The outcome is well known. The Egyptian army was destroyed. They fell under the judgment of God. No one survived.
Yet something happened that is perhaps puzzling. The LORD took the wheels off the chariots. Why?
“And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drove them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians” (Exodus 14:24,25)
There is no indication from the passage that the Egyptians were within striking distance. Israel had reached the safety of the other shore when Moses stretched out his hand to bring the waters back upon the Egyptians.
So where does this leave us? Is the LORD a vindictive God who desires to bring sheer terror upon those whom He is judging?
God does indeed judge and this action did result in terror but His motive is elsewhere. In fact, the incident highlights something of supreme importance to God.
“And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honor upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honor upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen” (Exodus 14:17,18)
When the LORD took off the chariot wheels; the Egyptians came to their senses. The blindness was removed and in that moment, they saw the reality of their situation. It was not that the Red Sea might destroy them but that the LORD fought against them.
God’s ultimate goal was not simply judgment. It was that Egypt acknowledge The LORD through the judgment.
It is His purpose that all intelligence will ultimately acknowledge Him for who he is.