In chapter 14 of Exodus, Moses tells us that the Israelites were complaining. What’s new? God had caused Pharaoh to release them from slavery by the killing of the first-born males throughout Egypt. The Israelites were left unharmed because of the blood on their doorposts. And if that was not enough, as they left for freedom, the Egyptian neighbors gave them their gold and silver! Yet still the children of Israel sing with Janet Jackson, “What have you done for me lately?” as they watch Pharaoh’s army coming toward them to bring them back or worse. “Did you just bring us out to the desert to kill us?” they nagged Moses and God. They immediately forgot what God had done and took it upon themselves to do something and they knew they wouldn’t last an hour fighting with the Egyptians. So they resigned themselves to death.
Let’s be honest, you can relate to those stubborn myopic forgetful Israelites can’t you? Whether it’s worrying about job, health, family, or our sins. We freak out. We take it all upon ourselves. We curse God for the situation that we often times get ourselves into. How quickly we forget our history, God’s history in this world and in our life.
Well, Moses responds, “The Lord will fight for you! All you have to do is be silent!” Shut up, I got this! Or for those in Milwaukee, “Hold my beer.”
Moses’ response and God’s subsequent action is Christian theology 101! God will do it all. Mankind, all you have to do is nothing. From the very beginning, God made everything out of nothing. For mankind’s redemption, God’s Son did everything while we did nothing—or worse, we ran away, betrayed Him, mocked Him, nailed Him to the cross. He laid His life down and picked it up again all by Himself, all for you. The Psalmist sings, “Be still and know that I am YHWH!”
Yet God’s doing everything doesn’t stop at the cross and empty tomb. Often times we think of our life in Christ as if Jesus puts us in a boat and shoves it off toward the promised land. Now we got to paddle. “Thanks, Jesus, I’ll take it from here!”
That couldn’t be further from the truth. Quite frankly, as with the Israelites, our helping just gets in the way! “The Lord will fight, paddle, for you. All you have to do is be silent!” Sit back relax! Jesus is in the boat! There is no cost to discipleship. It’s free for you. Christ paid for it all and IS continually paying for it all. He is not just savior on the cross and empty tomb, He continues to act as savior from baptism to the grave.
And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower.
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
– Suzanne, Leonard Cohen
While Cohen’s song doesn’t necessarily confess the faith, these words do: “Only drowning men can see Him.” That is, only people completely helpless and unable to say anything for themselves. That doesn’t just describe the moment we are saved. Our whole Christian life is one of complete dependence upon Jesus. All we have to do is be quiet!
To your sins you still needlessly carry—the Lord will fight for you. All you have to do is be silent.
To death that lurks around you, overshadowing even the sunniest of days. The Lord will fight for you. All you have to do is be silent.
To that devil who constantly attempts to convince us to carry our own sins, our worries upon ourselves—he even convinces some that they are strong enough to fight, to reach up, to help God—the Lord will fight for you. All you have to do is be silent.