“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show to you today; for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:13,14).
Here is the first attitude which faith takes 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 fain 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 shuts out God and sees naught save the dark cloud of its own creation. Unbelief creates or magnifies difficulties, and then sets us about removing them by our own bustling and fruitless activities, which, in reality, do but raise a dust around us, which prevents our seeing God’s salvation.
Faith, on the contrary, raises the soul above the difficulty, straight to God Himself, and enables one to “stand still.” We gain nothing by our restlessness and anxious efforts. “We cannot make one hair white or black,” nor “add one cubit to our stature.” What could Israel do at the Red Sea? Could they dry it up? Could they level the mountains? Could they annihilate the hosts of Egypt? Impossible. There they were, enclosed within an impenetrable wall of difficulties, in view of which nature could but tremble and feel its own perfect impotency. But this was just the time for God to act. When unbelief is driven from the scene, then God can enter; and, in order to get a proper view of His actings, we must “stand still.” Every movement of nature is, so far as it goes, a positive hindrance to our perception and enjoyment of divine interference on our behalf.
This is true of us in every single stage of our history. It is true of us as sinners when, under the uneasy sense of sin upon the conscience, we are tempted to resort to our own doings, in order to obtain relief. Then, truly, we must “stand still” in order to “see the salvation of God.” For what could we do in the matter of making an atonement for sin? Could we have stood with the Son of God upon the cross? Could we have accompanied Him down into the “horrible pit and the miry clay?” Could we have forced our passage upward to that eternal rock on which, in resurrection, He has taken His stand? Every right mind will at once pronounce the thought to be a daring blasphemy. God is alone in redemption; and as for us, we have but to “stand still and see the salvation of God.” The very fact of its being God’s salvation proves that man has naught to do in it.
The same is true of us from the moment we have entered upon our Christian career. In every fresh difficulty, be it great or small, our wisdom is to stand still—to cease from our own works and find our sweet repose in God’s salvation. Nor can we make any distinction as to difficulties. We cannot say that there are some trifling difficulties which we ourselves can compass; while there are others in which naught save the hand of God can avail. No, all are alike beyond us. We are as little able to change the color of a hair as to remove a mountain—to form a blade of grass as to create a world. All are alike to us, and all are alike to God. We have only, therefore, in confiding faith, to cast ourselves on Him who “humbleth Himself (alike) to behold the things that are in heaven and on earth.” We sometimes find ourselves carried triumphantly through the heaviest trials, while at other times, we quail, falter, and break down under the most ordinary dispensations. Why is this? Because, in the former, we are constrained to roll our burden over on the Lord, whereas, in the latter, we foolishly attempt to carry it ourselves. The Christian is, in himself, if he only realized it, like an exhausted receiver, in which a guinea and a feather have equal momenta.
“The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Precious assurance! How eminently calculated to tranquilize the spirit in view of the most appalling difficulties and dangers! The Lord not only places Himself between us and our sins, but also between us and our circumstances. By doing the former, He gives us peace of conscience; by doing the latter, He gives us peace of heart. That the two things are perfectly distinct, every experienced Christian knows. Very many have peace of conscience, who have not peace of heart. They have, through grace and by faith, found Christ, in the divine efficacy of His blood, between them and all their sins; but they are not able, in the same simple way, to realize Him as standing, in His divine wisdom, love, and power, between them and their circumstances. This makes a material difference in the practical condition of the soul, as well as in the character of one’s testimony. Nothing tends more to glorify the name of Jesus than that quiet repose of spirit which results from having Him between us and everything that could be a matter of anxiety to our hearts. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee.” But some feel disposed to ask the question, “Are we not to do anything?” This may be answered by asking another, namely, what can we do? All who really know themselves must answer, nothing. If, therefore, we can do nothing, had we not better “stand still?” If the Lord is acting for us, had we not better stand back? Shall we run before Him? Shall we busily intrude ourselves upon His sphere of action? Shall we come in His way? There can be no possible use in two acting when one is so perfectly competent to do it all. No one would think of bringing a lighted candle to add brightness to the sun at midday; and yet the man who would do so might well be accounted wise, in comparison with hint who attempts to assist God by his bustling officiousness.
There is peculiar force and beauty in the expressions “See the salvation of God.” The very fact of our being called to “see” God’s salvation, proves that the salvation is a complete one. It teaches that salvation is a thing wrought out and revealed by God, to be seen and enjoyed by us. It is not a thing made up partly of Gads doing, and partly of man’s. Were it so, it could not be called God’s salvation. In order to be His, it must be wholly divested of everything pertaining to man. The only possible effect of human efforts is to raise a dust which obscures the view of God’s salvation.