Sometimes I wonder how in the world God puts up with us. I mean, really! The nonsense of humanity is mind-blowing. Our stubborn rejection of his power, our steadfast belief in our own self-reliance, and our ability to see a MIRACLE and then walk away complaining is legendary. It’s a good thing God is God and I am not, ‘cause I would have smote us long ago.
Legendary among the many examples of this comes from a time when God had delivered his people from slavery and death and was leading them through the Red Sea toward the Promised Land. After God brought the plagues, resulting in Pharaoh’s decision to release them, and then delivered the incredible miracle of an entire sea parting so that they could walk along the bottom, what did the people do? Complained. Whined. Questioned what was right before their eyes. In other words, they were human.
When Pharaoh saw the ease with which they crossed through the parted waters, he realized that he had just lost a lot of free labor, so he led his army after them in one last ditch effort to return them to Egypt. When the Israelites turned and saw them in pursuit, they freaked out. Immediately they assaulted Moses with accusations and anger.
Exodus 14 (The Common English Bible)
10 As Pharaoh drew closer, the Israelites looked back and saw the Egyptians marching toward them. The Israelites were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Weren’t there enough graves in Egypt that you took us away to die in the desert? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt like this? 12 Didn’t we tell you the same thing in Egypt? ‘Leave us alone! Let us work for the Egyptians!’ It would have been better for us to work for the Egyptians than to die in the desert.”
I confess that I have done my share of ungrateful whining in my life, but few of us can top their response. So you saved us for THIS? Now we are about be overcome in the middle of your miracle? What kind of miracle is that? What, there weren’t enough graves in Egypt, so we get to drown here?? Somebody take me back to Egypt where I can be an abused slave again!!!
(As a side note, sometimes pastors identify a particular group or committee in a church as the “Back to Egypt Gang.” Don’t be one of those.)
But look how Moses responds:
13 But Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid. Stand your ground, and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never ever see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you. You just keep still.”
In other translations, the final sentence is “You just keep quiet.” And of course The Message nails it:
God will fight the battle for you.
And you? You keep your mouths shut!”
The lesson we want to glean here is that in the face of our failings, God continues to be faithful and fight the battles for us. He stands between us and incoming armies, rising sea waters, sure and certain disaster, and is there every time we need a rescue.
What is our job? To stand our ground. To watch him work. To trust in his fight and his might. To stay still. And to keep our mouths shut when the urge to whine and complain overcomes us.
Where is God calling you to trust him in your battle today? Do you need a rescue? If you (silently) observe your situation, can you see him quietly at work, fighting for you?
Don’t be afraid. The Lord who parts the sea and provides dry land to walk upon will part the way for you to walk out of your problem. Be still, and know that he is God.