After a grueling experience of slavery in Egypt, the Israelites were relieved when God showed them the way to freedom. This “deliverance” business was all still quite new to them however, and there were still some trust issues. Especially when they now found themselves between a rock and a hard place!
Pharaoh had changed his mind. “What have we done? … We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” (Ex. 14:5 NIV) After all, it WAS free labor! How could Egypt replace this priceless commodity? So taking 600 of his best chariots, Pharaoh himself led the pursuit against these “rebellious” dessert dwellers.
How would we feel if we were in their shoes? True enough, they had all their possessions, but in a blink of an eye, it could all disappear! They weren’t prepared for war. They were lowly slaves! Wouldn’t we be shaking in our boots? Is it any wonder the Bible records: “They were terrified and cried out to the Lord” (Ex 14:10 NIV)?
When we are scared, we often do some very stupid things. Things like “shooting the messenger”, and even blaming God himself. And Israel was no different: “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?” (Ex 14:11 NIV)
In all Truth, however, there is only one who wants our destruction, and it’s not God! “The thief (The evil one) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)
So what should we do when we are shaking in our boots? “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today … The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Ex 14:13-14 NIV)
Being still isn’t easy to do in any circumstance, but it’s even worse when we’re facing danger! The Israelites were encouraged to put their emotional outbursts on hold, and instead, to trust in the One who had already freed them from bondage. All they needed to do was to stand still and anticipate their deliverance, but human nature dictates that we try to save ourselves by our own strength. Now we all know that such efforts are totally useless, and any self-saving strategies would have been completely worthless for Israel. After all, these Egyptian mercenaries were trained in warfare, and they were better than good at their skills! So if human strength can’t save us, would we be able to stop ourselves from shaking in our boots?
But God saw the need. He knew they needed to “do” something, and He told Moses: “Tell the Israelites to move on.” (Ex 14:15 NIV).
Whew. Finally. Only problem is … There is a sea standing in the way of the command to “move on”! In those days, no one had ever heard of the One who could walk on water, so basically what God was telling them to do was this: So you want to do something? Fine! Put your trust 100% in God!
And so it was. “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land.” (Ex 14:21 NIV) And when Israel stepped forward, “The waters were divided and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” (Ex. 14:22NIV)
The impossible was made possible!
Initially a pillar of the Lord prevented the Egyptians from seeing clearly (see vs. 20), but as soon as they were allowed to continue their pursuit, the amazing feature of walking through a sea didn’t faze them in the least! They had but one goal: Take all of those “rebellious”, escaped slaves back to Egypt as prisoners! Money was at stake!
But God wasn’t finished. Not only did the sea flow back over the Egyptians, but the pillar of God threw the entire army into confusion: “He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, ‘Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.'” (Ex 14:25 NIV) They all were swept away into the sea!
Why do we fear? Isn’t it possible that it’s because we have not put all of our trust in God? We truly have nothing to fear! Victory is ours, if we only believe! “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31 NIV)
Are such military victories still possible in our day and age? Ask the soldiers who took part in D Day on June 6, 1944. Hitler was concerned about U.S. General Patton, who had beaten his army in North Africa. Rumors were that an invasion would be forthcoming at the Pas-de-Calais, led by that fearsome General Patton himself. As the Nazis prepared themselves for this “inevitable” attack, they were made aware that any other rumors of attack in any other spot would only be decoys designed to draw them away from Pas-de-Calais.
As a result, when D day finally arrived, the Nazis were ill-prepared. The day before the weather had been quite bad, and no one even suspected an attack of any kind on that day. The approaching enemy was not discovered until they were right on the beaches, miles from Pas-de-Calais, and it is rumored that there were only two Nazi planes available to fend off the attack.
The 12th SS Panzer Division, along with the 21st Panzer Division, were the only Panzer divisions close enough to the landing beaches, and even these couldn’t be set into motion. This required authorization from Hitler himself, and Hitler was asleep! Because none of his staff dared to wake him up, the Panzer Divisions were only given authorization to move the next day, when it was too late. Yes, the Nazis continued to fight, defending their turf in Caen, France, but a month later Caen was freed as well.
Victory is ours if we put our trust in the One who is the specialist in turning impossible circumstances into the possible.
(To access the entire “Facing Unimaginable Odds” devotional series, please click here.)