There are many small, large, and overlapping chiastic structures in these chapters of Exodus, which form a complex network. The heart of most of them has been the theme of Exodus since the beginning: that everyone may know who YHVH is.
There are two verses in today’s reading that are at the heart of two elements within a larger chiastic structure. Let’s just look at this one set of matching pairs (a complete description of even this one structure would fill several pages, way too much for this post)! I will write out the repeating elements within them so it is easier to see:
And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD. Exo 14:10
1) Egyptians pursued Israel into the wilderness; Exo 14:5-9
2) Israel saw the Egyptians marching after them; Exo 14:10a
3) Israel feared Pharaoh; Exo 14:10b
4) Israel cried out to YHVH in terror and anguish; Exo 14:10c-12
So the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt. So the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses. Exo 14:30-31
1) Egyptians pursued Israel into the sea; Exo 14:23-30a
2) Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore; Exo 14:30b
3) Israel feared YHVH, and believed Him and Moses; Exo 14:31
4) Israel cried out to YHVH in praise; Exo chapter 15
What I find instructive about the way this pair is matched, is that we are given the clue that Israel feared Pharaoh because they did not believe YHVH. The fear of man always puts a neon flashing light on top of unbelief. Israel had just gone through a miraculous deliverance, where they witnessed ten mighty plagues poured out onto Egypt! Everything that the LORD had said up until that point had been completely accomplished! How quickly they forgot who YHVH was – the same YHVH who had turned the Nile into blood and kept sunlight shining in Goshen, while thick darkness prevailed in Egypt! The same YHVH who had just slain all the firstborn of Egypt but redeemed all the firstborn of Israel!
Now lest we despise them, don’t we do the exact same thing? When we take our eyes off of YHVH and who He is and what He has said, and what He has done, the Egyptians who might be pursuing us can look awfully terrifying! When we experience the fear of man, that is our clue that we have our eyes fixed on the wrong thing!
To counteract fear – cry out to YHVH in praise!
For further study: The chiastic structures in these chapters of Exodus are complex! But try filling in the rest of the structure between these two elements. What is the central axis? Why has Scripture put neon flashing lights around that passage?
Finding Messiah: Chapter 13 of Exodus contains the Law of the Firstborn. In fact, three separate times in chapter 13 alone, YHVH commands that the firstborn be set apart to Him: Exo 13:2, Exo 13:12-13, and Exo 13:15b. Three – a sign of Messiah in Scripture! The repetition draws our attention so that we don’t miss what Scripture is teaching!
The firstborn of the Egyptians were subject to death, however, the firstborn of Israel was redeemed from death by the Passover. In the future, the firstborn of animals were sacrificed to the LORD – they died. The firstborn of donkeys were redeemed with a lamb, and if they were not redeemed, then they also died. The firstborn of men were redeemed with a lamb, and did not die.
Those who are not redeemed by the Lamb, will die. Those who are redeemed, will live!