Free Slave

We are called the servants or the slaves of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the New Testament, the Greek term “dulos” which means slave is used to speak of His servants.
For example in Ephesians 6: 6 , the Greek word “dulos” or slaves is used to denote the “servants of Christ”.

We all know that we are set free by Jesus Christ from all bondages of slavery.
If we all are free from slavery, what kind of slaves are we to Christ?
The intention of this discussion is to find our correct position as slaves of Christ.
Let us draw our attention to three passages: Deuteronomy 15: 12-18; Exodus 21: 1-11 and Leviticus 25.
All these passages are about the Sabbatical year, the Jubilee year and the freedom declared to a slave from the debt and bondage.
A description of the sabbatical year is there in all these three passages and the Jubilee year is narrated in Leviticus 25
We are bringing together all these three passages for this study.

A detailed study of the Jubilee year is available in our video channel:
The video is titled: The Jubilee Year.
I recommend you to watch that video also along with this.
It will surely help you to understand better both the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee years.
Details narrated in that video is not repeated in this video.

The Sabbatical year and the Jubilee year are years of freedom from slavery.
A Jubilee year is an year of redemption from all debts
It is an year of restoration of Land which is protection, prosperity and rest.
The Jubilee year also has provisions to cancel debts and declare freedom to slaves.

An Israelite may become a bonded servant or a slave to another under different circumstances.
A farmer may go into debt because of a poor harvest.
He cannot pay back the creditor and has to sell his land to the creditor.
In worse conditions, the farmer may not be able to sustain himself or his family.
And he sells himself as a slave to the creditor.

The last extremity of an insolvent debtor, when his house or land was not sufficient to cancel his debt, was to be sold as a slave with his family.
There are circumstances that the debt of a Hebrew slave is beyond his capacity to pay back.
The creditor does not get his money back and the Hebrew slave has to serve him lifelong.
To avoid a lifelong slavery among the Israelites, God instituted the law of Jubilee Year.
There is a provision in God’s law for their freedom without paying back the debt.
All their debt will be cancelled.

Every Israelite is free-born.
But every Israelite is a bonded servant of God.
And so God has prohibited permanent slavery of a Hebrew.
A slave cannot serve two masters.
So a man sold to slavery may redeem himself by paying back the debt to the creditor.
He can pay back as money or work.

Even if they cannot pay back the redemption price, they obtained freedom, either after six years from the time of their sale or in every seventh year, that is the Sabbatical year.
In the year of Jubilee, all slaves were emancipated.

As it is mentioned above, every seventh day is Sabbath day for Israelites to remember that God created the whole universe and everything in it.
It is a day of rest.
Every seventh year is a Sabbath year.
This is also a day of rest.
The land in Israel lies fallow throughout the year.
Every fiftieth year comes after seven Sabbath years.
This is celebrated as Jubilee year.

A Jubilee year starts on the Day of Atonement by blowing a distinguishable trumpet.
That is, after the people made an offering for their sins and made right with God, the Jubilee year starts.
The Jubilee year is an year of freedom.

Three things happen in the Jubilee year:

1.      A Sabbath or rest to the land.
2.      Redemption from slavery
3.      Restoration of the land.

In addition to this a special event that may happen in the sabbatical year and the Jubilee year is described in Deuteronomy 15: 12-18 and Exodus 21: 1-11.

The Study

Here is a presupposed condition of a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman working as a slave.
He or she has been working under another person as a slave for the last six years.
It is said that in the seventh year - that is in the Sabbatical year - he or she must be set free.

Deuteronomy 15:12  "If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you.

The freedom of slaves or bonded servants is described in the Leviticus 25 also.
The freedom of slaves happens in the Jubilee year also.
As it is said above, the Jubilee year comes after every seven Sabbatical year.
The regulations for sabbatical year and the jubilee year are the same.
In the Jubilee year, not only that the slaves are free but their land which was sold to a creditor is also redeemed or returned freely.
Jubilee is an year of restoration of freedom and land to the slaves.

