Continuing with my focus on what happened to Moses and the company that came out of Egypt, as they journeyed through the wilderness to their appointment with Yahweh on the mountain, we have now come to the Red Sea. This is probably one of the most well known parts of the story. The people facing a vast expanse of water, the Egyptians thundering down upon them, Moses raising his staff, the people escaping and the Egyptians drowned.
It makes for great drama and cinematographic special effects! But what is there in this passage in Exodus 14 that God would have us take note of as we travel through the wilderness of lockdown.
I have been amazed at the little insights that have sprung from the Word as I have dialogued with God and meditated on it.
Firstly I was struck by what God had to say about why He had chosen to lead His people to this place.
1Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.
God knew that by positioning the people up against the Red Sea, Pharaoh would think that he had the upper hand and that the people were now trapped. However, God’s plan was to use the situation to bring glory to His name. To show His greater power and authority. I think, as this pandemic began to bring much of our world to a standstill, Satan thought he had got the upper hand. That he would be able to “steal, kill and destroy” amongst God’s people. However, God’s intention is that He will make His glory seen through this pandemic and through His people as He leads us.
As we go into yet another week of lockdown I guess there are quite a few of us who may feel like we are facing the Red Sea. It feels like this could go on for ever with no way out and our frustrations can begin to come to the surface as it did with the people in the wilderness. Their response was to give in to their enemy and to return to being under his authority.
‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’
If we give in to fear, anxiety and anger and begin to moan and speak angry words, that is just what we will do – we will open the door for the enemy to establish authority in our lives. But Moses is clear about the response that God desires:
13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
What a powerful God we serve – He will fight for us and all we have to do is keep silent! I don’t think this means we don’t speak. The people were angry and complaining, they were speaking of going back into slavery. They were succumbing to the enemy in their speech. When we feel frustrated, angry and anxious, God would say, “Fear not, stand firm, be silent,” and He will fight for us. He is in the battle with us.
This is so clearly demonstrated in what happens next.
19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.
God placed HIMSELF between the people and their oppressor. He became their shield in all his glory and power. When God steps in between us and our oppressor he cannot come near us. The question is will we be silent and put our trust in Him?
Psalm 91, which has been a key Psalm in the prayer room over these weeks is clear:
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
Satan would love nothing better than to hear us moaning and complaining, longing to go back to our old life before lockdown. I think he is raging at the way so many of God’s people have responded to this time by pressing into their relationship with Jesus. Let’s not let him trip us up now with the snare of frustration. Let’s be silent and take refuge under the mighty wings of our faithful Deliverer.