Tag Archives: Slavery

Slaves and Sons

How could God treat His people so differently in Old Testament times as compared to the New?  The Old Testament is full of long lists of rules and regs, along with severe penalties to be exacted upon those who break them.  The New Testament is all about grace and tells those in Christ they are free of the law.  What gives?

This is no big mystery.  The first part of the Old Testament was written for people who, for more than 10 generations, had lived as slaves.  After God sent Moses and arranged for their freedom, they obviously needed a bit of clearly defined structure.  The New Testament is about Jesus inviting us to become sons and daughters in God’s family.  For those who accept, He gives His Spirit as an internal guide, making rules irrelevant.

Ask yourself this question: Did you treat your two year old in the same way when he or she became 32?  I would imagine you began with rules, such as, “We never cross the street by ourselves.”  Later on, that rule changed to, “Always look both ways before you cross the street.”  And then, “‘Bye; Have a nice time!”

Here’s a great explanation of how God’s approach changed and why, taken from the New Testament:

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.  (Galatians 4:1-7  NIV)

Taproot – Part 4

“I command you to love me!”  That’s a non-starter, isn’t it?  The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is to love God with all your heart and soul.  But, can love be commanded?  But, instead of hearing the word, command, as a strict order to do something we don’t want to do, think of it like this: This “command” is the most important thing to remember to practice so that things will go well for you. 

God’s 10 commandments were given after He first had arranged a rescue for the people from slavery. 

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”  –  (Deuteronomy 5:6)

His commands were given to protect us from falling back into any kind of slavery.  In other words, His commands were given to bless us.

Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”

“Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.”  –  (Deuteronomy 5:33; 6:3)

Our love for God is not grudging and forced, it is the natural response toward our Rescuer who loves us and wants the very best for us.  Our love for God is reflected in our paying attention to how He taught us to live, loving and honoring  Him by obeying.  As John said it, “We love because he first loved us.” – (1John 4:19)

The same is true of our love for Jesus, Who rescued us from spiritual slavery to live life to the fullest.

An Old Tool

Old tools fascinate me.  Looking at the areas worn bare from use, I  try to imagine who used it, what he was making.  Sometimes I’m more curious to know what it was used for.  Tool magazines frequently post pictures, asking, does anyone know what this is?

Words are tools. As they are used less, they get left in the toolbox. In time, people may not understand how they were used. Like the word, redemption.  In biblical times, it was not uncommon for someone to sell himself into slavery, to cover a debt.  Someone else, usually a close family member, could pay the slave’s owner a fee to purchase his (or her) freedom. He purchased redemption.  The former slave was now free.

Imagine how that felt, waking, the next morning to suddenly remember that everything that happens next is now a choice, not a command.  More profound for someone born into slavery, who had never known freedom. Such a person might not have realized he had been in bondage, nor the full implications of now being free.

When Jesus taught about how He could redeem us, some asked Him:

…“We … have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
     Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.   So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  –  (John 8:33 excerpt-36)

Perhaps the word, redemption, has suffered disuse because most of us, like Jesus’ listeners, don’t truly understand our condition of slavery.  But even those who were born into slavery can be redeemed, set free, and given a full and permanent place in God’s family.  If The Son sets us free, which He freely does for all who will trust Him, we have redemption, we are free indeed. 

Freed slaves eventually get it; they notice.  They rub their formerly bound wrists, look around in astonishment and gulp in fresh draughts of freedom.  Life is more than better, it begins!  Which is why Paul was so excited to say:

” …  For He (God, through Jesus) has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
–  (Colossians 1:13-14)

Sometimes, when I learn how an old tool was used, I discover it works better than anything more recently made.  The word, redemption, is one of those.

Set Free to Live Free

“Help me. I’m Amanda Berry! I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for 10 years and I’m, I’m here, I’m free now.”  What a gripping story!  Three women who had been kidnapped and held as slaves for over 10 years, escaped those bonds yesterday and were reunited with their families. We were repulsed by the wickedness of such a crime. We were compelled by the urgency and fear in the voice of the one who called 911, spellbound by the looks on their faces of joy and relief, mixed with fear and uncertainty. Vicariously, we joined the neighbors in celebrating their freedom. Those women must feel as though they have been taken from a place of death and been set free to live again.

And in all of that, I was reminded of how Jesus came to us, how He suffered and died to set us free from the one who had kidnapped us and held us in bondage. In Jesus we cross over from slavery to freedom, from sin to righteousness, from death to life! Jesus compared our situation in this world to that of sheep who have been stolen by a thief. He said,

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.   John 10:10

One of the women who escaped came out with a young daughter, who must have been born and raised in captivity.  If that is so, the only life that little girl had ever known was that of a slave.  It is conceivable that she had no real understanding of her situation, nor of what freedom could bring. The same is true for us all, as we are born into a world of captivity and spiritual deadness.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. … So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  John 8:34&36

He said:

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.   John 5:24

What about you?

If you have never experienced the freedom and life available to all those who truly believe in Jesus, I urge you to look into it carefully. Don’t casually dismiss a freedom you don’t understand. If you have questions, I will gladly respond – with logic and sincerity, not dogma and emotional manipulation.

If you have experienced this life and freedom in Christ, please consider this: The older women who escaped are unlikely to ever want to return to that house of horrors. But the little girl who grew up there, who may think of that place as her home, may experience some yearnings to do so.  And sometimes, so do we, who have been set free in Christ.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1