Slaves or Free?

October 6, 2021

Exodus 21.1-11

1 “These are the laws you are to set before them:

“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.

“If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.

Life never seems to meet up to our ideals.  Since Genesis 3 we can see that even worse, it does not meet up with God’s ideal future for us.  As he is working out the reversal of that in us and for us, he also makes a way for us to live better, even within our brokenness.  He gives us ways we can become the people we are called to be, to be able to live closer and closer to the way he intended from the beginning.

Our passage this morning speaks of slavery and how to treat those who are slaves.  Not because God wants the people to live in slavery – he has just freed them from slavery.  He sees that they are going to have to be moved from this way of being to a better way.  And we see that these laws about slaves are intended to protect people and to restore life to what it is meant to be.

First, we see that slavery is not meant to be permanent.  Seven years and the slave is set free.  Not the 400 years of slavery the people have just endured.  A short time of slavery is all that is allowed.  Because God has set them free so that they can be free.  It is a picture of God bringing grace in the midst of brokenness.

Then we see that there is a provision for one to be a permanent slave.  But only by choice.  We might not understand the choice one would make to live that way.  But the only way it is to happen is by the person who is the slave to request it and have it witnessed by the judges of the town or region.

And in this we see the promises of grace that come to us today.  In the first image we are not left to be slaves any longer, slaves to sin and the death that comes from it.  We have been set free by God’s grace in Jesus.  We don’t live bound to live in our selfish desires; we are set free to be the people of God we are created to be, who God calls us to be.

In that second image we see that we live as Paul speaks of in his letters.  On the one hand he says we are no longer slaves (not slaves to sin), he also says we are slaves (slaves to God).  See Romans 6.18-22

Paul speaks of the true freedom we have in Jesus.  Not to go after our own pleasures and desires.  But to live lives that show that we love God and that we love others.  Not bound by living for what we want to have, or what we want to do, but living so that others are able to see the love of God for them and his creation.  We have bound ourselves to God as we follow Jesus in his call to be his people.

SongI Will Follow


Lord Jesus, as we seek to follow you, help us to see how our lives are showing grace in all we do.  Help us to see how we protect those in need, how we comfort those who suffer, how we encourage the fearful.  Bring grace to us and through us.  In the name of Christ, Amen.

0 comments on “Slaves or Free?Add yours →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *