I’m looking at the perspective of the Hebrew person who was rescued out of slavery in Egypt and trying to adapt to freedom.
I’m writing to scrutinise scripture rather than simply as a personal reflection, because we are living in a society combating prejudice against historic slavery but often with bias.
I’m writing, hoping to bring awareness to myself and to anyone reading, about how GOD’s perspective is from a completely different angle to ours and we need, I believe, to learn to look from His perspective in all matters.
I’m looking at Deuteronomy 6
The written record has just reiterated the 10 Commandments in Chapter 5. In Chapter 6 here is some of the language GOD uses to address those who will go into the Promised Land with Joshua after Moses has died…
“Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you… “ (v 3a)
“… when you have eaten and are full — then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, from the house of bondage. You shall fear the LORD your GOD and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other people’s gods….” (v 12b-14a)
“You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your GOD, His testimonies, and His statutes which He has commanded you.” (v 17)
The language is conditional, bossy, abrupt, direct and without any subtly… because these “children” though descendants of their fathers who were in slavery, have not recovered and are not accustomed to freedom.
The instructions are clear, avoiding any doubt or confusion: the behaviour expected is a bit prescribed, because they have descended from slaves and are accustomed to strict instructions. It would seem that that is what they felt safe with so far…
What is important to note
Slavery is constrictive, and it forces boundaries. But boundaries in themselves are not necessarily bad. These Hebrew people will be going into the Promised Land where the cities will be taken from others and they will not need to build. The land will offer delicious food — it is the Land flowing with Milk and Honey. They will have absolute freedom, which they have never experienced before.
Freedom is the ability to make decisions and choices without any inhibitions or barriers. GOD is offering boundaries as a means of protection to those who’ve not experienced freedom.
Freedom with Responsibility is what we all need
While we may prefer freedom, our downfall occurs when we have freedom and handle it badly, making dreadful mistakes. We can learn from any mistake but some mistakes are better not to make. GOD sets boundaries to protect us: To love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself.
Holy Spirit and Boundaries
When we are filled with and walk with and are in partnership with the Holy Spirit, there is total freedom because Holy Spirit within us is our safeguard from error. Ignoring Him brings unpleasant consequences and spiritual death. Walking with Him brings protection and life!
Slavery is horrible bondage. But absolute freedom is risky; a sense of responsibility can protect us from ourselves.
From Slavery to Freedom
Historically, although the Hebrews gained their freedom it took a long time for them to grow accustomed to walking in it. They needed GOD’s boundaries and they needed to be thankful. Instead they often grumbled, doubted, complained, disobeyed. Today, let us enjoy the liberty and freedom we have without forgetting who GOD is and what He has done through Jesus for us.
Sometimes scripture is cited ‘we are slaves for Christ’… that is not so that we obey the Law. It is not so that we feel condemnation when we err. It is so that we can enjoy belonging to Him and utilise boundaries so that we can enjoy our GOD-given freedom with responsibility.