People’s perceptions of freedom vary from one to another, depending primarily on their religious pre-suppositions. Jesus said that “…the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (Jn.3:19).
A prisoner in gaol may long for the day when his path will not be impeded by an armed guard or barbed wire, but for an alcoholic, “freedom” may mean an unlimited supply of alcohol on tap. Marxist “freedom” often meant the death of all non-Marxists, whereas for a lazy person, it may be a steady, uninterrupted supply of cash. Many people in western society today claim they want to be free, but don’t threaten to take away their Social Security card!
Egypt was a welfare state for the Hebrews. The State “cared” for them, so long as they obeyed, and fulfilled their obligations as slaves. So when Moses initially sought to effect deliverance for his people, Pharoah “tried to kill Moses” (Ex.2:15). He immediately became persona non gratia.
This was the incident in Moses’ early life, when he stepped in to protect one of his brethren from an Egyptian’s beating, and subsequently killed the Egyptian. The Bible tells us that “he went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, “Why are you striking your companion?” But he said, “Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” (Ex.2:13-14).
This man’s reaction surprised Moses. Stephen later explained that “he [Moses] supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting deliverance through him, but they did not understand” (Acts 7:25). What had happened?
The guilty man who had been challenged by Moses did not want judgment by another Hebrew. He preferred to act immorally against a Hebrew brother, striking him if necessary, while remaining in bondage to the Egyptian State. He was ready to call the wrath of the Egyptians down upon Moses, who represented Israel’s best hope and highest placed representative. He wanted to remain free to commit violence against another Hebrew, even if this freedom to act immorally would continue to cost him his opportunity to live as a free man. He preferred bondage under Egypt rather than the rule of Biblical law. He preferred slavery under pagan law to freedom under Biblical law. This was to be the continuing theme for many years: Biblical law vs. slavish Israelites.
What does this mean? Freedom and responsibility are inseparable. When people act irresponsibly, they are placing their freedoms in jeopardy. They are saying effectively, “I don’t want to be free.” God gives those people exactly what they want.
The Hebrews preferred to live in bondage to a socially distant, cruel, self-proclaimed divine monarch than to subordinate themselves under a man of their own covenant. They preferred to be slaves than to be under God’s representative, Moses. They preferred the delights of rumour-spreading to the delights and responsibilities of freedom. They preferred to tear down Moses from his pedestal rather than elevate themselves, under Moses’ leadership, to freedom. They received what they wanted, another generation of servitude.
This is why the political doctrine of socialism is such a deception. It teaches that “your government will look after you, womb to tomb. You won’t have to do anything (except of course, to give us a lot of your tax money for us to squander on stupid government schemes).” This is why the person who votes for ANY socialist scheme is really saying, “I don’t want to be free.” And this is why the Hebrews (even with Moses leading them) took another generation to get the bad habits of Egypt’s slavery out of their system. Slavery is addictive.
The Hebrews cursed Moses, for he had served them as a deliverer. He had enabled them to cast off the chains of bondage. They looked to the uncertainty that lay before them (the Red Sea) and the chariots behind them, and they wailed. They had lost what they regarded as external security in Egypt, a welfare State existence, and they resented Moses’ leadership.
Don’t take for granted that your perception of freedom is a Biblical one. If you have benefitted from Social Security payments, free education, or free medical care for a while, you begin to take these payments for granted. You think, “this is normal.” It is, for slaves. When the Hebrews were leaving Egypt, that was when the fun started for Moses, because all of the things the people had taken for granted in Egypt, were disappearing. Old habits die hard. Now, God wanted them to trust and obey Him, and they found that a major challenge.
There are no short-cuts to freedom, and not all of God’s people want freedom, as Moses learned. But when individuals and nations are prepared to take complete responsibility for their lives, rejecting the pretentious promises of evil governments, freedom will logically follow for them. That means tithing, taking total responsibility for your families’ education, health and welfare, caring materially for others and much more.
Are you ready?