Let’s go back to the beginning of the exodus of Israel and our three categories of men and women today. Recall that the children of Israel in Egypt represents us in our lost condition; unbelievers under the taskmaster of sin. Just like the Israelites were slaves under the taskmasters of Egypt.
After God rescued Israel through the ten plagues, they were finally allowed to leave Egypt behind. But the outbound journey was not without peril. After sending the children of Israel on their way, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his army to bring Israel back to their life of slavery. The escaping nation appeared to be trapped. They were boxed in by the Red Sea ahead of them and the advancing Egyptian army behind them.
The story of what happened next is one of the most famous in the Bible. God parted the sea. Israel passed through. The Egyptian army marched into the open sea in pursuit. God closed the sea, drowned the Egyptians, and left them buried under the sea.
The apostle Paul describes this rescue as a baptism. “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, 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” (I Cor 10:1-2). The Egyptian taskmasters – who represent our slavery to our sin nature – were drowned and buried in the sea. But the children of Israel passed through this place of death (the sea) which Paul referred to as “baptized into Moses”. After this baptism, the children of Israel moved forward toward the promised land and a new life.
Compare this passage about Israel’s baptism in the sea to our baptism into Christ. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:3-4).
Do you see the connection? The Egyptian taskmasters were left buried in the place of death; a place from which the children of Israel were miraculously “raised” by God as it were to go claim the promised land. Likewise, our old self, our sin nature, our controlling flesh was buried with Christ in the place of death. And we were “raised” with Christ to walk in a new life; to walk in the “promised land”. (Remember, one of our three categories of people is a believer walking in the Spirit represented by Israel in the promised land.)
If we are unsure about this death to our old self, Paul makes it clear in the very next verses in Romans 6. Continuing, he writes, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Rom 6:5-7).
To summarize, the children of Israel left their Egyptian taskmasters behind in the sea of death. We left the taskmaster of our sin nature behind when we were baptized into Christ. That is, when we accepted and embraced the gospel message of Christ.
All of this leads to the next question. If my old nature was crucified with Christ and has lost its power as a controlling principle in my life, what has taken its place as my new motivation, my new energy for living? We will explore that very question next time.