"> Righteous Slavery - Part 1

 

 

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Righteous Slavery - Part 1

 

In these "politically correct" times, we’ve heard of many words that are off-limits for discussion, with the mere mention of their representative letter (like the "n" word) conjuring up negative feelings with hundreds of years of hatred and violence. Such is the history of man’s civilization where man’s hatred of his fellow man has meant extravagance for some at the cost of misery for others. Man’s inhumanity to man has been the hallmark of much of the world’s history, particularly that of the western world. Is that the way it should have been? Is that the way God intended for us to live?

In 1 Sam 8:7, God made an insightful and far-reaching comment to Samuel about Israel’s society and, by implication, about the world as a whole.

(1 Sam 8:7 NASB) And the LORD said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.

Wow! God really hit the nail on the head with that statement! He was addressing one specific incident where Israel was rejecting the government of God by asking instead for a more human government embodied in the form of a human king. In a larger sense, however, God was looking down through the eons of time for the whole human race and saying that virtually all humanity has rejected God from ruling over them. They have rejected his laws and statutes, his judgments and principles, and his administrative officers embodied in his judges, his prophets, his apostles, and his Son.

As we know, Israel was to be God’s model society for the world. They were to exemplify God’s way of life that leads to peace and well-being for the benefit of all mankind. We can read of God’s aspirations for His people Israel in Deuteronomy 4:5.

(Deu 4:5-8 NASB) "See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. {6} "So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' {7} "For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him? {8} "Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?"

Over the course of forty years of wandering in the wilderness, God began building his society and instructing his people in his way of life that was established in their best interests and for their own good. God instructed Israel in his laws, his statutes and his judgments, which we just read were deemed as being "righteous." Let’s explore one subject God addressed in His righteous laws where he set up a proper structure for the benefit of Israel.

We know through a study of secular history that slavery has existed almost as long as people have existed. Through much of the course of history, there have been many examples of man’s enslavement of his fellow man. We’ve seen previously, though, that mankind voluntarily cut himself off from God and, thus, voluntarily cut himself off from the proper knowledge that can only come from God about the right way to structure his society. I know that slavery is a very touchy subject in the western world, particularly in the United States. So much of the history of this country was built on the unrighteous enslavement of minorities. As we’ve said, mankind cut off from God and left to his own devices, is bound to pervert something which might have been intended by God to be a benefit to many. Let’s see what we can learn by the examples for us in scripture on this subject. You'll probably be surprised to find that what you formerly might have viewed as only being negative, might actually contain some positives. As we go through this study today, keep in mind what Paul wrote in Romans 15:4.

(Rom 15:4 NASB) For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

So, remember that the "type" laid down in the Law of God also foreshadows for us an "anti-type" in the future.

There are three words used in the Old Testament that talk about slavery or servitude. The first, and base root of others, is the verb abad. It is Strong's #5647 "abad, to work or to serve."

In Vine's Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, we read the following about the word abad.

"abad… ‘to serve, cultivate, enslave, work.’ This root is used widely in Semitic and Canaanite languages. This verb appears about 290 times in all parts of the Old Testament. The verb is first used in Gen. 2:5 ‘...and there was not a man to till the ground.’ God gave to man the task ‘to dress.’ In Gen. 14:4 ‘they served Chedorlaomer...’ means that they were his vassals. God told Abraham that his descendants would ‘serve’ the people of a strange land 400 years, meaning, as in the NIV, ‘to be enslaved by’ [Vine’s, article Service]."

I don't think anyone would argue that the "service" the Israelites provided the Egyptians, especially at the time of the Exodus, was anything less than what we would today regard as harsh slavery.

The most often-used Hebrew word for slave or servant is also from abad. It is the noun ebed. It is Strong's #5650 and it is defined by the New American Standard Bible Dictionary as: "ebed: a slave, or a servant."

We can read the following in Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words about the word, ebed.

"`ebed… ‘servant.’ This noun appears over 750 times in the Old Testament. `Ebed first appears in Gen. 9:25 [where it states] ‘...a servant of servants shall he [that is, Canaan] be unto his brethren, ‘meaning ‘the lowest of slaves’… The ‘servant’ was not a free man. He was subject to the will and command of his master. But one might willingly and lovingly submit to his master [as in] Exodus 21:5, remaining in his service when he was not obliged to do so. Hence it is a very fitting description of the relationship of man to God [Vine's, article Service].’

