Moses boldly promised that God would fight while the people kept silent, but it appears that he was not as confident in God’s revelation as he wanted to appear. God asked him why he was crying out. The verse is ambiguous in modern translations, but in the King James, God asks Moses “Wherefore criest thou unto me.” That is, “thou” (singular) and not “ye” (plural). God did not ask Moses about the people’s frantic unbelief, but his own. We, too, need to be so sensitive to God’s voice that he can interrupt our prayers if necessary. Prayer is a dialog, not a monolog. We must listen, not just talk. Moses could have prayed himself into an unbelief as suffocating as anyone else’s, but God told him to order the people forward.
Since the Egyptians were attacking from all sides by land, “forward” could only mean into the sea, which looked like an insurmountable barrier. It also meant towards the cloud that showed God’s presence. But Moses was responsible only for leading Israel; God was responsible for controlling the sea and defeating Egypt. Moses stretched out his rod over the water. God parted the sea so the Israelites could walk across. The presence of God moved from the head of the line to the rear.
If the sea was shallow, the wall of water on each side did not need to be tall, but it limited both the width of the path the Israelites walked on and the ability of the Egyptians to attack their flank. Once everyone was at least in the sea and most were on the other side, the cloud of God’s presence must have shifted again.
Night was over, and at daybreak, the Egyptians stormed into the sea. The seabed was dry enough for people to walk over, but not enough to support horses and chariot wheels. Charging chariots must have collided with the bogged down, broken chariots ahead of them. The sea wall made it impossible to maneuver. As the Egyptians attempted to turn from following Israel to the safety of land,
The mood of the Israelites probably moved from panic to complacency, as it appeared that the Lord would get them across safely while he held back the Egyptians. I cannot generalize that the way forward is always toward the greatest obstacle, but it is always toward God, and God will always get between the Christian and the full power of the enemy–no matter how close it feels.