Updated: Jan 17
“When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:10-14 (ESV)
Though most Christians, even very young Christians, are familiar with the content of Moses leading Israel across the Red Sea on dry land followed by the destruction of Pharaoh's army, what about the context? For many successive generations Israelites had a job, housing, food and some sense of community. Though yearning for freedom, when freedom was in sight (across the Red Sea), a number of Israelites started to say the past wasn’t so bad, at least they had something to eat and a place to stay.
Leaving the past, even a past slavery to sin, means changing identity from a slave to a free man. Today we may find those we know who are still shackled with past dependencies, wrong-thinking, poor community and advice, … (you fill in the blank) who would prefer to identify with the known (bad) past than with freedom (which is unknown). What was Moses’s answer to his people who had known generations of slavery: To “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord…”.
For his author, though personally somewhat hard to identify with a people wanting to return to slavery, and while 2 Israelites born in slavery did enter the Promised land, most died while wandering in the wilderness. Though wanting to live Free and not a Slave, I also want to avoid wandering for so long that I am disqualified from entering the Promised Land.
Daily Battle Order:
First, consider the context of this familiar story, where for generations a people had only known slavery. Second, consider who you know today who is shackled by their identification with their past problems. Third, decide how you can lead them to “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord…”. Finally, consider; what are you doing with your own freedom: are you living more in the wilderness or the promised land?