The first specific example of slavery we find in scripture is in Genesis 9:24 where Noah pronounces a curse on Canaan, Noah's grandson through Ham. We just read an excerpt in Vine’s definition but now let’s read the whole quotation of Noah.

(Gen 9:24-27 NASB) When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. {25} So he said, "Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants He shall be to his brothers." {26} He also said, "Blessed be the LORD, The God of Shem; And let Canaan be his servant. {27} "May God enlarge Japheth, And let him dwell in the tents of Shem; And let Canaan be his servant."

In those four verses of Genesis, each instance of the word translated "servant" is from the Hebrew word ebed. The pronouncement to be "a slave of slaves" was to be the lowest of slaves. Much archeological evidence unearthed throughout the land of Canaan also clearly shows the depravity of the Canaanites.

 

Valuation of a Slave

In Leviticus 27, there was a monetary value given by God to persons of different ages and sexes.

(Lev 27:1-8 NASB) Again, the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {2} "Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, 'When a man makes a difficult vow, he shall be valued according to your valuation of persons belonging to the LORD. {3} 'If your valuation is of the male from twenty years even to sixty years old, then your valuation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary. {4} 'Or if it is a female, then your valuation shall be thirty shekels. {5} 'And if it be from five years even to twenty years old then your valuation for the male shall be twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels. {6} 'But if they are from a month even up to five years old, then your valuation shall be five shekels of silver for the male, and for the female your valuation shall be three shekels of silver. {7} 'And if they are from sixty years old and upward, if it is a male, then your valuation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels. {8} 'But if he is poorer than your valuation, then he shall be placed before the priest, and the priest shall value him; according to the means of the one who vowed, the priest shall value him.

In Exodus 21:32, there was a valuation standard for slaves, as well.

(Exo 21:32 NASB) "If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall give his or her master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

We find another example of slavery in Genesis 37:28 concerning Joseph, the son of Israel. We can see that the valuation standard, as being a male under twenty years, was applied to him when his brothers sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Midianite traders.

(Gen 37:28 NASB) Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.

A little later in verse 36, we can see what the Midianites did to Joseph once they were in Egypt.

(Gen 37:36 NASB) Meanwhile, the Midianites sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh's officer, the captain of the bodyguard.

So, we see that Joseph was sold for money (or goods) in Egypt by the Midianites. In fact, as we can read in Gen 39:17, that Joseph was regarded as a slave in the household of Potiphar, the Egyptian, even by Potiphar's wife.

(Gen 39:17-20 NASB) Then she spoke to him with these words, "The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me; {18} and it happened as I raised my voice and screamed, that he left his garment beside me and fled outside." {19} Now it came about when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, "This is what your slave did to me," that his anger burned. {20} So Joseph's master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king's prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail.

 

The Rights of Ownership

We also find that even Abraham, the "friend of God," had many slaves. The herdsmen of Abraham spoken of in Genesis were Abraham’s slaves. They were of his household. Even Hagar, spoken of as "Sarah’s maid" was actually Sarah’s personal slave.

In Strong's Hebrew Dictionary, we can read about the word translated into English as "handmaid." It is Strong's #8198 "shiphchah, a female slave (as a member of the household)." This is the same word that is translated "bondwomen" in other places in the Old Testament.

As such, Hagar was Sarai's property and was under the direction of Sarai. Female slaves could be taken as wives by their masters or given to others in the household as wives. Sarai gave Hagar to Abraham as his wife, which was Sarai's right to do as the master and owner of Hagar.

Many of Abraham’s slaves became Isaac’s slaves through the inheritance of Abraham’s estate. It was different, however, when Isaac married Rebekah. Rebekah did not come to Isaac with handmaids or personal slaves. In Genesis 24:60-61, she came, instead, with what the King James Version simply calls "damsels."

(Gen 24:60-61 KJV) And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them. {61} And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.

