Don’t be a flat squirrel!

You know those indecisive squirrels you see in the middle of the road? They get halfway across the street and then when they see a car coming, they panic and don’t know which way to go? Their inaction often turns them from indecisive squirrels and into flat ones. Exodus 14:13-16 tells us of a potential “flat squirrel moment” in the history of Israel.

Exodus 14:13-16
(13)  And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you [today]: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen [today], ye shall see them again no more [forever].
(14)  The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
(15)  And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:
(16)  But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

The Israelites had finally been released from Egyptian captivity and were on their way to the Promised Land. On God’s instructions, Moses led them to a place called Pihahiroth “between Migdol and the sea.” Strategically, this was a bad place to be for a people escaping from a world military power. Pihahiroth was the only stretch of land wide enough to hold all the Israelites, but it was at the end of a path that was flanked on either side by rough, rocky terrain and dense wilderness. This left the people hemmed in by the Red Sea on one side and by terrain on the other. This is why, when God hardened Pharaoh’s heart one last time, Pharaoh said: “They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in” (Exodus 14:3b).

When word came to Pharaoh of the Israelites’ location, “the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people and they said, ‘Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?’” (Exodus 14:5) So, Pharaoh summoned his chariots and his warriors, and they came full force in pursuit of their former slaves.

When the Israelites saw the approaching Egyptian army, they resorted to prayer and sarcasm. They cried out to the Lord, but they also said to Moses: “Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?” (Exodus 14:11) This is when Moses said to the people: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD.”

Moses’ faith is admirable. The Lord’s response is puzzling – at least at first glance. Moses was right to put his faith in God, but faith should lead us to action, and not just any action, the right kind of action.

Exodus 14:15-16
(15)  And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:
(16)  But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

It wasn’t just any action God wanted them to make. It was God-directed action, but it was still action. God will clear a path for us in response to our prayers, and He’ll even walk it with us, but He won’t walk it for us. There are times when after we have been still and have acknowledged God that we just need to get moving!

Maybe God has been moving in your heart to take on some new ministry, or to go to a new mission field and you’ve been “praying about it.” If it seems like nothing is happening, maybe it’s because God has already answered your prayer and now it’s time for you to do something.

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Photo by Pranay Pareek on Unsplash

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