“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:14, ESV
Not even a day out of Egyptian slavery, and the Israelites find themselves on the verge of cultural extinction. There’s a sea on one side and a fractious Pharaoh behind. I can only imagine what was going through the minds of the people. Moms and dads clinging to their children. Grandparents feeling resigned, helpless and hopeless. This isn’t what they left to accomplish. It seemed so hopeless. It’s pretty safe to assume that after 400 years of day to day slavery in a desert, these people were neither soldiersnor swimmers. From a human viewpoint, it was looking pretty bleak.
Yet, in this incredibly dark time, God spoke through Moses and said, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent,” Exodus 14:14, ESV. Make no noise whatsoever. Don’t cry out in despair. Don’t rally the troops and make a battle cry. The Lord will fight for you. Can you imagine the faith it took to buy that line from Moses in those moments?
I often hear and read of similar sentiments in today’s world. “Pastor, did you read this?” “Did you hear about what these people are trying to do?” Sometimes my newsfeed stirs up those feelings of anxiety as well. And I imagine that our faces can look quite similar to the trapped Israelites in Exodus 14. There’s an army that seems bent on either death or subjugation on one side and an uncharted sea on the other. From a human viewpoint, it too can look pretty bleak.
“The Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent.” What powerful words these have turned out to be for me. When I feel the need to fight for my faith, God calls these words to mind. And when I do it right, I sit back despite that fight or flight phenomenon and be silent and listen. Sometimes, what I hear in that silence is that God is using the culture to make a valid point and we need to seek God’s face in that matter. Sometimes, I hear in that silence that the church got it right and we need to stay the course even in the midst of a strong cultural current. Even when the army is the unrealistic expectations in my own head, I always hear that the battle isn’t really mine. God’s got the battle. My call is for me to be faithful in this moment to what He asks of me.
The Israelites remained silent. They didn’t panic. They didn’t lash out aggressively. And when God said, “Go,” they walked right through what used to be uncharted waters in a straight and orderly fashion. That sea wasn’t their undoing, but it was for those who sought to undo them. God’s funny that way, isn’t He? I have often maintained that the most difficult command of the Bible is this one: “Be still and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10). Oh, how I am often tempted to pull out my sword and chop off an ear to save God and His Kingdom! God doesn’t need a god to defend Him and even if He did, I’m quite sure I wouldn’t qualify. He wants my focus on Him not the world. He wants faithfulness from me which requires silence on my part to hear and a steadfastness to be able to act faithfully. He wants courage to step into what once appeared to be uncharted waters and follow His provision and lead. God says over and over in the scriptures that the rest is His.
Prayer: Lord, You are in control. I am in your care. Keep me from mixing those two things up. Amen
Pastor Darren Stroh
First Baptist Church of Lamar, CO