The Hebrew word translated into the English word "damsels" is Strong's #5291. It is na'arah, which means a girl (from infancy to adolescence). So, we see the girls who accompanied Rebekah when she left Padan-aram to marry Isaac where not of the same status as "handmaids" or slaves.

On the other hand, in Genesis 29:24, note that when Jacob married Leah and Rachel, each wife came with a "handmaid," who was her slave.

(Gen 29:24,29 KJV) And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah, Zilpah his maid for an handmaid… {29} And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter, Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.

So, we see Laban gave each of his daughters a shiphchah who had each been Laban's shiphchah.

In due time, both Leah and Rachel exercised their prerogatives as masters and owners of slaves to each give her slave girl to be married to Jacob. It may seem strange to us now, but it was the master's right to give a slave girl in marriage to another one of the same household.

A completely different word, however, was used in reference to temporary workers. That word was sakiyr and it is Strong's #7916. Sakiyr is defined in Strong's Hebrew Dictionary as "sakiyr; a man at wages by the day or year." It is from the root sakar, Strong's #7936 "to hire." However you look at it, sakiyr is a temporary hire and is often translated in the KJV as "hireling."

In addition to many specific occurrences of slavery in scripture, don't forget that our fathers (speaking either physically of some of us or spiritually of all of us in the Church) were captive slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. In Exodus 13:3, God even speaks of it as such.

(Exo 13:3 NASB) And Moses said to the people, "Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the LORD brought you out from this place.

Read that again. "Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the LORD brought you out from this place."

 

Godly Ordinances

When God laid down his laws, his statutes and his judgments before the people of Israel, he was outlining a complete code of acceptable behavior for his people. Beginning in Exodus 21, not only did God set forth the "do not's" that were unacceptable to him but God also put in place the positive "do's" of daily behavior that were pleasing in his sight.

(Exo 21:1-11 NASB) "Now these are the ordinances which you are to set before them. {2} "If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment. {3} "If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him. {4} "If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone. {5} "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. {7} "And if a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do. {8} "If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her. {9} "And if he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. {10} "If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. {11} "And if he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.

In Leviticus 25:35, we can read more of God’s ordinances dealing with slaves.

(Lev 25:35-55 NASB) 'Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. {36} 'Do not take usurious interest from him, but revere your God, that your countryman may live with you. {37} 'You shall not give him your silver at interest, nor your food for gain. {38} 'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God. {39} 'And if a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to you that he sells himself to you, you shall not subject him to a slave's service. {40} 'He shall be with you as a hired man, as if he were a sojourner; he shall serve with you until the year of jubilee. {41} 'He shall then go out from you, he and his sons with him, and shall go back to his family, that he may return to the property of his forefathers. {42} 'For they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt; they are not to be sold in a slave sale. {43} 'You shall not rule over him with severity, but are to revere your God. {44} 'As for your male and female slaves whom you may have-- you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. {45} 'Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession. {46} 'You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. But in respect to your countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another. {47} 'Now if the means of a stranger or of a sojourner with you becomes sufficient, and a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to him as to sell himself to a stranger who is sojourning with you, or to the descendants of a stranger's family, {48} then he shall have redemption right after he has been sold. One of his brothers may redeem him, {49} or his uncle, or his uncle's son, may redeem him, or one of his blood relatives from his family may redeem him; or if he prospers, he may redeem himself. {50} 'He then with his purchaser shall calculate from the year when he sold himself to him up to the year of jubilee; and the price of his sale shall correspond to the number of years. It is like the days of a hired man that he shall be with him. {51} 'If there are still many years, he shall refund part of his purchase price in proportion to them for his own redemption; {52} and if few years remain until the year of jubilee, he shall so calculate with him. In proportion to his years he is to refund the amount for his redemption. {53} 'Like a man hired year by year he shall be with him; he shall not rule over him with severity in your sight. {54} 'Even if he is not redeemed by these means, he shall still go out in the year of jubilee, he and his sons with him. {55} 'For the sons of Israel are My servants; they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

 

New Testament Examples of Slavery

Again, I want to mention that the history of the human race is a record to us of how slavery, in the hands of man, has been an ongoing example of man's inhumanity to man. Man, left to his own devices and cut off from God, has misused and mismanaged a tool provided by God to be a benefit to many.

