Our children’s and preschool departments are continuing our study of the Gospel Project and are into the book of Exodus and life of Moses now. The Preschool just studied the story of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea.
I love this story for many reasons. First of all the power of God is incredible. He commands the wind and seas. Think about the sheer volume of water that he stopped on either side of the Israelites as they walked through the Red Sea on DRY ground. Ground that had been covered by water for centuries was dry for them to walk across. I can’t imagine what that would have been like. When it rains in my backyard, it takes days, if not weeks for it to dry out. But God dried up the ground under the sea so the Israelites could cross over without harm or even getting their feet wet.
Not only that, but look at the way God reveals his glory, power and grace. He “hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel” (Exodus 14:8). And this was right after the 10th and most aggressive and painful plague of all the firstborn sons of the Egyptian families being killed. The plagues were overwhelming and devastating. Pharaoh couldn’t take it anymore. He needed the suffering to end, so he agreed to let the Israelites go.
Not even days later, God then caused Pharaoh to change his heart and mind all so that He alone “would get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” (v. 4)
God’s purpose in creation is to reveal his glory. Our purpose in being created is to bring glory to God. Moses knew this and his job was to make sure the Israelites learned this as well. And while he was helping the Israelites learn this truth, God was teaching the same truth to the Egyptians. Sometimes it takes a very different experiences for two people to learn the same truth.
Pharaoh was not going to learn the same lesson under the same circumstances. It was going to take something a little more drastic to teach the Egyptians about the power and glory of God. Did you catch that from verse 4 in the last paragraph? Pharaoh didn’t change his mind and wish he had made a different decision about letting the Israelites go (although this is what happened), Exodus 14 tells us this was God’s plan all along.
Verse 4, as we just saw, is in the middle of a conversation between God and Moses. God says to Moses, “then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart…” God knew the only way to receive the glory would be for Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened towards him again and for him to pursue the Israelites after moments ago agreeing to let them go.
It isn’t always easy to see how God is working or what his plans are. When the Israelites saw that they were being chased by Pharaoh and his army, they were afraid for their lives. They wished they had never left Egypt. But Moses reminded them of God’s power and plan: “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.” (vv. 13-14 ESV)
You have heard me say it before, Exodus 14:14 is one of my favorite verses. I have it on my wall in my office. “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” (NIV)
There are so many times in life that we put up a fight. And more often than not, we are fighting for good causes. We fight to get through each day without getting angry or eating that piece of chocolate (or two…or three). We fight to get our child into that school or onto a specific sports team. We fight for a promotion or raise. We will fight for the things we believe in. And we often believe that our fighting is worthwhile and meaningful. And many times it is.
There are many people who are unable to fight for themselves, and it is our responsibility as children of God to fight for them. We are commanded in Scripture to speak up for the poor and needy (Prov. 31:9). We are told to defend the fatherless and the widow (Psalm 146:9). But there are many battles in life that we are unable to fight on our own and we need to recognize when it is time for us to step back and let God do the fighting. We keep so busy, we often forget how to be still and let God fight our battles for us. God is fighting for you, whether or not you recognize it. Our job is to slow down and be still long enough to see him fight on our behalf. And it is when we are still and he is fighting, that he will receive the glory.