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God is in the business of freeing slaves. From all eternity, God has been planning and preparing to rescue us from slavery to sin. From birth we are trapped in a prison of our own sin. Sin is our master. And when sin commands us, we obey. Sin truly does have power over us. We have an awesome picture of our slavery to sin in the horrific slavery of the Israelites in Egypt.
Many, many years ago God called a man named Abraham to be the father of a great nation. God chose a people to have for himself, and he began with Abraham. God promised Abraham that all the families of the earth would be blessed through him. And God did bless Abraham with children. This promise continued through Abraham’s son, Isaac. The promise then continued through Jacob, who he renamed, Israel. Through Jacob’s offspring, the 12 tribes of Israel were established. A famine brought Jacob and his sons to Egypt, where Joseph was a ruler. Joseph was so well respected in Egypt that his family was treated with honor. They lived there for many years in peace with the Pharaoh of Egypt. The Bible says “the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them” (Exodus 1:7).
But one day a new king rose to power in Egypt. This king didn’t know Joseph. He didn’t care about the people of Israel. In fact, he thought they were just in the way. But there were so many Israelites that the king of Egypt was afraid they would join Egypt’s enemies in a war against them. He needed a plan to control the Israelites. Pharaoh’s plan was to take all of the people of Israel into slavery. Pharaoh placed “taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens” (Ex. 1:11). The more the Israelites grew, the worse they were treated. The Bible says the Egyptians “ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service…In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves” (Ex. 1:13, 14).
The people of Israel suffered as slaves in Egypt for 430 years! But through the judgment of all Egypt and Pharaoh, God rescued his people from slavery.
“The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years, At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. It was a night of watching by the Lord to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations” (Ex. 12:40-42).
The night the Lord rescued his people from slavery was a night to remember! God led his people out of slavery by a pillar of fire at night and a pillar of cloud by day. These former slaves literally followed the light of the Lord to freedom.
God is still in the business of freeing slaves. When Jesus went to the cross, he rescued us from our slavery to sin. He bore our sin on the cross, so that we would be free from its power. By his grace, we have gone from being slaves of sin to slaves of righteousness. Let’s obey our new Master gladly. With Moses, all who have been freed from sin should well sing, “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him” (Ex. 15:1-2).
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert