Daily Devotion for January 19, 2016
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
(from the Editor) We try not to use the same music more than once or twice a year, and I am always excited when enough time has passed that we can share the touching Hosanna from the Soweto Gospel Choir. It is truly one of my favorite performances of all time.
Prayer to Bear My Burden
Holy God, use me today as may suit you; this is my prayer, to submit myself totally to your Holy Spirit, showing the face of Christ to the world in my love and my proclamation of your majesty. If the world hates me for it, let me remember that this hatred is for you. If I be like Christ, should I resent a crown of thorns? Put your words in my mouth, O Holy Spirit, whatever the cost, and teach me to bear any burden with the joy of eternal salvation. For every stripe on my back, put an angel in my heart to heal me. In the name and faith of Christ, I pray,
To Use My Leisure Time Fruitfully
I pray, Lord, that you will fill me with discernment, so that I can use my leisure time wisely and well, that I might have some recreation and rest in my life; let me not become stressed-out, but neither let me fritter away my hours in activities that help neither myself nor others. Send me the strength to combat obsession. Send me your Spirit to see the vanity of excessive self-indulgence. Let me know the true joy of time well-spent. In Christ's name, I pray,
[The joy of time well-spent.]
Prayer of Resolve
I bind myself to you this day, oh Christ, in your truth and in your sacrifice. I give to you my anxiety and my fear, my depression and my doubt, for you have promised to take them if we only ask; and I take upon myself your burden, for it is light and your way is gentle. May I keep this in my heart and mind all this day.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day, saying,"I will try again tomorrow."
~ Mary Anne Radmacher
Exodus 21:1-6 (ESV)
Laws About Male Slaves
“Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him.
If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.
Notes on the Scripture
Today’s Scripture applies only to Hebrew slaves. People desperate for money would sell themselves or their children into “slavery”; but as we read Exodus 21 (and other portions of the Old Testament), we see that this relationship is poorly described as “slavery,” since it was voluntary, temporary, and subject to strict regulation. Exodus actually abolishes what we would call slavery, as to Hebrews, and substitutes what we would call “indentured servitude” in its place.
(Note, however, that in some circumstances non-Hebrews could be taken into permanent slavery. They enjoyed legal protections greater than Roman or even pre-1860 American slaves, but were nevertheless truly “slaves.”)
The laws about an indentured servant who marries are just what one might imagine, given the marital customs of the time. For a woman to marry a slave voluntarily would be almost impossible to imagine; the Hebrew custom of marriage was that the groom's family paid money to both the bride and the bride's family. (Whereas in Western culture, the bride's family was expected to pay the groom — and the amounts could be substantial. This custom lives on, in the widespread expectation that a bride's family will fund the wedding, although men are expected to provide an engagement ring.)
So, a male Hebrew slave, who was destitute by definition, would never be able to marry during his servitude unless his employer/master provided him a bride. In such cases, the master would not lose his rights to the female slave or the children. The indentured servant would have to choose permanent service to keep his family, or he could choose his rightful freedom at the end of his term, but could not take with him the wife given to him by his master.
The salient point here is that the relationship was governed and constricted by law. The powerful master could not treat the slave purely on his whim. The law also has a safeguard against cheating; the man who would make his service permanent slavery would have to state his voluntary will to do so in public, before witnesses. Thus, a master could not keep a Hebrew “slave” past the legal six-year term, by lying and telling people the indentured servant had chosen to become a permanent slave.