Many of you have sung the Bethel Worship song, "No Longer Slaves." It is a song that reminds us of a very "Easter" subject. When I hear this song I remember the Old Testament story from Joshua 5:9 where God says, "Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt." And I remember that Easter morning discovery of a stone being rolled away from a tomb, rolling away sin, death, fear and slavery. I remember Jesus' words and the angels words that remind us we should no longer fear and we should stop looking for living things among dead things. And I remember that if I am to appropriate the fullness of what Jesus did on the cross, in the tomb and in the world, I must leave Egypt, leave the wilderness and leave the tomb.
I have learned there are at least two kinds of slaves. In the affluent areas of Florida there are landlords that rent housing (sometimes substandard) to people from other countries (Jamaica, Mexico, Russia, Romania, etc.) at exorbitant rental rates and fees. The landlords allow a very high occupancy so they can make huge profits from a small space. They threaten the renters with lots of made-up stories of governmental agencies coming in and deporting them (even though most of these people are here legally). They provide transportation to work for the renters, again at a very high cost. In a sense these people are slaves. In many cases they know no better or are afraid to 'rock the boat.' So they live in bondage to the fear that leaving the bondage may be worse than their slavery.
But there are other slaves. The Bible says the borrower is a slave to the lender. We submit to the adverse effects of drugs and alcohol, becoming slaves to the addictions and effects. I could add sex, prejudice, depression, greed and fear to the list. The questions for all of us are ... when will we be intellectually honest and admit we are in bondage? ... when will we honestly seek God's leadership in leaving our bondage? ... when will we do what Hebrews 12 tells us, 'throw off the chains and sins that bind us so we might run the race God has planned, unfettered by slavery?' This slavery is broken by following God to break the power of our lifestyles and choices.
One thousand, four hundred and fifty (or so) years after the crossing of the Jordan, Jesus didn't forget He was in the business of keeping that promise God made to Israel ... "I have promised to rescue you from your oppression in Egypt. I will lead
you to a land flowing with milk and honey--the land where the
Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now
live [Exdus 3:17]." That promise wasn't stopped by time, people, opposition or even the death of God's Son. Jesus didn't stop at the tomb ... and He is calling us out of Egypt, the wilderness and even our old life so that we can become children of God. "We are no longer slaves!"
What would happen if we did what John, Peter, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus did? What if we bought into this message of Jesus that we are children of God, never to be bound by Egypt, the wilderness or even the tomb? Why do we choose to remain slaves to fears, prejudices, other gods and things that will not stand the test of time? We are no longer slaves ... we are children of God ... let's leave the tomb! As the angel said to the women, "Why are you looking for the living among the dead?" Great question! Randy