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Having done all, then stand

One of my favorite verses from the Bible is also one of the most often quoted verses because it holds a promise of G-D’s deliverance and His mighty power. The verse is found in Exodus 14:13:

But Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid! Stand still, and see the salvation of Adonai, which He will perform for you today. You have seen the Egyptians today, but you will never see them again, ever!

Most are familiar with this verse. But for those who are not, let me lay the groundwork for you. Israel is leaving Egypt, a group of around two and a half million people, carrying all of their possessions and driving their herds toward the Red Sea. They look behind them and see the army of Egypt closing in on them. The Egyptian army was the largest and the most advanced in the world. The forces chasing after the Israelites were made up of 600 of Egypt’s finest chariots, along with other chariots, horsemen, and foot soldiers. They clearly had the advantage militarily. Upon seeing the army closing in, the Children of Israel shouted at Moses.

Exodus 14:11 They said to Moses, “Have you taken us away to die in the wilderness because there were no graves in Egypt? Why have you dealt this way with us, to bring us out of Egypt? 12 Did we not say to you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone, so that we may serve the Egyptians?’ It was better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness!”

And this is when Moses responds to them saying:

“Don’t be afraid! Stand still, and see the salvation of Adonai, which He will perform for you today. You have seen the Egyptians today, but you will never see them again, ever!

What makes this one of my favorite verses is that it shares so much about G-D’s love and commitment to His people. But it also shares a lot about his people and their responsibility to Him and His commitments.

Let’s look closer. The enemy is about to attack and everyone knows it. The people are afraid and Moses proclaims that there was no reason to fear and that G-D would save them and defeat the Egyptian army. Without hesitation, Moses proclaimed G-D would deliver. Then Moses stopped for a moment and spoke to G-D. We know this not because we have Moses’ words, but because we have G-D’s reply:

Exodus 14:15 Then Adonai said to Moses, “Why are you crying to Me? Tell Bnei-Yisrael to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it. Then Bnei-Yisrael will go into the midst of the sea on dry ground. 17 Then I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will go in after them, so that I will be glorified over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots and his horsemen.

G-D asks Moses “Why are you crying to me” and “Lift up your staff over the sea and divide it…”

So we learn from this an important lesson about G-D. That is that G-D not only can but does work miracles regardless of our fears and even through our questioning.

We also learn an important lesson about how to receive the miracles of G-D as the people of G-D. Too often I have heard people in trouble just proclaim “stand and see the salvation of G-D” and while this is a powerful verse and promise, too often people forget that before the waters parted and before the destruction of the Egyptian army, the Children of Israel obeyed G-D and observed the Passover. They also packed up and left their homes heading to where G-D had directed them.  It was after that they did all that G-D told them to do, demonstrating great faith that G-D delivered them from Egypt by parting the sea and destroying the army of Egypt. In other words, before they just stood to see His salvation they first obeyed all He had commanded.

There are times when we are stuck in “Egypt” and need a miracle. To receive it we must first do everything we have been commanded to do, even if sometimes we do that while walking in fear and still having great questions. Then after we have done all we can, we stand and see His salvation.

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Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, and his most recent book God Has No Plan "B".

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