Choose to Be Free
Yael Eckstein | May 30, 2023
“But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.” — Exodus 21:5-6
As America pauses this week to honor those who made the greatest sacrifice so others may enjoy freedom, I share my thoughts on the biblical meaning of freedom and what that means as citizens of two great democracies and people of faith.
Are you a slave? I don’t mean to ask if you are a literal slave, owned by another human being. What I’m asking is this: Do we really feel that we can change and that we are in control of our lives?
All too often people will say: “If only (fill in the blank) were different, then I would be different.” But God says that we are free to choose the direction of our lives. We are slaves to no one and nothing but God! God wants us to be free, but we must choose to be free.
In the Book of Exodus, we find the laws of servitude. These rules dictated that a Hebrew slave was to go free after six years. But if the servant refused to leave, then the master was to make a hole in the servant’s ear by piercing it next to a doorpost.
In the words of Exodus, “He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.” Why would the ear of the servant be pierced as punishment for choosing to remain in servitude?
Choose to Be Free
The Jewish sages explain: God said, “An ear that heard My voice on Mount Sinai when I proclaimed, ‘for the Israelites belong to me as servants. They are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt’ (Leviticus 25:55). Yet, this man has gone and acquired a master for himself. Let his ear be bored through!”
God gave the children of Israel their freedom so they would no longer serve man—only God. A slave who chose to remain a slave rejected God’s gift of freedom. His ears heard God’s words, but he chose to ignore them. That’s why the ear was pierced.
The Bible teaches us that a life of servitude can be enticing. When someone is enslaved, they are told what to do, when to do it, what to eat, when to sleep, and so forth. And it’s not just about actual slaves. Many people prefer to have others make all their decisions for them. They don’t want to be free.
Freedom is a gift, but it also comes with responsibilities. For some people, it’s simply easier to remain a slave in spirit than step out into the great wide world of freedom. We must choose to be free.
What kind of person would you like to be? Exercise your freedom and be that person now!