THE LAW OF THE BONDSERVANT
Exodus 19:16 “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled."
It is hard to imagine what Israel must have witnessed as they stood at the base of Mount Sinai. To see the mountain smoke, to feel the ground quake, to hear the sound of voices, thunderings and the blast of the shofar must truly have been awe inspiring and, let's face it, terribly frightening. No wonder they told Moses in Exodus 20:19, "Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die."
They were ready to listen, as long as God would speak through Moses. In fact, they told Moses that if he would be the intermediary, they would definitely "hear" and "do" all that the LORD commanded. Even God thought that this was a good idea (Deuteronomy 5:28). So, now that He had their undivided attention, He prepared to give them His ordinances. What would be first? There were many things for them to learn considering they had only known the law of the lash. What awesome command would He give them in addition to the Ten Commands already spoken?
The Call For Servants
Exodus 21:1-6 "Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them. If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever." The was for the rest of his life. The entire Old Testament is types and shadows of the New Testament Christian life, a natural picture of spiritual truth that would be realized in Christ.
So what could this possibly be saying to us today as believers? There is nothing in the Old Testament that is just history or to tell a story of something that happened, but there to teach spiritual truths. Even Jesus said His words were spirit and life. The entire Word of God is spiritual and alive. Jesus was the Word, the Old Testament made flesh. He lived it out in His life, fulfilling it, not doing away with it. He lived out what was being taught in the Synagogue every Sabbath and that is why His ministry was for 3 ½ years. That is how long it took them to go through the entire Pentateuch on the Sabbath during Jesus time.
Of all the laws God could have started with, it strikes me as odd that He would begin with the laws of a servant. You see little difference between the slavery of their time and that of our own history, with the exception of the mistreatment of slaves that some were guilt of. They were purchased, but with a time limitation for their service. Back to the issue of this seeming odd that God would begin with the laws of a bought servant, that is, unless there is a deeper meaning contained within the instructions.
Actually, I think that "deeper meaning" is exactly what He wished to convey. God loved to paint word pictures to teach spiritual truth using natural things. Jesus also did this in His teaching. Consider that when the people pleaded with Moses to intercede on their behalf, they pledged to "hear" and "obey." The LORD told Moses they were "right in all that they have spoken" (Deuteronomy 5:27-28). “Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it. And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken.” Yet, in the following verse (V.29), the LORD reveals something about the people when He says, "O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!" (Deuteronomy 5:29).
They didn’t have the heart to follow through with their words and God knew it.
It seems to me that God was already convinced that, though this generation that came out of Egypt might "obey" the words they were told, they would not "hear" the message. This suggests to me that their motive, their provocation to "obey" was fear. It was the same as when they were in Egypt. They obeyed the Egyptians because they feared the whip. Same attitude, same motivation! "All the people that was in the camp trembled" (Exodus 19:16). Deuteronomy 20:18 “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.” They were terrified of God and of coming near to Him. They were willing to serve Him because they feared Him, but God desired for them to serve because they loved Him and appreciated what He had done for them. I believe this issue is why the first mishpat, or judgment the LORD teaches them of is the law of the bondservant.
First of all, this law does not pertain to a hireling, sakhir, who agrees to a certain wage for a certain amount of work. The LORD is addressing the issue of a servant, eved; one who is bonded to serve a household without being paid wages, no compensation – a slave. After serving six years, the master releases the servant, who is free to go his own way accompanied by his family under the conditions prescribed by the Torah. Yet, as verse five points out, the servant may, of his own free will, decide to stay with his master. The Torah says, if he plainly says, "I love my master…" In Hebrew the text reads, ahavti et adown - "I love Adown." The Hebrew word of master is translated as ‘lord, master, owner’ and it comes from an unused root meaning to rule, sovereign, human or divine. It is the same as the compound name of God in scripture beginning with "Adoni-". That is very interesting because this is one of the titles used for Jesus, as in Psalm 110:1. “The Lord, (Yehovah, yeh-ho-vaw'; or more accurately translated Yahwey - the Father) said to my Lord 'adown, aw-done' (referring to Jesus), Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
Please notice that the servant professes love for Adonai, literally "my lord." He then says, "I will not go out free." The bondservant has made a decision to remain a servant, but this time it is forever. In other words, he is released from bondage by his lord, but for love of his lord, he gives up his freedom to become a servant of his master all the days of his life. This servant is no longer a slave, but definitely not a hireling, but a willing bondservant, like Paul and the other New Testament Apostles.
