“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord.
They said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, “Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians”? It would have been beter for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’
Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still ’” (Exodus 14:10-14 NIV).
Can you imagine all the questions as the Israelites stepped out of slavery and into freedom? They were unsure which way to go from Egypt. There had been so many generations born into slavery they knew nothing else. Sure, they didn’t desire slavery, but it was certainly comfortable.
However, the LORD knew them completely.
HE led them from Egypt with a cloud by day and a fire to light up the dark path at night (Exodus 13:21). “Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people” (Exodus 13:22). He kept twisting and turning the path on purpose. HE had a larger mission — glory for His Name and freedom for His people.
However, this route wasn’t without drama.
Their slaveowners changed their minds. It appeared they forgot all about the plagues and decided to go after their slaves.
“…the Israelites looked up and there were the Egyptians marching after them. They were terrified…” (Exodus 14:10).
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Fight, Flight, or Freeze.” It’s often used to describe the body’s resonse to fear and trauma. Fear had gripped the Israelites. Their biggest fears headed toward them in great numbers with the Red Sea at their back. It seemed there was no way out.
Freeze — Stand firm
Have we forgotten we’re at war?
I don‘t mean with someone on social media. Or someone holding a different perspective. It‘s not a war between neighbors, family members, or even friends.
While this war is unseen, it is actually a greater reality than the conflicts we face in the natural. Many times the conflicts we face in the natural are a result of what is already happening in the spiritual realm.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. . . Stand firm then, with the belt of Truth [my emphasis] buckled around your waist . . .” (Ephesians 6:12, 14).
When we forget we’re at war, we neglect our position.
The Israelites looked up and saw danger. Their next response, complaining to Moses.
“Why did you bring us here?”
I know I’ve felt this way before, especially in this season. God, what am I doing here?! I don’t see a way forward.
And HE reminds me, We‘re at war. Stand firm. Remember your position—who you really are in Jesus Christ and who I AM. Buckle that belt of Truth. Stand firm in your faith. Believe ME every second of every day. Believe ME in every situation. Believe I see The Way out.
Flight — I AM both in front and behind
Confession: One of my pet peeves is when people walk really close behind me. Typically, I’ll stop and move to the side so they can keep going—at a pace which feels rushed—before they step on my shoes.
However, if I had a security detail in front and behind me to offer protection and safety in uncertain situations, then I might feel differently about them stepping on the back of my shoes.
The Israelites had seen this pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, always in front of them. But then God takes it a step further.
HE turns the Israelites around. The way forward is through the Red Sea—walking on dry ground—following Moses’ leadership.
The angel of God, who had been at the front, fell to the back and then that pillar of cloud also moved behind the Israelites becoming a fog to the Egyptians and the main obstacle halting their pursuit.
“The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long” (Exodus 14:19b-20 NIV).
When we’re gripped by fear, often we take flight. Sometimes we run to our past and rehearse what has happened, expecting disappointment. Other times we run to our future pulling out every “What if…” in the book.
God is outside time, both in our past (behind us) and in our future (ahead of us). Looking back is important and sometimes difficult depending on the stories you hold, but God is there. Looking forward can be uncertain and uncomfortable, but God is there. As our 24-7 security detail, HE allows us to be present.
What’s important about being present with the Lord? Worship. We can worship God for His experienced faithfulness in our past (Lamentations 3:23) and being our Anchor of Hope for our future (Hebrews 6:19).
In our present, we run to Him and worship by releasing whatever we carry. Some moments we may carry a lot and others may feel lighter. It doesn’t matter to Him what we run to Him with, it can all be turned into worship.
Fight — Be still and I will fight for you
Our final fear response is a fight stance. What I found captivating is how intimately the Lord knew His kids.
He even directs Moses to take them by a longer road because the short road would have immediately put them at war with the Philistines (Exodus 13:17). And HE knew that route would lead them running back to slavery.
They weren‘t ready to fight. They had a slave mentality and didn‘t realize the power they actually held because of their GOD.
Even though they weren’t ready to fight, He was still ready for them to be free.
So Moses conveys, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Makes me think of, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
The love HE has for us and the desire for our freedom in Christ is worth fighting for. HE always fights for us.
Where do we go from here?
Well, sometimes fear leads us to places we never want to be. I imagine we could all share a story or two in this season. But the Lord still has an ultimate mission of bringing glory to His Name.
For the Israelites, they were headed into a new season, unlike any they had experienced in a very long time and they had to go through what seemed at first like an obstacle to get there.
Remember, not everything is as it seems.
If God can “turn seas into highways” then surely HE can take our fear-filled moments and turn them into glory- blazing worship.
“And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant” (Exodus 14:31).
They gave up their fear for a different kind of fear—fear of the LORD.
Stand firm, my brothers and sisters, HE goes before and behind us, and He will never stop fighting for us.
Join me in exploring what the Lord says about anxiety-driven fear and also fearing (being in awe of…) HIM. I look forward to sharing my discoveries here. Join me here again next Friday! And better yet, bring a friend!
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