the Egyptians will refuse until it’s just too late.

[1]: this is figurative language for God’s putting them in a place they couldn’t escape

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