Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.’
Exodus 14:13-14 (NIV)
Read: Exodus 14:1-31
Consider: No-one would blame the Israelites for being fearful when they saw Pharaoh and the Egyptians approaching. However, this is not how things started out for them when they began their exodus from Egypt. We are told in Exodus 14:8 – The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. They may have marched out boldly, full of confidence, but that exhilaration was soon to evaporate.
As they camped near the Red Sea, the Israelites saw the Egyptian army approaching and we are told that they ‘… were terrified and cried out to the LORD‘ (14:8). Understandable? Yes, but read what happened next: They said to 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?’ (14:11). The Israelites cried out to the LORD, but they were quick to blame Moses for their predicament. There was no waiting for God to answer, or to deliver them.
How did Moses react to this criticism? His reply is both gracious and very insightful. He doesn’t react badly to the Israelites’ panic, instead he tells them: ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.’ (14:13-14).
On first reading, this incident might seem quite divorced from our own personal experience. Similar incidents occur throughout the Bible and in each case God’s people are facing opposition of some sort. In the Old Testament this opposition generally took the form of enemy armies (e.g. 2 Chronicles 20:17). In the New Testament the opposition often took the form of direct persecution and ridicule for being a Christian. Paul gives this advice in 1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain. In his letter James says: You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near (James 5:8).
While we might never have to face enemy armies, it is likely that in an increasingly secular age we will all face direct opposition and ridicule for our faith. We have a choice to make; either to stand firm or to bend with the winds of change in society. Thankfully it is not our battle, but God’s.
Pray: Father, help us not to panic when facing opposition to our faith. May we always remember that it is your battle, and that you will fight for us. Amen