This Day In History: 0000-05-03

May 3 – Exodus 14:10-18 

As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord, and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us here to die in the wilderness…”
But Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your stand and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will charge in after the Israelites. My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. When My glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see My glory and know that I AM the LORD!” 

Oh my goodness, you guys, our God has a sense of humor, and sometimes it just catches me off guard and cracks me up! Verses 14 and 15, right next to each other here in this passage provide a great example. 

The Israelites have just seen the Egyptian forces in hot pursuit, and they’re scared. They are untrained in battle and know there is no chance they’ll be able to defeat the mighty army of Egypt! We’re kind of hard on them sometimes, but let’s be realistic, we would all be terrified too! 

Moses, who has just had front row seats as God single-handedly humiliated the proud Pharaoh with one plague after another, chipping away at his stubborn cruelty until he finally relented and released the people of Israel from their slavery and let them go, has a little more faith. He gives a masterful pep-talk to the frightened Hebrews: “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today… The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” 

And he wasn’t wrong. That WAS almost exactly the right answer. The people had nothing to fear. Not really. The Lord WAS going to fight for them. They could stay calm. They really did have to just watch as He delivered the Egyptians into their hands. 

But what does God say as soon as Moses finishes His speech? More or less, “Why are you standing around asking Me to help you? Get moving!” 

I don’t want us to get His tone wrong here. I don’t believe He’s harshly admonishing Moses. Rather, I think His tone is gently and maybe even a little light-hearted. He’s basically communicating, “Well, yeah, I’m going to fight for you, but don’t just stand there watching, take the path I’m providing for you. Get moving!” 

We all know the story after this, right? The angel of the Lord (the pre-incarnate Christ) moved from His place in front of the people to the rear, miraculously providing a barrier between the Israelites and the Egyptians while Moses obeyed God and raised his staff over the Red Sea.  

All night, God did His work; both providing a way through the Sea and protecting the people while they prepared the camp to move. When the time came, the people of Israel walked across on dry ground, closely followed by the Egyptian army. And again, God did His work; both confusing the attempts of the Egyptians to catch up to the Israelites, and then, once His people were safe, by sending the waters of the Red Sea back into their place – completely wiping out the Egyptian army!  

He did exactly what He said He would do, and the people of Israel were saved. Everyone, both in Israel and in Egypt knew the God of Israel was the true and living God.  

The lesson in this for us is the same as it was for them: We serve the only Living and True God, and He is going to fight all our battles for us. We have nothing to fear, and we don’t need to try and carry the weight of those battles on our own shoulders. Not ever. HOWEVER, when He provides a way, we need to take it! We don’t need to stand there with our mouths hanging open in awe over the path He just miraculously opened through the impassible sea in front of us and wait for Him to push us through it. We can put one foot in front of the other with confidence and march forth! 

Here’s the thing, I guarantee you, the Israelites weren’t unsure of the way God was providing. They didn’t have to stand there evaluating and re-evaluating whether the dry ground through the middle of the sea was really the way God wanted them to go. They didn’t need to wonder whether it was for them. It was clear! That is how our God works. He isn’t trying to trick us, or make us guess what He wants. When He leads, He does so with clarity. We need only to have the faith to follow. 

So, whatever obstacle stands before you today, I declare to you, the LORD Himself will fight for you! Just stay calm, and get moving! Follow as He leads.