Love And Obedience
What does this say to us? The servant was willing to give up his freedom out of love for his master. That was a decision based not on fear, not on intellectual assent, but upon the condition and attitude of his heart. This seems to be the message that the Father conveys in this principle and that tells me that God isn't focused primarily on what my hands do as much as what is in my heart to do. In other words, he may have my hands and even my mind, but if He doesn't have my heart, then He doesn't have me. Many ‘serve’ God, but not really, because they are not doing His Will or His desire, but their own with a religious covering they have made for themselves. It is what they choose to do for God and not what He has asked them do in, as a servant of His master.
This principle is expressed in the Jewish Sh'ma, (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) which begins, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." Notice that love that prompts true obedience begins in the heart. From there it manifests in the soul or consciousness of man, and finally in our hands and feet, our might. Don't miss the point: obedience - servitude - MUST begin in the heart if it is to please Adonai – your Lord and Master, Jesus. Remember when He said, “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am” (John 13:13). Please not the “I AM.” It has a dual connotation and application, for Jesus is the great “I AM.” He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).
The reader should also remember that it is this command, the Sh'ma, that Y’shua (Jesus) recognized as the first and greatest command in (Mark 12:29-31). “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Along with the command to love one's neighbor as one would love himself, love of God is the very foundation of Torah obedience. The Scripture declares this to be greater than all burnt offerings and sacrifices in (Mark 12: 33). For it to be any other way will not work! Consider Israel at the base of Mount Sinai.
They had been in bondage before Adonai (Jesus) freed them. He reminded them of this when He uttered the first command (in ordinal sequence) at Sinai; (Exodus 20:2) "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." Now freed, they had a decision to make; to obey and come into God's house, or to go their own way. They chose to accept God's laws and yet, the record shows that their heart was not in it. God was right, they didn’t have a heart to follow throw with what they said. It is just talk.
Have you ever made a promise or commitment to the Lord that at the moment, whether because of emotion, fear or manipulation by someone, or you were in a mess and wanted God’s help and you made a promise that you may have been sincere about at the time, but then you didn’t have the heart to follow through and keep it.
I remember in Bible College when a very good preacher, good at using emotion to move and touch students, asked them to promise to serve the Lord full time as missionary’s, asking for 1000 to replace on that had been martyred for Christ. I know many made a promise, while they were moved emotionally and crying, that did not follow through. That is not the way to get good commitments, by emotions. Emotions are not a good foundation for a solid commitment. It takes a solid decision, based on understanding and knowledge and commitment to what you believe in and not being moved by emotions of the moment to make a good decision that you will keep.
Any ‘commitment’ based on something that is of the moment, fear, anxiety, sympathy, or feelings of any kind will not last. Feelings alone do not equal quality or make for a quality commitment. Emotions of the moment are fleeting. You can see what is called a tearjerker movie and be moved to tears. Some men are good at manipulating emotions. God wants commitment that comes from the heart based on who He is and what He has done and our yielding our lives to Him in a decision based on eternal things and faith. The very ones who saw the awesome manifestations on Sinai; the ones who proclaimed, "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." (Exodus 32:4). We are told in Matthew 12:34, that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks!
Now, notice the connection between the first command - "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage," the greatest command – "thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" and the first ordinance, the law of the bondservant. Do you see the connection with “I love me master … I will not go out free (out of his house)?” First of all, Moses clearly connects redemption from Egypt to the bondservant being set free in Deuteronomy 15:15. “And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee …” Secondly, these three commands are all motivated by love. Finally, the first two are actually demonstrated in the law of the bondservant. The master sets the bondman free. The free man, because he loves his master, freely serves him with all of his heart, soul and might.
