Today, I was reading in Exodus 15. To provide some context, let’s look back at what the Israelites had experienced. They had been slaves in Egypt for a long time, and the Egyptians dealt harshly with them. The Israelites kept multiplying, and the Egyptian leader was afraid of how numerous they’d become. He was concerned that if war broke out, they would join Egyptian enemies, fight against them, and leave. So, he oppressed them, and ended up ordering that every boy born to the Israelites be thrown into the Nile.
The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.
What did God do? He showed up in a mighty way. He sent 10 plagues upon Egypt. I HIGHLY recommend reading the full account in Exodus (start in chapter 1 and continue through 15). There are so many details about God’s awesome display of power.
Before chapter 15, Pharaoh (the current Egyptian leader) had recently agreed to let the Israelites go. They were now FREE, off to start a new life in the land God had promised their forefathers. Not long after they departed, Pharaoh changed his mind. “He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them,” (Exodus 14:7), and pursued the Israelites.
The people were terrified when they saw the Egyptian army approaching in the desert. They were “trapped” with the Red Sea on one side, and the Egyptian army on the other. In their terror, they let doubt arise:
They said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’
The people’s faith in this moment wasn’t strong. Although God had just delivered them, they let the appearance of external circumstances dictate their mindset. The Egyptian army was approaching, and there seemed to be nowhere to go.
So, they blamed their leader for bringing them out of Egypt.
Wasn’t it a GOOD thing they were no longer in slavery? Of course, but when fear arises, it seeks to blame. It tries to tell you that the old way of living is better than taking a step of faith. The old way is safe. The bondage is safe. It’s comfortable. Fear looks at the external; it analyzes what is physically possible. The thing is, God has no physical limitations, which makes fear’s analysis a lie.
God is a God of the impossible. He creates a way, even when a way doesn’t appear to exist.
Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’
For nothing is impossible with God.
So, what did God do? He instructed Moses: “Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground,” (Exodus 14:16). Wow! Again, I highly recommend reading this passage. There are more awesome pieces to this story regarding wondrous things God did to help the Israelites escape their pursuers.
When we pick up in chapter 15, God had restored the sea back to its original place and the Egyptian army—who had entered in pursuit of the Israelites—was destroyed. Moses and the Israelites then sang a song to the LORD, a portion of which went like this:
The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling.
The song goes on. During the celebration, Miriam, a prophetess (meaning she hears messages from God to the people), “…took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang to them: ‘Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.’” (Exodus 15:20b-21)
After reading this, the LORD put a word on my heart: Take up a tambourine, and lead the dance of victory.
I believe the LORD wants us to celebrate not only after the battle is won, but in faith before the battle is over. Who is going to praise God through the desert, knowing that He is good? Who is going to step up and lead the dancers in celebration unto the LORD, seeing by faith what is invisible to the naked eye?
Who is going to take up a tambourine, and lead the dance of victory?
I believe God wants His church, His people, to dance in the rain, to stand firm in His truth amidst chaos, and push back against the winds of evil and tell them, “No. Go no further!”
With Jesus in our hearts, we can be boulders, immovable against the ocean’s waves. We can be lions, fierce in the face of spiritual battle. We can be fountains of His love.
Next time the external seems daunting, pray. Seek the wisdom of God and celebrate Who He is. Invite Him into the situation, and sing songs of faith, knowing that in Him is victory, both now and forever.