Sunday, August 02, 2009
Servant for Life
"If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.
But if the servant declares, 'I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,' then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life."
Exodus 21:2-6, New International Version
Servant for Life
I must admit that every time I read this passage from Exodus 21, it seems to be quite harsh. I know that is partly due to the times in which I live.
Slavery was allowed in Israel, but certain rules applied if the slave was another Israelite. At the end of seven years, a Hebrew slave was to be set free. If he was already married when his master purchased him, his wife would also go free as well. But, if his master had given him a wife and they had children while in his master's house, he was allowed to go free, but his wife and children were to remain with the master. If he desired to stay with his wife and children, he could declare his intention to be the master's servant for life.
I have worked at several different places in my lifetime, and I noticed one thing that was fairly common in all places of my employment, whether in offices or in factories. Almost everyone complained about their bosses, or about the company for which they worked. In fact, some seemed so miserable in their particular situation, that I wondered why they even came to work for that particular company. After all, they had the choice to apply or not to apply for that job.
When one compares their situation to that of a Hebrew slave, the difference is obvious. They are free! At the end of the work day, they can go to their own home and their own family.
How we love the concept of freedom, and how we chaff at authorities. In reality, however, no one is really free. The Bible tells us that we are either slaves to sin or slaves to God.
I am sure that the happiness or misery of the Hebrew slave was related to the type of master he served. If the master was a bitter, angry man, everyone in the household, including the servants suffered. However, if the master was a kind and patient man, the household reaped the fruits of his kindness.
As Christians, we have a perfect Taskmaster. He is fair, kind, loving, patient, etc., but he also demands faithfulness from his servants. Due to our natural tendency to despise authorities, we must be very careful that we do not find ourselves opposing God! It is a good thing for us to do a "status check" every now and then, pondering our servanthood to God. Are we faithful and true servants, do we love our Master with all our heart and soul, and are we happy?
Why would I ask that? No one is happy all of the time. It is important to realize that, as servants of Christ, our unhappiness is due to our own view of our life. Oh yes, we go through some very unhappy situations, but in the end, our peace and happiness from the Lord should see us through because of the God we serve. He is faithful, even when we are not!
I encourage you this day to ponder your life. If you are a Christian, you are not only a servant for life, but a servant for eternity!
God Bless You,