God didn't just want Israel's hands because they weren't in mud pits anymore. He didn't just want their minds because they were free from the tyranny of the taskmasters. Above all, He wanted their hearts. He wanted those who would plainly say, ahavti et adonai, "I love Adonai. I will not go out free." Recall how God exclaimed in Deuteronomy 5:29, "Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear me and always keep my commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children FOREVER."
Getting Attached To God's House
God desired then as He does now, that His people would have a heart within them to surrender their own will to His. In short, He looks for those willing to be bondservants in His house. Remember, when the servant made the decision to remain with his master as a servant, it was forever. Understand there were unpublicized benefits of this decision, however. Yes, the servant remained a servant but as a member of his master's house for their relationship has now changed. Consequently, his master was to provide for, care for and protect that servant. By becoming a permanent servant - by being part of that household - he and his children would FOREVER be taken care of.
To illustrate this principle, that servant had to, first of all, appear before the elders and publicly announce his decision. He was then taken to the door of his master's house, where he would set his ear against the door or doorpost and allow his master to pierce his ear with an awl. The result would be that the servant would be literally attached to the door and symbolically be joined to his master's house. And now, we come to the real message of this commandment.
If one is to come into the House of Adonai, he must do so as a bondservant and that means he must, first of all, give up his freedom. There are no rebels in God’s house. There will be no rebels in Heaven. You come humbling yourself, declaring your need for the master and your commitment to serve Him. Then He becomes your Lord and therefore Savior. You can’t have Him as Savior without yielding to His Lordship. It is both or neither. You can’t just go to Jesus for fire insurance. He offers you only one thing – true salvation is a covenant relationship. It is a divine exchange program. It is your life for His.
You cannot be a servant if you are clinging to your freedom. I know that goes against the theology of some, but nevertheless, that is the methodology of becoming a servant. If you can overcome that obstacle, then you must allow Him to "attach" you to the door of His house. No one comes into the LORD's house except by way of the DOOR!
Perhaps, this is one of the reasons Y’shua (Jesus) said in John 10:9, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” And in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." You can’t enter into God’s house without coming through the door – Jesus. Though many try, through man made religion and other means. Of them Jesus said, “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” Thieves don’t get into heaven, beloved.
Psalm 40:1-2 "I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings."
It is difficult to say with 100% certainty what David had in mind when he recited these words. It could have been any one of a number of events that transpired in his life, in which God sovereigntly intervened to deliver him from affliction.
Then again, maybe, he was speaking on behalf of the whole house of Israel who were delivered from their affliction in Egypt. Notice the terminology David employs. "I waited patiently"; Israel was in bondage for four centuries. "He… heard my cry"; God heard the cry of His people (Exodus 3:7). "He brought me up out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay"; Israel labored in the clay pits of Egypt making bricks for Pharaoh’s cities. And finally, "(He) set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings (steps)"; When God freed them, He took them to Horeb, the mountain of God and there He established the way in which they were to walk, the Torah.
The word "rock" mentioned in Psalm 40 is the Hebrew word gkx selah (not to be confused with the other vkx selah found in many of the Psalms.), which is defined as a craggy or lofty rock, a fortress. Perhaps that is why this word is used multiple times to speak figuratively of God. He is this rock!
This word, gkx selah, is the same word used to describe the rock from which Israel was given water to drink (Numbers 20:8-11). The apostle Paul speaks about that same rock and likens it to the Messiah.
He says in 1 Corinthians 10:4, “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ (literally, the Messiah)." In other words, the rock in the wilderness and the rock in Psalm 40 are one and the same - that is the Messiah, which brings me to my next point.
Though David is using language suggestive of his own experiences, as well as Israel’s, could it be that he is, in fact, speaking of the Messiah? Considering that David is a picture of Messiah, I'd say that this is very likely. So then, what does this Messianic affiliation have to do with the laws of a bondservant?
My Servant David
You already know that the bondservant laws are based on the relationship between the God of Israel and those He delivered from "the land of Egypt" and the "house of bondage." Hopefully, you also now see the ties between the opening passages of Psalm 40 - deliverance from bondage - and the laws of a bondservant - "(He) set my feet" and "established my going (steps)."
