Summary: Learning when to stand still and when to move forward is exemplified by Moses in this scripture.
Learning to Stand
INTRODUCTION: Learning when to stand still and when to move forward is one of the greatest challenges for us today. We live in an instant society where we are trained for action--for decision making--especially in the workplace. We are used to solving problems and are not used to sitting idly by and waiting patiently for outcomes. Sometimes we make hasty decisions without giving much thought to the outcomes.
For the Christian there are times that God says to wait until He says go. If we go before he says go, we are likely to make our situation worse. God can’t work in our behalf if we continually try to solve our problems in our own strength. We need His wisdom and discernment. Sometimes standing still is the greatest action we can take although it is probably the most difficult.
There are many things in today’s scripture that we can apply to our lives. Although this event took place somewhere between 1440 and 1290 B. C., it still speaks to us today.
The Israelites had just left 400 years of slavery in Egypt. When Pharoah finally let them go, you would have thought they would have taken the shortest, most direct route out of town, but God had told Moses not to go that way. Had they taken the shortest route through Philistine territory and faced war, they might have headed right back for the slavery of Egypt. Exodus 12:18 says, “So God led the people around by a desert road toward the Red Sea.” Another reason God directed Moses to take this impossible route was to show the Egyptians once more that He is God.
This longer more difficult route was not the way Moses would have gone. Pharoah thought they had become confused and made a mistake in the route because escape seemed impossible. At first the Israelites are marching out boldly. No sweat. Things are going great. Then they saw the Egyptians coming fast and furiously behind them. Verse 9 says, “the Egyptians--all Pharoah’s horses and chariots pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea.”
That threw the Israelites into a panic.
Story: The story is told of a state trooper who pulled a car over on a lonely back road. He said, “Ma’am is there a reason why you’re weaving all over the road?”
The woman replied, “Oh, officer, I’m so glad you’re here! I almost had an accident. I looked up and there was a tree right in front of me. I panicked and turned to the left and there was another tree in front of me. I swerved to the right and there was another tree in front of me!”
Reaching through the side window to the rear view mirror, the officer replied, “Ma’am, that’s your air freshener.”
1. Fear, Panic, and Criticism: The Israelites had a bigger problem than an air freshener. They not only panicked but they began to criticize their leader, Moses. They said, “we told you to leave us along. You brought us out here to die. Weren’t there any graves in Egypt? We would have been better off to stay in the slavery in Egypt.” They not only panicked and had an extreme sense of fear, but they also had a very critical attitude. They blamed the whole mess on Moses.
Do you ever get this way when things are not going right for you? Criticize everybody and everything and this critical spirit blocks your view of God and what He is trying to do. You can’t hear from God when you are fearful, in a panic, and being critical all at the same time. Moses could have replied differently and made matters worse. He didn’t argue with them. He just said, “Fear ye not, stand still and you will see the salvation of the Lord which he will show you today” (Exodus 14:13 KJV).
Stand firm, confident, undismayed--the Amplified Bible
The New Living Translation says, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you.”
They didn’t need Moses to chew them out or give them a big lecture or a boatload of advice. He knew they were afraid and that they had panicked. He knew they were critical, and he didn’t just give them a pat answer. He is saying, “Stand still until you get your bearings and until you get your nerve up to go on.”
Story: The 747 jetliner taxied down the runway. A voice came over the speaker, “Good morning ladies and gentlemen. This is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard flight 22. We will be climbing to a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet and will travel at an air speed of 660 miles per hour. Our flight time will be about nine hours. As soon as we are airborne the flight attendants will be serving you breakfast. We will take off…