Fear can trigger emotions that can paralyze us or move us to action. Often one can only have moments to process the fear, determine the risks and react.
Moses was leading a large number of people from Egypt toward the land the Lord had promised them. They were already in a heightened sense of urgency due to what had just taken place.
As the Israelites arrived at the Red Sea, Pharaoh pursued them and drew near. Imagine the emotions that the Israelites must have felt at that moment. The Red Sea before them, Pharaoh’s army behind. Ex 14:10 says, “and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord.”
At that moment, the Israelites’ emotions took over and they accused Moses of bringing them out to the wilderness to die. Moses responded in v 13, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the lord, which he will work for you today.” If I was one of the Israelites, I’m wondering what I would have been thinking at that moment!
The rest of Exodus 14 tells a story of one of the great miracles of the Old Testament as the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, Pharaoh’s army following and being swallowed up by the waters and dying. The Lord saved Israel from the hand of the Egyptians.
The chapter closes out with these words, ‘Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.”
Three times in the course of 21 verses the word “fear” is used. The people feared Pharaoh, Moses told them to fear not, and, lastly, the people feared the Lord.
Twenty four years ago this month, I got on a plane from Dallas Fort Worth airport, flew to Chicago, Copenhagen, Vienna and Kyiv. It was the first time for me to fly internationally and I was a little fearful. I was moving to Ukraine, not really knowing what I would face. But I was trusting the Lord.
I think a healthy dose of fear is useful at times. It is how we process and use that fear that will determine its effectiveness.