When Will God Free All Slaves?
“And the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage,
and they cried, and their cry came up unto God. . . .” Exodus 2:23
Over three thousand years ago, Hebrew slaves were freed from bondage to the Pharaoh of Egypt. In the Scriptural account of that release from Egyptian slavery, the firstborn Hebrews were first saved from the deadly plague on Egypt. But that final plague also made possible the release of the whole nation of Israel from slavery.
Today, most think of slavery as a matter of history. But evidence reveals that slavery is just as real, brutal andinhuman now as in the past! Modern slavery controls the lives of millions of people across the globe. This “human trafficking” is defined as working without pay under threat of violence—and being unable to walk away.
The U.S. State Department’s 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report reveals worldwide estimates up to 27 million victims. Shockingly, there are more people in slavery today than at any other time in human history! Although slavery has existed for thousands of years, changes in the world’s economy over the past 50 years have enabled a resurgence of slavery. Government corruption around the world allows slavery to go unpunished—even though it is illegal everywhere! What has facilitated the new slavery? Today slaves are cheap. As a result, they are disposable.
Slavery in America—and the World. Of course, African Americans had been enslaved in what became the United States since early in the 17th century. When the U. S. Constitution was adopted, importation of slaves was supposed to end by 1808. However, slavery became an economic necessity and thus a thriving institution—especially in the Southern United States for the cotton industry. Not all African American slaves worked on large cotton plantations—but many other types of agriculture including tobacco, hemp, corn and livestock. Thankfully, the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment 13 freed the Slaves. Yet, after the tumultuous years of the Civil War Emancipation and Reconstruction (1861-77), second class status was perpetuated for “four score” more years until the Civil Rights movement began to achieve the progress of the 1950s and 60s—almost a century later.
Since slavery now feeds directly into the global economy of the 21st Century, it makes sense that we should be concerned by the ways in which slavery actually flows into our homes through the products we buy and the investments we make. Slaves harvest cocoa in the Ivory Coast, mine gold in Ghana for IT products, weave carpets in India and the Middle East—the list goes on.
Slavery exists illegally in nearly every country of the world—and the US and Europe are not exceptions. Research that Free the Slaves, Inc (freetheslaves.net). conducted with the University of California, Berkeley found documented cases of slavery and human trafficking in more than 90 cities across the United States.
Men out of jobs commit to labor opportunities which become traps for slavery. Women experiencing domestic abuse in their homes try to escape and find themselves slaves in human trafficking. Youths of both gender are also being continuously trafficked for immoral purposes in business that reaps billions of dollars in profits. Hotline Polaris Project observes that because of fear, the victims are usually afraid to report these crimes (News Transcript, Jan. 29, 2014).
Slavery—in the Chocolate Industry Chocolate is a product of the cacao bean grown primarily in the tropical climates of West Africa and Latin America. Ghana and the Ivory Coast supply 75% of the world’s cocoa market for some of the largest chocolate companies in the world.
Children of poor families may first be “sold” by a desperate family who might not be aware how dangerous the commitment is. Traffickers also abduct children between the ages of 12-16 from small villages. Slave children as young as 7 have been filmed working on farms. Some victims end up working to adulthood on the cocoa farms—never having an education.
Required to climb cocoa trees and cut bean pods, the children use heavy, dangerous machetes . Holding a single large pod in one hand, the child strikes the pod with the machete and potentially risks severely cutting fingers, hands and arms. Other hazards expose them to pesticides without any protective equipment. They also face physical violence for working slowly or attempts to escape. Additionally, UNICEF reports an estimated 246 million children (those not slaves) are engaged in many forms of child labor—including mining, working with pesticides in agriculture or on fishing boats with the high risk of drowning.
Modern slavery statistics total $32 billion generated yearly by the human trafficking industry—with $15.5 billion profits in industrialized countries—in 161 countries.
Noble Efforts to Eradicate Modern Slavery While there are many noble and dedicated people—as well as the United Nations—trying to eradicate global slavery, their efforts are not very successful. Creating public awareness and focusing money for recovering slaves. seems to be the most workable answer.
Incredibly commendable, however, is the 9-year-old girl who having seen a picture of slave children in Nepal carrying heavy rocks on their backs—decided to raise money by selling $150,000 of Lemonade to free them! A documentary movie depicting her role in freeing children from slavery premiered February 1, 2014, on National Freedom Day (the day set aside by Abraham Lincoln when he signed a resolution in 1865 which later became the Thirteenth Amendment, outlawing slavery in the US.)
