Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Transformative Power

The first thing that we have to understand about slaves as the Bible tells their stories is that slaves are anything but powerless. Because of the way that modern slavery operates, we often think, Oh, those poor slaves. They've got nothing going for them. But that's just not the case.

Take Joseph, for example. A foreigner, sold as a slave in Egypt. He gets there, and he's such an amazing slave that he's put in charge of everything in his master's house. A lie gets him thrown in prison, but he's such an excellent prisoner that he's put in charge of everything in the prison. God turns his situation around, and he finds himself before Pharaoh, and he's such an amazing slave in Pharaoh's presence that he's put in charge of the entire country. And it's because of this slave that the entire world did not starve in the famine. 

That's quite a testimony of a slave.

Or take, for example, the story of the nations that Israel did not end up driving out of their land. There were several peoples that, for one reason or another, became slaves instead of casualties. And in more than one case, what do we see? It was the slaves among Israel that began to introduce the foreign gods. Their influence in their own households and cities was so strong that the slaves are the ones who drew Israel away from the Lord in worship.

That's power.

Or what about Israel as slaves in Egypt? When Israel came to Egypt during the famine, Joseph was able to secure his relatives the choicest of all the land among Egypt. Even Pharaoh admitted what good land it was when he gave it to them. Fast forward about 400 years, and the Egyptians don't even seem to remember what good land it was. To them, it's just the land of the detestable Hebrews who are nothing but a bother to them. Amazing how the best place can become the rejected place.

But that is the power of the slave. 

There are so many more examples - Israel in Babylon, Daniel specifically. Slaves in the Old Testament. Slaves in the New Testament. But you're starting, I hope, to see the point - slaves in the Bible are not anything like slaves as we think about them from our own historical context. They were far from powerless; they were often the most powerful persons around.

This is very important for us as we start to consider what it means to be slaves. What it doesn't mean is that we give up all of our power. Rather, perhaps it means that we have more than we ever bargained for. 

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