Slavery And The Law

Ezekiel 18:29 – Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?

Job 38:2 – Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?

Job 40:8 – Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?

1 Timothy 1:9 – Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

Here is a favorite of unbelievers. How could a good and loving God allow slavery!? Christians can often be intimidated by a question such as this, when people delve back into the Old Testament law to try and win an argument, or self excuse or self justify whatever selfish position they hold. We know that people that hate God love to attempt to use the Scripture against God. After all, none other than their spiritual father, the devil, did the same to Jesus. Satan used Bible three times against Jesus in the temptation. So we know that the devil knows the Bible, so do you know the Bible yourself, because the Word of God is your only defense against him. In response to the devil, Jesus quoted scripture, and where the devil used the Bible to try and trip him up, Jesus used the scripture to defeat him. It is one thing to read, it is another thing to have understanding, ask God for wisdom, ask him without doubting, without wavering as James says. Without the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit, how can you do battle with the devil, how can you resist him and cause him to flee from you?

The Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the law. The law was not designed to save but rather to reveal to us the seriousness of sin, the price of sin and enable us to begin to grasp the importance of what Jesus did on the cross. For instance, the law showed us that atonement must be made for sins of our ignorance. There are many sins that we do, that we do not even know that we do. All sin must and has been paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ, he forgives all our sin, both what we know and what we don’t know. The law is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. The Bible says it was a fiery law yes, merciless yes, but we have to see how sinful we are and the severe penalty of sin and the utter holiness, wrath and judgement of God before we see a need for a Saviour, otherwise whats the point of Jesus Christ? Even if Gods law is not right to you, you are in no position to make the judgement or exalt your version of righteousness over his.Whose to say his way which you think is wrong is worse than the current human way? For example the prison system, which is wretched. It teaches people how to be even worse people, it turns people into animals, it is a place of rampant spiritual wickedness and devil activity. God’s way is above man’s way, and just maybe God’s law is actually far better, with restitution (for example giving back what you stole), public punishment there and then (not being cruelly locked up for x number of years in a cell), and the death penalty – maybe we would have a better society when people think twice about breaking the law? God’s law is greater than man. God is greater than man.

The Pharisees, religious elite, lawyers thought they could trip up Jesus with the law. That is why all must read for themselves, in humility asking God for understanding, don’t use arguments based on what someone else has said in their ignorance. Read what Jesus said about the law and what the New Testament says about its relevance to us today. But we are going to discuss the specific issue of slavery as this is a common one and one usually not answered well or evaded by many Christians, real or not I do not know – maybe they just do not know the Bible for themselves. God did not create slavery, it was not his design for humanity or any of his creation, slavery does not exist in a world free of the ravages of sin, slavery only exists in this sin cursed world, sin that was brought into the world by Adam, the first man. Slavery is as real and painful as death, as suffering, as pain. We and the whole creation groan under the weight of sin. Jesus took the sins of the whole world, past, present, future, upon himself. Firstly Gods own nation Israel were slaves more than any other nation, God used slavery to bring them back to him, repeatedly letting them go into captivity because they forsook him. Israel would forsake God, God would send them prophets that would warn them to repent and turn back to God, but they gave them no heed, in fact they killed them. God judged Israel severely and used going into slavery to finally get their attention. God also used slavery to judge other nations to likewise bring them to repentance because they were unimaginably evil and wicked. And that’s what’s so easily overlooked and forgotten, these nations were so wicked we cannot fathom it, they killed their own children for selfish gain (sound like anything today?) they committed every abomination, they were so bad that God commanded Israel to wipe entire nations out. God used slavery to bring people to repentance, to make them forsake their evil ways, it was a way he got their attention, because a God that does not judge and judge righteously is a God not needed, not respected, not to be feared. Healthy fear and respect is good, and Biblical.

Israel were slaves, and Israel also took slaves. However God gave laws which governed the process, such as the treatment of slaves, and slaves of Israel were most definitely not treated like Israel was by them (go to World War 2 to see a more recent example – the Germans desperately wanted to surrender to the Americans not the Russians – why do you think so?). God’s law also provided means to their freedom. God’s laws protected them and in actual fact for many slaves of Israel, conditions as a slave were far better than in their own nation as a “free person”, so they often preferred to stay a slave. Does God love slavery? No. But he did provide a means to managing sinful human society and reality. And his ways, his righteousness is better than any alternative. His ways work, because he is the designer, he is the Creator.

We know that Moses gave a bill of divorce which Jesus said was because of the hardness of their hearts. But Jesus said that was not how it was meant to be, Jesus took them back to the beginning, which defines marriage between one man and one woman etc. Jesus said, What God has joined together, let no man put asunder. What does this all mean? God has righteous amazing intentions for marriage, but unrighteous sinful humans are sinful. God gave laws to govern sinful Israel and sinful humanity. And this brings us to 1 Timothy 1:9, quoted above. God’s law is for sinners, not the righteous. Righteous people do not require God’s law. This may or not be hard to grasp, ask God to show you what it means. If we were not wicked, vile sinners we would not require the law, because we would already keep it. For example in an ideal world where no sin is present we would all love each other, and noone would do anything wrong. Unfortunately we humans exist in a reality where we are all nasty sinners. God gave the law because of the sin of humanity. God’s law governed sinful Israel, turning a wretched non existent insignificant nation into a powerhouse of the world. Through the law, they were the head of the nations. Deuteronomy 4:6 – Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.

It is God’s creation, he can judge it as he sees fit, he makes the rules. That’s why his way is the way that works. Gods law governed sinful humanity and Israel prospered immeasurably when they obeyed.Slavery is part of reality, in a world without sin, which is not God’s fault, slavery would not exist. Slavery can be both physical and spiritual. Spiritual slavery is more important in addressing, and we can learn great spiritual truths from the law. As Paul said, the law is spiritual, but we are carnal, sold under sin. We are all spiritually slaves of sin, that’s why we need to be born again. That’s why Jesus came to set the prisoners free. He fulfilled the law, he gave us his spirit. He gives his grace and life freely. He gives life, and gives it more abundantly. It is unfathomable, Gods truth cannot be received through worldly wisdom and intellect. As Christians, saved believers, we are no longer under the law but under grace. We now have freedom and liberty no unbeliever can fathom, but it is not an excuse to sin (this is called turning God’s grace into lasciviousness – which so many do and which really proves they are not saved as God’s grace does not make us want to sin but rather enables us to obey him). We “do” because we want to, because we love him, because we are forgiven, because we have a new creature in us, born of God.

The law was fiery and merciless and harsh yes, but its what sinful humanity required to bring us to our Saviour, to humble ourselves, to make us see that we need mercy, that we are sinful, wicked, dark and fallen. We must be broken first before we can be healed. Sin must be personally acknowledged and owned before it then can be dealt with, which through Jesus it can be. The Bible says – For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Do you want to be under law or under grace? Do you want Mount Sinai or Heavenly Jerusalem? Are you an Ishmael or an Isaac? Are you a child of the bondwoman or a child of the freewoman, a child of promise? Do you want the Old Covenant or the New Covenant? Do you want to be set free? Jesus frees the slaves, there are no slaves in heaven. Do you truly want to be freed? You must be spiritually freed from your slavery to Satan, to the world, to sin. Only Jesus can do this, the Lord Jesus Christ is the WAY, the TRUTH, the LIFE. Jesus said, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. He is all powerful, he is the Almighty.

Luke 4:17 – And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

Luke 4:18 – The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

Luke 4:19 -To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Luke 4:20 – And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

Luke 4:21 – And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

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