Exodus 21-23

Exodus 21: The Bondservant

“ Then a new king, who did not know Joseph, came to power in Egypt.” ( Exodus 1:8) New
Ruler- New Rules. And we know what followed, the new king began to make slaves of the

Following the 10 plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the destruction of the Egyptian army by
God, we read: “ I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted. The Lord is my strength and my
song, He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God and I
will exalt Him. The Lord will reign forever and ever.” ( Exodus 15) This song of praise, called ‘
the song of Moses and Miriam expressed the desire of the people to serve God as their only
King forever and ever. They wanted a theocracy with God as their King ,or so they thought.

“Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS A HOLY
NATION.” (Exodus 19:6- God speaking)

The nation of Israel has said God will be our King forever and ever.

God has said to Israel as a nation and individuals you will be My Kingdom of Priests.

Then God as their New Ruler gives the people the New Rules, the 10 Commandments for their
good. These will keep them from returning to the bondage or yoke of sin and slavery again. Our
old nature thinks of freedom as not being under authority- but yet is under the yoke of Christ
and under the yoke of God’s law that gives us to freedom to do what we ought to do. If we stay
under the yoke of His Word, Jesus said we are His disciples indeed, and we shall know the truth
and the truth will set us free. ( John 8)

Then following the giving of the 10 commandments God gives the people the following
guidelines for how to deal with those who broke the laws.“ Now these are the judgments which
thou shall set before them.” (Exodus 21:1) Judgment is defined as a decision after judging.
God is both the law giver and the judge. “ For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our lawgiver,
the Lord is our king; It is He who will save us.” ( Isaiah 33:22) Just as today we have legislative
process which makes law and a judicial system which enforces the law with penalties for those
who are found guilty of breaking the law. This is the basis for our system of justice.

The Israelites have been freed from the kingdom of Egypt and now under a new Ruler- God
Himself. Again we see the picture of what has happened to us who were enslaved in sin and
sin was our master. “ Who has delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and brought us
into the Kingdom of the Son He Loves, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin.”(
Colossians 1:13)

1) The rule of God is the best, because it is the way to blessing.

Many refer to this government of Israel as a ‘theocracy.’ This means the nation of Israel was
under God’s rule and God’s rules. The different forms of government in the Bible are:

*Patriarchal- family rule under the father as head of family. Thus God’s rule to Honor your
father and mother.

*Theocracy- God as direct ruler of the Israel.

*Judges- People forgot God as men ruled. But what happened is best described in Judges 17-‘in
those days Israel had no king and everyone did as he saw fit.”(NIV)

*Monarchy- the rule of a human king, i.e. King Saul, David and Solomon

Theocracy has a bad name in the modern world, because it is confused with ecclesiocracy
– which is the rule of the church. The rule of the Islamic clergy in Iran is often incorrectly
described as a theocracy, because the clergy have control of the government. Theocracy is
not God ruling through the church or clergy, a true theocracy is God in direct rule over the
people. The church or clergy must never rule the state. As we have seen in Iran and even in
Christianity’s past how dangerous it becomes when the church uses the coercive power to
advance its cause. The Crusades are an example of this abuse. And today we see the results of
militant Islam as it uses force to win converts.

Now when we read these judgments that Holy God has prescribed for the treatment of
servants, injuries, violence, murder, protection of personal property, witches or sorceress,etc.,
we find ourselves ( or at least I did) shocked at the severity of punishment. For we read to not
let a witch live, and we think of the Salem witch hunts. We read of a man cursing or smiting
his father or mother being put to death and we think this punishment does not fit the crime. It
is too harsh, but when we read of a man who kills his mother and father- we want him to pay
with his life, don’t we?

This is what, for me, has made this lesson so difficult. Then I realized, I did not have a problem
with God destroying the earth and all but 8 souls in the flood. For the account of Noah and
the flood tells us God knew what was in the heart of every living soul and when He saw that it
was only evil all the time, He destroyed them. Same with Sodom and Gomorrah. It was like I
was cheering from the bleachers- yeah God – let ‘em have it! But when it comes to sin or sins I
consider less serious, or that I might have committed, I want Gods’ mercy not His judgment.

And somehow in all of this we have forgotten that the- ‘wages of sin is death.’ Some will say
this is the Old Testament God. But we must remember God does not change. Through the
Word of God we learn our God is a God of love, mercy, grace, kindness, and forgiveness. But we

2) must also know He is a Holy God, a Just God, a Righteous God. If you want to know how much
God hates sin- look at Calvary. For there He spared not His Only Son in order to free us from the
captivity of sin.

“For whoever keeps the WHOLE LAW and yet stumbles at just ONE POINT is guilty of BREAKING
ALL OF IT.” (James 2: 10) Uh-oh… so guess what we are all guilty. None of us are righteous.
And we must be holy as God is Holy, our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the
Pharisees said Jesus. We deserve to go to hell. Don’t like that, do we? That is why when we
read of what the Holiness of God demands, our old nature in conspiracy with its confidant
the serpent of the Garden wants to argue with God and God’s Word- and our old nature of
rebellion rears up and says-‘ that is not fair, God.

Guess what? The Word of God says: “ When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but
sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and
destroy. But you- who are you to judge your neighbor?” ( James 4:11-12) There is only One God
and you and I are not Him!

