There’s an old adage that says, “Don’t just stand there; do something!” Whether there’s a problem at work, a project at home, or an emergency situation that arises, our natural impulse is to react with swift and decisive action. After all, we think, the situation won’t resolve itself.
And let me be clear, God does command us to work hard (Proverbs 14:23); He does call us to action (Colossians 3:2); He does spur us to good deeds (James 4:17). One of the temptations for believers is to disguise laziness, indecisiveness, and fear of failure as “trusting God.” Some people excuse inaction by saying they are trusting God when they are really procrastinating—putting off what God wants them to do to obey Him.
In spite of those clear guidelines to act in obedience, there are times in our lives where personal effort is not the correct action after all. God’s will sometimes calls for us to wait. During these times of waiting, when our natural impulses and the voices around us are urging—or even demanding—us to do something, God is leading us to do nothing except watch Him do the work that only He can accomplish.
Our final lesson from the life of Moses this month is one that encourages us to look for God’s purposes while we wait for His plans to unfold. God had given Moses a great victory over Pharaoh and the nation of Egypt. God sent horrible plagues on the land and Pharaoh finally agreed to allow the people to leave. The Israelites packed up, received gifts from their neighbors, and set out on their journey to the promised land.
But, once again, Pharaoh changed his mind, and he sent his army to capture the Israelites and bring them back into slavery. So, get this picture: the Israelites are encamped on the bank of the Red Sea, with nothing but water directly in front, to their right, and to their left. Behind them was the army of Egyptians closing in.
From this impossible situation, we can glean three lessons about the nature of God’s deliverance on our behalf—and what it might mean for us today.
Deliverance is already assured for the believer.
The Israelites complained to Moses that he had brought them out to die at the hand of the sword, but Moses responded to them: “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord. … The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:13-14).
What an incredible promise for us to claim today, as those who have become the children of God through our acceptance of His Son. The Lord will fight for us!
No malicious employer, hostile government, or scheme of Satan can ultimately succeed against us. Christian, if the Lord is fighting for you, the battle is already won. I think the apostle Paul had Moses’ words in mind when he wrote to the Roman church, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:32).
Dwell on this verse for a moment more. Paul is writing to believers in Rome, the capital of the hostile Roman Empire, the ground zero of religious persecution against Christians. Many of the people who would have read this letter would later be torn into pieces by wild animals or burned alive as torches in the garden of the emperor. Even Paul himself will be executed for his faith.
How can Paul—a future martyr— write to a congregation filled with future martyrs that no power can stand against them? What about those wild animals? What about the executioner’s sword?
It’s time for us to correctly define what God’s deliverance is and what it is not. It is not what the prosperity teachers preach—that believing in God will remove all troubles from your life. It is not a promise that persecution on this earth will go away. God’s deliverance is not the removal of physical pain, the acquisition of wealth or the approval of our culture.
God’s ultimate deliverance came at the cross, where our eternal destiny was secured by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And to understand that our deliverance is assured, we need to see our circumstances in light of our eternal destination in heaven, not our temporal circumstances on earth.
Deliverance is submitting to God’s ways and God’s timing.
Can you imagine what the Israelites would have thought when Moses told them to camp out on the bank of the Red Sea overnight, with the Egyptian army thundering toward them? They would have expected Moses to command them to start building some boats!
Have you ever thought about the fact that if the Israelites had enough time and resources to build boats, they would have missed out on the miraculous display of God’s power? God is about to part that sea in half, allowing His people to walk through on dry ground.
Resist the temptation to try and box God into a solution to your trials that makes the most sense to you. Expand your faith as you wait, submitting to God’s plan and God’s will. I can’t help but wonder what we miss by building boats, rather than camping out next to impossibilities. We miss out on seeing how our impossibility opened the door for His sufficiency.
Deliverance leads to a heart of worship.
When God is our Deliverer—our Rescuer from various trials—our response is to worship Him and give Him the credit He deserves.
Beloved, when you are delivered, pray these simple lines of praise that Moses and the Israelites sang to God:
“The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him” (Exodus 15:2).