Earthly slavery, as manifested clearly in the history of the Exodus, involves at least three factors: slavery to food, slavery to the past, and slavery to the present. 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.
For some two hundred years, believers have been developing a dismissive view of the Old Testament law. “Oh, that’s from the Old Testament, and we don’t need to bother with that anymore,” is largely the usual attitude in evangelical circles.
But we’ve thrown the baby out with the bath-water. There are aspects of both continuity and discontinuity in relation to God’s law from the Old Testament, which the Bible explains or infers. The Ten Commandments remain eternally, but the focus of enforcement of the Fourth Commandment (dealing with the Sabbath) has shifted to the individual:
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind (Ro.14:5).
This is a very important Biblical principle. It has been the basis of the West’s liberties, which are now in decline. It means that every person is responsible to God for their actions.
You want to go overseas, go to university, get married or start a business? No problem. It’s your life. It may or may not be a mistake, but it is your responsibility. And it has been this Biblical culture of individual responsibility (with the associated opportunities and risks), which has been at the root of the West’s rapid development in the last 300 years.
People should remember this fact: you can’t replace something with nothing. Yes, there are aspects of Old Testament law (such as the animal sacrifices, the food laws, the seed laws and the land laws) which are fulfilled in the New Testament, because the focus today geographically is not a tiny piece of land in the Middle East, but on “…all the nations…” (Mat.28:19). God’s law is His plan for every nation.
But when people replace the Bible’s overall law and culture, there is always a price they’ll pay. If you refuse individual responsibility, someone else will have to take it up for you, and in the modern era, that has generally been the State. And the State’s representative has generally been an inefficient, self-serving, tax-funded bureaucracy.
Think of law-enforcement in the United States. It began with local police, then early in the twentieth century, they added the FBI. Its 2011 budget? $7.9 billion. Then in the 1940’s the CIA came along to supposedly deal with matters of international security, and since 2001, the US has a Department of Homeland Security, and a Transport Safety Authority.
Is US law-enforcement any better now? It’s hard to believe. Bureaucratic institutions tend to grow not because of need, but because it’s a matter of status. The leaders want the power and prestige (and money) that comes with leading a growing organisation. So they say to their political superiors, “Give us more!”
Efficiency? Irrelevant. Ethics and justice? Forget it.
Because individual liberty and responsibility are largely ignored, massive, inefficient and sometimes corrupt bureaucracies have to keep finding justifications for their existence. And they do, even if they have to invent them. And what seems to frequently happen? The innocent suffer abuse.
Can the innocent do anything about it? Mostly, no. How things have changed. Today, if your home is targeted by a SWAT team for a drug bust in the US, you could easily be killed. Law enforcement agencies can be effectively above the law. As Will Grigg writes,
The Milwaukee Police Department holds down the number two spot in the national police brutality rankings. Its distinguished contributions in the field of state-sponsored crime include a lengthy and growing list of suspicious deaths of people in police custody.
Furthermore, plausible allegations about both the FBI and the CIA have been made, linking them to many assassinations, including that of President Kennedy in 1963, and his brother Robert in 1968. But you thought it was the “land of the free and the home of the brave?” It’s time to wake up to how things have deteriorated.
When God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, they just left; there were no border restrictions. When Joseph and Mary decided at God’s direction to flee Israel to evade Herod, they simply got up in the night and left for Egypt (Mat.2:13-15).
What if you had to do the same thing? Got a passport? Got a permit? And what if you decided to go on a Friday night? Well, you would have to wait till the relevant office opened on Monday. Sorry about that.
And what if the bureaucrat essential for your approval takes exception to you? That’s why all restrictions on international movement (including passports) are generally oppressive in nature; the Berlin wall was not built with a Biblical world-view in mind. When a nation declares to its people, “you have to have our permission to leave,” they are saying in effect, “you are our slaves.” This was the attitude of many Eastern Bloc countries up until about 1990, and is reminiscent of the oppression of the Israelites under Pharoah.
A church acquaintance who immigrated from South Africa recently told me he had to pay $80,000 to come to Australia with his wife.
Something else: what if I have been visiting the south of France, and return to Australia with a few bottles of champagne, along with some Belgian chocolate, and some vintage, valuable French pistols that I’m fond of?
Anything wrong with that? Biblically, no, but according to the present laws, it would probably raise major issues with the Customs Department, and I wouldn’t be let out of the airport. The guns could be confiscated. After all, I could be about to commit a crime!
The irony is, that a well-armed populace of law-abiding citizens has a very great defence against criminals, gangs, and those who wish to do harm to the citizen base. An unarmed public, on the other hand, can do virtually nothing to defend themselves.
This goes to the heart of Biblical liberty. The Bible never focuses on what I might do with whatever is in my hands, as a potential criminal; every person is a potential criminal. It deals only with what I have done. The difference is very important in how people are treated before the law.
In Australia, we have seven State and Federal Education Departments. Why?
Well, we ignored the fact that the Bible makes parents responsible for education, and so we handed that task to the State, and the results have been horrific. Not only is it costing the taxpayer $15,000 in 2020 to send a child to a State school, but we’ve put the people with a vested interest in the Department’s perpetuation in charge.
Thus education (as in Nazi Germany) is subject to political control, the foxes are in charge of the hen-house, and parents had better not sneeze without Departmental permission. They could be prosecuted for taking responsibility for their children’s education. What a bizarre perversion of God’s justice.
In a free Biblical society, you can generally do as you wish, within Biblical boundaries. It represents a level of libertarianism we would be shocked by today. But in our present evil “nanny-state” environment, the key thing is to get permission first, even for something totally innocuous like buying a gun. Even advertising at sporting events, and labelling on cigarette packets are State regulated. Thus decision-making processes are shifted from individuals and families to the State, something God never intended.
And the worst of it? The Church accepts it.
When Israel turned from God and wanted a king “…like all the nations” (I Sam.8:5), God made it clear that “they have rejected Me from being king over them” (v.7), and that there would be consequences (v.10-18).
And what were some of these? A high tax rate of 10%, property confiscation, a general expansion of government control, and State sponsored murder (see I Sam.22:16-23).
We in the West have shown we are no different to Israel in Saul’s day. There have been, and there will be painful consequences for our poor and evil choices: massive, overbearing bureaucracies, social oppression by government and high tax rates in place of godly freedom and responsibility: God’s just judgments on us for running back to the slavery of Egypt.
But all this can change. It must change, if the West is to have a future of blessing and prosperity under God.
John the Baptist was a Biblical prophet: a radical in the Biblical tradition. He preached that “the axe is already laid at the root of the trees…” (Mat.3:10). We need his solution today.
Individuals, families and churches must begin the long religious and cultural walk out of Egypt, to the promised land of God’s glorious purpose.
This may take us generations to accomplish, just as it took us generations to get to the bad state we’re in. The time is not the issue, the issue is that we start to move. And the first and simplest place to begin to act in obedience to God, is in taking responsibility for our children’s education.
It’s time to move, and it begins with obedience and repentance on the part of God’s people. Are you ready?
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (Gal.5:1).
 Gary North, “Moses and Pharoah,” 1986, p.256.
 Will Grigg, “Meet Ed Flynn – Milwaukee Crime Lord, Citizen Disarmament Advocate,” Lew Rockwell’s website, 1/3/2013.