Exodus 14: Stand Still. Move On.

  • Read Exodus 14 here.
  • If you missed Sunday’s sermon (November 8 ) you can listen to it here.

This post finally catches me up and gets the blog back in sync with my sermons.

Over the years I’ve often heard people observe that there’s a correlation between a Christian’s prayer life and the trouble they’re in.  The more trouble, the more prayer.  Perversely, many Christians struggle to have  an active relationship with God while experience peace and blessing in their lives.  This criticism is valid, but it’s more understandable than when Christians experience turmoil in their lives and try to get through it on their own, rather than laying their situation before God.

In Exodus 14:11-12 the Israelites have seen the Egyptian army approaching and start complaining about their situation.  At first glance it’s easy to criticise them since their complaints are pretty strong.  But context provides an important insight to this passage.  Verse 10 tells us that “They were terrified and cried out to the LORD.”  Thus the complaints of v11-12 occur in a context of crying out to God.

Moses affirms this action.  Even with their doubts and questions they turned to God.  This demonstrates enormous faith development on their part, since earlier in Exodus they knew so little about God they didn’t even know His name.  Now they know Him well enough to take their concerns to Him.  In vs13-14 Moses challenges the nation to turn their complaints into trust.  “Don’t be afraid.  Stand firm … The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I find this advice pretty difficult to put into practice.  I want to be busy.  I want to solve problems.  I want to use my gifts.  I want to distract myself from problems or personal shortcomings.  Standing still and trusting God to do something can be difficult.  “Can God really use someone other than me to solve this problem?”

Almost everyone reading this blog knows what happens next.  God parted the waters, creating a way of escape where none previously existed.  The enormity of God’s intervention here demonstrates the ridiculousness of human efforts to solve our crises without God.  No matter how ingenious Moses and the Israelites may have been, they were completely incapable of engineering a parting of the waters to escape the Egyptians.  Much more effecting to “stand still“.

But God’s words in v15 remind us that we don’t completely escape responsibility.  “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”  The parting of the sea would have accomplished nothing if no one had walked through it.  God works with His people, not always for them.

This pattern of “Stand still. Move on.” recurs throughout Scripture.  God initiates, we respond.  Think about it, you’ll find numerous examples!


  • How do you practice “Standing Still” in your life?
  • Can you share a moment when God has created a way of escape for you when none existed?
  • Let’s start a list of biblical examples where God acted and waited for people to respond.


  1. Rod

    Yeah, Ezra/Nehemiah provides some good examples of “stand still; move on.” God initiates the return out of exile, and at various times His people find themselves either standing still (as when Nehemiah prayerfully(!) waits for God to provide the opportunity to speak to the king) or moving on (as when the first group obediently returns to Jerusalem).
    May we grow in faith, trust, and obedience. Thank you for the reminder, Dude.

  2. ozziepete

    So glad you stopped by Rod. Ezra/Nehemiah is a great example of “stand still; move on”. They had a heck of a lot of building to do, but had to get their relationship with God right first.

    Blessings, brother!

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