Vs. 2, “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything.” Having just completed the Ten Commandments, we now begin a section where God responds to specific cases known as case law/caustic law. These were instructions on how Moses and the Israelites were to deal with some of the issues that come when living in a society. Question: Why start with this topic of slavery? Bear in mind, the Israelites were just recently freed themselves from evil bondage by the Egyptians. God rescuing the Israelites was to fulfill His promise that they would return to the land of Canaan, one of those benefits was they were now free from slavery. Understand that the exodus out of Egypt was not God endorsing that slavery be completely abolished. It needed to be clear that that the Israelites do not abuse slavery and that being a slave was not a permanent thing (vs. 2-11). In the latter half of our chapter, the Israelites are instructed in matters of violence (vs. 12-36). It gets pretty murky in terms of interpretations and understanding in this section. It’s important to note that these examples are not exhaustive by any means. But we must appreciate the level of detail in how God instructed the people to live under the laws in ways that were honoring to God and each other.
Regarding application…Obey the Law. Vs. 1, “These are the laws you are to set before them.” Some of you might find the specific laws a boring read. But, I would contend that it is very fascinating to see the culture and law that God instituted. We see that God is not some involved deity that just gives out complete autonomy to His creation. God is involved. Not only during the dispensing of the Law at Sinai, but even the laws we have today are instituted by God (Romans 13). The law wasn’t perfect and it didn’t mean that these certain transgressions wouldn’t transpire, but it did setup the expectation. We are given Law and through it we have order. Brothers and sisters, we would do well to obey the law. We have the law written on our hearts (Psalm 37:31) and given more specifically by the laws we have today. The challenge for us is: will we obey them? Don’t forget that the Law points us to God’s love!
Vs. 4, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” The book of Romans is incredibly rich in theology, and over the next chapters (6-8 ) Paul is going to dive deeper into sanctification. Question: What is sanctification? Holman’s Bible Dictionary defines it: Process of being made holy resulting in a changed lifestyle for the believer. As we soberly are in the midst of the Easter weekend, we certainly remember the death of Christ. When we celebrate Easter Sunday, this is a wonderful passage to remember the power of the resurrection! Not only are we reminded from yesterday’s chapter about the certainty hope, we also are taught that sanctification is absolutely possible. Our old sinful ways were crucified (vs. 6 ). Question: Does this mean that we can no longer sin? We are new creations in Christ, but there are times when we are going to revert back to our old ways. But that doesn’t negate the fact that we now possess a new nature, a new creation. Paul goes on to give us the perspective that we are to slaves to something. We can either be slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness (vs. 15-23).
Regarding application…Free at Last! Vs. 23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It’s difficult for us to conceive the idea of freedom vs. slavery, since most of us have not been a slave. But I also think of this idea of prison. When Paul & Silas were in prison (Acts 16), it was God who freed them. And the same God who freed them is the same God who freed us from the bondage of sin. It’s as if we have been in prison all of our life and someone comes to break us out and we don’t want to leave. This life of prison is all that we have known and there is comfort in the familiar. But God has opened up a whole new world for us! A world where there is no more condemnation (Romans 8) in Christ. A place where we can finally be free at last! The cross freed us, now let us rejoice each day that God has given us this incredible privilege to be free and free others!
Vs. 9, “Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” God is going to allow the Assyrians and later the Babylonians to conquer their land. But, the ways of the LORD are right. God is calling Israel through His prophet Hosea to repent. It is a message that is a common denominator throughout Scripture. When we ask for forgiveness and repent, God hears us (vs. 2). You see, there is miracle going on that is unseen. The miracle of God’s grace to an undeserving people (vs. 4-8). We are to be discerning and choose wisely the ways of the Lord (vs. 9)
Regarding application…Free to Choose. Vs. 4, “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.” Setting aside the controversies of election vs. free will…I want us to focus on God is choosing to love us freely. Jesus had a choice in the desert, throughout his ministry and in the garden to do the will of the Father. God created and chose to give His love freely. Question: What are you choosing in your life? Repentance or sin? Perhaps the reason we do not choose God is because we love our life on earth too much. We think we can do a better job. I think of all the critics out there. We look at the mistakes of others and are quick to judge them. Question: Why? Because, perhaps we think we could do a better job. We see the mistakes of Actors, celebrities, sports stars and shake our heads. That is our pride and that is sometimes what we do with God. We choose ourselves and think God has it all wrong. Brothers & Sisters…Hosea is calling us to choose to walk in the ways of the righteous. Don’t let others, the enemy or this world influence your heart. Let us choose freely and wisely.
Vs. 32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” For those who walk in darkness, hearing the truth hurts. The other day, we were reminded how Jesus brings tests in our lives. When the Pharisee’s brought the woman caught in adultery, we are reminded the enemy also brings his own tests to us (vs. 1-11). Jesus masterfully handles it by posing a question regarding their own self-righteousness (vs. 7). Though Jesus is sharing how He is the light (vs. 12), those who heard were still following the light of the law. In Jesus’ response to His accusers, we see a beautiful picture of the relationship the Son has with the Father (vs. 12-30). Despite the evil intentions of some, notice how others were putting their faith in Jesus (vs. 30). This just reminds me how we must not grow discouraged by those who have no mind for the Lord. People cannot put their security in their families or the traditions of their lives (vs. 31-41). I find myself always surprised, yet encouraged by how Jesus does not pull any punches when it comes to saying what needs to be said (vs. 42-47). Even at the risk of death, Jesus stands His ground (vs. 48-59).
Regarding application…How’s Your Hearing? Vs. 47, “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” Yikes! In fact, Jesus calls them children of the devil (vs. 44). Yet, despite the fact that they heard what Jesus said, they really didn’t hear. Their spiritual ears were deaf. Question: How are your ears? I think we all could use some spiritual hearing aids to let the words of Christ cut deep into our souls. One of the dangers we can do to ourselves when reading Scripture is thinking that these particular events do not apply to us. If they didn’t apply to us, then we wouldn’t be reading about it. These have been hand selected by the Father in Heaven to ensure we are without excuse when it comes to knowing how to live this life. Part of communicating is listening/hearing. Let’s be people who are “doers” of God’s word! What road are you headed down? Jesus reminded us today, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” It doesn’t mean you won’t ever sin, but it does mean that you are going to make the effort to hear the voice of the Shepherd and turn from the road you are currently on. Follow His voice! Hear His voice!