I love it when little verses like this are quoted on the verse of the day, and they are pregnant with meaning; until you actually look them up in Scripture!
This verse sounds like a very peace-inducing text. Oh, the Lord, He will fight life’s battles for you, oh yes. All you need to do is relax, stay calm, just be happy. Wrong!
This is in fact God telling the Israelites to “shut up!” The situation is much more tense. Pharaoh and His army were bearing down on the Israelites after their recent escape from Egypt. The people were clamoring in fear and grumbling against Moses and God in fear of their imminent death. The Israelites seems in imminent danger, and Moses receives this message: “the Lord will fight for you. Be quiet!”
That subtly changes the meaning, doesn’t it? Instead of “be calm, I got this” it’s more like “stop worrying about it, stop complaining about it, I got this.” The Lord knew then as we might today that all of that fear would induce panic, and the Israelites would be much harder to rally and take through the Red Sea. So a short, sharp word from the Lord zipped that right up so God could bring them through to safety.
God does not deal with us as our sins deserve. Praise be to the Lord! When we worry and complain we are speaking against God’s providence and planning. Yes, bad things happen to us. And there are things that God would never wish on his children, but they still happen.
I want you to note what God did here. God stopped the Egyptians, and provided a way of escape for the Israelites. God did not hurt the Egyptian army until they pursued the Israelites into the sea. The same circumstances that saved people of Israel overwhelmed the Egyptians.
I’m not sure if there is a greater lesson here, but in this instance, God did not send His angels to destroy he Egyptian army. They were destroyed by entirely natural means. They pursued Israel into what was obviously an act of God, the holding back of the waters, thinking that they too would benefit from it. But they only survived as long as it took the Israelites to cross the sea. Then the blessing was over, and they perished. They only benefited from God’s blessing as long as God’s people were present. They received the natural consequences of their sin when God’s people were removed.
Our nation receives blessing as long as we are here. If we abandoned our community, then they would suffer the natural consequences of its sin. When Lot and his family left Sodom, it was destroyed, but not until they left. When Noah and his family boarded the ark, the earth was destroyed, but not until they left. See a pattern here? God’s people have a preserving influence. There may be times where our influence is only staving off certain destruction and judgment (“Let those in Judea flee to the mountains”) but we are called salt for a reason. Salt preserves as well as flavors. We are the salt of the earth. As long as we are present, we still have a chance to do some good in this world and make an impact for Christ.
Yes, bad things happen. Yes, they happen to Christians. But we are not made for this world. We have a home waiting for us when our work here is ended. I hate to admit it but all we endure on this earth are growing pains. When our faith grows, it often hurts. But our faith is seeking maturity. And our faith affects those around us. It shows them a different way than the world. The stronger our faith, the more our influence.
So in the end, it comes back to the beginning. Do you trust God to fight for you? Trust His way of escape even when it doesn’t make sense. Do you run to water when you are surrounded by armies? Do you trust Him to wait on His leading in a bad situation? He will offer the path to escape. And sometimes your enemies will try to follow. It happens. But God didn’t make the escape for them.
All of this to say there is a much deeper story than what you can get in a single verse. The verse itself, read in isolation, offers a different flavor than when read in context. Read each verse in context. Please! Don’t run off and start new churches!
I love you all. God bless you and have a happy Monday.