Slavery in the Mosaic Law Covenant The system of slavery allowed by Moses was fundamentally different from the cruel systems of the ancient world—and this century. Under the Law Covenant, before becoming a slave, if one became indebted, he would have to first mortgage away his land property. Then if becoming still more indebted, he would have to become an indentured servant for six years (Exodus 21:2)—unless the cycle of the Fiftieth Year of Jubilee came first!
“You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family.” NASU
In any case, the Torah actually protected the safety of slaves during their servitude. Any cruelty on the part of a master that resulted in injury to the slave’s body secured the slave’s complete freedom (Exodus 21:26).
Egyptian Slavery and Freedom Of course, in the history of the children of Israel it is well remembered that God permitted the Israelites to fall under Egyptian slavery. According to the Scriptures, when there was famine in Canaan the Hebrews migrated to Egypt and prospered there for a long time. With plenty of food under the benefit of their kin Joseph, they settled in the area of Goshen instead of returning home to Canaan.
When another Pharaoh arose “which knew not Joseph” matters worsened (Exodus 1:8; Acts 7:18). Finally, “God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24).
Saving of the Firstborn Slaves Remarkably, God sent a series of plagues to soften the Pharaoh’s grip on the Israelite slaves. Instead Pharaoh’s heart “hardened” (Exodus 7:13, etc.) until the tenth plague—a climactic disaster focused on all the firstborn of man and beast (Exodus 11: 5). However, God instructed Moses to have all Israelites take a lamb for every household, kill it on the fourteenth of Nisan, roast it with fire and put its blood ”on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses” a sign to be passed over by the angel of death (Exodus 12:7,8). Told “eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover” (vss. 11, 13) those firstborn Hebrews under the blood of a lamb were saved!
What was the significance of this remarkable event of history? First of all, beginning with Passover, “the Law” of Moses was “a shadow of the good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1). The Christian Church is actually called “the...church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23). And, of course, James said that “we should be a kind of first fruits among His creatures” (James 1:18).
The "Lamb of God" Slain for the World Certainly, also, Jesus’ footstep followers now are spoken of by Peter as being “not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold...but the precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-20). As John announced Jesus at his baptism, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). And in the concluding Book of the Bible—Revelation—Jesus is called “the lamb” twenty-six times!
Yes, Jesus died as the “lamb” to take away “the sin of the world,” and release mankind from slavery to sin and death.’ But how many Christians relative to total world population in history have actually been saved? According to the Pew Research Center he number of Christians have increased over the last century—though Christianity still remains only one third of world population. What about the billions who are not Christians, the “firstfruits” —who are “baptized into Christ” and become part of “Abraham’s seed” (Galatians 3:27-29)? What about the millions also who lived before Jesus ever came to die for our sins? How then could it be said Jesus was to be a “ransom for all” (2 Timothy 2:6) laying down his life for all “the world”?
Deliverance of All Israel from Slavery In fact, Apostle Paul drew a wonderful connection for the whole people of Israel afterwards passing through the Red Sea to be delivered from the bondage of Egypt. “Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left” (Exodus 14:29).
1 Corinthians 10:1-2
“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye shouldbe ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”
This national deliverance under Moses actually pointed forward to the deliverance of the whole world in Jesus’ Kingdom on earth for which we are always praying (Matthew 6:10). All mankind will have the opportunity —with Satan bound during the Thousand Years. Man will be freed from the bondage of deception, sin and death (Revelation 20:1-3). People will be free to learn, accept and love Jesus, the greater Moses (Revelation 20:1-3; Hebrews 3:5-6). They will become, so to speak, logically the ‘After Fruits!’
Freeing all the Slaves in Christ's Kingdom True, those who have been deeply absorbed in sin— affecting their characters—will have a harder time. “Every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the [1000-year] day of judgment.” (Matt 12:36-37). But the Judgment Day of “a thousand years” is not so much a time of sentencing, but a time for the vast majority of mankind given opportunity “to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:7-9).
So in this Christian Age, the truly committed believers are on a “Narrow Way” (Matthew 7:14) and have to deal with their adversary Satan. However, in Christ’s Kingdom, with Satan bound, the world will have a wide “Highway...a Way of Holiness” (Isaiah 35:8) to walk on. There, some of the more noble of humanity—who nevertheless did not “know Jesus”—will learn the “pure language” of truth and make fast progress on the fast lanes! There will be “no lion” (vs. 9) as Satan to blind and to “deceive the nations” (Revelation 20:3).
Yes, all humanity is enslaved to sin. But even those of fallen humanity who were literally slaveholders—or abusive to others—will have to show true heart repentance. Then all humanity’s slaves to sin and death will have full opportunity to be freed and achieve Eternal Salvation!