STOP TRYING and START TRUSTING
Midweek 3 – 2020 LSB #728:1-3
Text – Exodus 14:13-14
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. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
STOP TRYING AND START TRUSTING
Picture yourself on a Southwest Airlines flight. When the plane begins to taxi down the runway you begin flapping your arms. The flight attendant stops by, “What in the world are you doing?” You say, “I’m helping this plane get off the ground!” She says, “You really don’t have to do that.” You shoot back, “Yes I do! I’m committed to making this work!”
She replies, “Trust me, you can just sit back and relax. This plane will take off without your help.” “No!” you protest, “I’ve got to help the pilot get this plane off the ground!” Finally, your arms become tired until they just can’t flap anymore. How smart is that? It’s time to stop trying and start trusting.
That’s the truth of the day. Stop trying and start trusting. We’re in a series on the book of Exodus called Let My People Go! It’s a phrase that appears seven times in Exodus. Tonight in Exodus 14 finally, finally, Pharaoh let’s God’s people go! But then it dawns upon him that by allowing the Israelite slaves to escape, he has destroyed Egypt’s economy.
The only logical thing to do is to go after the Israelites and bring them back! So the ancient world’s most powerful army is now in hot pursuit of Israel. What does God teach us through these exciting events in Exodus 14? Stop trying and start trusting.
The dilemma – we’re surrounded! “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon” (Exodus 14:1–2). This is one of the most alarming commands in the Bible! The Israelites have left Egypt and then God tells them to turn back! Are you kidding me? Freedom is out of Egypt and God is now telling His people to turn back to Egypt? Why does God do that? He wants Israel to stop trying and start trusting. You’ve been there, haven’t you? With your back against the wall; with your dreams crushed; your broken heart in your hand. We say, “God, it was going so well! What’s the deal? Why do I have to turn back?”
You might be elected as president of Russia. You might discover a way to email pizza and become a billionaire. Pigs might fly. A kangaroo might swim. Men might surrender the remote control. None of it’s likely, but all of it’s possible. What is not possible is a problem-free life.
Sometimes God is behind the problem! Sometimes God is the one who brings us to the end of our rope where we are stuck and trapped – just like Israel – with no way out. Why does He do that? Exodus 14:4 says, “But I will gain glory for myself.” God knows what He is doing – orchestrating our lives so that when we are delivered He gets the glory and we don’t!
Pharaoh saw Moses and the Israelites pinned in by the wilderness and the sea, lost and confused, stuck and trapped. “Pharaoh took 600 of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them” (Exodus 14:7).
Chariots were like nuclear weapons in ancient Egypt. They were awesome. The Egyptian chariots are mobile strike forces for shooting arrows. Bombs away! In one picture, King Tut wears a blue crown of war; over him is the vulture and the cobra, the signs of Upper and Lower Egypt. As he rides in his chariot, his bow is stretched back, ready to strike.
Pharaoh has 600 of these choice chariots. How many choice chariots does Israel have? Zero! Israel’s back is against the Red Sea. They’re facing certain destruction. There isn’t a thing they can do about it! That’s the dilemma. Can’t you just imagine Moses asking God, “Why is this happening?” The answer is – so the people stop trying and start trusting.
Jesus knows all about this kind of dilemma! He knows all about dead ends. The path to
the cross led Him before Caiaphas, the high priest. It led Him before Pilate, who sent Him to Herod, who sent Jesus back to Pilate. Christ’s path then led Him before soldiers who whipped, mocked and spit on Him. The path landed Him at a dead end called Calvary. Jesus knows all about dead ends.
The decree – just stay calm. Moses says, “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” (Exodus 14:13–14).
Just stay calm! What a decree! It means that we can stop flapping our arms. We can stop helping God. We can sit back and let God do the heavy lifting. How so? “The LORD Himself will fight for you!”
Imagine two cooking bowls. One contains fresh, clean water. The 2nd contains battery acid. Take an apple and cut it in half. Place half of the apple in the bowl of clean water. Place the other half in the bowl of battery acid. Leave each in its respective bowl for five minutes, and pull out the two halves. Which one will you eat?
Our mind is the apple. God’s Word is good water. Problems are the battery acid. If you marinate your mind in your problems, they will eventually corrode your brain and corrupt your thoughts. But marinate your mind in God’s Word and Yahweh will preserve and refresh your mind. What is God’s Word for us today? “Just stay calm!”
But we ask, “What if?” “What if I lose my job? What if my wife’s cancer returns? What if my boyfriend dumps me? What if one of my children is in an accident and is paralyzed or killed?” God’s decree calls us to replace “what if” with His Word, “Just stay calm.”
The deliverance – in the morning. This is one of the greatest scenes in the Bible. If this scene is in your heart, it’s like having the key notes of the music scale. It’s amazing that, with just a few notes, all kinds of music can be played. So few notes, but you have to have the notes. Here are the notes! Moses lifts his staff. The Red Sea parts. Israelites walk through on dry ground. Pharaoh and his army follow. The Red Sea comes crashing down on them. And here is the song! No more bricks. No more whips. And no more of Pharaoh’s bag of tricks!
And when did this happen? “In the morning 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” (Exodus 14:27). When did God save His people from their long night in Egypt? In the morning. When does Psalm 46:5 say God delivers? In the morning.
When did Jesus rise? In the morning. When does God deliver us from the long nights of life? According to Lamentations 3:23, His mercies are new every morning. And what is the last name the Bible gives Jesus? The bright Morning Star. Psalm 30:5 tells us, “Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Are you feeling stuck? Trapped? Pinned against the wall? Are you afraid that the depression will never lift? That the yelling will never stop? That the emptiness will never be filled? Are you wondering, “Will this gray sky ever brighten? This load ever lighten?” Do you feel predestined for pain, even asking, “Will I ever get out?”
Exodus 14 announces that your battle is God’s battle. And get this – God has never lost a battle! God has never lost one single, solitary battle! Not with Pharaoh. Not with sin. Not with Satan. Not even with death. The outcome is inevitable. The victory is assured. The last chapter has already been written!
It’s time to stop trying and start trusting. The plane will take off without our help. God has it all under control. We can stop flapping our arms! Moses put it this way, “Just stay calm.” Your peace and your rest are in the Lord. Amen.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet