It was a huge mess. After watching their oppressors being hounded by bloody water, frogs, flies, gnats, hail, dying animals, locusts up the wazoo, darkness, festering sores all over their bodies, and the deaths of their firstborn sons… now they were free. Well, they were on the edge of the wilderness loaded down with loot, with no homes to which to return, but at least they weren’t slaves anymore, right? Then it all started to look really bad…
Camped along the shore of the Red Sea, happy to be out of Egypt, the Hebrews looked out in the distance and saw the Egyptian army marching toward them. In terror at the realization that they were stuck between an army bent on their destruction and a Sea that left nowhere to run, they cried out to God and turned on Moses. “Why did you lead us here? We could have died just as well in Egypt! Why couldn’t you have just left us alone?”
Moses kept a calmer head and offered what seemed to him to be good advice, “Don’t be afraid of them, just stand firm and watch what God will do. He’ll fight for you, just be quiet and watch.” Doesn’t that sound comforting? “God’s led us here & it’s His fight – just watch.” I’ve got to admire Moses’ trust in God at this point. He knew that God had led them there, and he knew that God would deliver them. But his fight or flight response must have been broken by the burning bush experience or something. When the army’s coming after you and you’ve got nothing with which to defend yourself, you run! Hide! Hey, maybe you pick up some rocks and prepare to do your best to buy some time for your wife and kids to get to safety, but you don’t just stand there!
“The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” Those are the words (NASB) Moses said to the people in the face of certain death. Does that not sound crazy to anyone else? I bet it did to a lot of them! Now, several thousand years later, we know he was right. We know what they could scarcely hope for as they stood near the sea, waiting to die. God did rescue them. But He saw the whole episode a little differently than Moses did. He said to Moses, “Why are you crying to me? Tell the people to get moving!” Essentially, He said “Don’t just stand there dummy. Go!”
Sometimes, we’re tempted to think there’s nothing we can do to make a situation better. We’re stuck, and we think the only thing we can do is sit there and cry (to God?). Or maybe we think we need to just wait out the storm and perhaps, somehow the impending army won’t crush us and we’ll survive. So, we whimper on the shore when God’s ready to break open the waters and let us escape to life with Him – if we’d only get moving…
I don’t mean to make light of asking God for help – we do need to be desperate for Him to rescue us. Some of us need to be a whole lot less self-reliant. But we also need to get moving. When God tells us to move forward, into that brick wall, or perilous sea, or whatever obstacle is in the way… we need to get moving!
I wonder if Jesus had something like that in mind when He told Peter that He was going to build a church that even the gates of hell couldn’t stop? When He told His disciples to “Go into all the world…” did He hear His Father’s words to Moses echoing through time, beckoning this tiny band of misfits to turn the world upside down?
Church, are we stuck between the army and the sea, just waiting for God to do something? Are we desperate for God to act on our behalf? Maybe it’s time that, in our desperation, we move AND see Him act… Maybe it’s time to take that first step toward the water. It sure beats dying on the shoreline. May we charge the gates He’s brought us to, following Him as He’s led the charge on His mission to rescue and reconcile.