Stop. Stand. See.
“But Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the LORD rescue you.'” – Exodus 14:13 NLT
God’s ways are not our ways. His plans don’t always make sense to us. But His plans are always perfect. And Exodus 14 is a perfect illustration of that point. In chapters 13 and 14, we have the fascinating story of the people of Israel being led out of captivity to freedom. These are exciting times. They have their pockets lined with the treasure that the Egyptians gave them on their way out. They have the Lord Himself leading their way in the form of a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. And according to Exodus 13:18, “The Israelites left Egypt in military formation.” They are bold, cocky, and confident.
But all that is about to change. As they march, they are unaware that God is leading them in a somewhat circular journey. Rather than have them take the straight path out of Egypt, He has them camp at the edge of the wilderness, then return back toward Egypt and set up camp right beside the Red Sea. This delay was going to give Pharaoh time to change his mind and send his army in pursuit of the people of Israel. This was God’s plan all along.
“Tell the people to march toward Pi–hahiroth between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore, opposite Baal–zephon. Then Pharaoh will think, ‘Those Israelites are confused. They are trapped between the wilderness and the sea!’ And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this so I will receive great glory at the expense of Pharaoh and his armies. After this, the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD!” So the Israelites camped there as they were told. – Exodus 14:2-4 NLT
You mean THIS was God’s plan! To lead the people on a circuitous journey and have them end up at the Red Sea? Not only that, He had had them delay long enough to give their enemy time to gather his army and catch up! So now they found themselves between a rock and a hard place. They were in a tight spot. They had an impassable sea in front of them and an unbeatable foe bearing down on them. What were they going to do? Moses seemed to know just exactly what they were thinking. Because he tells them. “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord!” (Exodus 14:13 NASB). His short statement reminds me of the little phrase my kids learned when they were little when touring a local fire department. They were taught that in case of a fire, if they ever had their clothes catch on fire, they were to “Stop. Drop. Roll.” Short, simple instructions that any kid could remember. That’s exactly what Moses was telling the people of Israel. He essentially says, “Stop. Stand. See.”
Stop fearing! He knows they are afraid. Who wouldn’t be? They may have marched out like an army, but they are no match for the army of Pharaoh, and they know it. So they are afraid. When Moses says, “Do not fear!”, he is not telling them should have no fear, he is telling them to cease from fearing, to stop fearing. It is natural for us to be fearful in difficult situations, but we can’t let fear dictate our decisions or rule our lives. Moses knew that if they continued to fear, it would lead to flight. They would run. They would panic. So he tells them to “Stop fearing!” Then he tells them to “Stand firm!” Don’t run. Stay right where you are. They were going to have ringside seats to the greatest spectacle of their lives. They were right where God wanted them to be. So they needed to stay put. But how often do we try to get out of difficult situations? How many times do we even try to pray ourselves out of the jams we find ourselves in. But it may be that God wants us to stay put? Why? That’s where the next statement comes in. Moses told them to stand firm in order that they could “See.” See what? The salvation of the Lord. If they ran they would miss it. It’s hard to watch God work when you’re running. It’s hard to see Him perform miracles on our behalf when we’re having to look back over our shoulders. Moses knew God was about to do something great. So he tells the people to stop, stand, and see.
Moses reassures the people, “The LORD himself will fight for you. You won’t have to lift a finger in your defense!” (Exodus 14:14 NLT). This is the God we serve. He wants to show His power in our lives. He loves to intervene on our behalf and do great things. But we sometimes let fear cause us to flee and we miss out on what God wants to do. We sometimes refuse to stand firm because to do so seems to make no sense. We feel the need to get up and get going. And when we do we don’t get to see God’s handiwork.
God did something incredible that day. He performed a might miracle on behalf of the people of Israel. He led them across the Red Sea on dry land. He wiped out Pharaoh’s entire army. Not one Israelite was harmed in the process. “This was how the LORD rescued Israel from the Egyptians that day. And the Israelites could see the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the shore. When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the LORD had displayed against the Egyptians, they feared the LORD and put their faith in him and his servant Moses” (Exodus 14:30-31 NLT).
So what about us? Are we willing to stop, stand, and see? Are we going to continue to fear and flee in the midst of difficulty or are we going to stand and see the salvation of the Lord? God is still in the delivering business. He is still just as powerful today as He was then. He wants to rescue us. He wants to deliver us. He wants to reveal His power in our lives. And sometimes He orchestrates situations just so He can do so.
Father, help me to trust You more. I want to learn to stop, stand, and see. I want to stop fearing and running from the difficult situations of life. I want to see Your power in the circumstances of my life. Forgive me for panicking instead of praying. For fearing instead of faithfully trusting You. Show me Your salvation. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men