(An Extract from Presidential Charge by the Rt Revd. Dr. James Olusola Odedeji delivered at the 3rd Session of 8th Synod of the Diocese of Lagos West (Anglican Communion) on Friday May 19 2023 at Archbishop Vining Memorial ChurchCathedral, GRA, Ikeja)
“The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” - (Exodus 14:14)
The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is His name, Pharaoh s chariots and his hosts hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drown in the Red sea (Exodus 15:3, 4). Life is a battlefield, right from the womb to the grave. There is always a battle to fight and a struggle for something. There are enemies everywhere. Every man or woman will fight his or her own battle. We are all entitled to some enemies. If there is the grace of God in your life, then enemies are inevitable. If you do not have enemies, it could either mean that God has forgotten you, or perhaps Satan has forsaken you. Whatever the case may be, that is a problem. We are in a battle front where we must fight. And whereas, we cannot fight any battle on our own, except God fights for us.
The LORD who will fight for you is the mighty Warrior; He is a mighty Man of battles; the Conqueror of death. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Ancient of days and Holy One of Israel. He has never lost any battle. He is the Captain of the LORD s Army. He is the LORD of hosts, both the host of darkness and light and of hell and heaven (Col 2:10). He can send Satan on errand and he cannot refuse (1Chro. 21:1, 2Sam. 24:1). He can even send a demon under Satan on errand without taking permission from him (1Sam 16:14). Satan cannot do anything to a child of God without taking permission from Him and GOD would not allow you to be tempted if you are not able to bear it (1Cor 10:13; Job 1:6-12). He doesn’t need to leave His throne before He can fight for you. He neither slumbers nor sleeps because He wants to fight for you. All He needs to scatter your enemies is for Him to arise and put them to flight (Ps 68:1). Just one night He killed 185,000 enemies of the children of Israel by sending an angel to kill them. By His intervention, all the armies of Egypt perished just one night. In heaven, He fought and defeated satan (Rev 12:7-11). On earth He fought and never lost a battle. He is the LORD on the mountains, valleys and plains and under the earth. He fights and overcomes in all battles (Ps 24:7-10). He sets the captives free (Matt 27:51-53). In the air He fought principalities and powers (Dan 10:12-14). The power of your enemies cannot be more powerful than the LORD s power. And you do not have a special battle that He cannot fight. Just let Him be your Saviour and LORD. Give your life to Jesus; surrender to His Lordship, do His will, run away from every appearance of evil; He will fight all your battles and give you resounding victory.
Our bible text, Exodus 14:14, is a message of re-assurance, hope, trust and confidence to a distressful people who needed a word of encouragement and faith in their trouble. But who made this statement, why did he make it, when was the statement made and where was it made? Moses, a servant and chosen vessel of God made this statement to the children of Israel, the chosen people of God who left Egypt, a land of slavery and bondage after God delivered them with a mighty hand and now are caught up between the Red sea and the army of Egypt who were ready to recapture them as slaves.
The book of Exodus opens with the Israelites’ change of status from guests to slaves in the land of Egypt. This sets the stage for the divine rescue of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery through the leadership of Moses and the beginning of the fulfillment of God s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The word exodus means “exit” or “departure”. The overall theme of Exodus is redemption, how God delivered the Hebrews and made them His special people. Exodus 14 represents an excerpt of the beginning of a long migration the children of Israel took after their freedom from captivity in Egypt. God led them to the southeast into a vast desert wilderness and towards Mount Sinai. He took the Israelites through the long route around the land of the Philistines, through the desert, to the Red Sea, an extremely vulnerable position. God could have delivered a victory for the Israelites on the shorter route, but His ways are not our ways (Isa. 55:8-9). This route suited the immediate convenience of the host; and having no suspicion of any hostile movement on the part of the Egyptians. It had, however, the disadvantage, in case of a hostile movement, of shutting them in between their assailants on the one hand, and the sea upon the other; and this circumstance seemed to have led Pharaoh to make his pursuit. In other words, the change of direction would not go unnoticed by Pharaoh. But God was leading the Israelites and had a plan and purpose for taking them on this route. Pharaoh s interpretation of the Israelites’ change of direction was that they were wandering in the land, and he could easily entrap them and get them back for himself. He was certainly unaware of God s covenant with the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Pharaoh was still not completely broken before God, even the loss of his firstborn son did not bring him to the place of submission to God s plans. Just as the devil does not give up his possessions easily, so Pharaoh did not give up on the people of Israel easily. In the book of Exodus, we see the Lord bringing His chosen people out of Egypt in a way that can only be described as miraculous. He afflicted the Egyptians with plagues, shattered their illusions that their false gods might protect them, and humiliated Pharaoh. It was a judgment from the Most High God. However, it was a lesson both the King of Egypt and the children of Israel were slow to learn. Israel left Egypt boldly, confidently looking for the Promised Land on a peaceful trail. God s plan was unraveling, and Israel suddenly felt exposed to an unthinkable threat. Have you been so discouraged by a turn of events that you were tempted to question God and to give up? If we are committed to the kingdom of God and seeking to live for His purposes and glory, then our battles are really God s battles, and He will fight for us. We can be strong, therefore, “in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10).