So Jubilee is a larger picture of freedom or redemption and restoration.
Since everything that happens in the Sabbatical year happens in the Jubilee year also, we can well assume that what happen to a slave in the sabbatical year happens in the Jubilee year also.

The longest period of slavery for an Israelite is six years.
The term six years is to be understood as referring to the sabbatical years.
For let a man come into servitude at whatever part of the interim between two sabbatical years, he could not be detained in bondage beyond a sabbatical year.
So that if he fell into bondage in the third year after a sabbatical year, he had but three years to serve; if the fifth, but one.

The seventh Sabbatical year and the fiftieth Jubilee year were years of Redemption and Restoration for all salves in Israel.
And God instructed the masters not to send away a slave empty handed.
The master should supply him liberally from his flock, from his threshing floor, and from his winepress.

God claims His right to institute rules and regulations on the Israel community on the basis that He redeemed them from the slavery of Egypt and restored their land in Canaan.
Israelites came out of Egypt into freedom with great enriched spoils of gold and silver received from their Egyptian masters.
So in gratitude to God, who brought them out of Egypt with gold and silver, they should not send their slaves empty from their master’s house.

The important event in the redemption process comes in Deuteronomy 15: 16
Here it is presupposed that there are two types of masters: one is a cruel slave master and another is a loving slave master.

The cruel slave master has been treating the slave harshly.
Life under this wicked master is hard, poor, unsecure and restless.
The sole aim of the cruel master is to steal, plunder and kill.
It is a miracle that the slave lived so long.

Now, before we move forward let us understand that redemption or freedom slavery is only a change of masters.
Redemption is freedom from the slavery of a cruel master into the slavery of a loving master.
That is why Israelites are called God’s bonded servants or slaves.

Leviticus 25:55  For the children of Israel are servants to Me; they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.  (NKJV)

Israelites were redeemed from the slavery of the Egyptian slave masters into the slavery of the loving God.
This change of masters is very important.

There is the second kind of master who is loving and caring.
He understands and cares.
He treats the servant not as a slave but as a freeman.
That is though he is a slave, he enjoys freedom in its fullness.
This is defines our relation to our loving master, Jesus Christ.

The law and regulation of God concerning slaves that have to be observed in the Sabbatical Year and the Jubilee year are applicable to both these masters.
The Sabbatical year and the Jubilee year declare freedom to all slaves.
A distinguishable trumpet sounds in all provinces of the land announcing the freedom of slaves.
This is the moment the slaves have been waiting to run into freedom
All their debts are cancelled, their land restored and freedom declared.

What would the slaves under the above mentioned two types of masters do at this historical moment of the trumpet sound, is the key to this study.
Surely we know that the slaves under the cruel master would jump and shout in joy and run out into his freedom.
He won’t wait to say ‘thanks’ to the cruel master.
He will never come back or at least he would prefer never to come back.

The second type of master, who is kind and loving also declares freedom to all his slaves at the same trumpet sound.
He sends them away with a portion of all his wealth.
There is no strings attached, the slaves are free indeed.

But the slave does not want to go.
He is reluctant to leave the loving master.
He loves his master and his household so much.
He has never enjoyed so much care and protection from anywhere else.
So he decides to stay back with his master.
The reason for wanting to stay is his love for the master.
And if the slave prefers to stay back, the master should not sent him away but accept him as a servant forever.
A ceremony follows to declare him as a bonded servant forever.

Deuteronomy 15: 16, 17
 16 "And if it happens that he says to you, 'I will not go away from you,' because he loves you and your house, since he prospers with you,
17   "then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also to your female servant you shall do likewise.

Exodus 21 adds one more details to this ceremony.

