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Do or Die

Do or Die

Exodus 14:10a, 11a & 12b

When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. … They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? … For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

We’ve all said a lot of dumb things in our moments of paranoia that we don’t really mean, or at least that we regret saying aloud, right? The problem isn’t so much that we feel disparaging thoughts in the turbulence of trials—I’m sure every Christian martyr has whispered similar things on their way to the pyre or coliseum or executioner’s block—but when our panic is indicative of an underlying callousness toward God. When that exasperated cry we raise in a Herodian dungeon of “Are You really the Messiah?” or in an outer courtyard before a rooster crows, “I swear I never knew the Man!” is not a moment of weakness where the torch of our faith flickers in a hellish gust, but the genuine expression of our truer conviction: a clinched fist we hide in good times that comes out immediately at the first breath of opposition.

Consider this, friend. For the apostles who were all persecuted for preaching the gospel, would it have been better for them to just shut up, pay the incense to Caesar, and live a long life, or honor God and die? For Daniel and his three exiled friends, would it have been better for them to just bow to the idols, eat defiled meat, and live a bit longer as slaves, or stand alone and face the flames? For those Egyptian midwives, would it have been better for them obey Pharaoh’s edict, murder hundreds of Jewish babies, and keep their jobs, or do what was right by God and lose their livelihood?

These Hebrews will have to decide for themselves whether it really is better to exist for a time as slaves to a dying king in a dying world or to live eternally as sons of a living God in an everlasting kingdom, even if it means persecution and death. And so will we.