Remember what we read earlier when Paul stated for us in Romans the purpose of scriptural examples. He said, "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

We can see several examples from the New Testament showing us society's attitude regarding slavery, along with the duties and functions of a slave.

(Mat 8:5-9 NASB) And when He [that is, Jesus] had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, entreating Him, {6} and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering great pain." {7} And He said to him, "I will come and heal him." {8} But the centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. {9} "For I, too, am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it."

Look at that example. It shows, on the part of the centurion, how slaves were expected to do the bidding of their masters. There was no doubt about it, "and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it." It was simply the master's expectation of obedience.

What about Christ's attitude regarding slavery? In Matthew 10:24, we can see what he thought about the duties and functions of a slave.

(Mat 10:24-25 NASB) "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. {25} "It is enough for the disciple that he become as his teacher, and the slave as his master."

Look at another example of relations between slaves and a king as well as the relations between fellow slaves, shown in Matthew 18:23.

(Mat 18:23-35 NASB) "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. {24} "And when he had begun to settle them, there was brought to him one who owed him ten thousand talents. {25} "But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. {26} "The slave therefore falling down, prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything.' {27} "And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. {28} "But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.' {29} "So his fellow slave fell down and began to entreat him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.' {30} "He was unwilling however, but went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. {31} "So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. {32} "Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. {33} 'Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?' {34} "And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. {35} "So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."

In Matthew 21:33, we again see slaves doing the bidding and the will of the master.

(Mat 21:33-43 NASB) "Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey. {34} "And when the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. {35} "And the vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. {36} "Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. {37} "But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' {38} "But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and seize his inheritance.' {39} "And they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. {40} "Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?" {41} They said to Him, "He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons." {42} Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures, 'THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES'? {43} "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.

In Matthew 22, it is also the task of slaves to bring guests to the wedding feast.

(Mat 22:1-10 NASB) And Jesus answered and spoke to them again in parables, saying, {2} "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son. {3} "And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. {4} "Again he sent out other slaves saying, 'Tell those who have been invited, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast."' {5} "But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, {6} and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. {7} "But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire. {8} "Then he said to his slaves, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. {9} 'Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.' {10} "And those slaves went out into the streets, and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.

In Matthew 24:42, we can see it is also the expected task of slaves to keep and feed the members of the master's household.

(Mat 24:42-51 NASB) "Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. {43} "But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. {44} "For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. {45} "Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? {46} "Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. {47} "Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. {48} "But if that evil slave says in his heart, 'My master is not coming for a long time,' {49} and shall begin to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; {50} the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, {51} and shall cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth.

In Matthew 25:14 in the parable of the talents, it was the duty of each slave to increase the talent of responsibilities given to him.

(Mat 25:14-28 NASB) "For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves, and entrusted his possessions to them. {15} "And to one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. {16} "Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. {17} "In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. {18} "But he who received the one talent went away and dug in the ground, and hid his master's money. {19} "Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. {20} "And the one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, 'Master, you entrusted five talents to me; see, I have gained five more talents.' {21} "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.' {22} "The one also who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted to me two talents; see, I have gained two more talents.' {23} "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' {24} "And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed. {25} 'And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground; see, you have what is yours.' {26} "But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed. {27} 'Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. {28} 'Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.'

 

Slaves of Righteousness

In Luke 17:7, we can see that we must not only do what is expected of us through obedience; we must go beyond mere obedience.

(Luke 17:7-10 NASB) "But which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come immediately and sit down to eat'? {8} "But will he not say to him, 'Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me until I have eaten and drunk; and afterward you will eat and drink'? {9} "He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? {10} "So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'"

Look at that. This scripture is one of the most pregnant with implications in the whole Bible. Look at verse ten again.

(Luke 17:10 NASB) "So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'"

What does it mean to be "an unworthy slave?" The answer lies later in the same verse. We are unworthy slaves when we have done only that which we ought to have done.

For those of us in the Church for any length of time, we know those things which we "ought to have done." We are to keep the commandments of God. Specifically, we are to keep the ten commandments of God as stated to us in Exodus 20 and restated in Deuteronomy 5. Let’s look at them again.