Now when we look at these judgments we must take notice of the first judgment God deals
with is – SERVANTS. Why did God present this judgment first? I believe because if we do not
understand the principle of servitude, of being a ‘bondservant’, we will have trouble with the
authority of God’s Word, and will find ourselves listening to our old nature, which whispers in
our ear- this doesn’t sound fair to me.

God does not condone slavery as is clearly stated in Exodus 21:15, in which God says anyone
who kidnaps another to sell him, will be executed. This is the type of slavery in which America
indulged in the 17&1800’s until the Civil War and freeing of slaves and abolishing slavery in
America. Here we see servants who are freed after 6 years and in Deuteronomy 15, God
instructs the master to send them away with provisions.

But in verse 5 we see a servant who declares upon being offered his freedom says something
very interesting: the servant says “ I love my master, my wife and my children, I will not go
out free.” This is a choice for the rest of his life. The judges were to be present for his public
declaration and he is marked by having his ear pierced with an awl . Do you understand what
the role of a servant is? A servant is devoted to serving another to the disregard of one’s own
interest. A bond is something that binds. He has declared in front of judges and is marked with
a hole in his ear. “ for whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his
life for my sake shall find it.” ( Matthew 16:25)

Understanding the role of a servant is key to understanding our relationship to God. A servant
gives up his/her rights to live independently, declaring they will not go free, but will serve their

3) master for the rest of their life because they love their master.

God wants us to obey Him, to be His bond servants. He is our master. We are told if we seek
first His kingdom and His righteousness – He, our Master will provide all our needs. You see the
bondservant did not have to worry about any of his needs, they were all met by his master.

Look at our supreme example, Jesus: “ Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality
with God something to be grasped, But He made of himself no reputation and took upon
him the form of a bondservant, and was made in the likeness of a man. And being found in
appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a
cross” ( Phil 2:6-8)

Jesus came to do the will of His Father. He washed the feet of his disciples as an example.

“Yet it shall not be so among you, but whosoever desires to become great among you shall be
your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be a slave/bondservant of all. For
even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for
many.” (Mark 10:43-45)

So how does one become a bondservant? By doing the will of the Master.

It is written , man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth
of God. ( Matthew 4) If you love me – you will keep my commandments.

You become a bondservant by serving your Master in obedience to His Command. His
commands are to be your desires. My Utmost for His Highest! His will be done in earth as it is
in heaven- that is how His Kingdom comes, that is how we serve Him- with service to Him and
others through obedience to His Word.

Jesus said come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My
yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for
you souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light. ( Matthew 11)

The one who is truly free is the bondservant. The one who has chosen to serve only God. No
matter what happens, the servant lets his Master take care of it for him. Submitting yourself to
God completely. You will experience the peace that passes understanding.

Moses was called God’s servant.

David said : “ I am your servant. Give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies.
(Psalm 119:125)

Look at how we come to regard God’s word when we are His bondservants: “ Your word is

4) pure; therefore your servant loves it.” ( Psalms 119: 140) A bondservant does not question the
commands of his master.

Paul, James, Jude, Timothy, Peter all referred to themselves in their writings as ‘bondservants of
Jesus Christ.

Are you struggling with obeying all of God’s Word? Has the enemy built a stronghold in an area
of your life? Has the heart of your old nature deceived you into believing you can live outside
certain laws of God?

A bondservant signs away his personal rights. He says to His Master I will not go free. I will
serve You and You alone. My utmost for Your Highest.

We are as a country in America- a type of a democracy. A pure democracy is a government in
which the supreme power is held by the people. Our particular type of democracy is a republic
which is a government by elected representatives.

A true theocracy where God rules and reigns from a visible throne will not be accomplished
until the Thousand Year reign described in Revelations, where the Lord Jesus shall establish His
Kingdom on earth. Then will the kingdom come and His will be done in earth as it is in heaven.

Until that time for the rest of our lives on earth, we who are redeemed, seek to have His
Kingdom to rule and reign from our hearts.

Now don’t miss this: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have
pierced(opened) burnt offers and sin offering you did not require. Then I said-‘ Here I am, I have
come – it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will , O My God; you law is within
my heart.” ( Psalms 40-6-8) Do you see what is more important- obedience. Now let us apply
this to our Lord Jesus: “ Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “ Sacrifice and
offering you did not desire, but a body prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased. Then I said, Here I am- it is written about me in the scroll-I have come to
do your will, O God.” (Hebrews 10:5-7)

The Lord Jesus is saying: I love my Master, and my wife,my bride and my family, I will not go
free. His ear was not opened with an awl, a spike against a door post. No, He was nailed to a
cross with spikes through his hands and feet. And as the bondservant was recognized by the
hole in his ear- Our Lord Jesus, the Savior Servant- is marked by the holes in his hands, his feet,
his side.

Here then is our prayer as His bondservants:

Most High God, thank You for all You have done and are doing and going to do. For You are

5) Who you say You are and can do what you say you can do. And we are who you say we are and
can do what you say we can do. For we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. You
are the only True and Living God. You are the King of the Universe. And one day every knee
shall bow and tongue confess that you are Lord.

Who in the world am I that You, King of the Universe should take notice of, much less send your
son to die for me.

Please, please help me to desire and be more than anything, Your bondservant. And may I
wisely use and invest the talents, you my Master have given me to increase them. May your
Word be active and alive in my life through unquestioned obedience; so when you return, I will
not be ashamed.

Teach me to be a good servant!