I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright.
Yesterday was Easter Sunday. We enjoyed a splendid dinner with our two youngest daughters and three guests. The highlight of the meal was the inclusion of three elements of the Passover —Lamb, Matzoh Bread and Bitter Herbs (a new experience for us). Each of these foods is symbolic of an aspect of the Exodus of the Nation of Israel from Egypt.
So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage… Exodus 1:14-15a
The Exodus occurred after 215 years of enslavement at the hands of powerful Pharaohs of this ancient empire. Oppressive bondage and harsh treatment caused the Children of Israel to cry out for deliverance and the Lord God Jehovah mercifully intervened to provide for their freedom. The Passover marked God’s emancipation of His people.
As the Israelites prepared to leave Egypt on their journey toward becoming a free nation, God instructed them to commemorate the event by observing the Feast of Passover. The inclusion of bitter herbs was to be a reminder of the bitterness of slavery —lest they forget what He had done in liberating them.
Yet even with such a poignant reminder, Israel struggled to overcome the mindset of slavery and wholeheartedly embrace freedom. At times they even gazed back fondly at Egypt, tempted to return to their former masters.
Our own country’s history taught us is that emancipation can be more complex than one might imagine. The end of slavery technically began when Abraham Lincoln decreed abolition in his ‘Emancipation Proclamation’ (January 1, 1863). It would be years, however, before freedom reigned in this Land.
Some slaves embraced freedom; running as fast and as far as they could from slavery and everything associated with it. Some could not wait for emancipation but chose to chase after freedom, risking everything as runaway slaves. Yet others, while technically emancipated, never became truly free. They continued to walk with head hung low and eyes to the ground, living in the shadow of bondage. Some even chose to remain in service to their former masters, never claiming the fullness of freedom that was rightfully theirs.
Why? There is one simple reason: they were born slaves. Never having known any other identity, they were unable to envision themselves as free men.
By God’s grace, you and I never experienced slavery; at least not in the physical sense. But the Bible makes it clear that we were slaves nonetheless —captives of the sin nature into which we were born. Only Adam was “born” a freeman. The rest of humanity entered the world as spiritual slaves. Furthermore, just as a slave fears his master, we were also in bondage to the fear of death, the inevitable penalty for sin.
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Hebrews 2:14-15
Long before Lincoln penned his famous executive order, there was another emancipation proclamation issued —an eternal proclamation transcending all political, geographical, cultural and temporal boundaries. With all authority on heaven and earth, Jesus proclaimed…
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound…“ Isaiah 61:1
If you have chosen to follow Jesus, you have been emancipated. The price for your freedom has been paid. Though in our flesh we were born into slavery, we have been born again into freedom from sin and freedom from the bondage of fear. We have citizenship in the kingdom of heaven and are joint heir to its riches and the authority to walk in power and liberty.
Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir of God through Christ. Galatians 4:7
So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. Galatians 4:31 [Gal 4:21-31]
Unfortunately, just as Israel was in danger of forgetting the sweet freedom they had been given, we are in danger of forgetting what it means to be free from sin. All too readily we look over our shoulder and are tempted to return to the land of slavery.
“And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”… “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed”. John 8:32-36
How many believers do you know that walk in true liberty and victory? Why do we continue to live like slaves? I believe it has to do with how we perceive ourselves. We are born slaves and as a result have the mindset of a slave. The ‘lens’ through which we see ourselves is the legacy of our sinful heritage. It is the nature we instinctively revert to unless we intentionally embrace our freedom.
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15
Walking out our lives as though we have been emancipated requires a change of mindset, a transformation in our thinking. The lens of slavery must be replaced by the lens of Truth. Such transformation occurs as we read and meditate on the Word of Truth, allowing God’s word to renew our mind.
…then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Deuteronomy 6:12
Freedom is a choice. Jesus desires us to walk in the power and freedom He purchased for us with His own blood. We must CHOOSE to live as one who has been emancipated from the grip of sin.
Stand therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1