Confidence in God - by Keith Petersen
Confidence in God
Exodus 14 is of considerable interest bearing, as it does, on the very point of Israel’s exit from Egypt. In Scripture Egypt reflects the world system that represents man in his natural energies and proclivities independent from God subsequent to the fall in the Garden of Eden.
The backdrop to Exodus 14 is that the Lord had been working prior to this moment to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt. Much later in the wilderness the Israelites showed the inclination of the natural heart and mind when they murmured for the leeks and onions of Egypt (representative of that which attracts our natural tastes and proclivities in this world); but, the reality was that their circumstances in Egypt had been governed by bondage. Paul Bunyan evidently said that Satan was a harsh taskmaster who paid wages that nobody could bear since “the wages of sin is death.” What an encouragement that “the Son of God has been manifested, that he might undo the works of the devil.”
God had told the children of Israel through Moses that He was going to deliver them from Egypt. This is the Gospel – God tells us that he will deliver us from “this present evil world” and bring us to Himself into a place flowing, in the type, with milk and honey.
Israel is brought to the sea at Pi-hahiroth, on the verge of leaving Egypt. The Egyptians pursue them. Have any thought that Satan would refrain from the pursuit and the harassing of the Christian even when we have been “delivered ….. from the authority of darkness, and translated [us] into the kingdom of the Son of his love”? Christianity involves a warfare and it is well to understand at the outset that “our struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against principalities, against authorities, against the universal lords of this darkness, against spiritual [power] of wickedness in the heavenlies.” However, we are also assured at the outset that “we more than conquer through him that has loved us.”
Israel lifts up their eyes and sees “all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army.” From a natural perspective, this would be a fearful site – the Israelites are essentially weaponless and bearing down on them is evidently the entire military might of one of the great nations on earth at that time. So, they are “much afraid.”
This is our natural estate. We tend to be fearful as to many things. Christianity delivers us from a world system of sin and death; however, through lack of faith we carry many fears. We’re afraid of what might happen tomorrow, we’re afraid for our health, we’re afraid for our children and their future, many wonder about the government and the state of world political balance, about jobs and money – about a myriad of things. Why is this? Surely it is because we recognize that, in ourselves, we have little power against the forces and circumstances of living in this world. We cannot by endeavor increase our height by even one cubit, and we “know not what a day shall bring forth.” What is the simple antidote to all these natural fears? What does the Lord say? “Be of good courage: I have overcome the world.”
Who brings such fears and questionings? Is God assuring us of salvation and care? The Lord says, “I am with you all the days, until the completion of the age.” No – God is not promoting such fears. Satan is the great whisperer – “Is it even so, that God has said?” It is a great thing to recognize early on in our histories that, as Paul writes in Ephesians, one of the elements of the panoply that God provides to us is “the shield of faith with which ye will be able to quench all the inflamed darts of the wicked one.” Everything in our path here and for eternity is accomplished through the capacitating power of the indwelling Holy Spirit; but, having said that, certainly the entirety of Scripture highlights that there is no greater Christian attribute than that of faith. So much so is faith regarded, that the Bible succinctly states that “whatever is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23).
God’s answer through Moses to the consternation, doubts and fears of the children of Israel is, what? “Fear not: stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah.” Three things are listed here: (1) Fear not (2) Stand still and (3) See the salvation of Jehovah.
God knows as to the fear – He addresses it first. What a wonderful reality to know that God is not only conversant with our innermost thoughts, fears and anxieties; but, that, as with a parent soothing an anxious child, he takes up the element of fear first. “He leadeth me beside still waters” and “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies”.
Then, “stand still.” Why should we be told to stand still? Joshua was told to “Rise up” to meet the evil occasioned by Achan and the accursed thing – Christianity is shown to be a system of energy, overcoming and power. Paul wrote to Timothy that “God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power, and of love, and of wise discretion.”
But, the “stand still” is clearly intended of the Holy Spirit to assure us that the power of God is the key to all overcoming here. It is not in any natural power that we can be Christian overcomers; but, as understanding that it is through the power of God that we are ensured victory. It is vital to be clear in our minds and hearts as to this great fact. David approached Goliath “in the name of Jehovah of hosts” and with the assurance that the Lord would provide the delivering power.
