Yesterday was Independence Day (4th of July) in the United States, and is the day that America celebrates gaining her Independence from Great Britain.
The Declaration of Independence was officially approved by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, only two days after the Lee Resolution formally declared the American colonies to be Independent of the British Empire. Americans view the Declaration of Independence as a Declaration of FREEDOM.
The Declaration begins with some of the most famous words “We hold these truths to be self evident”.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”Declaration of Independence
The Declaration states that “all men are created equal”, which should be interpreted “all mankind are created equal”. Sadly, we know that even with these lofty ideals of a Government by the people for ALL of the people, HIS story tells us that America, like ALL manmade institutions, missed the mark for many people. Slavery of African Americans, the poor treatment of Native Americans and women’s suffrage show us that it didn’t take long for the Declaration of Independence to be forgotten or at least not applied to all people groups in America. America was supposed to be a light to the world, a “city on a hill“. Although slavery and other evils have taken place in American History, there have ALSO been large groups of people within the nation who have fought for FREEDOM for those who are persecuted and enslaved. The civil war was fought (and WON), in part, because half of the country was VERY OFFENDED by the EVIL of slavery!
Freedom is not important to SOME people, it’s important to ALL people. Mankind has been yearning for FREEDOM for many Millennia, and yet mankind is also the perpetrator of slavery. Because evil exists in the world, so does slavery.
There were slaves in most, if not all, of the powerful ancient kingdoms such as Babylon, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Slavery continued into the Middle Ages, up into Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and also in America.
Historically, most slaves’ ancestors were initially captured in wars or kidnapped in isolated raids but some were sold into slavery by their parents as a means of surviving extreme conditions. Most slaves were born into that status. Ancient warfare often resulted in slavery for prisoners and their families who were either killed, ransomed or sold as slaves. Captives were often considered the property of those who captured them and were looked upon as a prize of war. Normally they were sold, bartered or ransomed. It originally may have been more humane than simply executing those who would return to fight if they were freed, but the effect led to widespread enslavement of particular groups of people.
Does slavery exist today? Sadly, the answer to that question is yes. Evil still exists in the world, and so does slavery. Measuring modern slavery is a difficult undertaking because no single source provides suitable and reliable data on all forms of modern slavery.
- An estimated 40.3 million men, women, and children were victims of modern slavery on any given day in 2016.
- Of these, 24.9 million people were in forced labour and
- 15.4 million people were living in a forced marriage.
- Women and girls are vastly over-represented, making up 71 percent of victims.
- More than 400,000 people could be living in “modern slavery” in the US, a condition of servitude broadly defined in a new study as forced and state-imposed labor, sexual servitude and forced marriage. https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/
Modern slavery is most prevalent in Africa, followed by the Asia and the Pacific region. Conceptually, the practices of recruiting child soldiers and trafficking persons for removal of their organs fall under the concept of modern slavery.
I think if we knew the extent of slavery in the world today, none of us would sleep at night. As stated in previous posts, I believe that everything in this world that is physical, that we experience with our 5 senses, is a picture, a metaphor, or a shadow of a deeper spiritual truth. It’s kind of like this earth is a place of teaching and learning about the Goodness of God by exposing us to both good and evil, beauty and ugliness, whereby we are given choices to make.
- Life vs death
- good food vs toxic waste
- clean water vs muddy water
- sickness vs health
- wonderful fragrances vs terrible stench
- beautiful animals vs ugly reptiles
- Storms vs peaceful sunshine, and even the sun, the moon, and the stars all represent literal, physical objects, “temporal” objects that we experience with our 5 senses, and yet they point to so much more in the Spiritual realm.
Mankind enslaving other human beings is also a physical manifestation of a deeper spiritual reality, and really highlights our fallen condition in this sin-sick world. Although the Bible doesn’t specifically condemn slavery, it does give instructions on how slaves should be treated (Deut. 15:12-15, Ephesians 6:9, Colossians 4:1). Why doesn’t the Bible condemn such an evil act like slavery?
Slavery in Biblical times significantly differed from slavery in modern times. It was not generally based on race. It was often less imperialistic. Some believe that in many cases it was actually more of an indentured servant type arrangement. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. In New Testament times, sometimes doctors, lawyers, and even politicians were slaves of someone else. Some people actually chose to be slaves so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters.
