The young nation of Israel learned a lesson about this early on in their journey to the Promised Land. When the people found themselves trapped between the Red Sea and the powerful Egyptian army, they let fear overcome their faith. Moses reminded them to look to the Lord, who could – and would – deliver them.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14).
It might seem too amazing to be true, but the God of the universe wants to be our champion, the warrior who will gain victory for us. While we know that He is mighty, we can sometimes forget to call on Him in the midst of trials. And that is exactly when we need to lean on Him the most.
The young nation of Israel learned a lesson about this early on in their journey to the Promised Land. When the people found themselves trapped between the Red Sea and the powerful Egyptian army, they let fear overcome their faith. Moses reminded them to look to the Lord, who could – and would – deliver them. And we need to respond the same way today.
What Does This Verse Mean?
This verse consists of two parts. And to understand the full meaning of it, we need to look at both sections.
The first half talks about God’s part in our battles.
“The Lord will fight for you…”
The Bible gives us the clear message that God not only goes to battle on our behalf, but He conquers the enemy. Sometimes He performs visible miracles, like parting the Red Sea before the Hebrews, then bringing the water down to swallow up the Egyptian army. Other times, He more subtly creates or changes circumstances to help us.
“Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you” (Deuteronomy 3:22).
“It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them” (Psalm 44:3).
“The Lord will march out like a champion, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies” (Isaiah 42:13).
Next comes the second half of Exodus 14:14, which tells us what our part is in going through struggles.
“...you need only to be still.”
Again, many passages urge us to be patient and trusting until God acts in His perfect timing. Moses urged the Israelites to remember how God had already provided, and to wait expectantly. We too can rest in the knowledge that He is already working in our hardships, and will guide our steps forward.
“Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you” (Proverbs 20:22).
“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord’” (Romans 12:19).
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:13-14).
What Is the Context of Exodus 14?
Exodus 14 is an excerpt from the very beginning of a long migration the Hebrews took after they were freed and left Egypt. God had instructed Moses to lead the people to the banks of the Red Sea, and gave a hint of His plan:
“‘And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.’ So the Israelites did this” (Exodus 14:4).
Though they followed Moses, the people were very frightened by the thought of the Egyptian army coming for them, and assumed the worst.
“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?’” (Exodus 14:10-11).
Verse 14 is Moses’ reassuring response. His words were meant to remind the people that their God hadn’t left them alone, but was preparing to show the world His strength and glory. Moses compelled them to keep their focus on the unchanging presence and promise of The Lord.
What Does This Verse NOT Mean?
Because of our sinful human nature, and the enemy’s attacks, some have let the straightforward idea of Exodus 14:14 become distorted in a number of ways.
Some think it means we can just sit back and do nothing, but wait for God to do everything for us. Many take it to mean that God will always make things work out the way we want. And others think it means that God will always do something right away, or at least on our timetable.
But Scriptures tell us over and over again that God’s Ways and timing are above our own, and are perfect. Our time of waiting is not to be lazy or self-centered. We should stay confident in His ability to win the day and be ready to act if He calls. We can actually gain a sense of joy as we look to Him.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer…” (Romans 12:12).
How Does This Verse Encourage Us Today?
With so much turmoil in the world, we may carry a feeling of anxiety around with us every day. If we’re not careful, any battles we face will trigger our fight-or-flight response. Then, we might jump in to defend ourselves, which usually brings more trouble for ourselves and others.
God is offering us a better way. Instead of running or fighting out of panic, we can step back and allow our Heavenly Father to take over. His Word teaches us some ways to stay righteous while we wait for His deliverance.
1. Worship Him
“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker…” (Psalm 95:6).
2. Pray for Him to Act
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17).
3. Seek His Leading
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
4. Obey His Call
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).
God called the Israelites out of slavery and away from fearful attitudes. The One who has dominion over all the universe invites us to share in that same way of living. Believing in and expecting His goodness will help us stand firm when trials come, because we know who will have the victory.
“Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me” (Psalm 35:1).
“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you...’” (2 Chronicles 20:17).
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/chaunpis
Heather Adams is an author, speaker, and singer living in Connecticut. Heather’s passion is to equip and encourage believers to seek more of God’s truth and to experience more of His joy each day. Her book, Bow Down: The Heart of a True Worshipper is a practical, 30-day devotional about worship based on the writings of King David. Heather's blog, Worship Walk Ministries, offers weekly Scripture passages and insights to ponder. A native New Englander, Heather is settling into her home in the South, trying out local foods and watching for the alligators that live nearby!