Exodus 14 – 13 Then Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid! Take your stand [be firm and confident and undismayed] and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for those Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you while you [only need to] keep silent and remain calm.”
When was the last time you had a huge problem? An intense dilemma? A giant adversary? How did it make you feel? What thoughts ran through your head?
I can imagine the dialogue running through Israel – both non-verbal and verbal – as they saw the impenetrable Red Sea in front of them and considered the undefeatable Egyptian army coming up behind them.
Sure, they had just marched out of Egypt “confidently and defiantly” (Exodus 14:8b), taking all they owned plus most of Egypt’s treasures (Exodus 12:35-36). But now they are in the wilderness, the unknown realm, without any “comforts” of their slavery to assure them. And they are trying to figure out God’s plan. Probably scared at not having the answers of where they are going and how quickly they will get there.
And God tells them to camp by the Red Sea (Exodus 14:2). And while they are waiting for their next move, God sends Pharaoh after them (Exodus 14:5-9). Now they are trapped. The raging Red Sea is in front of them, unable to be crossed quickly or efficiently by the million plus people with all their livestock and possessions. And coming up fast behind them is a raging Pharaoh with over 600 “war-chariots” and soldiers ready to destroy them.
Raging waters in front. A raging army behind. Nowhere to run. No options. So they are overcome by fear and panic. In their “very frightened” state, they question God’s purposes and convince themselves God wants to destroy them (Exodus 14:11-12).
The same people who just experienced God’s miraculous deliverance in one night have lost their confidence, faith, and hope.
Because they saw the size and determination of Pharaoh’s army. They focused on that instead of remembering the power of God’s hand and the promise of His purpose. They had walked freely out of Egypt with millions of dollars in jewels and treasures on top of what they already owned. Not one man, woman, child, or animal was left behind. Yet with their possible besieging they (quickly) decided Pharaoh’s army was too much for their God.
Just like their later generations in 1 Samuel 17, who “were gathered together and they camped in the Valley of Elah, and assembled in battle formation to meet the Philistines” (2). They stayed on their mountain, too afraid of the almost 10 foot tall Goliath in full armor to engage them in battle. They were easily intimidated and convinced themselves that the giants were too powerful for their God. So Goliath came out every day and taunted Israel, and “when Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid” (11). And Israel lost heart. They refused to turn to God or trust God. They refused to engage for fear of not being victorious.
One nation. Two different incidents. One common feeling – great intimidation. In both instances, Israel chose to look at the opponent – the size, the speed, the intensity – instead of looking at their God. The God who chose them. The God who was leading them. The God who was taking care of them. The God who was protecting them.
They chose to let an obstacle become the defining point of their faith. But not in the way God intends. They let the obstacle define them and their faith in a negative way.
And that’s not what God wants for us.
So He sends us a voice of truth. Sometimes it is the Spirit in us speaking to us. Sometimes it is a trusted friend giving us wise advice. Sometimes it is a voice of faith encouraging us to be strong.
In 1 Samuel 17, it was a young boy named David sent to check on his three oldest brothers. This young boy comes in full of life and faith, more than any one solider in the army has mustered up. He looks at the giant and sees a peanut in the sight of his mighty God. He does not for one minute fear Goliath or cower at his taunts. “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he has taunted and defied the armies of the living God? … The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (26) Because the giant is nothing when God is involved. And David knew if he went out it would be “in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (45).
For the Israelites in the wilderness, it was Moses. Immediately addressing their great fear and calming their chaotic words. Exodus 14 – “13 Do not be afraid! Take your stand [be firm and confident and undismayed] and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for those Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you while you [only need to] keep silent and remain calm.”
And that’s what God is reminding me today.
Because God has a plan (Exodus 14:4,31). In the wilderness, He wanted to solidify the faith of His people to believe Him wholeheartedly. Because He wanted His people to cut all their emotional ties to Egypt, which had no benefit except slavery for them. Because they were going to have to face bigger enemies and tougher foes than Egypt, and He needed them to be prepared to trust Him without wavering. Because He wanted them to know without a doubt that He was always going to take care of them. Because He wanted to establish His power for them – and for all the people they would be facing, so His reputation would precede them.
And it started at the Red Sea.
When “the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all that night and turned the seabed into dry land, and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the middle of the sea on dry land, and the waters formed a wall to them on their right hand and on their left” (Exodus 14:21-22). Showing Israel there was no natural force too great for Him to control.
When “the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and put them in a state of confusion. He made their chariot wheels hard to turn, and the chariots difficult to drive” (Exodus 14:24-25). Showing Israel there was no man-made army too great for Him to control.
When “Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal flow at sunrise; and the Egyptians retreated right into it [being met by the returning water]; so the Lord overthrew the Egyptians and tossed them into the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the charioteers, and all the army of Pharaoh that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them survived” (Exodus 14:27-28). Showing Israel that God’s timing is perfect and trusting Him results in seeing miracles.
So today you’re facing an army or a giant.
God is asking you to stand firm and stand strong.
God is asking you to not lost heart or give up hope.
God is asking you to trust Him completely.
What are you doing?
How will you respond?
Choose to be like David. He talked the talk, proclaiming God’s goodness. And then he walked the walk, showing no fear. “When the Philistine rose and came forward to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:48).
He didn’t hesitate.
He didn’t allow himself to be intimidated by taunts and threats.
He didn’t consider Goliath’s size or weapons.
He didn’t consider his own size or lack of armor.
He didn’t go through all the possibilities.
He picked up his faith and ran toward the obstacle. Knowing God was with him.
And that’s what Israel should have done in Exodus 14. They shouldn’t have immediately turned their hearts back to the oppression of Egypt, longing for a false sense of security and a lifetime of slavery. They should have stood firmly and faithfully at the edge of the Red Sea and loudly declared God’s power. They should have declared loudly and proudly how God had just redeemed them from Egypt’s hand, and He was more than able to do it again.
Because there is always one truth that should ground us and guide us. God is bigger and stronger and more equipped for victory than anyone who comes against us and anything that comes upon us. We need to hold onto Paul’s truth – “Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
He is a God of miracles.
He is a God of the impossible.
And He is waiting for you to decide how you will respond to the obstacles in your way.
What will you do?
Marie Fremin. 10/2/16