The story of the exodus was all about the saving power of God and His deliverance. The book of Exodus tells about the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt (1:8-22), and Moses’ early life. Then follows the burning bush episode where Yahweh told Moses that Yahweh has heard the cry of the Israelites and has decided to deliver them, and that Yahweh has chosen Moses to confront Pharaoh and to bring the Israelites out of Egypt (3:1-12). Pharaoh refused to let the people go, so Yahweh brought ten plagues on Egypt (chapters 7-12).
Following the death of the Egyptian firstborn through the tenth plague, Pharaoh told Moses and Aaron to take the people of Israel and leave Egypt. As the people prepared to leave, Yahweh gave Moses instructions for Passover, and Moses instructed the people concerning the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the consecration of the firstborn. Then the people departed from Egypt, led by pillars of cloud and fire (13:17-22). However, Yahweh hardened Pharaoh s heart, and Pharaoh led an army of six hundred chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt to pursue the Israelites. The Egyptians pursued after them: all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen, and his army; and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baal Zephon. Exodus 14 narrates the deliverance story of the Israelites at the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh and the Egyptian army.
God led the children of Israel southward. From human perspective, this route could appear irrational, since it meant that Israel was walking in a desert and away from the Promised Land but God asked Israel to do what seemed unreasonable so that He could do the impossible. God would be glorified for the significant miracle performed. God told Moses of the coming events so that when the events came to pass, the Israelites might believe God. As we know, Pharaoh and his army pursued with chariots and horsemen until they caught up with Israel. Now Israel was afraid and cried to the Lord. The following verses reveal our human nature when facing a desperate situation that is out of our control. The people complained to Moses: “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt, that have you taken us away to die in the wilderness?’’.
In Exodus chapter 13:17-end, the bible recorded that God did not take the Israelites through the land of the Philistines even though that was the shortest route to get to their destination but rather he took them through the wilderness towards the Red sea. Exodus Chapter 14 describes the movement of the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, the land of slavery and torment. After God had showed himself mighty and strong over the gods and land of Egypt, God asked the Israelites to despoil the Egyptians of various valuables like gold, silver and other precious things which the children of Israel did. After the Israelites had traveled for some days in a southeasterly path and camped awhile at Etham, the LORD told Moses to tell the people to turn back to Pihahiroth between Migdol and the sea and opposite Baal Zephon. These cities were east of Rameses. This change in direction would have led Pharaoh to think the Israelites were confused. It dawned on Pharaoh and his officers that, by allowing their Jewish slaves to escape, they had threatened, if not destroyed, Egypt s whole economy, so the logical thing was to go after the Jews and bring them back. Now we're given another reason why the Lord selected this route: the reports would convince Pharaoh that the Jews were wandering like lost sheep in the wilderness and therefore were fair game for his army to pursue and capture but this was because of God s hardening of his heart. Pharaoh would attempt to enslave the people again and then God would demonstrate His awesome power through another great Judgment. The Lord was drawing the Egyptians into His trap.
What seemed like an easy victory to Egypt would turn out to be an ignominious defeat, and the Lord would get all the glory. Once again He would triumph over Pharaoh and the gods and goddesses of Egypt. Pharaoh commandeered all the chariots of Egypt, mounted his own royal chariot, and pursued the people of Israel. From verses 10-12, the Israelites began to murmur and complain about their escape from Egypt when they saw the army of Pharaoh. As long as the Israelites kept their eyes on the fiery pillar and followed the Lord, they were walking by faith and no enemy could touch them, but when they took their eyes off the Lord and looked back and saw the Egyptians getting nearer, they became frightened and began to complain. These verses introduce the disappointing pattern of Israel s behavior during their march from Egypt to Canaan. As long as everything was going well, they usually obeyed the Lord and Moses and made progress. But if there was any trial or discomfort in their circumstances, they immediately began to complain to Moses and to the Lord and asked to go back to Egypt.
