Suggested Emphasis: God is powerful and He can change the laws of nature to protect His people.
Memory Verse: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19, NIV
God’s people were finally on their way to their own land—Canaan! A pillar of cloud led the way by day and a pillar of fire guided them at night. As the Israelites arrived at the edge of the Red Sea, Pharaoh and his army caught up with them. Pharaoh had changed his mind yet again! The Lord protected his frightened people. The pillar of cloud moved between the Israelites and the Egyptian army. Moses then stretched his hand across the sea and the Lord caused a great wind to part the water and hold it back while the estimated two million Israelites passed through. When the Egyptians followed them, the Lord caused the water to flood and kill all of them.
Because Pharaoh wouldn’t let Israel go, the firstborn sons in every Egyptian family were killed. God “passed over” His people, and none of them died. The Egyptians then urged the Israelites to leave quickly. They were so anxious to see them leave that they gave them gold, silver, and clothing to take with them. Moses took the bones of Joseph with them as they left. Joseph had made the Israelites swear to do this four hundred years before (13:19). The Israelites had been in Egypt 430 years (12:40).
When the Hebrew people left Egypt, God did not leave them to find their own way to Canaan. He provided a pillar of cloud to lead them by day and a pillar of fire to guide them at night. Even an angel of God travelled in front of Israel.
When the Israelites were trapped between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea, they should have trusted God. After all, He had led them to this spot. Instead they panicked. They did not trust Him to get them out of this difficult situation. They had a lot to learn about God.
We don’t know exactly where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. The Hebrew text calls it the Sea of Reeds. Wherever that was, there was enough water to frighten the Israelites, who were used to living along the Nile River, and to drown the entire Egyptian army.
Jacob’s family had increased drastically in the four hundred and thirty years they were in Egypt. Seventy family members who moved to Egypt when Joseph saved their family (Exodus 1:1-5). At the time when they left Egypt it is estimated that Israel numbered about two million people. They would have had many millions of animals. The crossing would have taken several hours, even if the path had been a half-mile wide! Had the Egyptians known what was happening, they might have attacked, but God placed the pillar of cloud between the Egyptians and the Israelites, giving light to Israel and leaving the Egyptians in darkness.
The Egyptians followed them into the sea. Just before dawn, after the Israelites were safely on the other side of the sea, the Lord caused wheels to come off the Egyptians’ chariots and confusion to spread through the army. Before they drowned, the Egyptians knew God was protecting His people (14:25). By that time it was too late.
God’s power saved His people!
- What happened before this story?
- What happens after this story?
- List of all Bible stories and themes on this website.
Way to Introduce the Story:
Use books from the Public Library to show pictures of Egyptian armies. You will find chariots in many of them. Just have fun discussing life in Egypt in general. Talk about how that it would have been a lot different living in Egypt as a slave instead of royalty. Discuss what the Israelites might miss and what they might not miss from Egypt as they left.
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.
- After the tenth plague, did the Egyptians want the Israelites to leave Egypt? Yes
- How did the Israelites know which direction to go when they left Egypt? They were led by a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night.
- How did the Israelites get across to the other side of the Red Sea? God told Moses to hold his staff (shepherd’s rod) over the sea. Then God caused a strong wind to hold back the water so they could cross.
- What happened when the Egyptian army tried to cross the sea? They became confused, the wheels fell off their chariots, and the water came down on them and drowned them.
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Show a map and the possible site of the crossing.
- Sing songs about God’s power (My God is So Big! He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, Almighty, Awesome God, I Stand in Awe, To God Be the Glory, What a Mighty God We Serve).
- Use play-dough to make a model of today’s story.
- Have children draw two large “clouds” or pillars on a piece of paper. Glue cotton wool on one and paper strips (red, orange, yellow) on the other.
- Discuss the memory verse. Write the words of the verse on cards—one word per card. Have the children put them in order to help learn the verse.
- For something different, cut a fish shape out of paper and use it as a puppet. Let the fish puppet tell the story from his point of view.
- Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
- Find other ideas on the Pinterest Board “Moses:Birth through Leaving Egypt“
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and puzzle worksheets (leaving Egypt) at http://calvarycurriculum.org
- Colouring page and puzzle worksheets (Crossing the Red Sea) at http://calvarycurriculum.org
- Colouring page at http://www.christiananswers.net
- Colouring page of Moses at the parted sea at http://www.bible-printables.com
- Map showing Egypt, the wilderness and the Promised Land at http://www.bible-printables.com
- Craft: Make a pillar of cloud and fire from an empty paper towel tube. Instructions at http://www.meetpenny.com/
- A good selection of both online and printable puzzles, activities and story words covering an overview of leaving Egypt through the Wilderness Wanderings at http://gardenofpraise.com/