But Moses told the people, “Don't be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you. The Egyptians that you see today will never be seen again.The Lord himself will fight for you. You won't have to lift a finger in your defense!” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” — Exodus 14:13-15
It's amazing how quickly people forget! Only a few days after begging the Israelites to leave, following the dreadful disaster of the death of the firstborn, Pharaoh and his men regretted the decision. “‘What have we done, letting all these slaves get away?' they asked” (Exod. 14:5). So the Egyptians mobilized the army and took off after the escaping slaves. Meanwhile, when the Israelites realized the Egyptian armies were coming after them, they turned on Moses and accused him of leading them into the wilderness against their will, asserting that “Egyptian slavery was far better than dying out here in the wilderness!” (14:12).
With remarkable faith and confidence, Moses told the panicking people, “Don't be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you” (14:13). So that is precisely what the people did—probably while paralyzed with fear. But then the Lord commanded Moses, “Tell the people to get moving!” (14:15). So Moses, having just told them to stand still, now told them to get moving!
When Moses told the people to stand still, he was stressing that “the Lord himself will fight for you. You won't have to lift a finger in your defense” (14:14). As things turned out, he was quite right! But at the same time, in order for them to see what God would do, it was necessary for them to move through the opened waters to the other side of the sea.
There are things in life that only God can handle and situations in daily experience for which no man has an answer. But God has the answers. Recognition of this sometimes leads a man to “stand still” and see what God can and will do. It is a matter of trust, of faith. At the same time, while man cannot solve his problems, God may tell him to get moving so that God can solve them. Then it is a matter of obedience.
In fact, all spiritual experience is about faith and obedience. The two are not incompatible. The power to obey becomes available as we trust God to act. Without faith, there will be no obedience, and without obedience there is evidently no faith. So, as the old hymn says, “trust and obey.” Or, if you prefer, stand still and get moving.
For further study: Exodus 14:5-31
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.