From Bondage to Freedom

Guest Author: Nimmy Koshy

When I was in undergrad, I had the privilege of working as a crisis phone operator at a Native American domestic violence shelter. During my training, the director of the shelter talked about a sociological term called the intergenerational transmission of violence to describe the preventative and restorative work they were doing. 

In short, the intergenerational transmission of violence explains that if an individual’s parents were violent with each other, there is a higher likelihood that this individual will be violent with his/her intimate relationships. The director used it to explain the presence of a cycle of violence in the community.

In such communities, violence is passed on from generation to generation along with an attitude of fear and anger. This is all they know.

This is all I know.

I do not know how to treat the people I love. I do not know how to react to the rage inside me. I do not know how to control this downward spiral of emotions.

These shackles and chains are all I know.

The Israelites were like that. They were slaves to the Egyptians for generation upon generation. The Bible says that the Egyptians made the Israelites’ lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and in the field. The work was dealt to them over and over again (Exodus 1:13-14). Not only did the Egyptians enslave the Israelites, but they also murdered their children. By a command from Pharaoh, the Israelites lost a whole generation of sons (Exodus 1:22).

B o n d a g e .

Shackles and chains were all the Israelites knew. For generations, slavery was all they knew.

And then what happened? What broke the cycle? 

…And the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came to God. So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God saw the people of Israel – and God knew. | Exodus 2:23b-25

God saw and God knew.
God took notice.
And God provided.

He provided Moses. He gave power to Moses. He gave Aaron to Moses. He sent them back to His enslaved people. He spoke freedom.

Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel. Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped. | Exodus 3:29-31

Ah, hope! Hope for the cycle to be done with. The Israelites now knew that the Lord knew.

But the Lord knew freedom would not be easy.

The Bible says that Moses and Aaron go and speak to Pharaoh for the first time. Pharaoh does not heed their request but instead, increases the tasks for the Israelites. He increases their suffering, their bondage, and tightens the shackles of slavery around them.

Chaos. Confusion ensues among the foremen of Israel: 

How can we do this task without the resources? How can this be possible? 

Moses cries out again to the Lord. The Lord reminds him who He is, of His plan, of His promises. It was Moses’ turn now and the people needed to trust the Lord and Moses.

Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery. | Exodus 6:9

They did not listen. Why? The Lord was proving Himself by Moses and Aaron again. Why could they not listen?

Because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.

Lord, this is all we know. Waking up every morning, being whipped to finish these tasks, not given the resources for the things we have to get done, being mocked, being ridiculed. Lord this is all we know.

But the Lord didn’t leave them to all they knew. 

He vindicated His mission to Moses and Aaron again and then the Lord proved His power through 10 plagues. Every single time a plague was sent, the Lord demonstrated His power to save His people. He was proving His power to His people’s captors. The Great God of Heaven was proving His power to the object of His affection, Israel.

The Lord proved His power to grant them freedom even at the edge of the Red Sea. So much so that Moses proclaimed, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:14).

The slaves walked across a parted sea. The parted sea fell on their captors, on their taskmasters, on the wielders of their bondage.

Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. | Exodus 14:30-31

F r e e d o m .

The cycle was broken. They were slaves no longer. All they knew was gone forever.

So the redeemed sang. They sang their hearts out and what did they attribute to the Lord?

In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; In Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation. | Exodus 15:13

It was the Lord’s lovingkindness that the Israelites saw throughout it all. The story of their redemption was filled to the uttermost with the Lord’s lovingkindness.

The Israelites were under Egyptian bondage, but you and I were under stronger bondage – spiritual bondage.

In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. | Galatians 4:3

Bondage is all that we knew. We only knew how to sin. Even our efforts not to sin would just lead us back to it. This was all we knew.

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, | Galatians 4:4

At the perfect time, God sent Someone – Someone who could perfectly save us. He sent forth His perfect Redeemer.

so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. | Galatians 4:5-7

The Lord proved His lovingkindness to us at the cross. He proved His lovingkindness to us at the tomb. The Lord continually proves His lovingkindness to us every single day of our lives.

The slavery we once knew is done with forever. 

The cycle is  b r o k e n .

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