King David is referred to throughout the Scriptures as "my servant." In Hebrew, the word "servant" is scg eved, and should, therefore, be rendered "bondservant." If David is considered a bondservant, it seems obvious to me that he is quite familiar with the concept of a bondservant and that makes Psalm 40 of particular interest to us.
As we said earlier, though David speaks in terms reminiscent of his own life and of the Exodus from Egypt, he is likely speaking of the TRUE ROCK in the wilderness, the Messiah. Coupling this assertion with the fact that, according to Ezekiel 37:24, Messiah is the TRUE DAVID, saying; “And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them,” then Psalm 40 takes on yet another interesting perspective. That is, not only is David speaking of the True Rock, the Messiah in Psalm 40, but the True David, the Messiah is speaking to us through those same words!
My Ears You Have Opened
Psalm 40:6 "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required."
Why would David claim that the LORD did not require nor desire for the people to bring their burnt offerings and their sacrifices when the Torah is full of commands for them to do just that very thing? First of all, David isn't saying this, King David the Messiah is. Why does He say this? It goes back to something we stated earlier in this teaching.
Remember that the people, because of fear, told Moses to speak to God and then report to the people His commands. They pledged to "hear" and "obey." Yet, we know that God already knew it was not in their heart to do so for He laments, "O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them," (Deuteronomy 5:29). So, we conclude that their willingness to obey was based, not on love for the Father, but the fear of Him.
Therefore, it seems that the statements in Psalm 40 that God neither desires nor requires sacrifices speaks more about the intent of the heart with which they are given. In other words, God does not desire sacrifices given out of fear or religious obligation. He does require burnt offerings from someone whose heart is far from Him. He desires that His people serve Him simply because they love Him; not just in word and deed, but with all of their being.
Now, please notice that sandwiched between these two statements in verse six, is the declaration, "mine ears hast thou opened." This is a provocative statement for it, once again, ties us to the laws of the bondservant. If God desires that we obey Him because we love Him then it is implied that we have opened our ears to HEAR, not the words of the Torah, but the MESSAGE of the Torah. Thus, we "hear" and "obey." There are many who can hear, but few who obey, and consequently are unable to walk out the Torah in a balanced manner.
Consider that the ear, used for hearing, also contains the center of balance. When one develops an ear infection, it is almost impossible to walk straight. The same can be said for those who hear the words of the Torah but miss the message.
Perhaps this is why we are instructed to "Hear O Israel; the LORD is one." And perhaps that is the reason the Messiah through David says, "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened." In other words, you have made it possible for me to, not only hear the words, but discern the message. How did He do that?
The Hebrew word translated as "opened" in Psalm 40:6 is vrf karah, which should be literally interpreted as "bored open" or "pierced" as with an awl. Translation - I hear your words and understand their message because you have allowed and I have accepted to become a bondservant - I am attached to your house. My ear is not only opened by the awl, but my ear is open to hear you because I love you.
Who makes this statement? David or the Messiah, Jesus? If the Messiah, then we have another very interesting development here. That is, the Messiah is saying that He also is a bondservant. He has submitted His will to the master, the Father in heaven. As Jesus said, "Not my will, but thine be done." (Luke 22:42) But that wasn’t the first time Jesus said such a thing. John 6:38 “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” Before that in John 5:30 Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”
In The Scroll Of The Book
Psalm 40:7-8 "Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law (The Hebrew word, Torah) is within my heart."
Immediately after the hint in verse six that Messiah is a bondservant of the LORD, we find conclusive evidence that it is DEFINITELY the Messiah making these statements. Who else can make the claim, "In the scroll of the book it is written of me"? Not the man, King David! What scroll and what book would the writer be referring to? He has to be speaking of the Torah Scroll, within which is revealed the heart of God, manifest in the person of Y’shua (Jesus), the Messiah.
It is the Messiah who then exclaims, "I delight to do your will, O my God." It is not a burden. It is not enslavement, but a delight, a joy, to do the will of the Father. This is the claim of the Messiah. Furthermore, He reveals that the Torah has been written, not on tablets of stone but upon His heart. More than exalting the WORDS of the Torah, it is the MESSAGE, the very essence of the Torah that our Father desires to write upon our hearts and it is the Messiah who FIRST reveals this.
