The children of Israel had escaped from Egypt and they were camped by the sea just as God had told Moses. I suppose like all refugees they felt a bit disorientated and concerned for the future, even if relieved to be free. How would they manage the journey ahead, would there be help for those too young or too old to walk far, what would they eat and where were they going?
But then, over the horizon, came a terrifying sight. Thousands of Egyptians and their chariots appear in hot pursuit of their former slaves. Moses encouraged the terrified people with the words ‘The Lord will fight for you and you shall hold your peace’ Clearly, they were vocalising their distress and screaming out to Moses to save them from imminent death.
However, Moses had been warned that the Egyptians would pursue them. The ensuing battle and God’s victory would prove to them that ‘I am the LORD’ God had said. I wonder what Moses was expecting would achieve this victory? Maybe another speedy but deadly plague, possibly a band of fierce soldiers, or even angels, to fight the enemy on their behalf, or could it be a thunder bolt or two! What Moses did under this pressure was turn to some very urgent and speedy prayer. It appears he started crying out to God and in the next verse (verse 15) we read ‘And the LORD said to Moses “why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.”’
I wonder, was Moses urgently praying through all his ideas of a good way to defeat the Egyptians; ideas he’d been formulating and was now telling God about? Or maybe he’d forgotten that part of what God had said, in all the excitement of the escape. What’s certain is that Moses seemed to be frantically calling out to God, but God wanted him to be quiet and listen, to get the answer he so desperately sought.
I’ve noticed that too much verbalising of possible solutions, when seeking God in prayer isn’t always very helpful. If we want to receive God’s answer to a pressing problem we may need to ‘hold our peace’ and give Him a chance to speak. He will respond, maybe in an unexpected way. (I don’t expect Moses had considered God’s intended plan in his possible suggestions). The truth is that our verbal onslaught in prayer can become a blockage to hearing His voice.
Thankfully Moses did ‘hold his peace’ and listened to God, and we know how the story ends; with a watery grave for the Egyptians and their chariots, and a way forward for the Israelites into their next adventures.
As we move into this New Year let’s find time to listen more in our prayer times and learn how to ‘hold our peace’, especially when we feel most desperate for a solution to some pressing issue. God will have a plan. He’s gone ahead already. We only need to listen and follow His instructions, however much we think they’re unlikely to help, just as Moses did.
Prayer: Lord help me during this New Year to ‘hold my peace’ and to listen for Your voice even when I feel most frantic and situations seem so very urgent. Thank You that You do see the issues. They aren’t a surprise to You, and You’ll speak with a way forward for me in every situation, however difficult or hopeless it may look. I pray this in the precious name of Jesus, my Saviour and Redeemer. Amen.
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