The Jews were sure that they and their children would die in the wilderness as soon as Pharaoh s army caught up with them. The frightened people reminded Moses that they had told him to leave them alone (Ex. 5:20-23), but he had persisted in challenging Pharaoh. Israel was now in a terrible predicament, and Moses was to blame. Unbelief has a way of erasing from our memory all the demonstrations we've seen of God s great power and all the instances we know of God s faithfulness to His Word. This exhibition of fear and panic, complaining and murmuring and a possible belief in destruction by the Israelites made Moses to give them an assurance of hope and total deliverance from the Egyptians, Moses assured them in verses 13-14 that God has not brought them out of Egypt to be destroyed in the wilderness or desert by the Egyptians.
Moses went to Egypt with his wife and two sons and perhaps with Aaron his brother and on getting to Egypt, he called together all the elders of Israel and delivered the message of God to them about the imminent deliverance from the land of Egypt. He performed the signs that God showed him when they did not want to believe his message as he had earlier envisaged and eventually they believed him. It can be seen here that the first battle Moses fought was the battle of acceptance by the people he came to deliver. What a similitude with the case of Jesus Christ, who came among His people but His people will not receive Him except they see signs.
Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’” 2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” 3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.” Ex. 5:1-3. Pharaoh will not listen to this nonsense from Moses and the representatives of Israel and concluded that it was their idleness that had made them to think of such and thus, he added to their burden through their taskmasters (Ex. 5:4-9). Then the people cried to Moses and Aaron and spoke harshly to them but Moses and Aaron in turn spoke to God and God assured them of the deliverance he promised.
In Exodus Chapter 7, Pharaoh demanded a sign from Moses to prove that it was God that truly sent him. And Aaron took his staff and dropped it on the floor and it turned to a serpent, but the Egyptian magician performed the same miracle, but the serpent of Moses and Aaron swallowed up the serpents of the Egyptian magicians. Seeing this, Pharaoh did not yield to the command of God, then God decided to show His mighty act against Pharaoh and the land of Egypt through the ten plagues. Below is the list and the implications of the plagues in the land of Egypt.
The Israelites had been enslaved in Egypt for about 400 years and in that time had lost faith in the God of their fathers. They believed He existed and worshiped Him, but they doubted that He could, or would, break the yoke of their bondage. The Egyptians, like many pagan cultures, worshiped a wide variety of nature-gods and attributed to their powers the natural phenomena they saw in the world around them. There was a god of the sun, of the river, of childbirth, of crops, etc. Events like the annual flooding of the Nile, which fertilized their croplands, were evidences of their gods’ powers and good will. When Moses approached Pharaoh, demanding that he let the people go. Pharaoh responded by saying, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2). Thus began the challenge to show whose God was more powerful.
The first plague, turning the Nile to blood, was a judgment against Apis, the god of the Nile, Isis, goddess of the Nile, and Khnum, guardian of the Nile. The Nile was also believed to be the bloodstream of Osiris, who was reborn each year when the river flooded. The river, which formed the basis of daily life and the national economy, was devastated, as millions of fish died in the river and the water was unusable. Pharaoh was told, “By this you will know that I am the LORD” (Exodus 7:17). Yet he refused to let the Israelites go.
The second plague, bringing frogs from the Nile, was a judgment against Heqet, the frog-headed goddess of birth. Frogs were thought to be sacred and not to be killed. God had the frogs invade every part of the homes of the Egyptians, and when the frogs died, their stinking bodies were heaped up in offensive piles all through the land (Exodus 8:13–14). The third plague, gnats, was a judgment on Set, the god of the desert. Unlike the previous plagues, the magicians were unable to duplicate this one and declared to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God” (Exodus 8:19). The fourth plague, flies, was a judgment on Uatchit, the fly god. In this plague, God clearly distinguished between the Israelites and the Egyptians, as no swarms of flies bothered the areas where the Israelites lived (Exodus 8:21–24).
The fifth plague, the death of livestock, was a judgment on the goddess Hathor and the god Apis, who were both depicted as cattle. As with the previous plague, God protected His people from the plague, while the cattle of the Egyptians died. God was steadily destroying the economy of Egypt, while showing His ability to protect and provide for those who obeyed Him. Pharaoh even sent investigators (Exodus 9:7) to find out if the Israelites were suffering along with the Egyptians, but the result was a hardening of his heart against the Israelites. The sixth plague, boils, was a judgment against several gods over health and disease (Sekhmet, Sunu, and Isis). This time, the Bible says that the magicians “could not stand before Moses because of the boils.” Clearly, these religious leaders were powerless against the God of Israel.
