The more I read Exodus the more excited and child-like I become. I believe, “giddy as a school girl” is the right expression. And at the same time, the deeper I read the scriptures and learn about the Israelites the more I identify with them – their doubt, their insecurity, their inability to believe God’s faithfulness and provision day after day. Basically I feel like I’m reading a book narrating my life right now. Talk about a humbling experience.
So, grab your Bibles and let’s head to Exodus chapter 14.
The Lord, Moses and the Israelites are finally leaving Egypt and are currently camped out near Pi Hahiroth by the sea waiting. As the millions of Israelites and foreigners are camping, just up over the hill appears one of the last things the Israelites wanted or, perhaps, expected to see.
“As the Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They [the Israelites] were terrified…” Exodus 14:10
And here is how the Israelites responded to God and Moses:
“Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Exodus 14:11-12
Fear makes us do and say stupid things. And it often prevents us from doing and saying the right things. It’s crippling and paralyzing. If I were in their shoes it’s likely I would have responded in a very similar way. But God knew all this before it even happened.
He knew that if his people were faced with war they would be too terrified to go on. And in fear would desire to go back to what they knew in their limited human experience, to what was “comfortable,” and return to Egypt – a life in bondage and oppression.
We read earlier in chapter 13:
“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, instead through that which was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’” Exodus 13:17
God knows his people in and out. Their tendencies, shortcomings and impulses. He also knew that the Israelites (and myself) would witness his miracles and faithfulness, provision and protection. But the very next day they (we) would do a complete 180 and doubt his goodness, doubt his purpose, doubt his plan.
Yet, God’s love, his faithfulness, and his goodness is bigger than us. And because he is faithful he cannot abandon his people. So his response to the Israelites is one grounded in wisdom, knowledge and pure, unconditional love.
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you will see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” -Moses, Exodus 14:14
This wasn’t a war God’s people needed to fight. It was a war that God knew before time and was already prepared to fight on behalf of his people. For their deliverance. For their freedom. For his glory to be made known to the Egyptians, to the Israelites and to us in this very moment.
My desire and prayer for you today as you go through life, whether you’re in a sweet oasis with water and palms trees, puppies and Chick-fil-A, or you’re on year 33 of waiting in the desert… I pray that you seek the Lord for his strength when you have none. And before deciding that it would have been better for you to have stayed in Egypt or before you decide to go back, that you first seek Him and ask for his perfect peace and guidance. God is already prepared for this battle in your life. He knew about it long ago. And you don’t have to fight it alone. The Lord will fight it for you. Have faith, you need only to be still.
“Do not be afraid… you need only to be still.”