Apart from Ten Commandments, God also gave several civil and ceremonial laws to the Israelites. One of these civil laws was laws concerning servants. We read about these laws concerning servant in Exodus 21:2-11.
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 forever. ..Exodus 22:2-11
The moment we hear the word slave or slavery or servant, then our modern minds perceive the word to mean the MODERN UNDERSTANDING of SLAVERY. We may perceive that being a servant is like the African salve of the 18th century and prior. We imagine slave as someone having chains around their neck, hands and feet, who is tortured and oppressed and beaten. But this is not what the bible means by servant.
Since the economy in those days was dependent on agriculture and animal wealth, not all had lands and animals in abundance. So the people who lacked these used to work for them who had it in abundance. Some used to work as servants in the house. Of course, there were also servants who were war prisoners. But the servants in the bible are not closer to what we modern people imagine. For me, servants of those days are comparable to employees of the corporate company of the 21st century. Like we have labour laws and laws for employees in the company, including harassment laws, so did bible had laws for the protection of slaves and servants. Have a look at these laws;
- Servants should not be oppressed (Deut 24:14)
- Should not be ruled over with harshness but with fear of God (Lev 24:43).
- His daily wages must be given to him before the sun sets down otherwise God will punish the masters (Deut 24:15, James 5:4).
- He should be given a holiday (Exo 20:8-11)
- Corners of field, when harvested, must be left for poor fatherless widow and strangers (Lev 19:9).
- You shall love them as thyself (Lev 19:34, Deut 10:19).
- Further one who has escaped out of his master’s house voluntarily, and he runs and arrives in another place, then that servants should not be returned to his master, but he was given the freedom to live(Deut 25:15-16).
Having said this, let us turn our focus on the Christological significance of this law. The law says,
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 bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him foreverExo 21:6
” Note the word “his master shall bore his ear …” Same phraseology is used in psalms for Jesus Christ, in Psalm 40:6 “Sacrifice and Offering hast thou not desired, but my ear has thou DIG (Karah Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary כּרה ). Just like the servant in exodus who willingly wanted to serve his aster forever, would get his ears dug, so does spirit of Christ says but mine ear hast thou dig. We all know that Jesus being equal to God took form of servant (Philippians 2:6).
Many times in Old Testament we read Jesus is referred as Servant of God. For example,
“‘Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch.Zech 3:8
After he has suffered,Isa 53:11
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge, my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
The gospel according to Mark, as we know presents Jesus as a Servant. Jesus Christ is the perfect Servant who has served God by obeying all that God asked him to finish on earth. He said, “I came not to do my own will but the will of him that sent Me (John 6:38).” And he also said, “I am among you as he that serves (Luke 22:27).”
So there is no doubt, that Holy Spirit had Jesus in mind while presenting these civil and ceremonial laws. Paul says that we should have the same mind as that of Jesus (Philippians 2:5). The Apostles of Christ called themselves as servants of Christ (Rom 1:1, Gal 1:10, Titus 1:1, Jude 1, 2 Pet 1:1, James 1:1). We are also called as servants of Christ (1 Cor 7:22). So, every one of us is a servant of Christ when we accept the Lordship of Christ over us. So the law of servants in Mosaic laws is thus a pointer to Christ and it helps us to willingly surrender ourselves as servants of Christ.
Mount Sinai vs Mount Capernaum
We read about what God spoke the Ten Commandments, people asked Moses to speak on behalf of God. They feared God’s voice, speaking to them directly. So Moses went up the mountain and brought the laws of God from Sinai and read it before the people.
And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shall say unto the children of Israel, ……Thou shall not take the name of Lord in vain (20:7)……Thou shall not kill (Ex 20:13)… thou shall not commit adultery (Ex 20;14)..And Moses came and told the people all the words of LordExo 20:21-22,24:3
So we read that Moses goes up to the mountain and receives the commandments of God and speaks them to the people. When we compare this with New Testament, we see Jesus is also presented by Matthew as new Moses. Jesus ascends up the mountain and gives his famous sermon on the mount resembling the laws given by Moses.
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: Jesus said,…. Ye have heard ….Thou shalt not kill; ….But I say unto you…. Mat 5:27 Ye have heard….Thou shalt not commit adultery: …..But I say unto you, Mat 5:31 It hath been said, … Mat 5:33 Again, ye have heard …..Thou shalt not forswear thyself, ….. But I say unto you…
So when we read about Moses who stood on Mount Sinai and gave the laws of God in Exodus, we are reminded of Jesus standing on the Mount and giving his sermon in New Testament in Matthew. The difference, however, is that Moses gave all the laws externally, but Jesus mentioned that those who have been founded upon the rock (whose life has been established upon the rock Jesus), will stand firm when temptation strikes. They will be able to do the commandments of Jesus commanded by him from the mountain where he gave his ten beatitudes (Matt 5).
So what is the point? We have new Moses as prophecied in Deut 18:15, Jesus/Yahshua (YHWH is our salvation), who is greater than Moses of Exodus, and who has given laws of God, written in the hearts of them, who are founded upon a solid foundation of cornerstone Jesus (The rock). Commandments of Christ proceed from our actions because of the rock on which we are built. It is not that our actions and doing of the will that makes us stand on the rock but this that our standing on the rock makes us do his will. Our obedience is from within him, who dwells inside us, from inside our regenerated new selves which are united to God.
Click here to check out all our previous articles on this subject