December 2, 2010
I have never felt the bonds of slavery. Not even metaphorically. I am a thoroughly Midwestern, American woman. I have parents who allowed me a fair amount of leeway when I was a minor and a gracious amount of forgiveness when I was old enough (and dumb enough) to need it. I had a liberal curfew, fairly flexible work schedules in my work and the right to vote since the age of 18. I don’t really know what it is like to be in captivity, to be truly afraid for my life, or to be bought and sold like property. Slavery is the one thing in the Bible that I simply cannot relate to, even though it is discussed often and in detail.
Sometimes, that makes it difficult to really appreciate the writings about being set free.
In recent years, though, I have come to face my enslavement to sin more fully. Instead of looking at the sins I commit as an inherited disease, I have begun to see the snares and trappings of slavery that sin carries with it.
This is significant for two reasons: One, it removes my ability to make excuses. Sin is not inescapable. It, like slavery, is a temporary condition because I have been offered freedom. Two, It helps me realize that my situation is not hopeless. Sin is not a disease I was born with; it is a condition of this world, and I will one day be released from it for good.
Now, when I feel myself slipping, falling back into old patterns, I don’t feel a sense of rebellious “freedom,” I feel the chains tightening. I feel my true self slipping, silencing and the handcuffs of old ways binding me.
Sin now feels like what it has always been—slavery. And when I find verses dealing with slavery in the Bible, I’m able to at least comprehend my personal slavery and my personal, God-given freedom.
The Old Testament contains list after list, chapter after chapter of laws that were dictated to the Israelites during their time in the desert. Usually, these lists are ignored in modern society or irrelevant because we do not have an ark to carry around, a tabernacle to construct or sacrifices to offer. Once in a while, though, a word or phrase reaches out from the past to shout something relevant about the future, about the present. One such passage on slavery struck me recently.
Exodus 21:7-9 discusses the proper handling of slave girls who are given to the sons of the masters. She becomes entitled to full inheritance. How interesting.
Proof that God really doesn’t change.
Simply by being married to the master’s son, the bride is redeemed and set free from slavery, entitled to full rights as a daughter. Likewise, we the church, the bride, are redeemed by our relationship with Christ. We are freed from the slavery of sin and entitled to full inheritance in His name.