Before God sent the last three plagues, Pharaoh was given a special message from God. These plagues would be more severe than the others, and they were designed to convince Pharaoh and all the people “that there is none like me in all the earth” (Exodus 9:14). Pharaoh was even told that he was placed in his position by God, so that God could show His power and declare His name through all the earth (Exodus 9:16). As an example of His grace, God warned Pharaoh to gather whatever cattle and crops remained from the previous plagues and shelter them from the coming storm. Some of Pharaoh s servants heeded the warning (Exodus 9:20), while others did not. The seventh plague, hail, attacked Nut, the sky goddess; Osiris, the crop fertility god; and Set, the storm god. This hail was unlike any that had been seen before. It was accompanied by a fire which ran along the ground, and everything left out in the open was devastated by the hail and fire. Again, the children of Israel were miraculously protected, and no hail damaged anything in their lands.
Before God brought the next plague, He told Moses that the Israelites would be able to tell their children of the things they had seen God do in Egypt and how it showed them God s power. The eighth plague, locusts, again focused on Nut, Osiris, and Set. The later crops, wheat and rye, which had survived the hail, were now devoured by the swarms of locusts. There would be no harvest in Egypt that year.
The ninth plague, darkness, was aimed at the sun god, Re, who was symbolized by Pharaoh himself. For three days, the land of Egypt was smothered with an unearthly darkness, but the homes of the Israelites had light. The tenth and last plague, the death of the firstborn males, was a judgment on Isis, the protector of children. In this plague, God was teaching the Israelites a deep spiritual lesson that pointed to Christ. Unlike the other plagues, which the Israelites survived by virtue of their identity as God s people, this plague required an act of faith by them. God commanded each family to take an unblemished male lamb and kill it. The blood of the lamb was to be smeared on the top and sides of their doorways, and the lamb was to be roasted and eaten that night. Any family that did not follow God s instructions would suffer in the last plague. God described how He would send the destroyer through the land of Egypt, with orders to slay the firstborn male in every household, whether human or animal. The only protection was the blood of the lamb on the door. When the destroyer saw the blood, he would pass over that house and leave it untouched (Exodus 12:23). This is where the term Passover comes from. Passover is a memorial of that night in ancient Egypt when God delivered His people from bondage. First Corinthians 5:7 teaches that Jesus became our Passover when He died to deliver us from the bondage of sin. While the Israelites found God s protection in their homes, every other home in the land of Egypt experienced God s wrath as their loved ones died. This grievous event caused Pharaoh to finally release the Israelites.
After this tenth plague, Pharaoh in haste asked the Israelites to leave Egypt and thus they left Egypt plundering the Egyptians of valuables like silver and gold, thus God delivered the Israelites with a mighty hand, this proves that God is greater than any other gods and able to deliver and bring to pass whatever He has promised.
Let us explore the divine instructions in Exodus 14:1-14 and the account of God s victory in Exodus 14:15-31. God had told Moses to go to Pharaoh and demand that he let His people go. Pharaoh refuses, so God sends plagues to afflict the Egyptians. Pharaoh continues to enslave the Israelites until the last plague takes the life of his son. He finally relents, so the Israelites pack all their belongings and begin to run. In Verse 3 God tells Moses exactly why He is taking them through a different route. God wants Pharaoh to think that Israel is wandering aimlessly, and He wants him to think Israel is trapped. God instructs Moses to lead the people to the banks of the Red Sea and tell them what He wants to do: God plans to use this to harden Pharaoh s heart and to entice him to his own destruction. “Then I will harden Pharaoh s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honour over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord. And they did so” (Verse 4). Pharaoh s continued rebellion will lead to the glory of God. If we truly follow the Lord, whatever the devil does will always result to the glory of God. Immediately after the Israelites were released, Pharaoh asks “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? (Verse 5b). This was despite the ten plagues God used to afflict the Egyptians. Perhaps Pharaoh thought that the plagues were the limit of God s power and that he could continue to enslave the children of Israel. Even after the horror of the death of the firstborn, the change in Pharaoh s heart was only temporary. Sometimes, we are quick to forget what God has done in our lives. This also shows that the devil does not usually let us go easily; and once we leave his kingdom he does not give up or forget about us. Yet just like Pharaoh was after Israel, the devil pursues us, attempting to keep us under his captivity and domain and hoping to destroy us if he can (Matt. 12: 43-45; 1 Peter 5:8).
