Do not fear for there is nothing to fear: Immanuel LivesBy Shirley Wiggins
In Exodus 13:17 – 14:31, we read an amazing account of how God saved His people from an enemy in pursuit by means of a sea divided….As the children of Israel fled from Egypt, with Moses in front of the people with God to lead them, and Pharaoh in pursuit behind them with the Egyptian army to recapture them, they reached the waters of the Red Sea.
As they looked around them and assessed their current circumstances, “they became very frightened;” (Exodus 14:10b).Moses’ mouth said to the people, as recorded in Exodus 14:13-14 (NASB), …”Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”
I wonder what Moses’ mind was saying as he told the people not to be afraid, since Exodus 14:15-18 records these words from the LORD:“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land. As for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. Then the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen.”
I wonder if Moses’ mind wasn’t calling out loudly, though silently, to the Lord for urgent help since the Lord asked him directly, “Why are you crying out to Me?”The Lord gave all the directions needed: He told Moses what to tell the Israelites to do, and what Moses was to do, and even what He Himself would do:
· Tell the sons of Israel to go forward,
· You lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it; and you will all go through the midst of the sea on dry land;
· As for Me, the Lord said, I will send Pharaoh and all his army into the sea and they will perish; and the result would be that the Egyptians would know who is the LORD, for He would be honored through the death of Pharaoh and his army.
I am astounded at the greatness of God, the LORD! As I explore Scripture to discover more about God, and life, and me and us --- people in general, I learn how specific people interacted with God in the Old Testament and with God through Jesus in the New Testament. It never fails to bring me to the awe-filled worship of this God that people are invited to know – urged to know by God Himself. He does not hide His heart to be known by His people.Example after example from OT through the NT, we see again and again the faithfulness of God to guide, instruct, protect and provide for His people. He reveals Himself by His ways and His workings that people might know that He is the Lord.
He warns against falling into idolatry and becoming deceived by careless and callous untruths, while revealing truth in its depths through the pages of His carefully preserved Word, the Holy Scriptures.Deuteronomy 29:29 records the interesting fact that in all of God’s revealing and showing and telling, people will never be able to fully comprehend God Himself, and that there are yet things not revealed: “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but the things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all of the words of this law.”( Ampified Bible.)
Ours is to know in order to obey. What remains secret belongs to God. There is no God like Yahweh God. He retains secrets, but we are an entirely open book to Him:““Can anyone hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?” says the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:24 AMP
His Word is lavish with its revelations of God’s power, His love and mercy and grace, His promises that His Word is true and He is Whom He reveals Himself to be, and that He can and will do all that He has said He will do – forever. He is unchangeable and unshakeable and unexplainable and remains incomprehensively majestic and magnificent.The question is, “Do we believe Him?”
At each and every “Red Sea Place” in our lives, God is already there with the guidance we need and the strength and power to bring us safely through, with abundant comfort and care and provision and protection.Isaiah 41:9-10 (Amplified Bible): “ You whom I (the Lord) have taken from the ends of the earth and have called you from the corners of it, and said to you, You are my servant—I have chosen you and not cast you off …Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.”
Oh, that we would believe this great God! That I would truly believe this great God!As you and I stand today at this point in our lives and assess our own circumstances, are there difficulties facing us that frightens us about how our future will unfold?
Let me encourage you to look beyond the river of fear and invite the Lord to make His presence felt by you. With eyes of faith, choose to believe what you cannot see by believing the words on the pages of God’s Word that you can see. Invite His Holy Spirit to make His presence fully known to you, bringing to you the comfort and provision He has ready for you.In a poem that I read today by Annie Johnson Flint, she asked this question in the first line: “Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life, where in spite of all you can do,” that you know there is no way out or back, but the only way is ‘through’ this particular situation.
Death is a Red Sea dividing loved ones by the River of Anguish of grief and loss.The death of a loved one is painful and difficult, and my dad’s death held its own unique heartbreak and grief because it appeared to have come by his own hand. Accidental, or intentional? We never knew the answer to that question.
My mother held us together with her faith in God which gave her strength even though her own way was a blurred path because of her tears of absolute anguish, for on top of grieving as a widow, she had to grapple with all the unanswered whys that a questionable death leaves in its wake.
My mother’s own death occurred 13 years later, soon after the birth of my last child – just three years after the arrival of the long-awaited granddaughter into the circle of her three grandsons at that time. (Since then, she has had three more grandsons added to her list of descendants.)She was a loving and thoroughly involved grandmother - a woman who loved to laugh and looked for the enjoyment and fun of life, even though she was already a grieving young widow by the time her first grandchild was born.
Her death was sudden and totally unexpected after a brief illness, hospitalization, and emergency surgery.Word of her death seemed to knock the very breath from our bodies as my brothers and I fought to maintain balance in the suddenness of being left without a parent on earth. Our core as siblings was lost when both our parents were gone from us.
A stripping away of that sense of security inherent in a mother’s felt love in her daughter would, throughout that first long night of shock and grief after her death, sweep over me with such force that I would feel nearly as if I were drowning, that I could not breathe.I could not then identify the overwhelming feelings of loss at being left without a parent on this earth as feeling like an “orphan.” However, much later, I would re-discover the verse recorded at John 14:18 and understand that emotion as the peculiar grief of an orphan.
Jesus knew that after His death on the cross His disciples would suffer that anguish of having the core of their faith removed from their visible sight, and so He gave His precious promise to His disciples then: : “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” Nestled still today in the greatest Book ever written, you too can find this promise in the Book of St. John, chapter 14, verse 18 (NASB) .He did come to me – in a way that I could never have imagined on the day of her funeral, 31 years ago today.
