(from Henry Neufeld, 7/24/07)
10When the Israelites saw the king coming with his army, they were frightened and begged the LORD for help. 11They also complained to Moses, â€œWasnâ€™t there enough room in Egypt to bury us? Is that why you brought us out here to die in the desert? Why did you bring us out of Egypt anyway? 12While we were there, didnâ€™t we tell you to leave us alone? We had rather be slaves in Egypt than die in this desert!â€
13But Moses answered, â€œDonâ€™t be afraid! Be brave, and you will see the LORD save you today. These Egyptians will never bother you again. 14The LORD will fight for you, and you wonâ€™t have to do a thing.â€ â€” Exodus 14:10-14 (CEV)
In our passage today, the Israelites have just left Egypt, and started on their way through the wilderness to the promised land. I find this incident very interesting, because I think we often behave in the same way in both our secular and our church lives.
Danger presented itself! The sea is in front of them, the Egyptian army coming up from behind. They think, â€œMaybe this escape wasnâ€™t such a good idea, after all!â€
So they cried to the Lord for help. This is an excellent idea. When in trouble, cry to the Lord. But notice what else they do. They complain to Moses.
Donâ€™t we do something similar? We know that we need Godâ€™s help, so we cry out, but then we begin looking for the nearest human leader so we can complain to them. Why are they doing what they are doing? Why are they leading us in this way. A few moments, hours, or days before, we may have been in full agreement with them about Godâ€™s leading. But now, with trouble on all sides, we blame them. They should have known. They should have heard the Lord more clearly.
Then the Israelites questioned the value of their freedom. Why did we leave Egypt anyhow? There never was any hope! Why donâ€™t we return and just forget all of this. Moses, we knew you were wrong from the start. They had been happy enough leaving Egypt a few days before, but now Moses was to blame.
Isnâ€™t it very similar with us? When the time comes to pay the bill for a new building or a new piece of equipment for the church, how many people who supported the purchase come around complaining about overextending the church budget? But more importantly and more personally, when we find ourselves struggling against the enemy after the Lord has freed us from sin and bondage, how many of us think, â€œIt was easier when I wasnâ€™t trying to follow the Lord? Maybe I should go back.
But God also gave Moses a response.
First, he told the people not the fear. The same God who led you out of Egypt is still with you.
Second, see Godâ€™s salvation. God takes the responsibility right back. Itâ€™s not Mosesâ€™ problem. Moses has done what God said. The results are in Godâ€™s hands.
Third, be silent! How difficult that is for us to do. We really want to yell and shout or mourn and cry, or at least make sure those near us know how truly displeased we are with our current situation. But God told the Israelites to be silent.
And the result was a great salvation.
Letâ€™s remember in our daily lives that God remains in control. Letâ€™s remember to bring our questions, our doubts, our fears, and yes, even our complaints to him.
And then let us let him work.