While recognizing the reality of slavery in our fallen world as it existed in various forms, the Bible NEVER condones it. It rather gives slaves, both then and more recently, a spiritual basis for worth, dignity, equality, and STRENGTH to face difficult circumstances, along with HOPE for future FREEDOM! Although not written into the pages of the Bible, I also believe that God (through His Holy Spirit) has called many Christians into helping people break free from the yoke of physical slavery. Institutions such as the Underground Railroad, Quaker Abolitionists, and also many individual Christians who helped Jews escape from Nazi Germany, and even those who now help young children and women escape the world of human trafficking and sex slavery, risk their lives to help those who are abused and oppressed. There can be no greater calling for a Christian than to break the bonds of slavery and ease human suffering.
Deuteronomy 15:12 “If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free. 13 When you set him free, you shall not send him away empty-handed. 14 You shall furnish him liberally from your flock and from your threshing floor and from your wine vat; you shall give to him as the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.
Ephesians 6:7-9: 7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. 9 And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
Colossians 4:1: Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.
In Judaism, God set up “cycles” to teach us much deeper spiritual truths, ones that involve the earthly realities of work, debt, and slavery. God established the seven day week, the seven year Shemitah, and the 50 year Jubilee. These are all similar and repeating patterns and cycles that God established in our FALLEN WORLD to lead mankind to a better understanding and appreciation for God’s Mercy and His Plan of Salvation
1. Shabbat and the 7 DAY cycle: REST from work.
In the cycle of the 7 day week, mankind would work for 6 days and then rest on the 7th (Sabbath). The principle of a Sabbath’s rest is an immutable principle and one that was established by God, Himself, who “worked” for 6 days, creating the Heavens and the earth, and then rested on the seventh. God didn’t rest because He was tired because God doesn’t get tired. God rested because He was teaching mankind Kingdom (of God) Principles, and also because He was giving us a glimpse of His plan for Redemption and Salvation.
Exodus 20:8-11: Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day and hallowed it.
We, as Christians, understand that Jesus IS our Sabbath Rest, and that HE is coming again to give us a 1000 year period known as the Millennial Reign of Christ, a rest for 1000 years (following the same pattern as the 7 day week). The principle of the Sabbath Rest still stands. Some Christians believe that all people should observe the Sabbath Day on Saturday (the 7th day), but others see it more as a Spiritual reminder to rest from our labors and to spend time with the Lord.
2. Shemitah and the 7 YEAR Cycle: FREEDOM from Slavery and Oppression, REST for the land
The Cycle of the 7 YEAR Shemitah ( “release”, “letting go”, “letting slip from your hand”), follows a SIMILAR pattern to the 7 day week. In the 7th YEAR of the Shemitah Cycle, God instructed the land to rest, slaves to be set free, and debts to be forgiven.
In the Garden of Eden, the relationship between people and the Earth was an intimate one, based upon love and respect. People would guard the land, and in turn, the Earth would sustain and nourish all of its inhabitants.
When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, this harmony was shattered and the relationship between humanity and the Earth was broken. However, the principle of mankind caring for the land was never nullified, which is one reason why God taught the Israelites the Shemitah Cycle.
God instructed the Israelite agricultural community to let their land rest every 7th year (no sowing seed nor harvesting).
Leviticus 25:3-6: For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in its produce. But in the seventh year, the land shall have a complete rest, a Sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field, you shall not prune your vineyard, nor shall you reap the aftergrowth of your harvest . . . And [the produce of] the Sabbath of the land shall be yours to eat for you, for your male and female servants, and for your hired worker and resident who live with you
God promised Israel BLESSINGS if the Israelites observed His Commandments and consequences if they failed to observe them.
Interestingly enough, even today farmers recognize that the land can become “overworked”, which is why they rotate crops or “give the soil a break”.
In the 7th year of the Shemitah Cycle, God also instructed the Israelites to FORGIVE all debt that was owed to them. Every seventh year, the Israelites were instructed to release slaves and forgive debt as a picture of God releasing mankind from the SLAVERY of SIN BY FORGIVING our debt through the death of His Son Jesus (Yeshua). God uses physical realities to teach mankind spiritual, Kingdom principles.
The Shemitah (7 YEAR cycle) involves God’s plan for mankind to care for the earth, to release slaves, forgive debts, and to place our TRUST in GOD. You see, not plowing, sowing, or reaping every seventh year required complete TRUST in the Lord to PROVIDE the necessary FOOD to sustain LIFE. God promised RICH REWARDS for those who put their TRUST in HIM.
