READ: Exodus 13-15, Psalm 22, Matthew 22, Acts 22
The Comforts of Slavery
Slavery has its securities. When Moses leads God’s people out of bondage, they immediately have to fend for themselves. Water is hard to come by, and at least back in Egypt – unlike the desert – there are onions. With Pharaoh’s armies pressing in, the people complain: “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness?…Is this not the word that we told you… ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'” (Exo. 14:11-12)? Some prefer the small world of prison; for there you at least get three meals a day and you don’t have to work for them.
Kenneth Bailey points out that Jesus addresses a similar question when he meets Blind Bartimaeus. “What do you want me to do for you” (Mark 10:51)? Jesus obviously knew the man was blind, so in effect Jesus is saying, “If I deliver you from the slavery of blindness, you can no longer beg for a living. Food will not be dropped in your outstretched hands; you will have to work for it. Do you really want the challenges of being free?”
We often love our chains. We hold on to our aches and pains because they earn us sympathy. We hold on to our anger and jealousy because they serve as fuel and motivation. We hold on to the blanket of our insecurity because it warms us in some strange and twisted way. To be free from what enslaves us brings us to the wall of the Red Sea and we exchange the comforts of slavery for the challenges and responsibilities of freedom.
Interestingly, if we can press on, the boundaries become walls of protection. The sea that restricted the escaping Israelites becomes “a wall on their right hand and left” (Exo. 14:22) and their protection from the enemy. Our walls of protection are somewhat different. Praise is our protection. When we exalt the one who is “fearful in praises” (15:11), we engage a spiritual secret: praise brings victory and deliverance. The Psalmist speaks of the suffering of the Messiah and from the despair of being forsaken (Ps. 22:1) acknowledges the holiness of God, declares that God is enthroned on praises (22:3) and that He delivers those who trust Him.
If slavery (oppression, rejection, trouble) leads us to praise, we can have the comfort of knowing that our God will deliver us. Praise is our comfort in trial.