Exodus 14:10-14. 10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
Exodus continues to offer us this brilliant look into the dual reality of God’s actual physical salvation of the Hebrews from Egypt, but also our spiritual salvation from sin and death. Exodus is a real historic event, but it is also a shadow of a deeper truth.
Here in Exodus 14 the people of God are standing on the verge of one of God’s greatest displays of power in all of history – the splitting of the Red Sea. But before that great miracle happens we get the privilege of hearing the conversation between the Hebrew people and Moses. And it’s not pretty.
When facing the wrath of Pharaoh bearing down upon them the Hebrews see only two options. 1) Return to slavery in Egypt (Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’?). Or 2) die right here in the desert (They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?).
These two options pretty much sum up how we are left to live without Christ.
We can continue to live in our slavery, chasing what we think will make us happy or at least not kill us, while it slowly kills us. Or we can succumb to death on the spot and give up altogether. We can find hope in something other than God, or just declare that there is no hope. These are the two options that the Hebrews throw out to Moses. These are the two ways to live that we are left with when we have no hope beyond what we can see with our eyes in the moment.
“Come with me if you want to live” – sort of like what Moses said at the red Sea.
But of course there is a third way to live. Faith.
For the Hebrews in this moment, if they want to live, they have to do two things to start: be still (stand firm) and shut up (be silent). Both require faith.
In other words, do nothing – The Lord will fight for you.
This is what union with Christ has graciously given to us. A life where we have relinquished control over to Jesus. We exist for God’s glory. This whole thing, our salvation, our life, Christ’s life in us, is for the glory of God alone. And God is never glorified when we try to control our own lives. Never.
Exodus 14:18. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.
God does it all. He gets all the glory. We’re along for the ride. We’re completely helpless. Embrace it.
Listen, your complete helplessness in every moment of every day will always do one of two things. It will either drive you back to slavery and despair (“you brought us here to die, we should have stayed slaves”). Or it will drive you finally to shut up and stand still. And trust. Trust that the glory of God’s grace will prevail.
And then, and only then, can you move forward, following Christ into the sea.
Exodus 14:15-16. 15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.
This is our life in Christ today and every day. Shut up. Stand still. Stop trying to earn. Stop trying to prove your value. Stop living for “likes” on social media. Stop trying to figure everything out all the time.
I beg you to stop your striving. Stand still. Look at God’s victory. He fought so you don’t have to. He was perfect so you don’t have to be. He figured life out for you. Look at the cross. Look at the life of Christ in you. Fix your eyes on Jesus the beginning and end of our faith.
Now you can move. Now you can go forward.
“To live is Christ” is a life of faith. Faith that first learns to shut up and stand still. Faith that believes that God has done it all. And faith that then, only after learning to be still, moves forward.
Into the sea of death (more on that tomorrow).