MUSINGS CONCERNING STANDING STILL
Stand Still, And See The Salvation Of The Lord
And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to-day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more forever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. (Ex. 14:13-14).
With men it is impossible, but nothing shall be impossible with God. This is a faithful axiom and is worthy of the purest faith man can possess. In the realm of the redeemed, God’s omnipotence should be a universal accepted self-evident truth. The Bible teaches that all things seen and unseen are totally under His authority and must bow with swift and accurate obedience when He so wills it. We often lose sight of these great truths when under afflictions and pressed by awkward circumstances. Unbelief and fear dethrone the Sovereign and minimize His almighty attributes. They exaggerate the problem and place it in a position of being stronger than the one who ordered the affliction.
Exodus 14 demonstrates that from beginning to end, whether man or nature, each and every action and reaction are controlled and dictated by Jehovah. It is God-wrought faith alone that can believe “nothing shall be impossible with God.” Faith is that gift which has the elements to “stand still, [regardless of appearances] and see the salvation of the Lord.”
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.” (Ex. 14:1-2). The way Moses led the people was the way and will of God. This direction, however, was deemed foolish by Pharaoh and the Egyptians, as well as most of the children of Israel. (vs. 3, 10-11). Only faith understands that God’s ways are not man’s ways. Man would suggest we walk by what is known as “common sense.”
God may for holy and divine reasons lead us in a path that contradicts our thinking, but surely only the vilest form of unbelief will charge Him as being uncharitable. What a biting censure this is when we by our trifling logic begin to question the Lord with sordid reservations.
The command of sacred writing is that we walk by faith, and not by sight. Mistrust cannot tolerate the hidden purposes of God. It wars against divine testimonies, and obscures counsel with frantic reproaches. These actions may not be done verbally, but our conduct testifies that we do not believe God. To stand still means a cessation of activity both inward and outward. A raging spirit and faithless surmisings within while one is physically inactive is not a Biblical “standing still,” but rather blatant iniquity.
We should not be surprised to see Pharaoh misinterpret the leadership of God with his chosen, but to find that His people embrace the same position as the infidel is a horrid spectacle. So common is this influence, it is no wonder that so much weakness and unfaithfulness prevail with us. It is our greatest sin as redeemed people not to trust and believe God.
In verse three of Exodus fourteen, God spoke to Israel by Moses. He declared to them Pharaoh’s reasoning concerning the route the nations of slaves had taken in leaving the Egyptian stronghold. “For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.” Pharaoh based his conclusion upon human reasoning and what he saw. He did what is so often practiced by man. Not regarding the fact that there is a God in heaven, and things are not always the way they may appear.
When God works for His elect, everything He does works for their absolute best. It is not easy or convenient for them, but it is most beneficial to their life in a world full of sin and degradation.
How often have Christians been told by well meaning friends and associations, “there is an easier way.” You can truly acknowledge this is true in the way of men. It is, however, “the will” of the Lord that matters. The will of God in everything is perfect. He does not require that we grasp His ways in all that He brings to pass. It is, however, requisite that we believe Him if a happy course is what we desire. Man always has easier ways, faster ways, and in his own assessment, better ways of doing what is considered correct. Man, however, from the time of Adam has been found to be exceedingly faulty in all his ways. The opposite is the way of our Heavenly Father.
“As for God, his way is perfect… The law of the Lord is perfect… the testimony of the Lord is sure… The statutes of the Lord are right… the commandment of the Lord is pure … The fear of the Lord is clean… the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. (Ps. 18:30; 19:7-9).
This should be sufficient and cause us to flee from our own wisdom with swift abandon.
In the exodus, God led His people into what seemed a hopeless trap. “They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.” He did not carry them to victory by the shortest path, or the least hazardous. Not at all like man would have affected the escape. “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God LED THEM NOT through the way of the land of the Philistines, ALTHOUGH THAT WAS NEAR; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they returned to Egypt:” (Ex. 13:17).
God brought out Israel in what appeared to Pharaoh the most disastrous way for them, and gave Egypt the greatest advantage. It was visible to all that Israel was entangled and shut in. The divine reason for this action was that the children of God would disdain to return to captivity, and that the Lord would be honored upon Pharaoh, and the destruction of his great army. “That the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD.” God took the most powerful of enemies, endowed them with all good weapons and military benefit, and then crushed the worms with as much ease as turning off a light.
For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. (Rom. 9:15-17).
Believers are well favored when they first receive that spiritual impression concerning the Lord’s direction for them. Confidence has center stage, and they with joy receive what is the will of God for their lives. All goes well until obstacles and hindrances begin to oppose. Then doubts cause us to wonder if we have misunderstood the Lord. Questions trickle in and mistrust increases. The greater the impediment is to an easy passage, the larger is the space for uncertainty. Eventually, if left to our own way, we will be far removed from what we once knew was the will of God. It is then that we start to fend for ourselves on the basis of sight.
Unbelief will cause us to have greater confidence in man or in our own understanding. Unbelief will forsake wisdom and follow feelings or the fatal ways of the world. “Ye did run well: who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.” (Gal. 5:7-8). What devastating results abound when we throw off the leadership of Jehovah and substitute it with defective human reasoning. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6).
Unbelief begins to recoil and cry unto God, but this cry is not of faith. Faith was there at the beginning, but restraints and interferences derailed the course and placed a blockade in the path. When these things happen, we become like impetuous Israel and chide God for our misery. Trouble drew nigh, they saw the raging face of the enemy, and were sore afraid, and cried out unto the Lord …wherefore hast thou dealt with us in this manner? Is this not a clear picture of our often stays in unbelief? God placed Israel in the camp by the sea. (vs. 2). It was also the Lord that allowed them to be overtaken by Pharaoh. (vs. 9). This is, to be sure, a seeming contradiction. It is disagreeable with common sense and good logic.