Last, “see the salvation of Jehovah.” Properly speaking, there is no other salvation available to men – “And salvation is in none other, for neither is there another name under heaven which is given among men by which we must be saved.” The need is to see it. How is this to be seen? We have the witness – “For they that bear witness are three: the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and the three agree in one”; but, how do we see in this spiritual realm of Christianity? “Judge not according to sight, but judge righteous judgment” shows the spiritual eyesight and intelligence given to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In this instance in Exodus, the Israelite was told “the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.” How settling this should be! God promises – what is the result? “Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the sea-shore.” Where is the power of Egypt? Gone! What is the proof? They are dead upon the seashore. Is there any doubt? Could there be any further fear?
In Exodus 14 it was literal sight; however, we have an infinite advantage in that the blessed Holy Spirit has been poured out upon us. If we can see and understand and believe – if we can envision and see the Egyptian dead on the seashore as shown in Exodus – if we can envision and see Goliath dead and David having cut off his head – what does this mean to us? How simple it really is – the Lord says that “When the strong [man] armed keeps his own house, his goods are in peace; but when the stronger than he coming upon [him] overcomes him, he takes away his panoply in which he trusted.”
The Lord has “bound the strong man and spoiled his goods.” What could be remaining that we should fear? The Egyptian is dead, the strong man is bound, the Lord has overcome the world. “Then shall come to pass the word written: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, [is] thy sting? where, O death, thy victory? Now the sting of death [is] sin, and the power of sin the law; but thanks to God, who gives us the victory by our Lord Jesus Christ.” The most fearful things are gone – the fear of death and the judgment for sin. “He who, yea, has not spared his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him grant us all things?”
Having said all the above there are two more things that should be considered. The first is, as has been indicated already, that God is cognizant of any and all of our fears. The phrase “fear not” is said 80 times in the Bible and, while it is not God saying it in every instance, every Christian will realize that God says this throughout the Scripture. Not only is it said; but, it is said to those to whom we may think it not necessary to be said – brothers of courage such as Joshua, King David the warrior and Paul the Apostle. We must be conscious that God is “the Father of compassions, and God of all encouragement” (2 Corinthians 1). God does not just simply remind us to “be strong and courageous” but says “fear them not, neither be afraid of them; for Jehovah thy God, he it is that goeth with thee; he will not leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
If we properly take in and appropriate all that has been written above, we can recognize that fear is not the proper portion of the Christian – “But to the fearful and unbelieving, [and sinners], and those who make themselves abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part [is] in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.” That scripture in Revelation 21, of course, does not apply to the Christian; yet, it shows that fear and unbelief do not ultimately suit the Christian calling. This is important to recognize since, to reconcile even earthly affairs the issues must be properly understood.
The last thing, then, to be considered is the vital question: From where comes the fear? The only answer is the converse of what is seen as quoted above in Revelation 21. Fear is connected with unbelief – i.e., with lack of faith. Why is the faith lacking? It can only be because we’re not fully assured in heart and mind that God can or will do what He has promised. The little child hesitating to jump into the waiting arms of his father in the swimming pool is demonstrating his fear and a lack of faith that the jump will be without harm. Once the child jumps it will then freely repeat the exercise – it is assured that all will be well.
We are much the same. Peter’s faith was to the extent that he descended from the boat and walked to the Lord on the water. It was only when he took his eyes off of the Lord and allowed his natural fears to leap to the fore that he began to sink. “Lord save me” was his immediate cry and, what was the answer? “And immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught hold of him, and says to him, O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?” The Lord is not going to drop us into the middle of the conflict and then, reverently speaking, indifferently abandon us to the exercises and pressures of life. He is our Savior throughout – in every respect.
In closing, it is apparent that a full committal in mind and spirit is needed to be able to advance forward in the Christian path here. There is much conflict – within and without. God’s intent is “the proving of your faith much more precious than of gold” and this in result is “found to praise and glory and honour in [the] revelation of Jesus Christ”. A full and decisive committal is necessary to full success even in the elements of life here naturally – how much more so in this Divine realm of victory and joy in to which we have been called! This involves manhood in Christ. It is only as we move forward in the conflict with faith in our God that we can prove “the good and perfect will” of our God.