Moses’ response was steady. “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Be silent is the only thing you don’t want to do when you are afraid. Seemingly you are allowing tragedy to happen without a fight. Yet, this is exactly what Moses (and the Lord) is requiring of the Israelites. No kicking and screaming, just faith.
The Lord instructs Moses to “Tell the people of Israel to go forward.” To keep walking. One foot in front of the other. In order to walk without stumbling, you must keep your eyes looking ahead. Looking back brings missteps and confusion. Look forward. Trust each step. In the case of the Isrelites, the forward view only brought more uncertainty. Water. Deep, dark seas full of death. The very waters that claimed an entire generation of Hebrew boys. It is these very waters that the Lord was drawing their hearts to trust.
As Moses lifted his arms, the Egyptian army was being motivated by the hardening of their hearts by the Lord. He was rescuing the Israelites in one breath and motivating the Egyptians in the other. A contradiction of strategy, yet perfectly constructed to build a faith in His people. They didn’t need the Egyptians to surrender, they needed the Lord to overcome. A new resolve in the Egyptians would require of the Lord a redemption plan not written by Moses.
And as a father to a scared child, the Lord provided a pillar of cloud before and after them to guide them into the unknown of the Red Sea. A father who has his hands on the small of the child’s back, guiding them into school on the first day. Excitement, fear, trepidation. They chose to follow simply because Dad said it would be okay.
Moses’ hand was raised and before the unbelieving minds of the Israelites, the waters became a pathway of salvation instead of a trapping of death. The walls would close them in, not destroy them. The water’s destruction would be reserved for the strength of the Egyptians. Their power and renown taken down by cascading water and the pounding footsteps of an escaping Israelite nation.
As they moved out of the dry bed of the Red Sea, their feet were muddy and moving in humilty at the power of the Lord’s hand.
The Israelites began to sing. Freedom welled up from the depths of their fear and brought about song. Hope restored. It is from either the hope or reality of freedom that brings song. Fear confuses the notes and we are left silent. But here, the Israelites were free. And songs were sung to the cadence of feet stomping out freedom by walking away from oppression for the first time in generations. No longer would bondage define who they were. Their children could dream without it remaining a wish.
God wants our freedom to sing. To not allow fear of the unknown to choke out the notes transcribed and composed by God. God wants freedom to not be mustered up by self-motivation and Christian pep-rallies. He wants our hearts to unwind from the fear of self and beat in time with His glorious song of redemption.