Why Did God Use Wind to Split the Red Sea?
It’s no secret that the Bible is full of miracles—the dead being raised, the sick being healed, the sun standing still, and so on. But maybe you have wondered, as I have, why God used an east wind to split the Red Sea over the course of an entire night (Exodus 14:21). Why not simply have the waters raise at His command? After all, God clearly didn’t need the wind.
Two reasons come to mind as I reflect on this question.
First, God was making it clear to the Israelites that He controls nature. God and nature are not equal and/or competing forces. God directs nature to accomplish His ends. God is the master and nature is the servant.
This is the same point made in the opening sentence in the Bible: “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). In other words, God is eternal, self-existent, timeless, and powerful enough to speak things into existence without using anything. He brought nature into existence and controls it.
Knowing that God controlled nature was especially important for the Israelites who were constantly tempted to worship created things rather than the creator (Romans 1). By using an east wind to split the Red Sea, God was reinforcing to the Israelites that He controls nature.
Second, God gives people the freedom to reject Him if they so desire. A skeptic could have argued, “See, God didn’t do the miracle; it was the wind!” This is how God seems to work in general. He reveals Himself but allows people the freedom to deny Him if they so choose. God is not interested in coercing people into a relationship with Him.
With that said, I do believe the evidence for the Christian faith is compelling. In Evidence that Demands a Verdict, my father and I lay out the case for the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, the reliability of the Bible, the occurrence of miracles, and more.
But especially in our age of instant access to endless information, there is always room for doubt. Just as a skeptical Egyptian could claim that the east winds blew fortuitously to save the Israelites, we are free to argue today that the universe came from nothing, that moral values emerged from valueless processes, that consciousness arose from matter, or that Jesus never even existed.
God is not going to force anyone to believe in Him. He split the Red Sea with an east wind to show His power over nature, and also to invite the Israelites to trust Him. And yet He gave room for the skeptic to deny Him. And He does the same for us today.
Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, the National Spokesman for Summit Ministries, a best-selling author, popular speaker, and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.