The Israelites were enslaved to the Egyptians. However, God never forgot about them.
God delivered the Israelites through a servant, Moses. When the Egyptians chased the Israelites, not letting them go, God’s mighty, outstretched arm supernaturally parted the Red Sea. His people could cross through and be free of slavery.
Afterwards, in the wilderness on the way to the Promised land, God continued to take care of the Israelites. He gave them water from a rock and bread from dew. Most of all, His Presence was with them in a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. He chose them as His treasured possession. He loved them.
God desired they love Him back through covenant obedience. To listen and obey His voice. To be set apart, holy. To be His. He asked them simply to have faith, despite the wilderness surroundings.
In the same way, all human beings are born into sin. Enslaved to sin. God loves us. So He sent Jesus, His Son, to set us free. Jesus shed His blood by dying in our place on the cross. This is akin to the cross-ing of the Red (blood) sea. God made a way. Jesus is the way to life. For those who cross God’s way, there is freedom.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We are saved by grace through faith. Grace is Jesus taking our place on the cross / parting of the Red Sea. Faith is receiving Him as Lord / believing in the wilderness. Faith, our response to God’s grace, is how we remain in Him because He’s set us free. Loving Him back through listening and obeying. Enjoying covenant relationship with the God of the universe!
Remember the Israelites? After God set them free, they had a choice: To believe God and obey, or to disobey. They chose the latter.
The New Testament of the Bible includes warnings for Christians concerning the Israelites:
For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
1 Corinthians 10:1-14
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
Today, all who believe in Jesus are free! We, like the Israelites, have a choice. Will we remain free by obeying, or disobey and fall away?
Soften your heart. Listen to God. Receive His Son, His love and love Him back through obedience! Through following His narrow way: crossing the Red Sea, believing in Jesus.
Another word for ‘abide’ is ‘remain.’ We must remain in Christ through faith. No matter our feelings, thoughts, or situations. Test and weigh every feeling against Scripture. Take thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. Remember truth no matter what happens. Trials are tests of faith. Remain. Be loved. Love. Give thanks. Enjoy God’s rest.
One day, (SOON!) it will allllll be worth it.