Advent Journey Day 18
From Slave to Free
Freely they came, Slaves they became, Free they would become.
God sent Moses to draw out Israel so they could worship Him. They needed to shift from slave to free. As difficult as Egypt was, it was an isolated womb. They were entering the world. The birth of the Nation of Israel started with the plagues. Like an infant, they left Egypt dependent on external care, a slave to those in power. In the wilderness they would be transformed to a nation of Laws and Justice.
In Egypt the Israelite’s lived separate – isolated from the Egyptians. They were governed by Pharaoh and controlled by task-masters. All they knew was slavery. What to do, how to do it, when to do it, what to eat, how much to eat were all controlled by an external source. They couldn’t even determine when to get up or when to go to bed. Being separated from Egypt’s control was uncomfortable.
Never before or after has a nation walked away from a situation of bondage without the struggle of war.
God waged war on their behalf with signs and plagues. The final blow was killing the first-born of every person and beast in Egypt. Israel walked away will no collateral damage but the spoils of gold, silver, and garments. They had been nit together into a unified nation but they carried a damage you couldn’t see.
Israel’s an easy target for ridicule when you read about the Exodus. The miracles they saw and the constant presence of God in the form of a cloud by day and fire by night seems sufficient evidence of God’s intervention and care. Yet time and again they grumble and complain. Questioning why they left the familiarity of Egypt. Egypt stunk but nothing was within their control or their responsibility. Even if they were punished, they could blame their lot as slaves.
Now they were facing personal responsibility. While a slave, acting against those ‘in charge’ was a subtle way to exercise freedom. As a free-man, acting against the situation was no one’s problem but the one who behaved badly. They had no concept of personal consequences. Now that they were physically free they had to mentally and emotionally shift from slave to free.
Who was to say what was acceptable and what wasn’t?
Israel was and will always be God’s people. God’s standard for justice is perfect. Moses was a man sent to bring them out of bondage, the exodus was only the first step.
God set the Israelite’s apart so He could be their God and they could be His people. The people through which His promise to Abraham would be fulfilled – to bless all nations, to send the Promised Son.
God redeemed them. Now they were free to serve God. They needed to learn how. It would be through God’s standard for Justice.
Clarity of Law
Three days into their journey the first lesson involved bitter water. They grumbled and looked back toward Egypt’s familiarity. This would become a common mantra during their walk to freedom.
If you have never heard anything like this ask a child to do something they have never done. It’s an excellent test of their thinking. They will do one of three things,
- Do it
- Try and fail
- Complain and grumble about fairness.
The first two are born from some confidence and encouragement that they are capable and may succeed. The third is a deflated dependent attitude. Moses’ job was to get the Israelite’s from level three to level one in their service to God.
The question then remains, who is wrong and who is good? What is the consequences of failure?
In order to serve God whose Judgments are True, we must know what is just and unjust. Without a defined standard everything is fluid and relative.
Tyranny – Freedom – Anarchy
Slavery is tyranny. Anarchy is lawlessness. Freedom is rooted in liberty with laws. Limits defined through laws protect freedoms with balance. Justice is exercised through laws.
The freedom to choose to serve God willingly is the cause leading to the Advent Son of Eve. Israel had to unlearn slavery while learning freedom. The mechanism to learn was the Law. With the law came God’s power and protection.
Adam and Eve were slaves in their ignorance and servitude to God. The tree of knowledge enlightened them and allowed them to see their position clearly. God set them free and evil flourished into anarchy. Good lost the structure of the law and justice. The wilderness journey is reestablishing law and justice with the consequences their freedom from bondage carries. Freedom has a cost.
God’s plan is moving forward. The Covenant stands, the Promise remains.
It’s your turn. Have you felt enslaved to something or someone? Have you moved from slave to free? Gained your freedom? What did you have to learn to stay free?
©2015 Elayne Cross