Becoming A Slave

During my first trip to Ghana, West Africa in the summer of 2007, I had the opportunity to visit Elmina Castle. It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, so is the oldest European building in existence below the Sahara. First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. Slaves were held captive in the castle before exiting through the castle’s infamous “Door of No Return” to be transported and resold in newly colonized Brazil and other Portuguese colonies.

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During the tour of the castle, our tour guide mentioned in passing the three ways a person became a slave:

  1. Crimes committed
  2. Debt that could not be paid
  3. Born into it

We fit all three conditions of slavery to sin.

  1. We have committed crimes. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
  2. We all have a debt that we cannot pay. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
  3. We were all born into sin. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5).

We are all slaves to sin and unrighteousness. But this was not God’s plan for us. He desires for us to enjoy the pleasure of freedom. He will set us free by taking us captive in His mercy.

We have committed crimes. But He cleared our record.

“Blotting out the handwriting of the ordinances that was against us… and took it our of the way, nailing it to His cross” (Col. 2:14).

We all have a debt that we cannot pay. But He paid it for us.

“Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

We were all born into sin. But we can be born again.

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Once I was “free” in shackles of sin:
Free to be tempted, bound to give in;
Free to be captive to any desire;
Free to eternally burn in hell fire.
But Jesus bought me, now I’m a “slave,”
Bound by commands, free to obey;
Captive by beauty, free to adore,
Sentenced to sit at His feet evermore!

Addicted to the Service of Israel

Reading through Exodus 7-11 makes it pretty plain to see that Egypt was addicted to the service of Israel.  Why else would they continue to hold them after all they went through?  It just doesn’t make any sense except that they didn’t believe that they could go on without the services of their Israelite slaves.  It really makes me wonder, “who are the real slaves here?”

Look at what they went through:

Their main water supply, the river, turned into blood.  “Let my people go.”  “No!”

Frogs…everywhere (streets, houses, ovens, beds).  “Get rid of the frogs and I’ll let your people go.  Wait, the frogs are gone?  Nevermind.”

Lice on every man and animal.  “Let my people go.”  “No!”

Swarms of flies.  “Okay, you can go, but don’t go too far.  Wait, the flies are gone?  Nevermind.”

All the cattle died.  “Let my people go.”  “No!”

Everyone got boils.  Let my people go.”  “No!”

Hail kills man, animal, and plants.  “Please make it stop!  I’ll let you go.  Wait, it’s over?  Nevermind.”

Locust cover the face of the earth.  “I have sinned.  I’m sorry.  Please, pray for these locust to leave!  What?  Let you go?  No!”

Darkness so dark that you couldn’t see your hand  in front of your face.  “Okay, this time you can go.  Just leave your animals and your kids here.”  “We all must go.”  “No!”

Every firstborn dead.  “Get out of here!”

But it still wasn’t over!  Pharaoh still changed his mind after all that.  He chased the children of Israel and sent his army into the midst of the sea where the walls of water crashed in on them and consumed them in a watery grave.

How silly these Egyptians were!  They were so addicted to the services Israel that they would rather keep them with all the negative consequences than try to live without them.  It ended up costing them everything.

Most of the time, we compare ourselves to the children of Israel.  “God has brought us out of Egypt!”  But I realized something as I read this account recently, we actually have a lot in common with Pharaoh.  Yes, Pharaoh, the one who neglected every warning sign because he was addicted to the service of Israel.

How often do we do the same thing with sin?