It’s difficult to grasp the how the Israelites still have such a lack of faith.
They’ve just witnessed the “miracle” of the plagues, of the angel of death passing-over their homes because of the blood on their door frames, of being freed from a ruthless dictator after centuries of slavery, and of being guided by a pillar of cloud by day and by night a pillar of fire. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.(13:21-22) I mean, really. Sign me up for that!
So here they are, more protected by God than they are able to recognize; crippled by fear and compelled to complain. You’d think they’d be falling on their faces, asking God for help. You’d think – even in their fear – they’d be begging for another miracle. But no. Instead, they’re assuming the worst and wishing they never left Egypt, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?….It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert.” (vs.11-12)
Aren’t we funny people. I wonder what my life would look like in a scripture. I wonder if I would appear so weak and whiny…crippled by fear and compelled to complain.
But instead of reprimanding them for their lack of faith, Moses reassures them in the kindest and most powerful way:
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.
And so they find themselves in the midst of miracles again. The pillars of cloud and fire move from in front of them to behind them, to separate them from the Egyptian army; bringing darkness to the Egyptians and light to the Israelites. The sea parts, allowing them to pass through on dry land. The Egyptian army is thrown into confusion and the wheels of their chariots are jammed. Though the Israelites pass safely through the walls of water on their left and right, Pharaoh’s army is consumed by the sea and not one of them survives.
Miracle after miracle after miracle, as the Lord fights for them.
God, forgive my lack of faith. It’s so easy to mock the Israelites for complaining – for not trusting you, but I do the exact same thing. Remind me of your power. Remind me of your love. Remind me that you are fighting for me. Close my complaining mouth and open my eyes to see your perfect protection…and your perfect plan. And to simply trust.