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Good Morning.

And if one of your brethren who dwells by you becomes poor, and sells himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave. As a hired servant and a sojourner he shall be with you, and shall serve you until the Year of Jubilee. (Leviticus 25:39-40)

Slavery, as we perceive it, is fundamentally evil and so how do we reconcile an evil practice with the goodness of God given that He acknowledges “slavery” among His people. First of all, what is addressed in the Torah is very different than what slavery was in other systems of the ancient world. For that matter, it is completely  different than what existed in America up until the 19th century. Consider that Eliezer, a servant to Abraham, was treated with great respect and was entrusted with much. In short, was this man a slave or a servant?

Moreover, any master who treated his servants cruelly risked losing the service of that person. For instance, if a master caused serious injury to a slave, that injury secured the servant’s freedom. In other words, even though the Bible acknowledges that people were sometimes compelled to enter into someone’s service, they were not to be considered slaves in the now accepted sense of the word. They didn’t lose their status in the community and they were not excused from keeping the commands. In short, regardless of their financial and social status, they were to be treated with kindness and consideration.

So what message does this contain for us as followers of Messiah? First of all, as we have been addressing lately, we need to be careful to treat everyone with kindness and respect and be willing to lend assistance to them when we can. Perhaps these commands should also cause us to reflect on the fact that we are supposed to be servants (slaves if you will) to our Master, the Messiah. Therefore, if He compelled earthly masters to treat their servants with kindness, should we not expect that He would treat us in the same way? Does He not show us consideration in our daily lives?

So then, as servants, should we not show Him the commitment and devotion due our Master? And if so, should it not be done willingly and out of love for Him rather than being forced behavior against our will? I’ll sum it up using the words of Messiah: “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”

Blessings and Shalom,  




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