Pharaoh mobilizes and sends 600 choice chariots and soldiers (Verses 6-7) to pursue and recapture the children of Israel. In the Scripture, a chariot is compared to the arm of the flesh. It is often God versus chariots, God versus human ingenuity, God versus human might. Psalm 20:7 depicts this perfectly, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord, our God”. Chariots were the most sophisticated military hardware and weapons of the day. Israel had nothing except that the children of Israel went out with boldness (Verse 8b). The Egyptians pursued them to the shores of the Red sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon (Verse 9). And it was not long into their journey that they found themselves trapped between Pharaoh s army and a large body of water, which the text refers to as the Red Sea. We should not forget that it was the Lord that led them into this dire and dangerous situation. We could say that God set an ambush for Pharaoh. It was a tense situation for the people when they got to the Red Sea, knowing that Pharaoh and his men were closing in quickly. They were standing at the edge of the Red Sea, trapped in by the sea before them and the Egyptian army behind, furious on horses with weapons drawn. What was their response in this situation?
Despite the people s outbursts, Moses responds with great courage. Moses tells the Israelites, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (Verses 13-14).
Moses tells the children of Israel that they will not be expected to fight. There are instances where God fought and secured victory for Israel in the Bible (2 Kings 7:5-7, 2 Kings 19:35-37). In some cases, like this one, the Israelites simply had to be still, stand and watch God at work. In others, (Judges 7; 2 Sam 5:23-25), God provides the battle plan and assistance in the battle itself but requires the people to fight for themselves. This time, however, the Lord would do all the work. God requires us to stand still and let Him fight for us. This is often difficult for us, particularly because oftentimes God does not work the way we envisage He will work. Moses reminds the Israelites in Deuteronomy 1 of the importance of having courage and trusting God at the edge of the Promised Land. Forty years earlier, the Israelites had spied out the land and ten out of the twelve spies had convinced them that they were unable to go up against the Canaanites, who were too big and too strong (Numbers 13:31-33). Due to that generation s lack of faith, they were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. Moses tells the new generation to avoid their fathers’ lack of faith: “Then I said to you, do not be terrified, or afraid of them. The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt, before your eyes” (Deuteronomy 1:29-30). As God s people obeyed in faith, they would be victorious at every turn. “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31).
We must understand that we do not have the strength to fight our own battles. Pharaoh had an army of tens of thousands. Egypt was the dominant power of the time, with an army that was well trained and experienced. The Israelites were newly freed slaves who should have been easy prey for the Egyptian army. Instead, the Egyptian army was wiped out. In the context of our Christian walk, we will face battles and persecution as we follow Christ (2 Tim 3:12). God however promised that nothing shall separate us from His love (Rom 8:35) and that we are more than conquerors (Rom 8:37). The Lord told Israel He would fight for them, and He did. The Lord told the people they would not need to fight, and they did not. They simply needed to rely on Him. That is one lesson we must all learn when challenges arise. God will fight for you, as you seek to serve Him.
Exodus 14:14 is a verse which actually talked about the responsibility of God to His people. Moses assured the people that the Lord will fight for them. Let s try to x-ray these verses 13 and 14 further. And Moses said to the people, "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. (Exo. 14:13). And Moses said to the people may be shortened to "Moses answered". Fear not is the first of three short commands to calm the people; this is a way of Moses telling the fearful and panicking Israelites to not be afraid just as they were doing. Fear produces nothing good, one cannot think straight and rightly in the face of possible fear. So, it is important to first deal with fear so as for them to be able to think clearly in order to make right decision and see clearly what to do. It means simply " do not be afraid!" (TEV), or "Have no fear." The basic meaning of the word for Stand firm is to take one s position (as in verse 2:4), so TEV has "Stand your ground." CEV interprets it to mean "Be brave," but this should not suggest that they were to resist the Egyptians. TOT version simply has "Wait." This order or instruction is also telling the Israelites that after they have released their fear, they now need to develop the necessary courage and a sense of bravery, they need to be still, they need to be calm. The absence of fear many a time produces courage and boldness to face challenges, it breeds faith.