Exodus 21: 6  "then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever. (NKJV)

The Hebrew word used for ‘judges’ in the above verse is “elohiym”, the same word used for the Almighty God.
That is the presence of judges is the presence of God.
The slave is brought before God, because it is a solemn ceremony where the permission and blessing of God is necessary.
It is a covenant between the master, the slave and God.

The ceremony is very significant.
It implied that:

·        Thereafter he is closely attached to that house and family. 
·        He was bound to hear all his master's orders, and to obey them punctually.
·        It is a sign to the truth that from love to his master he has voluntarily submitted to continue through life to work for his master.

The fastening of the ear to the door represents him as becoming a member of the household forever.
He is permanently adopted into the household.

Galatians 6:17   From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. (NKJV)

This is the wonderful relationship that could have been built between a master and a servant.
Hereafter he is not a slave who is sold for debt, but a free slave who has willingly submitted to the Lordship of a loving master.
He is no more in debt but redemption and restoration is made.
But he decides to submit everything to the protection and care of his loving master.
He finds the truth that the Lordship of the master is true freedom.

In those days free slaves could hold high and privileged positions and be seen as one of the family.
They are assigned minimal duties in the household.
Abraham’s servant Eliezer is a good example.

·        Eliezer was Abraham’s free slave
·        He was the steward in the family.
·        He was supposed to be the heir to Abraham’s wealth before the master begot a son.
·        He was entrusted with the important duty of finding a bride to the master’s only son.

New Testament

1 Corinthians 7: 22  For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord's freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ's slave. (NKJV)

What Paul says is that we are freeman and a slave in Christ at the same time.

In the New Testament significance of the type described in Deuteronomy 15, there are both the masters.
We were sold into the slavery to a cruel master, that is satan.
Sin caused a big debt into our life that no man can ever pay a ransom for redemption.
All our joy, peace, health, relationships, material wealth and all were sold to the cruel master.
We lived as slaves and perishing under the cruelty of the evil master.
We were wondering who will pay for freedom.

Then a close relative to us having blood relation to us except that of sin came and paid the debt for our redemption and restoration.
The ransom for our souls was paid by His blood.

Jesus is our Sabbath, our redemption, restoration and rest.
When the gospel is clearly preached, the acceptable year of the Lord, the Jubilee year is proclaimed.
With the announcement of the gospel of the Kingdom of God, the year of release of our debts, of the deliverance of our souls, and of rest in Christ started.

The trumpet of the Jubilee is freedom to all mankind.
All humans are free to leave our cruel slavish master and go into full freedom.
That is what gospel means.

We, as Christians understand redemption in a different way.
We know that there are no strings attached to our freedom declared by the gospel.
But we also knows that being under the Lordship of our redeemer is better freedom.
Our redeemer Christ is a good, caring and loving master.

The choice is ours.
There is no force used by the master.
We willingly go to the loving master.
We confess our love for Him and willingly stay back to Him.

Then the loving master will take us to the Judge, the Almighty master.
We are judicially declared as a slave of the master.
And the master puts His mark upon us.

Thus it becomes a permanent relationship.

So we are slaves of Christ, not out of force or fear.
We are slaves to Christ not because we owe Him a debt.
We are slaves of Christ because we love Him and understand that life under His Lordship is protection, prosperity and rest.
We are not sold to Christ but willingly submitted to Christ.
We have submitted ourselves to Christ as His slaves because Jesus is the only loving master we can find in this world.
We are not slaves in the ordinary sense, but we are free salves.

Let me conclude with few more sentences.

As a free slave, we bear the mark of Jesus Christ.
This is a privilege to a slave.
All those who see us understand that we are a special slave of a loving master.
Nobody wants to go away from the master.
Slavery under our master is real freedom.

And because of this special mark of the master upon us we are bound to live honoring our master.
Our life must be an honor and witness to our master.
Our master is a holy person; so we honor his holiness.
Our master is a loving and caring master; so we should witness His love and care.

So live a holy life witnessing His love to the world.

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