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Silent Faith In The Face of Fear or Worry

Exodus 14:14 (ESV) … “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

In Exodus 14:14, we discover a new danger. Moses now faces overwhelming political force on the heels of long-standing political oppression. Will the old reassurances work? Moses’ “do not be afraid,” calls on Israel not to do something but simply to “stand firm” and “keep still.” Yet there is something they are to do, and that is to redirect their looking (v. 10). As long as they focus on the Egyptians, fear will paralyze them. Now they are called to see what the Lord is going to do to the Egyptians. This “seeing” will turn their paralysis into quiet trust, as the Egyptians they now see they shall never see again.

Does Moses encourage the people because he himself is free from fear and filled with confidence? Apparently not. For God asks Moses, “Why do you cry out to me?” (“Cry out” here is the verb form of the noun “cry” in 3:7.) The picture is of someone who inwardly is as anxious as the people yet is able to muster a word of reassurance. He is like the parent who, not knowing how the family crisis is going to be resolved, nevertheless soothes an upset child with words like “don’t worry; everything is going to be all right.”

In such a picture, faith is not the absence of fear. Faith is fear that takes itself to God and there finds the freedom and the voice both to call for God to act and to give reassurance to others whose own fear leads them only backward.[1]

The lesson we draw from this passage is that sometimes we too must be silent and wait upon the Lord to fight for us. The Lord is looking for our faith to stand firm and not let fear take over. The fuller lesson of the Lord is found in Matthew chapter six.

Matthew 6:25–34 (ESV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

[1] Janzen, J. G. (1997). Exodus. (P. D. Miller & D. L. Bartlett, Eds.) (p. 101). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

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