The salvation of the Lord is what they are commanded to see, but in some languages it may sound strange to "see" salvation. One may say "see how Yahweh will save you," or "deliver you." Which he will work for you today simply describes the salvation in the sense that "Yahweh will work salvation for you today." So TEV has "see what the Lord will do to save you today." In languages that need a goal for the event word "save," one may say, for example, "see what Yahweh will do today to save you from the Egyptians." For the Egyptians whom you see today refers to the approaching Egyptian army that they were looking at in fear. You shall never see again is very emphatic in the Hebrew, which is literally "you [plural] will not add to see them again until forever." (KJV: "ye shall see them again no more forever.") REB shows some of this emphasis: "for as sure as you see the Egyptians now, you will never see them again."
The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be still." (Exo.14:14)
The Lord will fight for you reflects the ancient Israelite concept of "holy war," in which Yahweh is the divine warrior who defeats Israel s enemies with supernatural power. NJB says it well: "Yahweh will do the fighting for you." In ancient time, war is usually a battle of the gods, a victory of a nation in battle suggests the superiority of the god of that nation over the defeated nation. And in this case, Yahweh is the God of the Israelites and thus the battle is for Him to fight.
And you have only to be still is ambiguous. The verb may be understood either as being silent or as doing nothing. TEV chooses the former, "and all you have to do is keep still," but CEV chooses the latter, "and you won't have to do a thing." NEB has "so hold your peace," but REB has changed it to "so say no more." In keeping with the holy war concept, however, it is better to follow the idea of the people doing nothing and simply letting Yahweh do the fighting for them. Alternative translation models for this verse are:
Yahweh will fight your enemies for you. So all you have to do is keep quiet.
Yahweh will fight your enemies for you. So you will not have to do nothing.
When God fights for us what would have taken a very long time will be accomplished in a shorter time supernaturally. Joshua was able to capture many cities in one day because God was the One fighting the battle. “All these kings and their lands Joshua took at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:42). We should not dissipate our energy. We must recognize the place of God in the battles of life. We must be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might rather than relying on our own strength (Eph. 6:10).
When God fights for you, a resounding and total victory is assured. In 2 Chronicles 20, Judah was besieged by three nations who were too strong for them. Jehoshaphat, the king was terrified just like his people. They did not know what to do or how to confront the three nations. They lacked the capacity to fight. Jehoshaphat sought God s face, gathered the people together to ask God for help. They confessed they were helpless and incapacitated in the face of their enemies. “O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (2 Chron. 20:12). God spoke a word of assurance and courage to them, “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God s. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you” (2 Chron. 20:15b, 17). God took over the battle by causing the enemies to kill themselves; none of them escaped. Without Judah shooting an arrow, the enemies were all dead.
Strong nations were defeated by the less privileged and weaker nations in the Bible because God was on their side. There are instances where God fought for His people, and they won despite the opposing military might. Without any inputs from the children of Israel, God “…troubled the army of the Egyptians. And He took off their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, let us flee from the face of Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians” (Exodus 14:24b-25). Even the enemies of Israel at this point confessed that God was on the side of Israel. Also, Gideon s three hundred soldiers defeated thousands of Midianite troops because God fought for them. Asa, in 2 Chronicles 14:12-13, and his army also had a resounding victory. “So, the Lord struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. And Asa and the people who were with him pursued them to Gerar. So, the Ethiopians were overthrown, and they could not recover, for they were broken before the Lord and His army. And they carried away very much spoil”. This is what it means for God to fight for us.
Even if storms are raging around us and our overwhelming fear is saying that God has forsaken us, the story in Exodus 14 is a great reminder that the Lord is always with us, fighting for us and protecting us. It does not matter how imminent the danger is, when we surrender our fears and worries to the Lord and remain resolute in our faith, believing that God is on our side, He will make us emerge from any storm victorious. Sometimes God will simply place a protective shield around you where nothing will be able to get through to attack or harm you, like He did for Elisha (2 Kings 6:8-18). Sometimes God will fight the actual battle through you; other times He will simply ask you to do absolutely nothing, and He would move against your enemies. God could have delivered the children of Israel in any way that He chose, but He determined to do it through the outpouring of ten plagues, by means of the Passover, and by leading Israel through the sea. Why did He take them through the sea? Why didn’t He take them in another direction so they would not be entrapped? Why did God move Pharaoh to pursue them? The answer is that He was demonstrating something; He was demonstrating His power.
When God does the fighting on our behalf, the forgotten is suddenly remembered for good, greatness and restoration. Saul s grandson and Jonathan s son was a cripple named Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9: 6&7). Jonathan was good to David and, despite the calamity that befell the house of Saul, God caused David to remember Jonathan s goodness. All the losses were restored to Mephibosheth including eating at the king s table.