At that time and in spite of the fact that I was an adult, happily married to a loving and supportive husband, and the mother of three young children, I now equate that particular heavy emotional pain as being the grief of an orphan.The devastating sense of aloneness a child without a mother must feel!
In the death of my mother, one of my Red Sea River of Anguish experiences, the Lord God was already there and would not leave me ever.He was constantly by my side, and though I was so aware of my grief and pain that I was unaware of Him, He was nevertheless with me, and brought beautiful comfort to me in such a way that now even after 31 years have passed, I remember vividly the experience.
On the way to my mother’s funeral, my husband and I were in the front seat of our car with my youngest brother and his wife in the back seat of the car.
All at once, as another overwhelming wave of sorrow rushed over me, l felt such a strong anguish in thinking of life without her presence that it seemed it would crush me.Then I ‘saw’ with my mind’s eyes words written and I read them, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
At the time, I felt so comforted in knowing that she had been carried to a mansion – a place of her own.For at the time of her death, she did not have a home of her own. She would not tell me why, but she had left her husband at the time because of unbearable circumstances. She promised to tell me about the situation later after she was released from the hospital for her plans were to go home with me to my home in another state.
The plan that never came into being was that she would stay the summer with me while she recuperated from her illness and surgery. Instead of leaving the hospital, she left the land of the living in the earth.As we arrived at the church, we were ushered to the appropriate pews at the front of the building on the right aisle facing the casket placed before the pulpit.
Living out of state, I had never met her pastor. As the service began, the prayers and readings and songs went on and on, and again I was overwhelmed by that crushing panic-stricken grief.Then the pastor read his funeral text: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
All of a sudden, it was as if the roof over my seat had been pulled back and the brightest, warmest, largest ray of sun and light shone down from heaven on my head. It felt as if I had been lifted from a cold drenching rain and placed securely on the lap of God Himself, with the sensation that a warm, soft blanket had been wrapped snugly around me and I was hugged to Him.I was flooded with the sensation of being filled with the most lavish and luxurious sense of well-being: a joy and a peace that I cannot describe in words poured over me and I could only smile from ear-to-ear in the most amazing sense of truly trouble-free happiness. It seemed like I was a little child being comforted in her parent’s embrace.
Though I have been comforted by the Lord’s Holy Spirit on many occasions since that time, I have never felt that same sense of His presence again.He has proven Himself real to me in His invisible presence in many ways over the years and God continues to show me the reality of the truth in and of His Words.
I never tire of the reading and studying of His word. He is my home away from home. But, one day, I will be carried to my real home, into that very special place He has prepared for me, and for all who are His children, blood-bought by His Son, and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.“…Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20 (NKJV.)
I wrote these words five years ago. My testimony is the same today – only more fervent.God’s presence in the life of His people is pure joy! His blessings make all of life a purpose-filled journey into eternity. Each day is a God-filled adventure with daily opportunities to have our faith in Him proven genuine, as our trust in Him removes all fear.
May you be encouraged to know that God has no favorites and He is faithful to all people who will allow Him a place to work His miracles in each life. No matter the situation you find yourself in today, He is the God of grace and glory. His power and love is boundless and borderless. He works through every circumstance to give us a future of good and a hope for the very best!May you be blessed with the presence of Jesus Christ in His Holy Spirit as you read and study His Word, The Holy Bible.
Exodus 13:17-14:31 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
17 Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “ The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” 18 Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the [a]Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely [b]take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you.” 20 Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness. 21 The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might [c]travel by day and by night. 22 [d]He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.Pharaoh in Pursuit
14 Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 Thus I will [e]harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, [f]Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made his chariot ready and took his people with him; 7 and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 The Lord [g]hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out [h] boldly. 9 Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
10 As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel [i]looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, [j]bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘[k]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.”The Sea Is Divided
13 But Moses said to the people, “ Do not fear! [l]Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. 16 As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall [m]go through the midst of the sea on dry land. 17 As for Me, behold, I will [n]harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 Then the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen.”
19 The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud [o]along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord [p]swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. 22 The sons of Israel [q]went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 Then the Egyptians took up the pursuit, and all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen went in after them into the midst of the sea. 24 At the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the [r]army of the Egyptians [s]through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the [t]army of the Egyptians into confusion. 25 He [u]caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty; so the Egyptians said, “Let [v]us flee from Israel, for the Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians.”26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “ Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and their horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing [w]right into it; then the Lord [x] overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, [y]even Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained. 29 But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 When Israel saw the great [z]power which the Lord had [aa]used against the Egyptians, the people [ab]feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.2; Num 14:1-4; Deut 17:16
Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life,
Where, in spite of all you can do,
There is no way out, there is no way back,
There is no other way but through?
Then wait on the Lord with a trust serene
Till the night of your fear is gone;
He will send the wind, he will heap the floods,
When He says to your soul, “Go on.”
And His hand will lead you through – clear through –
Ere the watery walls roll down,
No foe can reach you, no wave can touch,
No mightiest sea can drown;
The tossing billows may rear their crests,
Their foam at your feet may break,
But over their bed you shall walk dry shod
In the path that your Lord will make.
In the morning watch, ‘neath the lifted cloud,
You shall see but the Lord alone,
When He leads you on from the place of the sea
To a land that you have not known;
And your fears shall pass as your foes have passed,
You shall be no more afraid;
You shall sing His praise in a better place,
A place that His hand has made.
-- Annie Johnson Flint.
From “Streams in the Desert”, pages 189-190; Compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman; Zondervan Publishing House, A Division of the Zondervan Corporation; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Sixty-eighth printing April 1973.