May 8, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 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. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.’ Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.”—Exodus 14:15–20 (NIV)
In today’s passage, we learn a truly profound principle that isn’t often discussed: There’s a time to pray, and a time to act.
Just before this passage, the Israelites are being pursued by the Egyptians. Now, they were basically trapped between a rock and a hard place—or an army and an uncrossable sea. Naturally, they started doubting and fearing for their lives, but Moses tells them not to fear because the Lord will deliver them!
Moses delivers powerful words of inspiration and faith, which makes the next verse curious when God says to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.” He then proceeds to give Moses instructions and says, “And I will gain glory through Pharaoh.”
So, here we see Moses seemingly full of faith before the people which was good for the people because Moses was able to encourage their faith. But before God, he seemingly cried out in a desperate prayer (that isn’t recorded here but implied in the text), even after God had explained to Moses what was going to happen (Exodus 14:1–4) and that He’d have the victory and would gain glory. Again, it wasn’t time to cry out and double or triple check, it was time to act in accordance to His will.
Was God angry at Moses? No, He was simply keeping him on task. God essentially asks Moses, “Why do you keep crying out when the victory has already been granted?” And then He gives Him instructions on how to move forward in that victory.
Friends, the principle is clear: Pray without ceasing, and do so in faith according to God’s will, but don’t neglect to act in faith and walk in the purposes and plans God has for you. He gives us revelation and direction, and He speaks to us clearly through His Word and prayer. May we be a people with the boldness to go forth in faith!
Now, let’s examine this a bit further: “Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.”
Who is this angel? As theologian Charles Ellicott explained, “The angel is called both Jehovah and Elohim, whence it is concluded . . . that it was the Second Person of the Trinity.” It’s Jesus who stood between the people and their enemies, who guided them and kept them safe, protected, and provided for.
Friends, today I want to encourage you to pray always in faith, to know that as you walk in His will and plans, which is revealed through Scripture and sealed by the Holy Spirit, you’ll have victory in Christ, who always protects and provides for His people. So, press forward in faith!
Pause: What lesson can you learn from God’s command to Moses?
Practice: Is there any area where the Lord has spoken in your life and you’re hesitating to act? Whether out of fear, doubt, comfort, or lack of faith, I implore you to take the step of faith and move forward. It’s time to act and walk in faith according the will of the Lord!
Pray: Heavenly Father, I pray that Your will would continually be done in my life and that by Your Spirit, I would walk in obedience and act in faith according to Your will. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.