“You saw the misery of our ancestors in Egypt, and you heard their cries from beside the Red Sea. You displayed miraculous signs and wonders against Pharaoh, his officials, and all his people, for you knew how arrogantly they were treating our ancestors. You have a glorious reputation that has never been forgotten.” Nehemiah 9:9-10
God was singling Himself out from all the gods of earth. He was making for Himself a “reputation” at the Exodus. He wanted everyone in Egypt and beyond to know that there was absolutely no god like the only living God.
God was executing judgments against all the gods of Egypt. He was not aiming at destroying people, but devastating one of the most highly regarded collections of false gods in all the earth. If He wanted to destroy the people of Egypt He could have done it quickly.
“By now I could have lifted my hand and struck you and your people with a plague to wipe you off the face of the earth. But I have spared you for a purpose—to show you my power and to spread my fame throughout the earth.” – Exodus 9:15-16
The Bible reports that the waves of the Red Sea hadn’t quite calmed down before Moses led the people in singing —
“The Lord is a warrior;
Yahweh is his name! In the greatness of your majesty,
you overthrow those who rise against you.
You unleash your blazing fury;
it consumes them like straw. The leaders of Edom are terrified;
the nobles of Moab tremble.
All who live in Canaan melt away;” – Exodus 15:3,7,15
Perhaps many peoples and cities had heard something of this great God without trusting or worshiping Him. But listen to Jethro after the plagues of Egypt —
“I know now that the Lord is greater than all other gods, because he rescued his people from the oppression of the proud Egyptians.” – Exodus 18:11
God unraveled the system to show it for what it was at the core – horrid, spiritual evil, dedicated to diverting worshipers from coming to Him. God had blessed Egypt, but Egypt had made itself an enemy of God. God’s judgments of the plagues and the awesome Red Sea affair are not understood as mere punishment for bad deeds. God’s intervention put down oppressive evil to liberate people.