Standing still is a trying of the spiritual metal and a testing of the believer’s fiber. Just because God said something that by no means gives us permission to assume that we will have “smooth sailing.” “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
The conclusion of the whole matter is that regardless of how dark life may appear, do not deviate from that which you once were convinced was the will of God. Situations might seem to recommend you abandon your present procedure and friends may seek to tutor and turn you in a different direction. Family and loved ones will hope to “woo” you away from the course by enhancing the turmoil and deriding your convictions. All of this is ordered of the Lord, because hardship and severe testing come along with faith.
The command of the Lord remains the same. If it is truly a divinely inspired conviction, then “stand still” and watch God do abundantly more than you ever thought possible. “Nothing is too hard for the Lord.”
With everything and everybody saying depart from your present standing, even your own heart is heavy with questions, “stand still.” Though the time has been long, though you have lost personal goods and respect, though you trust not your own feelings or convictions as you once did, “stand still.” This is the only honorable position, “stand still,” and trust God. If His Spirit bears witness with your spirit, even if it be that still small voice, “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.”
“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not,” fear ye not anything. When believers find their situation to be like that of Israel at the Red Sea, it is time to thoroughly trust in the Lord. Hemmed in on every side, the way of escape is beyond human assistance. Troubles abound and our own efforts only multiply the dilemma. This is usually when the Lord requires that we fear not.
Oh! for grace at such a time as this – to look away from what seems almost certain defeat. Grace to close our minds and block out earthy considerations. May mercy cause us to forget all that wars against the heart and mind, and help us to set ourselves firmly in the promises of God. “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear; what can man do unto me?”
“Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, and fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.”” Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” (Is. 35:4, 41:10, 13).
The attribute of God’s love for His elect must also be ever present in our worship. A proper understanding with regard to this will drive slavish fear away. This conviction, however, needs to be anchored upon the Lord’s faithfulness and not our ability to comprehend it.
If we as saved sinners know how to give good gifts unto our children, how much more shall God our Father through Christ Jesus our Lord give better things to His children. We must look at the depths of that unsearchable grace and love in order to be delivered from false ideas concerning His benevolence. When our understanding of His love for the redeemed is perfected and deluded theories are expelled, so will be fear with respect to His treatment of His own children. We will understand that what He does is correct and glorious, even if need be for a time it is painful and offensive in nature. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1 Jn. 4:18).
The first encumbrance Moses sought to confine was the fear of the enemy. That would be done by considering God’s command. Ignore appearances to the contrary and believe. The Lord said “stand still.” We must repeat in faith what God has spoken in His word. That is “stand still,” “Stand Still,” “STAND STILL,” and see the salvation of the Lord.” The safest and wisest procedure is to denounce any confidence in our own wisdom, and wait for God to work and fight for us. He may show us the way of gaining the deliverance, or He may, as in the case at the Red Sea, allow the redeemed to watch as He does it for them. “…Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude;” …”Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you…” (2 Chron. 20:15, 17). “…Their strength is to sit still.” (Is. 30:7). It was stated by another in this manner. “Stand firm; waver not; stagger not in your minds.” (Exodus, by George Bush).
A rather lengthy comment by A. W. Pink has captured what is the meaning of the command, “stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD.”
All attempts at self-help must end. All activities of the flesh must cease. The workings of nature must be subdued. Here is the right attitude of faith in the presence of a trial – “stand still.” This is impossible to flesh and blood. All who know, in any measure, the restlessness of the human heart under anticipated trial and difficulty, will be able to form some conception of what is involved in standing still. Nature must be doing something. It will rush hither and thither. It would feign have some hand in the matter. And although it may attempt to justify and sanctify its worthless doings, by bestowing upon them the imposing and popular title of “a legitimate use of means,” yet are they the plain and positive fruits of unbelief, which always shut out God, and sees naught save every dark cloud of its own creation. Unbelief creates or magnifies difficulties, and then sets us about removing them by our own bustling and fruitless actions, which, in reality, do but raise a dust around us which prevents our seeing God’s salvation. (Gleanings in Exodus, by A. W. Pink).
When in a tenuous position, and we know not what to do, the clear decision is to “stand still.” Disaster may be approaching from every side. A fever pitch surrounds each thought and unrestrained emotions war against the fettered soul. To “stand still” is now the hardest vocation ever encountered. The shaky situation lends itself to a multitude of alternative maneuvers. Recommendations from every corner advance themselves as to the next procedure. Prayer and supplication seem to be fruitless. The anxious rush is overpowering, and at the same time completely debilitating. The flickering faith that remains screams to the inner man, “stand still.” Stand, and having done all to stand, stand with your loins girt about with truth, stand fast in the Lord. Oh! may God teach us that when all is ambiguous, it is our wisdom and safety to “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” It is when the Lord speaks, and only when He speaks, that we should proceed. “And the Lord said unto Moses …speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.” (Ex. 14:15).
When we are instructed of the Lord, by His Spirit, and by the word to “stand still, and see His salvation, we can be confident that He will bring victory to pass. “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” (vs. 14). Matthew Poole described verse 14 with wonderful clarity. “Ye shall contribute nothing to the victory, neither by your words nor by your deeds; for this Hebrew word signifies a cessation not only from speech, but from action too.”
Since God has commanded the believer to “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord,” it is indicative that He is going to fight for him. The reason for this is because this battle is not the children’s, but the Father of the children. This battle is the Lord’s.