(Deu 5:6 NASB) 'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

{7} 'You shall have no other gods before Me.

{8} 'You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. {9} 'You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, {10} but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

{11} 'You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

{12} 'Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. {13} 'Six days you shall labor and do all your work, {14} but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. {15} 'And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.

{16} 'Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.

{17} 'You shall not murder.

{18} 'You shall not commit adultery.

{19} 'You shall not steal.

{20} 'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

{21} 'You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.'

In Deuteronomy 4:1, remember how Moses warned our fathers of the implications of keeping the commandments, the statutes and the judgments of God which were given to us for our own good.

(Deu 4:1-2 NASB) "And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, in order that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. {2} "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Skip down to verse five.

(Deu 4:5-9 NASB) "See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. {6} "So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' {7} "For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him? {8} "Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today? {9} "Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.

Earlier we read, in order to be deemed a "profitable slave," we must go beyond doing merely what we "ought to have done." In Matthew 5, Christ went beyond the mere "letter of the law" when he spoke of the spiritual implications of the laws of God in the beatitudes.

(Mat 5:14-48 NASB) "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. {15} "Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. {16} "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. {17} "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. {18} "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. {19} "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. {20} "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. {21} "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' {22} "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. {23} "If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, {24} leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. {25} "Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. {26} "Truly I say to you, you shall not come out of there, until you have paid up the last cent. {27} "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; {28} but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. {29} "And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. {30} "And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell. {31} "And it was said, 'WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE'; {32} but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. {33} "Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.' {34} "But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, {35} or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. {36} "Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. {37} "But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; and anything beyond these is of evil. {38} "You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.' {39} "But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. {40} "And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. {41} "And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two. {42} "Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. {43} "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy.' {44} "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you {45} in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. {46} "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? {47} "And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? {48} "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

That’s the key: "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

In James 1:12, James addressed the subject of going above and beyond what is merely required of us.

(James 1:12-27 NASB) Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. {13} Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. {14} But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. {15} Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. {16} Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. {17} Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. {18} In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures. {19} This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; {20} for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. {21} Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. {22} But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. {23} For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; {24} for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. {25} But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does. {26} If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. {27} This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

In John 8:34, Christ addressed the subject of the relation between a slave and his master.

(John 8:34-36 NASB) Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. {35} "And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. {36} "If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.

What did Jesus say it meant to be a spiritual slave and what are its implications? He said it is the Son who inherits the estate and the authority of the Father. Therefore, it is the Son who comes to possess the power to set free those slaves who were in bondage.

In John 13:13, we can see that we are also to follow the examples shown to us by our Master.

(John 13:13-17 NASB) "You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. {14} "If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. {15} "For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. {16} "Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master; neither is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. {17} "If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

In John 15:12, at the end of his earthly ministry, Christ gave his disciples (and us) a new, additional commandment.

(John 15:12-15 NASB) "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. {13} "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. {14} "You are My friends, if you do what I command you. {15} "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

In Romans 6, Paul really spoke to the heart of the matter of what it meant to be enslaved to a life of sin, as is the world around us.

(Rom 6:1-20 NASB) What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? {2} May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? {3} Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? {4} Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. {5} For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, {6} knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; {7} for he who has died is freed from sin. {8} Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, {9} knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. {10} For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. {11} Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. {12} Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, {13} and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. {14} For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. {15} What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! {16} Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? {17} But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, {18} and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. {19} I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. {20} For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

So, we can see that we were slaves of sin and slaves to the master of sin, who is Satan the Devil. We perpetually did the desires of Satan by doing the bidding of sin, which was in us. Things should be different now. We are no longer Satan's slaves. We have been bought by another master and we are expected to do the bidding of our new master. That is our new duty. We just read how Paul stated that we are now slaves to righteousness. Righteousness comes from God, the Father. He is the creator and source of righteousness and the doing of righteousness is his pleasure. It is our duty to do what is pleasing to our new master.

 

Next time, we'll explore more about how we came to be owned by a new master and we’ll explore more of our specific duties and responsibilities to our new master.

 

 

 

Sermon by Philip Edwards

25  November 2006

 

Copyright © 2006, Philip Edwards 

 
 

 

 

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