Exodus 21:5–6: “But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.”

August 24th, 2019 by Pastor Ed in devotional

Many are shocked to discover that human slavery is still going on in the 21st century. It is wholly repulsive, and we have a responsibility to pray and work toward its removal from the earth. But the slavery allowed under Jewish law was very different. It was actually a provision to take care of people in a harsh world that had no form of social welfare system.

In that day, a farmer who lost all his crops in a bad year and couldn’t pay debts would be in dire straits. His family might even starve if he had inadequate stores of food to feed them. But this provision of the law made it possible for him to sell himself into slavery to pay off his debts and gain a new start. This law guaranteed a new start, because the terms of slavery were limited. He could serve for 6 years, but in the 7th year, he had to be freed.

Here is where a beautiful spiritual picture unfolds. Suppose after the 6 years of serving as a slave were over and freedom was given, that man didn’t want to leave? What if life was so good in his master’s house that he didn’t want to go back into the harsh world and get beat up again? This law allowed him a choice. He could choose to remain a slave under the care of his good master and not be forced to leave. He was legally free to go but also could choose to stay in the house. If he made that choice, there was a little ceremony they would perform together to make it official. The master would bring the man before the local judges and together they would tell them of the slave’s decision to stay with the master out of love. The slave would state his desire and then the master would stand the slave up against the doorpost of his house. He would take an “awl” (like a nail), and he would drive it through the lobe of the slave’s ear and into the doorpost. This ceremony of piercing his ear would seal the agreement. The slave would be a free man but a committed slave of love for the rest of his life. The psalmist David suggests in Psalm 40:6 that God desires that of us: that we would be a people who would take the freedom He offers, and then use it to walk with Him, and “serve Him forever.”

“LORD, we choose to walk with You, as Your bond slave in love today.”