Not My Will
Jeremiah 31:31, 33 "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah. . . . But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people."
Obviously, there is more to this passage than meets the eye; much more than we have time or space to delve into here. Yet, I do want you to understand that it has ALWAYS been God's intention that the Torah be upon our heart because the true message of the Torah can only be understood by the heart. It was always intended that the Messiah would be the One to write these things upon our heart because He is the One who gave the Torah, moreover, He is the Torah! He is the Word made flesh.
And so, what is His message? Simply this: God has always desired to find those willing to give up their own freedom in order to become His bondservant. He has always desired for those who serve Him to do so with a heart that says, "Not my will, but thine be done." And so, because we didn't get it, He became flesh and dwelt among us and showed us, by His own example, what we must become in order to hear and understand what the Master is saying.
Whom The Son Sets Free
John 8: 35-36 "And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
When Y’shua (Jesus) made this statement, it was to a group of people who believed on him. Yet, He obviously contends that, though they hear His words, they don't perceive His message, hence, this statement or proclamation. But what does He mean? Could it be that Jesus is alluding to the laws of the bondservant?
"The servant abideth not in the house for ever." Correct. He is released after six years of service (Exodus 21;2). "But the son abideth ever (or forever)." Is it possible that the servant, because he loves his master and attaches himself to his master's house FOREVER (Exodus 21:5-6) is actually becoming a son? John 1:12 " But as many as received him, to them gave he power (privilege, freedom) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."
In other words, THE SON (Jesus), the DOOR of Adonai's house, provides the way and opportunity for those willing to be bondservants, to become a SON of God. In short, if you truly want to be free, then you must give up your freedom. God does everything with man through His divine exchange program, called covenant. You must attach yourself to Adonai's house by way of the door - the SON (Jesus) - and forever become an obedient servant of the Master, following His rules simply because you love Him. Then, and only then, are you free indeed!
This is covenant. Christianity is a covenant relationship or divine exchange. You must give up your life to receive His life. The problem with most American Christians is that they want all the benefits and privileges and freedom of being in God’s house and being a son, but they want none of the responsibilities of sonship! They want to be in God’s house, they want fire insurance, they want prosperity, blessing, protection, healing and all that God has to offer without being attached to His house, without coming by way of the door, Jesus, to have their ears circumcised, by giving up their rights to do as they please, so they can hear and understand what God is saying and follow Him. There is no other way.
In John 7:17 Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” You will never know the true doctrines, you will never hear and understand the spiritual things of God and His will for your life, until you are willing to do what He tells you. God knows your heart and the motives and attitude of your heart, He discerns and when your heart is not right and you are not committed to do and obey His words, He will not reveal Himself to you in a direct and personal way. John 14:21 “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” Jesus doesn’t manifest Himself, reveal Himself to everyone. True Christianity is relationship that comes by revelation. God revealing Himself to you.
In conclusion: As a servant (in reality a slave who got no remuneration and nothing for his work), having gained his freedom, then gives it up to willing become now a bondservant, being joined to the house of his master, the relationship is then changed and in reality he becomes a son, adopted by the master and each have new responsibilities to one another. The servant is now required to serve and obey his master, and the master is required to provide, protect and care for his servant.
That is our story. We were found by Christ, as servants, slaves of sin with no hope. He willingly paid the price for us to set us free from our bondage to sin and Satan. Then we, having been set free from slavery, turning and submitting our lives to serve Him, asking Him to become our Lord and Master, willing give up the right of self choice to do His will and thereby come into covenant with the Father and become sons of God. Now, truly free in Christ! But our freedom comes by way of covenant with Him and obedience and responsibility, not rebellion and saying, I have been set free, now I am free to choose for myself and enjoy myself to the full. You can do that, but then you will never have His best and you will never know the joys, blessing and power of sonship. God desires not servants, but sons. John 15:15 “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends (philos, fee'-los; literally dear friends – this is a covenant expression); for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” Not to anyone, not to the religious crowd, not to the nominal Sunday morning Christian. To those who hear and obey Him. (V.14) “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”