– by Michael Sischy

The lesson about identity is quite simple: Who are we going to allow to define our identity? Will it be God? The One who made us, created us in His image and who did not intend us to be someone’s slaves? Or, are we going to let the world with its values say who we are and what we are supposed to be? In the long run, letting the world define our identity leads to various forms of slavery.

Many years ago, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. God intervened and graciously rescued them with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. He led the Israelites to Mount Sinai, where He wanted to create a covenant with them. God’s idea was that this would spark an identity shift in the Israelites: they once were slaves, but now were free and in a covenant relationship with Him. The sign that God had previously given Moses could now be fulfilled: “Certainly I (Yahweh) will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.” – Exodus 3:12 

They were God’s people
God sent Moses to confront Pharaoh, so that Israel could be free and receive her identity as the beloved of God. Let’s look at this interaction and at what we can glean about God and ourselves: “And afterward Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.’” – Exodus 5:1. We need to take note that God said Israel belonged to Him; they were His people, not Pharaoh’s. Because of this, God could not sit idly by and let Israel (and Pharaoh) think that they were slaves who belonged to a tyrant and who were helping build his kingdom.

Pharaoh did not submit
“But Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go.’” – Exodus 5:2. Pharaoh said that he was under no obligation to obey this instruction (as he did not know who this God was) and so, would not submit to His authority. Pharaoh was, thus, making himself the authority; he determined Israel’s identity. He said the Israelites were his servants – his slaves, in fact – languishing under a heavy yoke.

Who are you allowing to define your identity?
The lesson about identity is quite simple: Who are we going to allow to define our identity? Will it be God? The One who made us, created us in His image and who did not intend us to be someone’s slaves? The One who created us to be His valuable sons and daughters, for whom He gave His Son’s life, because He loves us so much (something that gives us immense value, dignity, and purpose)? 

God, or the world?
Or, are we going to let Pharaoh (the world with its values) say who we are and what we are supposed to be? In the long run, letting the world define our identity leads to various forms of slavery – we chase the things of the world which, while promising freedom, only ends up making us miserable slaves again. True identity comes from knowing the God who set Israel free from slavery and then sent His Son to the Cross to set us all free – first the Jew and then the Gentile.

MICHAEL SISCHY is the Director of Jews for Jesus South Africa. Website: www.jewsforjesus.co.za


Article source: JOY! Magazine

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