Exodus 14a: Be Still

These Bible studies aren’t just for everyone else – they are for me, too. This week, I am going to cover the first half of Exodus 14. It’s really not a long chapter to begin with, but as I was writing, there was one section where I just sensed the Lord wanted us to camp. I know it is an area I need to focus on because it deals with fear, staying strong in the battle, and looking to the Lord. This week, we’ll park for a bit while we learn and apply what the Lord desires to teach.

Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn and camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon; you shall camp before it by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, ‘They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in.’

-          I find it intriguing that God actually had the Israelites turn back in order to confuse Pharaoh and his army. As we travel our roads of life, there are those “turn back” moments, aren’t there? We turn around and then God has us just “camp out” for a bit. I’m sure many of the Israelites thought, “What are we doing?! We look like idiots walking around.” I’m pretty sure I’ve made that statement myself: “What am I doing?! I look like an idiot and I’m just trying to follow God!” If you feel like that today, take heart! God knows the route we are to take and also knows when it’s time to just camp out. Remember Psalm 23, “He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul.” Allow Him to lead you today, whenever you may travel, and don’t forget to take Him up on the rest break, too.

 4 Then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.

-          Notice the second part of verse 4 says, “After this the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD!” Now, the parting of the Red Sea is coming up, and if you’re like me, that’s a “big” story in the Bible, right? But I never caught it until now – the parting of the Red Sea wasn’t just for the benefit of the Israelite’s faith (although, it did contribute), it was also for the Egyptians! Even though the Lord wanted His children out of Egypt, He still desired those who were in bondage to know Him. That’s nothing short of awesome.

5 Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. 7 Also, he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them.8 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children of Israel went out with boldness. 9 So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon.

-          One moment Pharaoh was literally shoving the Israelites out of Egypt and the next he was mad for letting them go. How fickle our ways are! James 1:6-7 tells us, “Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”

10 And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”

-          With the Israelites surrounded because they were camped by the shore, there was no running away. As F.B. Meyer puts it, “How often God leads us into what seem to be impossible positions, that in our absolute extremity there may be room for Him to work.” We all have seasons where we feel overwhelmed. Frankly, I’m going through a trial right now where everything in my life is upside-down and sideways. I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar. You can’t help but feel backed into a corner as if there’s no way out. Even so, take heart! If God is for you, then who can be against you (Romans 8:31)? Let that truth soak deep into your heart!

-          Have you ever had an emotional outburst? It usually occurs during periods of high stress, frustration, and/or a looming black-cloud trial. You know, whenever money is tight (or non-existent) and then you get another bill…and it just winds up irritating you and you spout off some off-handed comment. Or, things are like the Wild, Wild West in your personal or professional life and some event happens which only adds additional pressure…and then you blow a gasket. That is what I call an emotional outburst. It’s usually a string of stupid statements and its oozing with your fleshly nature.

13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

-          Verse 13 is a great verse to memorize! There are five steps we can take away from this specific passage: 

1.       Do not be afraid. There are countless “bad” things which can happen to us – and the ones we love – in life. This world offers its share of hardships and unexpected events, and rarely is it served on a silver platter. When we experience difficult times, our first response is typically to be afraid or to fear. Fear can paralyze us and this is why the Lord encouraged the Israelites to not fear. Our worries, concerns, and what ifs cause us to remove our focus from God and place them on the situation. If you find yourself playing out scenarios in your mind about what would happen if a certain tragedy or hardship ever happened, read #2 and #3 for the solution.

2.       Stand still. One of the meanings of the word still in the Hebrew actually is to present oneself. So, Step 2 is to present the situation, and yourself, to Him. As Psalm 55:22 tells us, “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” If you’re a worrier or you secretly think about how tragic it would be if_______ happened, then it’s time to cast that onto Him. And when it says “cast” – it’s not like we’re going fishing, okay? You don’t hook your problem to the fishing line, cast it out into the depths, and then reel it back in. The word cast in Psalms 55:22 means to shed or throw away. If that fear or worry tries to return, you fling it back to Him. If you struggle with that fear dragging itself back in the boat, commit this verse to memory and speak it aloud each time you find your thoughts wandering through the forest of fear. 

3.       See the salvation of the Lord. Remember when we take our eyes off God, that’s when we become paralyzed by the situation. We must set our sight on God’s deliverance! To trust in His deliverance, we must know the Deliver. We have to get to the place where we can say, “Lord, whatever crosses my path in life, I know you will use it to bring You glory. I choose to trust.”

4.       The Lord will fight. This is a big one. Who’s going to fight? The Lord! The Lord! The Lord, “abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6). Hip-hip-hooray! My sacred echo from the Spirit is to rely on God to help me fight my battles. When I sense my shield getting heavy and my feet dragging…I can’t help but see the Great Warrior coming up behind me, putting His arm in my shield, hoisting me up by the waist, and plunging ahead with me into the battle. Together, we never retreat.

5.       Hold your peace. The Lord told the Israelites to hold their peace because of what they blabbered earlier about being better off in Egypt. Loosely paraphrasing, God was saying, “Hold your tongue and let Me work!”  Duly noted, Lord. Duly noted. Amen.