As we approach the anniversary of it all, I am once again faced with this verse. In fact, I have had to lean into verse 13 as well: "And Moses said to the people, 'fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.'"
As I reflected on these verse, I went back and began reading the entire chapter. It's the account of Moses finally leading the Israelites out of Egypt:
- Exodus 14:1-4 - The Israelites are led by God into the wilderness. They are being freed from slavery, but God leads them right into a trap! He tells them exactly where to go, and then He says "I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them." God orchestrated a failed escape! Why? "And I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord."
- Exodus 14:5-9 - Pharaoh sends his army to recapture the Israelites. They trap the people between themselves and the Red sea. There is no way out, no escape. It's a hopeless situation.
- Exodus 14:10-14 - As certain disaster closes in, Moses reassures the people "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord." Do you believe that God is in absolute control? Do you believe that He orchestrates the events in your life? I do. But I have to admit there are times when I look around, and all seems lost. There is no escape, there is no way out. I have to imagine the Israelites looking at Moses and saying "Fear not? Stand Firm? You be still and stand firm! We're about to die!"
- Exodus 14:15-18 - Then God tells Moses to do the most impossible, irrational, ridiculous thing. First He says to Moses "Why are you crying to me?" My response would've been, "Why am I crying to you? Are you serious? Do you not see what's happening here? You led us into a trap!" Then he tells Moses "Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through on dry ground." Now we read that, and many of us know what happens next. We know that Moses parts the Red Sea when he lifts his staff. But Moses had never seen or heard of anything like this before! It was absurd! They were backed into a corner, there was no way of escape, and God tells Moses, almost as if it was the only obvious thing to do, to lift his hand and stretch out his staff and part the Red Sea!
Are you backed into a corner? Does it look hopeless from every angle? Is there no way out? Are you crying out to God? What is the ridiculous, impossible, absurd thing that God is calling you to do? If you were Moses, would you have had the guts to stand before the people of Israel and actually lift your hands and stretch out your staff? It was absurd! Parting a sea is impossible! That just doesn't happen!
I am convinced that many times we remain trapped and defeated by our own version of the Egyptian army, because we are afraid to do what we know God is telling us to do. We're afraid of what people will think, or what they will say. We are too busy analyzing the situation, strategizing, looking for a way out, when all the time God holds the way out. If only we would obey Him.
But if we will listen, and obey, our Lord will fight for us, we have only to be still.