Fearing the unknown

Exodus 14:10-12 “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.’”

“Change is hard.” I’m sure you’ve probably heard this statement.  The status quo, no matter what it is, can seem better than something else, because it’s something we know.  There’s no fear because we know what to expect.  In a way it’s a comfortable place, even if it’s really not very comfortable at all.  Otherwise, how in the world could the people of Israel have said what they did in the verses above?  After 400 years as slaves in Egypt in which the most recent were the most oppressive of all, suddenly, upon being freed by a miracle of God, they longed to go back. Why would anyone want to go back to a life of slavery?  Not only that, but they had argued before they were freed that it would be better if they had been left alone to serve the Egyptians rather that to die in the wilderness. 

In this story we have a shadow or a type of the difference between slavery to sin and freedom from it through faith in Christ. It’s a picture of salvation and within the story we see much about the struggle so many people have with faith.  For Israel to be free, they were set to launch into a new life free from bondage but fraught with unknown perils.  They had no idea what to expect in the wilderness. All they knew was that they were being led by a savior, Moses, and accompanied by the miracle working God who had delivered them.  In the wilderness they might die. In the wilderness where would they get food and water?  What would happen to them “out there.”  That’s really the way it is when one put’s their faith in the Savior who miraculously delivers people from slavery to sin.  People enslaved in sin, which includes everyone before they have been delivered from it, actually think that they are better off in their present condition.  It’s familiar to them.  So often they are blind to all the obvious signs of bondage – the fear of death, the guilt, the broken relationships, the grip of overpowering addictions and its consequences.  Faith in Christ is a path to freedom from these things, but it involves a journey into the unknown. 

There’s the fear of what our family or friends might say, or how they might react.  It’s a fear of what we might “have to give up” and how we will be able to live like that.  It’s a fear of what our new Master, the Lord Jesus, might ask of us. What if He wants us to go into the mission field, or preach, or teach, or who knows what else?  Yes, it’s a walk into the unknown, and that’s what faith is. It’s a surrender of all the things we know, regardless of the fact that what we actually know is only a life in bondage to sin. And it’s a new life involving a trust in a new Master and Lord and a willingness to follow Him wherever He might lead. 

As Jesus told those who would follow Him, it’s a “narrow gate” and a “hard way” but in the end it leads to life.  The old way, the familiar way, the path that most people are on, is a “wide gate” and an “easy way” but it inevitably leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).  For you see the easy way is a deceptively easy way in that its king is a deceiver whose only plan is to kill, steal, and destroy any who would follow him.  But the hard way, the way of faith, is the way to life, the abundant life of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who is Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. 

Will you trust Him? Do you trust Him?  If not, you should, for to do so is the only option for those who want to be free.

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