When God fights your battle, He alone will also turn the table around and the evil planned for you is turned to good while the foes waiting/hoping to be celebrated suddenly become the victim. Haman wanted to destroy Mordecai and annihilate the entire Jewish nation, but God took up the battle and turned the situation around thereby confounding the enemy. Are you about to give up, do you think it is all over, are you assuming that there is no way out of your current dire situation? Why do not you just commit everything into God s capable hands and see Him turn situation around for your good!!!
That God will fight our battles means we do not have to anguish, be anxious, or be discouraged when bad things happen in our lives. When it seems a situation is hopeless or the matter at hand is too overwhelming, we may be tempted to doubt God. But Christians must remember that no problem is beyond the scope of God s sovereign care for His children. The story of the exodus is one which reminds us that no matter what we are going through, how long we have been in it and how despicable it could be, God is Almighty and He is able to save and deliver us. He has promised to take care of us (Philippians 4:19), make good plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), and love us beyond measure (Romans 8:37–39).
In Exodus 14:14 Moses tells the children of Israel, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” At that moment, they were standing at the edge of the Red Sea, hemmed in by the sea before them and the Egyptian army behind. The Israelites are in a seemingly impossible situation, but it was a situation brought on by the Lord Himself. It was God who had hardened Pharaoh s heart to pursue the fleeing slaves (Exodus 14:4, 8). Why would God do such a thing? The Bible gives some of the reasons: because God wanted to make it crystal clear to Egypt that He is LORD so that He got the glory over Pharaoh (Exodus 14:4). And because God wanted to teach Israel that He is their Deliverer (Exodus 6:6) and their Salvation (Exodus 14:13). They were incapable of escaping the situation on their own; they needed only to wait for God to move on their behalf (cf. Psalm 27:14). The battle that appeared to be between the Egyptians and the Israelites was in reality between the Egyptians and the Lord (Exodus 14:4).
The lessons believers can learn from the Exodus account can be powerful and life-changing. When Christians trust God to fight their battles, it enables them to circumvent what often accompanies conflict, i.e., panic, fear, and hopelessness (Exodus 14:11–12). There are times when we can see absolutely no way around a problem, just like Israel when they were cornered. It s quite probable not one of the Israelites ever imagined that the massive sea was going to split down the middle, providing their way of escape. When Christians believe God s Word (2 Chronicles 20:17), they learn that no battle is too formidable or monumental for God to handle (Joshua 1:5).
Moses gives a review of some of Israel s history in Deuteronomy 1. In his recap he reminds them of the importance of having courage and trusting God at the edge of the Promised Land. Forty years earlier, the Israelites had spied out the land and concluded that they were unable to go up against the Canaanites, who were too big and too strong (Numbers 13:31—33). Due to that generation s lack of faith, they were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. Moses tells the new generation to avoid their fathers’ lack of trust: “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes” (Deuteronomy 1:29–30). As God s people obeyed in faith, they would find triumph at every turn. “Victory rests with the LORD” (Proverbs 21:31).
Israel, like many Christians today, had forgotten the previous battles God had fought for them all along the way (see Deuteronomy 2:7). The Israelite spies had seen “giants” in the land (Numbers 13:33), just like Christians today see “giant” obstacles, complications, and problems that seem too large to conquer. To let the “giants” steal our faith only leaves defeat and a lack of assurance in the God who is in control of every problem, in spite of its size (Romans 8:28).God is in control, but that does not mean Christians get to avoid the battles; in fact, the Bible states the opposite (2 Timothy 3:12). “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3–4). In order for a believer to live a life of endurance, character, and hope, we must put on our armor (Ephesians 6:10–17) and trust the Deliverer. We “put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3). Our confidence is in God, who will fight our battles and bring us safely home (Jude 1:24–25). “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).We need not care about what the enemies can do to us if only we can put our trust and faith in God. The Puritans used to put it this way, “Fear God and you have nothing else to fear.”
