The Israelites had lived in Egypt for 430 years when God sent Moses to lead them to freedom (Exodus 12:40). It had taken ten plagues to convince Pharaoh to set the Israelites free. Water was turned into blood. The land was infested by frogs, gnats, flies, and locusts. Disease struck the Egyptian livestock. The Egyptians were struck with boils. And both hail and darkness descended upon the land. When the final plague claimed the lives of the firstborn of every Egyptian family and their livestock, Pharaoh finally gave in and let God's people go. The Israelites were now free and began their journey out of Egypt. God led them with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22).
But, after a few days, Pharaoh had a revelation. He realized that letting the Israelites go free doomed the economy of Egypt. So Pharaoh led his army in pursuit of the Israelites, who were encamped in front of the Red Sea. Basically, the Israelites were stuck between a rock and a hard place. In front of them was the Red Sea and behind them, rapidly approaching, were Pharaoh and his army. The Israelites were facing death, or at the very least, a return to captivity. But how did they get into this dead-end situation? The answer to that question is found in the words of Exodus 14:1-4 (ESV):
Then the Lord said to Moses, "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. For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, 'They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.' 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 Lord." And they did so.
God led His people into the seemingly dead-end situation they faced. There may be times in our lives when it seems that God is leading us into a dead end, into a no-win situation. We may find ourselves in a situation that is beyond our ability to deal with. When that happens, we may question God's plan for us. But Scripture tells us that God's plans for us are never to harm us but rather to prosper us (Jeremiah 29:11). When we find ourselves at a dead end, God may be testing our faith, but He is also looking to grow in our dependence on Him. He is teaching us that He is in control. By faith, we need to follow Him no matter where He leads and stand back and watch as He demonstrates His mighty power in our lives. God didn't leave the Israelites at the Red Sea. He walked them right through their dead end. He'll do the same for us.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.