Stand still?

There is nothing worse than that moment when you can’t make a choice and your brain freezes.

It is like a mental paralysis of thought, options and choices. That mind-numbing moment is one that Israel experiences on exiting the sunny, sweltering, dusty borders of Egypt.

Moses is leading the Israelites out of Egypt towards a land flowing with milk and honey, but first they have to leave the captivity and harsh oppression of a nation where one could enjoy,”fish that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and garlic.” (Numbers 11:5)

The harrowing threat of violence and hostility is in the air. Chariots thunder towards them with plumes of sand and dust rising high in the air in the distance. The escalating terror of their hearts makes even greater giants and monsters of the Egyptian army than they already are. The atmosphere is saturated with fear, anxiety and hopelessness. The Egyptians are coming, and they find themselves cut off from all escape by the Red Sea.

Decision time.

The narrative in Exodus 14 has much encouragement to offer us today.

First of all, the people did what Israel would do often in the years to come; they cried out to the Lord. It sounds noble, but it wasn’t – it was not a cry of faith, but understandable terror. Their lives were at stake. (Exodus 14:10)

We learn from history. What we can see from it, is that even when things are bad we can approach God from a place of faith rather than fear.

Why do we do that? All these thing, says Paul the Apostle, have been written as an example to us upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (1 Corinthians 10:11)

In Israel’s worst moment of crisis, God has helped – so why not seek His kind counsel, help and intervention? The Church must lead the way in this current time in the UK by seeking God’s help and intervention – not from a place of fear, but from Spirit-stirred faith, trusting God in the face of adversity and difficulty.

Moses’ response to the people can be viewed two ways.

Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord!

And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 10:13-14)

This is the stuff of champions, warriors and legends. Moses towers over the people, his heart resolute with conviction and faith. He’s not moved by the distant thunder of the sounds of approaching slaughter.

The perplexing moment comes to Moses as God challenges his position. Stand still? Don’t stand still! Move on! Stretch out your hand and divide the sea in front of you and cross over… (Exodus 10:15)

More often than not, God is not saying “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” – Moses is! God is saying move on, move on – ever forwards! Move on into the arena of the impossible, the place where the miraculous abounds. It’s a place where you can’t go – but you are going to go there. You are meant to be there. It’s expecting you.

That sounds an awful lot like he day we are in. Where can’t you go, what can’t you do – what can’t you see? Move on!

But let me add a twist to this essential narrative of faith and intervention. The twist is one that allows us to perceive the hand of God, to recognise with thankfulness that angelic intervention may be closer than we think and in ways that defy our most crafted imagination.

And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 10:13-14)

Do you see it? Looking sideways at the Scripture we see that perhaps Moses got it right:

Stand firm in your faith (1 Cor 16:13, 1 Cor 15:58, Galatians 5:1, 2 Corinthians 1:24, James 5:8, Luke 21:19)

It is like Moses is telling the Israelites,

“Look, I know how things seem and appear to you – but in the face of it all have faith in God, He is about to do something today, for you. Remember the Egyptian soldiers that you have seen for so long? You’ll never see the again. There is about to be a massive battle, and guess what? God is going to fight for you. Just be silent – silent with the silence of conviction and awe that God is with you and also for you.”

It’s the sort of thing we need to hear today.

And God is saying it.

Stand firm Church, stand firm in the supremacy of Christ in all things and let the knowledge of His glory be seen in the Church, and across the nations, as the waters cover the sea.

Don’t run, don’t be like wild horses that are spooked by the snap of twigs. Opportunity abounds, and God is waiting for us in the places we least expected.

Learn to live in the conundrum of standing firm, but moving on in God.

It’s a great challenge!

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