Devotional Thoughts for Today
When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.
In our day, the word “slavery” carries immense baggage. For today, I invite you to lay aside any pre-conceptions of the word in order to understanding more clearly what God might have to say about slavery. Having done that, I want to take us through this passage by highlighting three observations.
First, at the time of this passage, the Israelites had JUST been redeemed from slavery. Slavery wasn’t a new concept to the Israelites. In fact, a life of slavery was the only life they had known, until God redeemed them from it.
Second, the FIRST group of people God protects is the slaves. This is the first law that God gives to Israel that specifies a social class. In this context, the slaves were fellow Hebrews who found themselves in such poverty, that they had no other option but to sell themselves as servants. God’s first priority was to protect the rights of such people!
Third, God’s rhetoric about “slavery” is remarkably different than the world’s. God’s rule for slavery actually begins with redemption: “he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing.” God is not for slavery. According to Him, all slavery must end with redemption. This is quite contradictory from the world’s understanding of the concept. But that’s not even the most shocking part. Verse 5 describes what would be a nearly inconceivable scenario today: “But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.” Who would want to be a slave forever? Why would God include such a strange clause? There is only one scenario in which becoming a slave forever is the most logical choice: when you have a master who is worth serving forever. The Apostle Paul referred to himself as the bond-servant of Christ. This is not to take away from the intimacy that we have with God as sons and daughters, but rather it highlights the worthiness of the Master to be served.
Are you willing to be a bond-servant of Christ? Are you willing to serve Him, and only Him, forever? The more we focus on our own plans/desires, this becomes an increasingly burdensome question. But when we set our gaze upon who our God is, I believe the answer becomes an increasingly easy one.
Prayer: Father, help us to understand what it means to be a bond-servant to You. Help us to trust that the best place to put our lives is in Your hands. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Romans 15
Lunch Break Study
Read Romans 6:20-23: For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Questions to Consider
- In this passage, Paul says that we were once “slaves of sin.” How does he describe our current status?
- What does Paul say is the difference between being a slave of sin and being a slave of God?
- Paul says that we were once “slaves of sin,” but now we are “slaves of God.” Of course, we are much more than merely slaves to God. But we are indeed slaves, in that we are bound to God, and committed to Him for life.
- Paul highlights one key difference: The fruit of serving sin is death, while the fruit of serving God is sanctification leading to eternal life. Being a slave to sin and being a slave to God is completely different. Nevertheless, we must choose one or the other. We can either serve God… or be a slave to sin.
What is driving you? What is the thing that gets you up and out of bed each morning? Whatever it is, this is probably the thing that you are “enslaved” to. That sounds like a harsh way to phrase it. But today we’ve been talking about what it means to serve God. Spend some time tonight reflecting on what/who it is that you are actually serving.