The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm." Exodus 14:14
Last summer, I went on a trip of a lifetime to Israel. Before I left for the trip, one of my very best friends, Missy, told our friends who were also going on the trip to make sure that I did not get hurt or lost while I was gone (there was a lot of hiking involved on this trip and parts of Israel, especially Jerusalem, can get very crowded). Throughout the trip, these friends would constantly remind me to be careful and be sure I did not fall or get hurt. They said, "Missy will be furious with us if something happens to you!" (I know, they were overly dramatic.) I laughed when they said it, but I also knew that it was very true. You see, Missy is a very loyal friend. She fights alongside her people. She has your back, and you know it. Her friendship has reminded me that there is a peace and confidence when you know that you are not living life by yourself and fighting for yourself alone. Moses understood this, too, which is why, when in a time of desperation, he assured the Israelites that they were not fighting alone.
We have been talking this week about the personal name for God, Yahweh, which means "I AM." Today, we are going to discover one last characteristic of Yahweh, God: He fights for His people. The Israelites had just been freed from slavery and were traveling to the land of Canaan that God promised them. As they were traveling, the king of Egypt wanted the Israelites back as slaves. Because of this, he went with his troops to chase down the Israelites to take them back to Egypt. As the king of Egypt and his troops approached them, the Israelites complained to Moses, telling him that they were going to die in the wilderness. In response to their complaining, Moses told the Israelites in Exodus 14:13-14 not to be afraid because God would rescue them and was fighting for them. He was on their side. He is strong and all-powerful, and He was going to be with them through this difficulty. He then performed a miracle. The Israelites were at the Red Sea when God, through Moses, parted the sea so that the Israelites could walk through it. As soon as they made it through the Red Sea, the Egyptians followed them along the path God created in the sea, but God caused the water to fall back together, and the entire Egyptian army drowned. God was fighting for them.
When God is fighting for us, we can have the utmost confidence and peace, even when we are in the wilderness. This is what I learned in Israel. More than knowing my friend had my back, I was reminded that God was fighting for me in the wilderness, even when I could not see it. He is fighting for you, too.
What difficult situation are you currently facing (a health scare, a financial crisis, loneliness, etc.)? Do you feel like you are currently in the wilderness? Today, remember that God fights alongside His people. You are not alone. When you come to church this weekend, praise God specifically for fighting alongside you, even while you feel that you are in the wilderness. Bring a friend who is going through a difficult time. Remind that friend that God fights for His people and that he or she is not alone.
Read Exodus 14:1-31 (NLT)
Then the Lord gave these instructions to Moses: “Order the Israelites to turn back and camp by Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore, across from Baal-zephon. Then Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are confused. They are trapped in the wilderness!’ And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord!” So the Israelites camped there as they were told.
When word reached the king of Egypt that the Israelites had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds. “What have we done, letting all those Israelite slaves get away?” they asked. So Pharaoh harnessed his chariot and called up his troops. He took with him 600 of Egypt’s best chariots, along with the rest of the chariots of Egypt, each with its commander. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, so he chased after the people of Israel, who had left with fists raised in defiance. The Egyptians chased after them with all the forces in Pharaoh’s army—all his horses and chariots, his charioteers, and his troops. The Egyptians caught up with the people of Israel as they were camped beside the shore near Pi-hahiroth, across from Baal-zephon.
As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord, and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”
But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will charge in after the Israelites. My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the Lord!”
Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them. The cloud settled between the Egyptian and Israelite camps. As darkness fell, the cloud turned to fire, lighting up the night. But the Egyptians and Israelites did not approach each other all night.
Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the Lord opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side!
Then the Egyptians—all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and charioteers—chased them into the middle of the sea. But just before dawn the Lord looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and cloud, and he threw their forces into total confusion. He twisted their chariot wheels, making their chariots difficult to drive. “Let’s get out of here—away from these Israelites!” the Egyptians shouted. “The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt!”
When all the Israelites had reached the other side, the Lord said to Moses, “Raise your hand over the sea again. Then the waters will rush back and cover the Egyptians and their chariots and charioteers.” So as the sun began to rise, Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the water rushed back into its usual place. The Egyptians tried to escape, but the Lord swept them into the sea. Then the waters returned and covered all the chariots and charioteers—the entire army of Pharaoh. Of all the Egyptians who had chased the Israelites into the sea, not a single one survived.
But the people of Israel had walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, as the water stood up like a wall on both sides. That is how the Lord rescued Israel from the hand of the Egyptians that day. And the Israelites saw the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the seashore. When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the Lord had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in the Lord and in his servant Moses.