Our warfare is spiritual, and our weapons are equally spiritual. Even when it is obvious that we are physically assaulted because of our faith in the Lord, it is still traceable to the instigation from the pit of hell (Ephesians 6:12; Mark 5:1-17). 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”. Christianity is a call to warfare not funfair. A war is fought with weapons. The word “carnal” here means they are not physically seen or identified. These weapons are effectual through God to the pulling down of strongholds. You can pull down the devil from any height and win in the battles of life. Ephesians 6:10-18 says “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; taking the shield of faith with which, you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints”. “You are my battle-ax and weapons of war. For with you I will break the nation in pieces; with you I will destroy kingdoms; with you I will break in pieces the horse and its rider; with you I will break in pieces the chariot and its rider” (Jer. 51:20-21). Life, particularly for the children of God is a warfare. Having the right understanding is key to victorious living on earth. To be victorious in life, you must always be battle-ready. Every genuine child of God is a battle-ax and weapon of war. God will always deal with the devil; however, He has always been concerned with the availability of human weapons of war.
Weapons of Defense and Instruments of Victory
You must go forward. As you trust God to fight for you, you must also go forward. Do not be inactive. Walk by faith. Walk, knowing that the Lord is with you and will fight for you. These are perplexing and trying times that we are living in. We are experiencing very rapid changes. Our Christian faith is being challenged daily. Not only has our culture forgotten God, but the culture also is at war with God. Being a true Christian in this culture is getting more and more difficult with each passing year. The love and faith of many seem to be waxing cold (Matt. 24:3-14).
The culture of secularism and rationalism is growing fast. Our land is being ravaged by insecurity, dwindling economic fortunes, hunger, disillusionment, and leadership failures. The pressures are very great. The enemy is so strong. We are to go forward, walking by faith and not by sight. We are to go forward trusting that God will fight for us. We are to go forward living in obedience to the commands of God. We are to go forward growing in the knowledge of the word of God. We are to go forward in the worship of God. We are to go forward growing in Christian maturity. We are to go forward in the raising of our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We are to work to God s glory. We are to live lives of faith, hope, and love. We are to give thanks in every circumstance as we entrust ourselves to the care of our gracious and caring God. Never are we to forget that it is the Lord who fights for us, therefore we must rest in him. Never are we to cease from going forward. The people of God must always go forward in faith. As we consider the Exodus event, we must not forget that we too as Children of God have experienced an exodus in Christ Jesus. We have been translated from the kingdom of darkness into God s own kingdom of light, and this requires us to make a clean break with the former.
However, the devil pursues us and makes every effort to hunt us down. The world is not pleased when we refuse to align with them in their evil way, so they revile or hate us and even persecute us. But we must go forward, trusting that God will provide a way, and that He will get the glory. At the end of time, we will praise Him for His salvation.
When you are in God s plan, He will surely go all out to ensure His promises come through. The children of Israel were God s chosen people through Abrahamic covenant, they were in slavery for four hundred and thirty years, at the time when no hope of deliverance was in view, God showed up for them through Moses to deliver them, He sent plagues upon their enemies and brought them out with a mighty hand and led them through a path that seems unreasonable, opposite and long direction, hemmed between Pharaoh and the Red sea, with no hope of escape, all God required from them through Moses was their faith and stillness in the face of all these terrible situation. God is more than able to deliver and to save if only we will just be still and trust in Him.
If you are in the midst of any battle right now, or the enemy is on your trail like the children of Israel, please know that you are not alone; neither are you left to fight on your own, “For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory” (Deut. 20:4). When you face the pressure of battle and trouble comes and you feel you are about to go down, look up. Focus your attention on the truth that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and you are in Him. When Jesus defeated the devil, you defeated the devil. Christ s victory is your victory. God is the One who fights on our behalf, constantly shielding, protecting, and strengthening us, even when we are unaware. Once you have set your mind on the things above and you have begun to declare your victory, simply continue to do the things you have learned. Keep reading and meditating on the Word. Keep acting in faith. do not just say you believe God s Word, act in the same manner to show you believe it. That is all it takes to win even the most complicated battles of life. You do not have to know all the answers to the questions that bother your mind. God has all the ability you could ever need and knows all the answers, so all you must do is trust Him and continue doing all He has asked you to do.
We never have to struggle to defend ourselves, but He is always with us, covering us. Remember, your battle today may be more about what is unseen than what you see before you. And when you resist the enemy, God s word reminds us in James 4:7 that he has to flee. God is a victorious and a prevailing warrior. What you require for God to move against your opposition and enemies is faith that is demonstrated by the combination of rest, (calmness) and action.
If you do that, you will suffer no defeat in the battles of life. You might experience a few temporary setbacks, but you will triumph in the end. And when your life on this earth is through, you will be able to say like Apostle Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). You will be able to stand for eternity as a victorious soldier of the Lord. And Jesus Christ will be able to say to you, well-done, good, and faithful servant. Therefore, stand strong, you are never alone.
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