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- Jacob Ninan
Ex.14:13,14 is a favourite passage for many Christians, where God tells the people of Israel to just watch Him saving them from the Egyptians. But this is many times misunderstood and wrongly applied. First of all we must remember that this is not a promise which is given to all people or even all believers. It was specific to that situation when Israel was placed between Pharaoh and the Red Sea. Here they didn't have to do anything, but to stand and watch the Lord taking action. The Lord did a similar thing for Jehoshaphat when he faced an enemy (2Ch.20:17). God may do this for us also at times. But we can't apply this blindly to mean that we don't have to do anything ourselves when it comes to the challenges of our life but simply wait for God to deal with them! Many people have been disappointed who took this passive approach, and then they blame God!
The Promised Land for disciples of Jesus is to be transformed into His nature (Ro.8:28,29;2Pe.1:4). Since God has created us with a free will He will never force anything upon us. If we are to be transformed, we need to choose that process every time we are tempted to act according to our own desires. This is to take up our cross daily, deny ourselves and follow Jesus (Lk.9:23). If we expect this transformation while we are careless about denying ourselves, and irrespective of what we do, aren't we shirking our responsibilities, actually choosing against this transformation, and passing the buck, so to speak, to God?
The Bible is full of words telling us to 'do' many things, warning us of consequences if we don't, and promising us blessings if we do. Just hearing those words and giving assent to them mentally will not do, as Jesus pointed out powerfully from the example of the one who built on the sand (Mt.7:26). Certainly it is much more pleasant for us to hear 'promises', 'prophecies' and 'comforting words' rather than to deny ourselves or to take pains with doing the will of God. We also like preachers who tell us nice things. But such preachers who soothe us to spiritual sleep without warning us when we go wrong or teaching us to choose the right paths will be responsible for the 'deaths' of their people when ultimately the walls come crashing down in the storms of life (Ez.3:18;13:10).
There are many promises God has given to all of us, and He may also give us specific ones individually. Sometimes He may even tell us to just stand and watch how He will do a miracle for us. But we can't take promises that are not for us or expect all promises to work automatically. When we place our faith in God He works in us giving us desires, inclination and power to do His will, and then it is our responsibility to work them out by denying our own desires and doing Hid will (Php.2:12,13). He will not fulfil most promises automatically without our cooperation. There are conditions He expects us to fulfil. If we understand this we can avoid a lot of disappointments.