Have you ever read a book and then gone to see the movie … but been disappointed? I know I have. I think that this scene in Exodus 14 has been done in quite a few movies, but they are nothing compared to the book. The parting of the Red Sea and GOD’s people being set free is an epic moment. I think the depiction in ‘The Prince of Egypt’ by Dreamworks is one of my favourites … until the whale appears making it a bit of a fantasy tale … but what a sight and experience it must have been.
The people of Israel are trapped between the Red Sea, the mountains and the Egyptian army. There is no way out. Moses, who is leading the people then utters these incredible words.
13 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. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’ Exodus 14:13-14
Being still does not seem like a particularly helpful instruction, but the Israelites are not really physically able to do much else. Moses isn’t telling them to be immobile, their circumstances seem to be dictating that instruction, he is speaking to them about what is going on inside them.
Be still! There was no way of creating their own victory or finding a safe haven in this confusion and fear … except to ‘be still’. This was not hopeless, passive or lacking in action. To ‘be still’ when everything around you is telling you to panic requires you to engage in battle in your mind, emotions, spirit and body. There have been so many times when I have tried to create my own victory when I have felt that there is no way to escape. This can look like pushing yourself to be noticed while treading on anyone else in the way, it could be covering your mistakes with lies or excuses, it could even be avoiding what you know to be right … but His instruction to me is to ‘be still’. How??
Before we can find the place to be still, we need to address the other things that Moses mentions.
13 … 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. Exodus 14:13
Do not be afraid – Remember whose side you are on. (Just in case you need reminding – if you are in Christ, you are on the winning side, the victory is already yours, the enemy knows he is beaten). If you are afraid you are belittling who GOD is – maybe you need to change your perspective and repent of reducing GOD to something human sized and managable. GOD did not leave his people and was very evidently at work, standing between the people and the Egyptians. He moved from the front to the rear so that His people were protected from the Egyptians … and blocking the return route back into Egypt. Fear would not destroy the destiny that GOD had for His people. GOD will do this for us too. If it feels like GOD is blocking your way, maybe you should ask Him what His plan is, after all, He gave light to His people and darkness to the enemy.
19 Then the angel of God, who had been travelling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other; so neither went near the other all night long. Exodus 14:19-20
Stand firm – Do not retreat. Do not sit down and give up. Do not give ground to the enemy. Do not run headlong into the enemy. GOD’s plan may not be revealed to you yet but rest assured, He does have a plan. His plan for the Israelites was cause the Red Sea to part by setting a wind against the water and piling up the water so that the people could cross on dry ground.
… all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. Exodus 14:21-22
Expect to see deliverance – Summon up faith in yourself. Speak to it and cause it to rise. Remember where you have come from. It is from this place that you will find that everything else falls away. It isn’t your job to make things happen, that is His. Our position is to be obedient to what He says.
When these things have been activated and set into place, being still will not be unobtainable – it will be the logical position.
There is a huge amount of freedom in the reality that I need only to be still. He will fight for me. My letting go of insecurities, demands and entitlements means that GOD can take control. Being still means trusting in His timing and not snatching at what I can. Stillness is not taking part in manipulation of events or others, it is waiting for GOD to move.
In the chaos of the moment, GOD had a much bigger picture. He was going to destroy the Egyptian army completely so that the Israelites would be free. He would leave them with a legacy that would cause all the other nations to tremble at the thought of the Israelites.
Life can be chaotic and feel out of control. There are moments and seasons in life when I can feel trapped, with no possibility of escape from the circumstances that perhaps were of my own making or because of something else. The waves just keep mounting up and hitting; everything seems out of control. It in is that moment I have a choice. Will I choose rest on the rock of God and to be still? Will I give up my fears, stand firm and expect to see the deliverance that He has designed for me? Will I trust Him to fight for me? I want to choose to be still and see the deliverance the Lord will bring.