With the Red Sea in front of them, mountains on both sides of them, and Pharaoh’s army “coming after them,” the Israelites “were terrified” (Ex. 14:10).
From the Israelites’ perspective, they had a very good reason to be afraid. From Moses’ perspective of faith, they had a very good reason to not be afraid: the Lord would fight for them (v. 14).
On many occasions throughout Scripture we hear God commanding His people not to be afraid in spite of overwhelming challenges or dangers. There are at least three very good reasons for God’s people not to live in fear.
God is bigger than the object of our fear.
The Israelites feared Pharaoh’s army (Ex. 14:13). Later, they feared the Canaanites (Deut. 7:18). For Jacob, the object of fear was an unknown future (Gen. 46:3). For Joshua, it was a God-sized task (Josh. 1). For Jesus’ disciples, it was a storm (Mark 4:40). For Jairus, it was a parent’s worst fear—the loss of a child (Mark 5:36). In each of those situations, God proved Himself to be bigger than the object of fear.
What do you fear? Know that God is infinitely bigger.
God is worthy of our trust.
“Fear is faithlessness,” said George MacDonald. Or we might say fear is misplaced trust. Fear will cause us to trust our own resources or to put our trust in someone or something else other than God. Recall that Abram’s fear of the Egyptians caused him to trust in a scheme to lie about Sarai being his sister (Gen. 12:10-20). Gideon’s fear of the Midianites caused him to trust in his army (Judg. 7:2).
The antidote to fear is trust—the conviction that not only is God bigger than the object of our fear, He is trustworthy.
How has fear caused you to trust in something or someone other than God? The psalmist said, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humanity. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in nobles” (Ps. 118:8-9).
God calls us to obedience.
“Tell the Israelites to break camp,” God told Moses (Ex. 14:15). It was not time to stand still and cry out to God; rather, it was time to pull up their tent pegs and start moving toward the Red Sea.
When we’re afraid, our natural inclination is to remain huddled in camp. Fear paralyzes and immobilizes. But because we know the battle is the Lord’s (v. 14), we can put one foot in front of the other and take the step of obedience when God calls us to get up and go.
When has fear immobilized you and deterred you from acting in obedience to God? Maybe it’s time to break camp.
Mike Livingstone is a content editor at Lifeway for Explore the Bible resources.