“And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.” (Exodus 14:15)
The Christian life is one of overall victory, despite the ups and downs of the day to day, to be walked by faith in God and His Law-Word. This life is one of a return to responsibility through our restoration back into covenant with God, which was lost in Adam in the garden. It is a life of action, a life of pressing forward the crown rights of Christ the King in every area of life rather than a life of introspection and pietism hiding behind select verses taken out of context. I recently had a conversation with a member of the clergy which illustrates a common line of thinking throughout the Christian community. We had been discussing a number of things, mainly pleasantries, when the topic of self defense and the carrying of arms came up. The flow
was something to this end:
Clergyman: “I have never felt the need to carry a sidearm…”
Me: “Well, we have a covenantal duty to defend life as “Thou shalt not kill’ means thou shalt defend life. I carry mine all the time.”
Clergyman: “I just trust in God to protect me.”
Me: “Well, that’s no different than someone saying they were not going to work anymore as they would just trust God to provide for them. Yet we see Paul saying he that does not work should not eat. Throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, we see the man of God not only owning weapons, but being proficient with them, and ready to use them at a moment’s notice. In fact, in Luke 22:36 we have Jesus saying that he that does not own a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. In fact, as we know that all men are born into this world totally depraved, we have a duty to be ready to respond to that evil at any moment. To not resist the evil is then to be complicit with it.”
Several things can be learned from this brief conversation. First and most common, is the thinking that God will just take care of everything for us as a great big welfare system in the sky.
It is true that God takes care of His own but anyone with children knows that there is a world of difference between caring for the child, seeing its growth in maturity, and pampering the child by doing everything for them. This is flatly a rejection of our responsibilities to bring all things captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5) by acting upon the clear commands of Scripture. We see a similar incident during the first Exodus in chapter 14:
“Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more forever.The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.”
We live in a time very similar to the original Exodus: the covenant people have been for generations enslaved and, thus, can largely only think as slaves. They value “womb to tomb” security over the risks of freedom and at any trial they cry out for God to relieve them. In this passage we see that the Israelites are at the Red Sea numbering somewhere north of half a million fighting men and they saw they were being pursued by a much smaller, yet better equipped, fighting force of Egyptians. Rushdoony’s comments on this are right on point:
“Moses was faced with a terrified people and an Egyptian army. He apparently began to pray very earnestly to God, Who cut him short, saying, “Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward” (v.15). God is impatient with prayer where action is needed, or where prayer is not accompanied by action or works.” (1)
In other words, God told them already what to do and He expected them to do it. Living by faithin the Word means acting according to the Word. No doubt this clergyman would pray for safety before walking into a dark alley as he should, but he would do nothing to protect himself from an assailant as though that was some sort of lack of faith.
Second, no matter how orthodox a Christian may claim to be, this type of attitude reveals a practical rejection of the total depravity of man. Living in a “safe” neighborhood or only going to “safe” areas does nothing to avoid men and women in the old Adam. Our original sin, to determine good and evil for ourselves, means inevitable conflict as one tries to impose his will upon another as their own petty god. Many in the Christian community have not thought through the implications of their theology and acted accordingly, despite the clarity of Scripture.
Finally, this interaction reveals that we never know just when an opportunity to bring clarity into a situation make come to us nor who the audience may be. While wisdom will dictate just how far we may take the conversation, the fact remains that we face a moral obligation to speak the truth (Esther 4:14, 2 Tim 4:2). That this man was in the clergy did not mean that I leave him in his errors but rather to speak to him, recognizing his office, to share what God has also taught me. This is how reform takes place within the Body of Christ.
So, the next time you stop to pray for the Christian community for this or that thing, remember Exodus 14:15 and ask yourself, “Would God respond to my prayer like He did to Moses?”
1. R. J. Rushdoony, Exodus (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2004), pp. 190-91.