NEW SERIES: FREEDOM IS A JOURNEY
When Israel marched away from slavery on that Passover night, they knew more about what they were leaving behind than what lay ahead. They were leaving the familiar routines and practices of generations and crossing into unknown territory. In particular, they were leaving behind the empty and powerless religion of Egypt and entering into a new relationship with the one true God, Yahweh. They had to get to know the God of their ancestors for themselves.
Eventually the Israelites came to the Red Sea. We know the story; how the Lord parted the waters, and the nation travelled through it on dry ground, but the advancing Egyptian army was swallowed up by the returning waves. That event sealed their escape. No longer were they under Pharaoh’s jurisdiction, subject to his laws and practices; no longer were they slaves. Not only had they escaped, the enemy forces had also been completely defeated. No wonder they sang for joy!
The story is significant because it foreshadows the Christian practice of baptism. Baptism isn’t just symbolic; it is a prophetic declaration both to the powers of darkness and to human witnesses, that a major change has taken place. When the candidate goes down into the water, they are announcing they have died to an old kingdom, an old jurisdiction, an old way of life, and an old identity; when they come up again, they proclaim themselves a new creation, in a new kingdom under a new authority. And just as the power of Pharaoh had been completely wiped out by the sea, the powers of darkness were totally routed by Jesus on the Cross, and His followers take that victory as their own through the waters of baptism.
See below for more on the importance of Water Baptism.
LEARNING TO TRUST
After the miraculous passage through the Red Sea, the Israelite commenced their journey through the wilderness. The desert was never meant as a place to settle, it was a ‘passing through’ place, a place of transition. The purpose of the desert was to test the hearts of the people, to teach them to trust and obey, even in the midst of difficulty [Deuteronomy 8].
We have seen in earlier posts that one of fundamental temptations facing Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was regarding the goodness of God. Another was answering the question ‘Has God said?’ Israel faced the same test in the wilderness. Facing trying circumstances, would they continue to trust in what the Lord had said to them? And of course, we know the answer: that generation failed the test and was barred from entering the Promised Land.
Centuries later, in another wilderness, we see Jesus facing and overcoming this same temptation. At His baptism He had clearly heard His Father’s declaration that Jesus was His beloved Son. In the wilderness, Satan came to question that core belief: ‘If you are the Son of God…’. Having stood firm, Jesus went out of the wilderness filled with the power of the Spirit.
And the lesson for us? After our baptism, to walk in our new identity. To walk with God, trusting in His character of goodness, even when we don’t understand. To run to Him and not away when things get difficult. To see any present wilderness experience as a temporary situation rather than the final destination. To continually remember the amazing blessings the Lord has already poured out on us while we wait for things to change. To know that He works all things for our good—even the things the Evil One would like to throw at us.
It is possible to be at rest, even when passing through the desert.
7 TRUTHS TO DECLARE OVER YOURSELF TODAY
You can find water baptism discussed more fully in the pages below. Do take time this week to revisit, and appreciate, this hugely significant and powerful event in your journey into freedom.
NEXT WEEK: THE GIFT OF BATTLE
God’s freedom and rest aren’t for the faint hearted; but they are worth the fight!
PASS IT ON...
[Photo credits: Ryan Loughlin (water); Tijs van Lur (desert); Vince Fleming (baptism);
Alec Gomes (matches) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
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