Summary: It is very easy for us to get in our own way when it comes to salvation. We must trust God completely to save us.
“Don’t Just Do Something…Stand There!”
by Rick Labate
Let’s play “What Am I?”
· I am mentioned no less than 11 other times in the Bible.
· I am an event so important that 5 other Biblical writers refer to me.
· I happened when Moses raised his staff and stretched out his hands over the water.
You guessed it by now I’m sure. I am referring the crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites. Open your Bibles to Exodus 14:1-3.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. (Show map and refer to the fact that the Red Sea is connected to other lakes by a series of canals and most likely was a larger body of water at the time.) Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.”
The Promised Land was northeast of Egypt. So what did God do? He had them head south.
· If they continued heading in the same direction they were going to encounter mountains almost immediately.
· If they turned around and headed back north toward Egypt that would not have accomplished a thing.
· If they turned to the west they would been faced with heading back into the southern part of the Egypt. They also would have faced some rugged terrain and thousands of miles of desert and that only once they crossed the Nile River.
· If they headed east they were faced with crossing the Red Sea.
So Pharaoh, thinking his former slaves are lost decides that he made a mistake in letting them go. He gathers his state-of-the-art army. He is determined that his forced labor employees would once again be making bricks to build his cities.
We read in verse 4, “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them.” Many still have a problem understanding this apparent capriciousness of God. They don’t want to accuse God of making men his puppets and then destroy them in the end for doing what they had no choice but to do.
Actually we can reconcile this quite easy by using the sun as an analogy. Place a stick of butter and a lump of clay right next to each other out in the sun and observe what happens. The butter melts and the clay hardens. Same agent, different substances. Some become soft when God approaches them and others become hard. What makes the difference is their attitude toward God in the first place.
So the Israelites, now hemmed in on all sides begin a routine that continued unchanged for the next forty years:
· They grouched and grumbled that things were not going to plan.
· They blamed their leader for all their troubles.
· They began to think that Egypt wasn’t so bad after all.
· They concluded that they were all going to die.
But in verse 13 Moses tells them that this will be the last time they will ever see the Egyptians. And they probably thought, “Yes, we know. We’re all going to die!” But it was going to be the other way around.
When Bishop Philip Brooks, author of “O, Little Town of Bethlehem,” was seriously ill, he requested no friends come to see him. But when an acquaintance of his named Robert Ingersoll, a famous anti-Christian propagandist, came to see him he allowed him to come in right away. Ingersoll said, “I appreciate this very much. Especially when you aren’t letting any of your close friends see you.”
Bishop Brooks responded, “Oh, I’m confident of seeing them in the next world, but this may be my last chance to see you.”
The Israelites were told that they would never see their enemies, the Egyptians, again. Now, in verses 13 and 14 we have the two most important verses of this whole story. With the Israelites staring the Red Sea in the face, Moses stands up and proclaims in a loud voice, “All right, everybody grab a pail and start baling!” No, that’s not what was said. Instead he said,
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring to you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.”
Sometimes we say, “Don’t just stand there…do something!” Moses said, “Don’t just do something…stand there!”
Then the Lord speaks to Moses in verse 15. “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on!” Notice the important lesson here. They are to stand still in relation to fighting the enemy but they are to go forward in relation to God’s guidance in the path that He had for them. They did all that was in their power to do but their real battle was in believing that God had the power to save them.