2012-05-10 - Slaves
Originally Published 1999-01-07
SLAVE, SLAVERY - A person bound in servitude to another human being as an instrument of labor; one who has lost his liberty and has no rights. (Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
In ancient Israel, and the ancient world, slavery was a socially accepted fact. In many cultures, it was governed by regulations protecting a slave from overt abuses. In other instances, a master had the right to kill a slave who displeased his master in any way. In the Israeli code, there were many provisions by which a slave could purchase, earn or be given their freedom. Even Jesus did not destroy the institution of slavery, knowing the heart of men, but He showed that the playing field at the foot of the cross was level regardless of our station in life.
Eph 6:5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; (NAS)
The Year of Jubilee is described in Leviticus 25:37-43. It was a reminder to Israel that God had redeemed them out of slavery in Egypt. Debts were cancelled, slaves were set free, and land was rested. This is a type, or a picture, or what Jesus Christ has done for His children. He has cancelled our debt of sin, redeemed us from the slave market, purchasing our freedom with His blood and given us a promise of a gentle yoke. Just as the Lord appointed the Year of Jubilee, He appoints the day of our salvation.
The state of slavery was formally abolished in this country by the Emancipation Proclamation written by Abraham Lincoln. In truth, there are people who live as much as slaves in this day as well. Some are held hostage by the pornography and prostitution industries. Others are addicts dragged along by drug dealers, tobacco and alcohol. The physical, chemical and emotional abuses of these task masters are cruel indeed. Freedom from the grip of these cages is difficult at best, life-threatening in others. Pray for these people and those that feel the call to reach into these dangerous places.
There were instances where the slaves were treated well by their masters. Some were treated with such care and compassion that they would not leave when their freedom was attained. They became willing slaves (gr. dulos) to their masters.
Exod 21:5-6 "But if the slave plainly says, 'I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,' 6 then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently. (NAS)
This is a picture of a Christian. Jesus frees us from our slavery to sin and the law. In the slave market, a slave would have a price. Once the price was paid, the chains were unlocked from the seller and given to the buyer. The simple truth is that we are all slaves. We are slaves to the enemy, our flesh or the law, or we are slaves to Christ. The law is the measure by which our perfection is measured. Imperfection, sin, can not enter the presence of a Holy God. Jesus has paid our debt of sin and has given us His life in exchange for the tatters of our lives. In His life, we stand before God justified by the law. Through no effort of our own, we will be allowed to enter eternity in Heaven.
Titus 3:5-7 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (NAS)
Paul considered himself a slave of Jesus Christ. It was his honor to serve his Master. Jesus was always at the center of his conversation and the purpose for his travels to spread the Good News. Even after having been beaten on various occasions, stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked twice, and imprisoned for his faith, Paul never wavered. His eyesight was poor and his body was scared by his service, but he did not complain. Paul's circumstances did not blind him to the simple truth of a changed heart and life. He was free beyond the ability of chains or prison to hold him. Would that my vision be that clear.
Gal 6:14-17 But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. 17 From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus. (NAS)
Jesus can free you from any chains or break any contract that might keep you from Him. He paid our debts for all our failings, big and small, on Calvary's cross. Your ransom has been paid. He is standing in front of you with the keys to unlock the locks to your shackles if you will only ask. If you must have a master, who will you choose? Paul was not troubled by any cause and walked with peace and mercy in his heart. Before Paul met Jesus, his heart was filled with laws, rules and intolerance. You can be ruled by your physical appetites, your circumstances or your own rules which will level you empty. Or you can give Jesus all these things and He will give you peace and teach you mercy. A heart filled with peace will not easily be troubled.
If you must have a master, who will you choose? Please, write us if you have questions. We'll be happy to help you with any thoughts you might have.
Lord Jesus - help us see and appreciate the privation You saved us from and the abundance You shelter us in as Your children. Our hearts filled with gratitude should gladly serve You daily. Our circumstances notwithstanding, we hold the sure hope of Heaven with You for eternity. I can only imagine that the suffering of this world will fade from our memories a minute after we enter Your presence. Help us to shine the light of that hope You have given us as the mark You have placed on us, to draw others to You. Amen