IF Israel had only TRUSTED GOD, He would have OPENED the storehouses of HEAVEN and blessed them with a HUGE HARVEST in the 6th year that would have been enough to LAST for 3 years! Of course, we find out in the Bible that Israel DID NOT trust in the Lord, and they DID NOT reap the benefits and blessings for following HIS commandments. In-fact, the amount of time that ISRAEL (Judah) was exiled into Babylon (70 years) DIRECTLY CORRELATED to the number of years that they DID NOT let the land rest on the Shemitah.
For the Christian who is in EXILE on this earth, waiting to be taken to the PROMISED LAND (Kingdom of God), God is asking us to TRUST HIM for our PROVISION. God PROMISES us that Jesus WILL return, and the earth (and mankind) WILL REST for 1000 years, free from the influence of satan and his minions who will locked up in the bottomless pit!
Who the Son sets FREE is FREE INDEED! God offers us ULTIMATE FREEDOM in the LORD JESUS CHRIST! In our fleshly human nature, we are ALL SLAVES TO SIN. ALL MANKIND since the FALL of Adam is BORN into SLAVERY. “The world” will tell you that you are “free” to live however you want. Coincidentally, their Motto “ Do what thou wilt” is also satan’s motto. But when we CHOOSE to live away from God, to NOT RECEIVE JESUS CHRIST as our SAVIOR, then we are REALLY in BONDAGE (slavery) to sin! There are ALWAYS consequences to sin.
As Israel was required to TRUST GOD for a HUGE 6th year HARVEST, If we consider PATTERNS, then for the Christian, the Harvest of souls in the 6000th year will be so much larger if we can only HOLD ON TIGHT, OBEY and TRUST GOD. What is the Harvest of souls? It’s simply a metaphor for all those who have been SAVED by JESUS CHRIST and who will ENTER GOD’S GLORIOUS KINGDOM! God is building a FAMILY!
As God, through His servant Moses, led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, so He leads His people out of the bondage of SIN and it’s ugly cousins, SICKNESS, SUFFERING and DEATH. The Miracle of Jesus’ MERCY on the CROSS, if we really fully understood it, would DWARF the physical Miracle of God parting the RED SEA.
3. JUBLIEE and the 50 YEAR cycle: Return to your HOMELAND
NOW, we’re gonna see not only FREEDOM from SLAVERY and OPPRESSION, but RETURN to the Promised Land!
Leviticus 25:8 ‘You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven sabbaths of years, namely, forty-nine years. 9 You shall then sound a ram’s horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land. 10 You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family. 11 You shall have the fiftieth year as a jubilee; you shall not sow, nor reap its aftergrowth, nor gather in from its untrimmed vines. 12 For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you. You shall eat its crops out of the field.
At the end of the 49 year cycle, in the 50th year, God proclaimed a Jubilee year! All the Israelites would RETURN to their HOMELAND. For the Christian, the Promised land is the KINGDOM OF GOD!!!
As a quick reminder, mirroring the 7 day week, and UTILIZING the “a day is like 1000 years” principle (2 Peter 3:8), God gave mankind 6 days to go his own way, but the 7th day belongs to the Lord. God gave mankind 6000 years to go his own way, but the final 1000 years belongs to the Lord (Jesus’ Millennial reign on earth). God also told mankind He would shorten our life span to 120 years because of our great SIN (Genesis 6:3). When we MULTIPLY 50 (Jubilee cycles) X 120 years, we come to 6000 years. When the Trumpet Sounds, God will DECLARE THE “year” of JUBILEE! https://dyingworld.org/2018/12/26/gods-7000-year-plan/
Lev. 25:9 Then you shall cause the TRUMPET of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the TRUMPET to sound throughout all your land. 10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.
While we finish our own individual races on this fallen earth, we continue to TRUST GOD, and FIGHT the GOOD FIGHT against the spiritual powers of darkness who are trying to STOP the KINGDOM OF GOD! We shatter the darkness which has enslaved mankind throughout many generations and people groups, through the powerful blood of Jesus, with prayer and with acts of bravery and kindness. Jesus has broken the bonds of spiritual slavery and has given us Rest and FREEDOM from sin! Soon and very soon, He will blow the Trumpet and we will return to our homeland, the Kingdom of God! Hallelujah!