The pharoah ordered his Eqyptian supervisors to make the Israelites’ lives “bitter with hard service.” Yet the more the Israelites were oppressed, “the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad.”
At the heart of the salvation doctrine is the proclamation that our lives and our deaths are in God’s hand; we are loved of God not by our own merit but by God’s gracious initiative toward us. We need not spend our lives in good works in order to be saved but only in grateful response to being so loved.
"Fear,” writes Karl Barth, “is the anticipation of a supposedly certain defeat.” Fear describes Joseph’s brothers, who fear and hate their brother’s favored status. Fear strikes the hearts of Jesus’ disciples when they see him walking toward them on the water.