Do You See What I see?

This is not a reference to the Christmas carol, although I’m sure it will be playing on radios and in department stores before too much longer now that Halloween is past. I’m actually referring to the scene in Exodus 14 when Israel is leaving Egypt after 400 years and then gets trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s powerful army.  Verse 14 says that “the people of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly.  And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord.”  If I’m an Israelite in this situation, I’d probably be doing the same thing – freaking out!  After all they are trapped by a powerful sea on one side and marching death on the other.

Now to give some context, earlier in the chapter God tells Moses to lead the people to this place by the sea in order to cause Pharaoh to think they were wandering aimlessly.  God then hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would pursue Israel.  God would then destroy the Egyptian army to demonstrate His might and as a reminder of this to all generations.  So to recap – God directs His people into a place where they were blocked by the sea on one side and penned in by the army on the other – essentially a place where they were powerless to save themselves.  After all, they were brick-makers, not trained warriors.  And swimming across the sea was definitely out of the question.

So back to verse 10 – note what Israel was looking at: “the Egyptians [who] were marching after them”.  So they panic.  They tell Moses it would have been better to have stayed in Egypt as slaves than to die out here.  But Moses knows what God is up to.  He tells the people to “‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today.”

There’s a subtle but important distinction here and it’s all about what we’re looking at.  Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 5:7 that as Christ followers we are to “walk by faith, not by sight.”  That’s what’s playing out here in Ex. 14.  The Israelites are walking by sight and what they see is absolutely overwhelming.  So Moses tells them, effectively, to look at God.  Hebrews 12:2 puts it another way: “fixing our eyes on Jesus.”  Moses then goes on to tell them that the Lord will fight for them, they need only to be silent (or still).

This is oozing with application so I’ll dive right in.  The bottom line on this – and I speak from my own set of recent challenges – I have a choice as to how I will view my circumstances, whether they are of my own making or not.  I can view things from my own eyes based on my own strength and resources or I can look for “the salvation of the Lord”.  If I view it through my eyes, then I begin to panic when I realize that many things are out of my control.  I can be obedient, I can act wisely and with due diligence, but there is a point when things are not in my control and this is usually where I start to doubt.  The alternative to this is to walk in faith, having a confidence in God’s goodness and faithfulness based on His word and His past provisions.  The result of this is peace based on an assurance that God is using my circumstances for something I can’t see and that He will use it for His glory.

The beauty of Exodus 14 is that we get a glimpse of what God is doing.  We see the earthly situation and we see God’s purpose in it.  He’s going to do something that will be a reminder to Israel (and to us) throughout history of His faithfulness and His might.  As you probably know, God does the miraculous (which really isn’t a big deal for God) by parting the sea, getting His people to safety and then wiping out the Egyptian army.

So every day I have a choice to make – will I walk by sight or will I walk by faith?  The difference is tremendous.  So what do you see?