On Standing Still

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The journey has begun. The Israelites are on their way. But their trip would not be easy. The first test came when God purposely used them to lead Pharaoh into a trap. The Lord told Moses what He was going to do (Exodus 14:1-4) and why. He would harden Pharaoh’s heart so that Egypt’s ruler would pursue his ex-slave workforce and end up providing the centrepiece of a demonstration of the power of God. We are not told if Moses shared this information with the others—certainly when the Israelites saw the chariots moving toward them with deadly intent, they panicked (Exodus 14:10-12). The sea was in front of them and their enemy was behind them. There was no place to go.

But then, they weren’t supposed to go anyplace anyway.

Moses told 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” (Exodus 14:13, 14).

Throughout the Old Testament in particular, we find many examples of the Lord sending His people out to do battle. It isn’t often that He tells them to NOT do battle when faced by an enemy. This was one of those times. At the beginning of their new lives, God displays His power to deliver so that they will never forget that whether they are asked to participate or not, it is the Lord who brings ultimate victory.

Don’t be afraid.

Stand firm.

Look and see.

Be still.

There are times and situations in life when all God asks of us is to watch Him work. We are called to trust Him, not to “cut and run,” to look for Him in the events of our lives, and to not get in His way by trying to help out. There would come a moment when the children of Israel would have to move. In this case they were the bait in the trap and had to cross the Red Sea ahead of the chariots in order to lure them to their destruction. When God clearly indicates that we should move, we’d better do that!

But at the beginning of this story, the seemingly defenseless ex-slaves were simply to stand and watch and trust. While they were doing that, God protected them, placing the cloud that covered His presence between them and the approaching Egyptians (13:19, 20). We can be sure that when He tells us to stand still, He will provide for us and when He tells us to move, He will provide for us. The key is to do what He says, when He says it, and to trust Him no matter whether He says to stay, or to go.

It could not have been easy. In the middle of an “enemy behind and a danger before” experience, it is never easy. We are programmed to stand and fight, or to cut and run. Standing still is hard and is absolutely foolish—unless God says to do it.

“No one can fix this,” says I.

“Just watch me,” says He.

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