Sometimes you have to get out of your routine so God can speak to you in a nonroutine ways. I knew that I couldn’t just preach a sermon that weekend; I needed a word from the Lord. And God gave me one. During one of the teaching sessions, God gave me a promise to stand on and I put every ounce of my weight on Exodus 14:13 – 14:
“Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”
What would be the hardest thing to do with the Egyptian army charging straight at you at full speed? The hardest thing to do is precisely what God told them to do: stand still. God doesn’t just play chicken; He also plays flinch. When we find ourselves in this kind of situation, we want to do something, anything. We have a nervous energy that wants to solve the problem as quickly as possible. But God tells them to do nothing but pray. The closer the Egyptian army got, the more intense their prayers became. They clenched their jaws. They stood their holy ground. They prayed like they had never prayed before.
Zondervan, (2011-12-13). The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears (Kindle Locations 1912-1921). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. Mark Batterson
Here, let's look at the account in question.
1And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, 2Speak unto the children of
Israel, that they turn back and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol
and the sea, before Baal-zephon: over against it shall ye encamp by the
sea. 3And Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in
the land, the wilderness hath shut them in. 4And I will harden Pharaoh’s
heart, and he shall follow after them; and I will get me honor upon
Pharaoh, and upon all his host: and the Egyptians shall know that I am
Jehovah. And they did so. 5And it was told the king of Egypt that the
people were fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was changed
towards the people, and they said, What is this we have done, that we
have let Israel go from serving us? 6And he made ready his chariot, and
took his people with him: 7and he took six hundred chosen chariots, and
all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over all of them. 8And Jehovah
hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the
children of Israel: for the children of Israel went out with a high hand.
9And the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of
Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping
by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baal-zephon.
10And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes,
and, behold, the Egyptians were marching after them; and they were sore
afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto Jehovah. 11And they said
unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us
away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to
bring us forth out of Egypt? 12Is not this the word that we spake unto
thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For
it were better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the
wilderness. 13And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still,
and see the salvation of Jehovah, which he will work for you to-day: for
the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more
for ever. 14Jehovah will fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
15And Jehovah said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak
unto the children of Israel, that they go forward. 16And lift thou up thy
rod, and stretch out thy hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children
of Israel shall go into the midst of the sea on dry ground. 17And I, behold,
I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall go in after them:
and I will get me honor upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his
chariots, and upon his horsemen. 18And the Egyptians shall know that I
am Jehovah, when I have gotten me honor upon Pharaoh, upon his
chariots, and upon his horsemen. 19And the angel of God, who went
before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of
cloud removed from before them, and stood behind them: 20and it came
between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the
cloud and the darkness, yet gave it light by night: and the one came not
near the other all the night.
21And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and Jehovah caused the
sea to go back by a strong east wind all the night, and made the sea dry
land, and the waters were divided. 22And the children of Israel went into
the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto
them on their right hand, and on their left. 23And the Egyptians pursued,
and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his
chariots, and his horsemen. 24And it came to pass in the morning watch,
that Jehovah looked forth upon the host of the Egyptians through the
pillar of fire and of cloud, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians.
25And he took off their chariot wheels, and they drove them heavily; so
that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for Jehovah
fighteth for them against the Egyptians. 26And Jehovah said unto Moses,
Stretch out thy hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon
the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. 27And
Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its
strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and
Jehovah overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28And the
waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, even all the
host of Pharaoh that went in after them into the sea; there remained not so
much as one of them. 29But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in
the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right
hand, and on their left. 30Thus Jehovah saved Israel that day out of the
hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the
sea-shore. 31And Israel saw the great work which Jehovah did upon the
Egyptians, and the people feared Jehovah: and they believed in Jehovah,
and in his servant Moses.
So, please read that scriptural excerpt, and if you can, show me where it says that "The closer the Egyptian army got, the more intense their (the people of Israel's) prayers became. They clenched their jaws. They stood their holy ground. They prayed like they had never prayed before."
Now, it does say in v. 10 that "the children of Israel cried out unto Jehovah", but when you look at the next few verses, it was likely not them crying out in faith. They weren't clenching their jaws, standing their ground (holy or otherwise, and likely otherwise in this case), and while I'm not sure if they had ever prayed like that before, maybe it could be said that it was among the first in a long line of complainings that the Books of Moses record that they did.
In other words, God didn't do anything here because of them. If anything, He worked His miracles in spite of them. They were the ones complaining, saying it would have been better to have stayed as slaves in Egypt. Moses stretched out his hand, and God parted the waters of the sea and dried up the land. Outside of complaining, the only thing the people did was to cross through on the dry ground God had supplied for them.
In more other words, Batterson is misrepresenting things in this account. It does not say that the people prayed, except maybe to complain of their lot. It does not say that their prayers became more intense as the Egyptians approached, except maybe in the whining index. It does not say that they clenched their jaws, but opened them in laments of impending doom. It does not say that they stood their holy ground, but that God provided them dry ground to walk upon. It does not say that they prayed like never before.
Nothing God did was in response to their prayers or faith, because they didn't pray, and they had no faith. God was the one who told Moses to move the people to a place where Pharoah would decide to pursue them. God was the one who hardened Pharoah's heart, so that he decided to follow Israel. God was the one who put the angel between the camps to protect Israel. God was the one who told Moses to lift his hands, and God was the one who sent the wind that parted the water and dried up the land. God was the one who caused problem among the Egyptians, then told Moses to lift his hands again so that the waters came together again and killed the Egyptians.
As v. 30 says, "Thus Jehovah saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians."
What is remarkable in this account is that the people did nothing to help themselves, even their prayers seemed to have been merely complaints. It was God who saved them, they themselves did nothing to save themselves.
Batterson simply doesn't impress me as one who so much reads what's written as much as he reads into what is written what he wants to be there. Oh, he may take a pen and circle phrases or verses all over his Bible, but he doesn't seem to understand content or context. Here, he simply completely reads into this account the jaw-clenching faith of Israel, which is completely absent in the account itself.