Read Exodus 14:10-14
10 As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord, 11 and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? 12 Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”
13 But Moses told 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. 14 The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (NLT)
The people of Israel seemed trapped. Behind them is an expanse of water, more accurately called the Sea of Reeds. It is a relatively shallow stretch of water but deep enough to drown those who seek to cross it. Facing them is an Egyptian army just itching to annihilate them. And we know from earlier in this passage that the Israelites are in this position through the guidance of God.
Little wonder they despaired. The escape to freedom now seemed doomed. But Moses reckoned God didn’t deliver them from slavery in order to die in this desert. He himself did not know what God might do. He didn’t have inside knowledge. All he knew was that with their backs to the wall God could be trusted. After all, God had promised deliverance and Moses trusted God to keep his promise.
He tells the people God will fight for them. In this context, it means God will devise ways of winning the battle. The people themselves were helpless. We must be careful not to misunderstand this idea of God fighting for us. In most life situations we have to fight our battles, albeit with God’s help. Faith does not make us passive or lazy.
But when there is no apparent way out, when we are in over our heads, we can trust God will be true to his promise to be faithful and gracious to us. He proved faithful to the Israelites as he arranged a timely parting of the waters. He can do similarly for us. We fight, he fights. But sometimes we have to simply let him do the fighting.
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