All the people of Israel gathered in one place as God showed the way in the daytime by a pillar of cloud. They left together and followed it. In the nighttime it became a pillar of fire to give them light. This way the people always knew which way to go. God led them along the desert road, toward the Red Sea. The Israelites were a great crowd of people. They spread out on both sides of the road and as they herded their many animals before them, dust rose into a big cloud.
Back in Egypt Pharaoh had changed his mind. Who will do all the building and make all the bricks? He asked himself. Then Pharaoh took six hundred of his best chariots and the best men in his army and charged after the people of Israel.
“Make camp on the shores of the Red Sea.” God told Moses. “Pharaoh will think he has you trapped between the water and his army. But this will be another chance for me to do a mighty work. The Egyptians will know that I am God.”
The people of Israel set up camp where Moses told them but something was wrong. Those on the outskirts of the camp could feel the ground shaking. When they looked up and saw a cloud of dust coming closer a cry went up. Pharaoh was hunting them down! There they were, with nowhere to go but into the water.
“We’re trapped!” They cried out.
They yelled at Moses. “What have you done to us?”
“You brought us out of Egypt just so we could be killed in the desert!”
“We would rather have stayed as slaves, at least then we would still be alive!”
Moses told them. “No, we’re not trapped, God will fight for you. All you have to do is be still and trust Him.”
The people did not believe Moses; they panicked and ran from one end of the camp to the other. They paced the shore like caged animals, some of the men tried to come up with plans to get all the people across the water. The children started yelling and running around and the babies cried. The women watched the chariots coming closer and closer. In no time at all Pharaoh and his six hundred chariots would be right on top of them!
Moses tried to calm the people.”Don’t worry.” He said. “Today you will see God in action.”
The people were too scared to listen.
God said. “Why do you cry out like that? Moses, raise your staff and the sea will split. There will be a wall of waves on both sides but the water will not touch you. Pass through the sea with the people. I will protect you. When the Egyptians try to follow, I will make the water crash in on them and they will die.”
Moses raised his staff and a strong east wind blew the water so it stood straight up. A path formed between the two walls of water and in the darkness, the people and all their sheep and cattle ran between the waves. They could hardly believe what was happening.
In the morning they were safe on the other side. When Pharaoh woke up, he shouted. “If they can cross on dry land in the middle of the sea, so can I!”
Pharaoh and his troops plunged onto the path. They were halfway between shores when God told Moses to raise his staff again. Moses did so, and with a mighty crash the water plunged back down! Pharaoh, his six hundred officers, all the chariots, horses and other soldiers were swept away in the flood. At first the people of Israel heard their cries, then, all they saw were the dead bodies, washed onto the beach. The people of Israel saw the great power of the Lord.
They said. “Yes, God will be our Leader!”
The long journey ahead of them no longer looked so terrible.