It is one thing to leave slavery behind it is another to stop thinking like a slave. We have all been slaves to sin, but God made it possible to be free of sin through Jesus Christ, yet this work is a process, called the renewing the mind. Exodus 21 deals directly with the physical issue of how to treat a slave fairly. This leads to the question is God okay with slavery?
When something in scripture does not line up with the nature of God we must study it in depth for truth from the Word will never violate the nature of God.
President Monroe sent African slaves back to Liberia after the abolishment of slavery, but the problem was these slaves had not been educated well. Upon their arrival, they began to treat the African nationalists like they had been treated by their slave masters, which led to a conflict that has cost the lives of thousands and has not been repaired to this day.
Not everything in scripture reflects the way of heaven, because of the frailty of mankind God permits certain things though it isn’t His will. One example of this is divorce God permits it but He hates it. God understands the evil of mankind and driven by greed and lust issues such as slavery exist, even at this time.
In the time of Exodus slavery was common everywhere, throughout history, people have exploited others for the lust of money. God is in the process of transforming lives and systems. We see this throughout the Old Testament the way to treat slaves transitions from Exodus through Deuteronomy into Leviticus where eventually the command is that no Israelite is allowed to be a slave.
When a society built around slavery suddenly stops then economic destruction will follow. God began the shift out of slavery in the Wilderness but it was a process. While slavery still existed the way slaves were to be treated was completely different than how the Egyptian slave masters treated their slaves. We see that slaves were to be set free after seven years of service with their spouses, yet given the choice to serve them for life if that is what they wanted.
Paul addresses this with the story of Philemon in the New Testament. First, it must be understood that the whole structure of Rome was based on slavery. Slaves in these times were often treated better than free men, they were assured of food, clothing, and shelter, slaves could even be doctors, musicians, teachers, artists, etc.
Slavery was not addressed in the New Testament directly because it would have caused chaos. Paul does not order Philemon to free Onesimus or teach that slavery was evil. But by ordering Philemon to treat Onesimus as a brother, the abuse of slavery was eliminated.
If we are going to move with God we must treat people as God would want them treated. God created all people in His image. To treat someone poorly because of their ethnicity is a direct affront to God and His most prized creation. How do you feel if someone mistreats your child? God feels the same and will not allow it to go unpunished.
We are called to establish the justice and righteousness of God throughout the Earth. Child soldiers, forced prostitution, and forced labor are forms of slavery and evil and it is our responsibility as stewards of the Earth to eradicate it.
It is one thing to draw near to God it is another to walk with Him. People often experience God's presence but living in His presence few reaches. The difficulty with abiding in Christ is not God, Himself, but people. Whether purposely or by accident, we trip up by the actions of others.
Ask someone why they stopped going to church, the fault being God will be less common. The blame game goes to church leadership or it's members. The difficulty we have as leaders is trying to get people to get along enough where a significant move of God can take place. God is sovereign but He has chosen to move through His body and if the parts are not together, His power has limits.
Here in Exodus 21:12-36, God instructs the children of Israel regarding how to respond to accidents or malicious acts. God wants His people to get to a place that nothing or nobody moves them but by God. Whether something someone does is by accident or not we need to keep our focus on the will of God. Not that we are not to seek out forgiveness, but we must maintain our surrendered attitude if we are going to continue to walk with God.