2 Cor 5:7 For we live by faith, not by sight
Our fears and anxieties can be brought on by what we see or otherwise perceive with natural senses. When what we see does not match what we expect or hope, it can shake our faith. It is our physical/natural sight that blinds us from God’s vision.
In Exodus 14, the Israelites had just been freed from slavery with a promise of a new life. They marched boldly towards the sea when Pharaoh and his six hundred chariots with officers overtook them.
What did they see? Behind them, Pharaoh’s powerful army coming at them. In front of them, the Red Sea. Physical reality grim. It is natural to base a response on what is seen.
Their response : “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!”
Their imagination went ahead that they were given the pretext of the new life brouhaha just so they could conveniently die en masse in the desert. For those moments of fear, they closed their eyes to God’s freedom and new life for them. They preferred the option of what was known and seen (the bitter, harsh life of slavery of the past, the way we were when we used to belong to Satan) than what was unknown and unseen (the promises of God for a future with Him).
They forgot about how bitter and harsh their lives were as the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly. They forgot that God had put an end to their families’ four hundred years of slavery.
During those days of the Israelites being worked ruthlessly by Pharaoh, Moses was no stranger to basing his response on what was seen rather than God’s promise: He said, “Why, Lord, have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”
Moses had succumbed to not believing God when what he saw was not what he hoped nor expected. Yes, Moses who had encountered God in the burning bush, who himself was God’s very instrument and messenger for God’s multiple signs and wonders and mighty acts of judgment (Exodus 7-11).
To his credit, by the time we are in Exodus 14, with Pharaoh’s army overtaking them, Moses’s vision of God had been clarified by his blindness to the physical circumstances. His response to the Israelites at this time: Ex 14:13-14 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Our sight of the physical reality can temporarily disable faith. In order to zero in on the higher reality of God, we need to fix our eyes on what is unseen.
2 Cor 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is seen is eternal.
If we need to intentionally walk not by sight but by faith, if we need to clarify our vision of God and our spiritual vision, we can not allow physical circumstances to maneuver us. We can trust our very real God to maneuver our circumstances so that we can see Him for who He is.
God acted in time: The angel of The Lord and the pillar of cloud who had been traveling in front of the Israelites moved behind them, separating them by darkness from the oncoming Egyptian army. The Lord turned the Red Sea into dry land and the Israelites passed through to the other side. God threw the Egyptian army into confusion and they realised that God was fighting for the Israelites against Egypt. The waters flowed back over the Egyptians and covered the entire army of Pharaoh who followed the Israelites. None of the Egyptians survived.
Ex 14:31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.
What is God asking you to trust Him in today? I pray we walk by faith, not by sight.