“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.’” Exodus 14:10–13
Imagine helicoptering into this Red Sea scene, dropping commando-style onto the scene for an interview with one of those terror-stricken Hebrews. The stark fear of being wiped out by their former slave-driving boss, Pharaoh, and his cronies aside, what emotion does your interviewee articulate? I’d put my money on fear, fear that they haven’t escaped their old identities, their old slavery, and their old slave master.
Think about it. These people had known nothing but slavery for 400 years. Suddenly, the God whom they thought had forgotten about them completely comes on the scene to deal with Pharaoh’s tyranny. Finally, after the chilling plague narratives, Pharaoh relents. At last! Camping and bonfires on the beach of the Red Sea, right?
But wait! There’s more: Suddenly, in the throes of megalomania, Pharaoh changes his mind and chases after them. Now God’s people are hemmed in at an impassible Red Sea without water wings. But just as they miraculously cross and the Egyptians are charging across after them, God closes the sea and swallows them up (v. 26–29).
They were this close. This Moses guy had a great plan and now this! Horrific images emblazoned on their minds from lifetimes of slavery come rushing back. The hope of deliverance was too good to be true and they’re really just slaves after all. It’s back to the old life.
Now that’s fear.
Nothing can quite peg identity like fear—and its constant companion, shame—can. And that’s the big question. Who are you, really? An ineffective employee? A failed father? A basket case? A pervert? Damaged goods? Shame words try to name you, own you, and weigh you down.
Know this: you’ve been lied to.
You are not your old nature, and Christ has removed it completely from you and in his perfect love, driven out fear. In Christ, you are his treasured possession. We were not meant to lug the weight of slavery around in the first place. Christ’s burden is easy; his yoke is light. You’re clothed in Christ’s righteousness, and when God sees you, he doesn’t see shame—he sees the perfection of Jesus.
As part of God’s family, you are the beloved firstborn. Rather than receiving the just judgment of the Egyptians, he has ransomed you to be with him. In his eyes, the chaos of the sea is behind you, and the enemy has been defeated. Just like the Israelites’ enemies and their accusations were drowned in the Red Sea, the shaming, condemning words of your past life of slavery have been silenced in the death and resurrection of Christ.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
Adapted from the Mockingbird Devotional Good News for Today (and Every Day), which can be found here.