The importance of the parting of the Red Sea is that this one event is the final act in God’s delivering His people from slavery in Egypt. The exodus from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea is the single greatest act of salvation in the Old Testament, and it is continually recalled to represent God’s saving power. The events of the exodus, including the parting and crossing of the Red Sea, are immortalized in the Psalms as Israel brings to remembrance God’s saving works in their worship (e.g., Psalm 66:6; 78:13; 106:9; 136:13).
When the Israelites reached the Red Sea, they started complaining to Moses and told him that they’d rather die in Egypt than drown so this means that the Red Sea is deep and therefore dismisses the idea of a shallow lake called the Sea of Reeds. Reeds normally grow in shallow waters and the amount of water in a shallow lake would not be enough to make a wall of water on both sides even if a strong wind blows all night. Additionally, when the winds died down, the waters swept back and drowned the Egyptians with their horses and chariots.
How could this be possible if the Red Sea is just a shallow lake? The word “wall” is also dismissed by some naturalists especially those who believed that the low tide phenomenon was the answer to this miracle. They claim that the word “wall” meant “a brim or just a wave”. Unfortunately, they forgot to consider that the word “wall” was used over 140 times in the Bible particularly in the Old Testament referring to the city walls like the story about the collapse of the wall of Jericho.
Now we may be tempted to think that this is a wonderful story of God’s miraculous saving power on display, and leave it at that. However, we would be missing the bigger picture in the story of redemption. The Old Testament prepares the way for the New Testament, and all of God’s promises find their “yes” and “amen” in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). The exodus from Egypt, though a real, historical event, prefigures the saving work of Christ for His people.
What God did through Moses was to provide physical salvation from physical slavery. What God does through Christ is provide spiritual salvation from a spiritual slavery. However, our slavery isn’t like that of the Israelites in Egypt. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt, but we are all slaves to sin. As Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34, 36).
So the parting of the Red Sea not only finalized God’s redemption of His people from slavery in Egypt, but it also prefigured the greater spiritual reality of God’s redemption of His people from slavery to sin through the work of Christ.