December 2, 2022
“The entire Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, if only we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt...”
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“The entire Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, if only we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted. Instead, you brought us into this desert to make this whole assembly die of hunger!’” Exodus 16:2-3
We generally think of “slave life” as a constant stream of whipping and starvation. In actuality, the Library of Congress has compiled first-hand accounts by American Civil War-era slaves, who describe a very different way of life.
To be sure, I am not advocating slavery or seeking to absolve slave owners of their moral injustices. I am simply relaying the testimonies of those who lived the life of slaves.
It helps to understand that slaves were forced laborers. No slave owner, concerned about making a profit, would deprive or abuse his “property” to the point that it reduced productivity. Rather, the slaves were clothed, housed, and fed. Not luxuriously, by any means, but the basics would be there.
Not only is slavery a high moral crime, but it is also bad business. It has been proven that free workers are far more efficient than slave labor. Yet, the myth of slavery (free labor) will always entice throughout the generations. Part of what makes slavery inefficient for the “master” is how enslavement affects a person’s spirit. Slaves become crafty. They become quite adept at working just hard enough to avoid the whip. Take away a man’s freedom, and he loses self-worth, initiative, and discipline.
Biblical slavery, as God allows for the community of Israel in His Torah, is the freewill “indentured” type, not forced slavery. While the New Testament refers to believers as “slaves,” it also calls followers of Jesus “disciples.” We are also described as co-inheritors with Messiah, rights & privileges not typically bestowed upon slaves. The simple meaning of “disciple” is “one who disciplines himself to follow.” This is precisely why God led Israel through the desert: He was weaning Israel from slave life, slave mentality, slave ethics, etc., and teaching them to be disciplined and devoted to Him.
While still a “youth,” the nation of Israel is led through difficult circumstances…desert after desert. Their responses to adversity exposed their craftiness, unrighteousness, and spiritual immaturity.
What difficult circumstances has God led you through lately? Have you “disciplined” your walk to condition a response that honors the name He has given you: Redeemed? Or do you still long for the dysfunctional comfort, the certain slow death of sin’s bondage from whatever “Egypt” you were delivered?