The opening verses in this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Mishpatim, begin with regulations on slavery. The Torah considers slavery something significant enough to talk about. How might these verses relate to us today? Remember in Parashat Bo, the Lord God of Israel told Moshe that He הִכְבַּדְתִּי אֶת-לִבּוֹ “glorified (hardened) Pharaoh’s heart,” suggesting that the Lord God Almighty helped to facilitate the strengthening of pride in Pharaoh’s life. The hardening in part was to show forth the power of God where hardening is the neglect (absence) of a repentant heart and is connected to the self glorification of our own hearts. When we consider the way in which the Lord led the people out of Egypt, where Egypt is a type of physical and spiritual bondage, everyone today is a slave to something. We are either slaves to sin (to unrighteousness), or slaves to the Lord God in heaven (to righteousness). Remember, being a slave to sin has both physical and spiritual aspects. The same goes for one who is a slave to the Lord God in heaven. For example, the writers of the Apostolic Writings willingly declared their status as slaves to the Lord. Paul opens his letter to the Romans by referring to himself as a “slave of Yeshua the Messiah” (Romans 1:1, Παῦλος δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, κλητὸς ἀπόστολος, ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ) and his letter to Titus by calling himself a “slave of God” (Titus 1:1, Παῦλος δοῦλος θεοῦ, ἀπόστολος δὲ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ κατὰ πίστιν ἐκλεκτῶν θεοῦ καὶ ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας τῆς κατ’ εὐσέβειαν). James opens his epistle the same way saying, “James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1, Ἰάκωβος θεοῦ καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοῦλος ταῖς δώδεκα φυλαῖς ταῖς ἐν τῇ διασπορᾷ χαίρειν). Most translations write “servant” or “bond-servant” in these passages, however the Greek word doulos (δοῦλος) is translated, literally as “slave.” The buying and selling into slavery is as real today in both the physical and the spiritual sense, as it was back in the day the Lord delivered His people from Mitzrayim (Egypt). In John 8:34 Yeshua tells the Pharisees, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave (δοῦλος) of sin.” When we think of the analogy of a slave and his master, the point is that a slave obeys his master because he “belongs” to him. A slave has no will of his own. A slave is in bondage to his master. This is a significant point because when sin is our master, we are unable to resist it. The Scriptures in the Torah portion state, ב כִּי תִקְנֶה עֶבֶד עִבְרִי שֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים יַעֲבֹד וּבַשְּׁבִעִת יֵצֵא לַחָפְשִׁי חִנָּם: 21:2 ‘If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment. (NASB) Moshe makes the point that the Lord does not want us to be in slavery all of our lives. One of the fundamental teachings about the Messiah, is in the Lord equipping us to overcome the power of sin. Do you have this power in your life today? This is why Paul wrote what he did in Romans 6:18 saying, “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (ελευθερωθεντες δε απο της αμαρτιας εδουλωθητε τη δικαιοσυνη) This is the purpose of the Torah as it is related to Teshuvah (Repentance) to turn from sin, to overcome sin, to walk in righteousness, holiness, justice, and truth, and to seek the Messiah. As we are enabled to live for the Lord in the Messiah, the Spirit of God dwells in our midst, and it is by the power of God that we are able to resist sinning and thus “being made slaves” (εδουλωθητε) to righteousness. This means the children of God obey Him and live in freedom from habitual sin. We can do this because Yeshua has set us free from the slavery of sin (John 8:36) paying the redemption price. This is how these things found in the Torah portion (slavery) are related to us today. The question is “have you sold yourself to sin?” or “have you sold yourself to righteousness?” When we commit ourselves as followers of the Messiah we are committing ourselves to growing and maturing in our faith by reading, studying, and putting into practice God’s Word each day. We are also committing ourselves to spending time in prayer with Him and to serving Him by serving others. When we do these things, we will find ourselves more and more able to stand against and resist sin in our lives. Let’s discuss this further in this week’s Torah portion.


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