Hold Your Peace

And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”

And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:10-14)

Imagine for a moment what it was like to be the Israelites in that particular situation.  Picture yourself as one of them, a mother or father, grandparent or child. 

It must have been crazy.  Six months ago you were making bricks and thinking how much life sucked, but at least it was life. 

Then you hear this rogue prince who claims to be a Hebrew like you has come back to Egypt and is stirring up trouble and there are some really crazy rumors going around about rivers of blood and frogs and all sorts of strange.

Then the prince guy, Moses, is telling everyone to kill a lamb and paint your doors and everyone spends a really freaky night huddled in the darkness waiting for God only knows what, and when the sun rises the Egyptians are freaking out, dead kids everywhere, and all but throwing their wealth at you telling you to get out of Egypt now. 

So you leave, Moses at your head, hauling literal cartsful of gold into the middle of the desert, wondering whether this could get any stranger, pondering whether or not you can eat gold, when you realize that in front of you is an impassable sea.  You have not quite gotten over thinking about that problem when, hearing a commotion, you turn back to see one of the greatest armies in the world, the Egyptians whom you just basically plundered, preparing battle formation at the top of the rise. 

Is it any wonder that the People of Israel were nervous, were complaining all snarkily about graves back in Egypt?

One of the worst things that we do is just read scripture as if it is a set of loosely connected anecdotes, like some rather stale and tired reader on ancient middle eastern culture.    

But the people who lived out the stories were real people with real hopes and fears.  The situation they were in was unique, sure, but the emotions that they felt in those situations were all too familiar. 

I have never had an enemy army threatening to drive me into the sea, but I have been up between a metaphorical wall and an insolvable challenge more times than I can count.  I have screamed at God, “Why couldn’t I just stay back in that crummy hell I lived in before; surely that beats where I am now!”  In a way, I’m in such a situation now, a place of uncertainty and disquiet.

But the words of Moses ring down to me through the ages.  Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.

Whatever problem I am confronted by; whatever wall stands in my path, I need not fear because I do not have to fight these Egyptians.  They are already defeated.

The most common command in scripture is “Do not be afraid.”  One of the next most common is “Be still.”  When we are in an impossible situation, it is only impossible because we cannot see the shape of the problem.  But our Father can, and he fights for us. 

And in light of this, we can follow yet another of the most common commands in scripture and “Wait upon the Lord.”  It is this knowledge that lets us stand behind our fighting God and “hold our peace.”

2 thoughts on “Hold Your Peace

  1. Great post! I enjoy the empathy and personal touch you bring to the Israelite’s predicament. You’re writing style in this post is quite different from your other’s. It’s more playful. I enjoyed it.

    Thanks for sharing.


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