There is almost no culture, and no time in history that did not experience slavery. It is said that today, after slavery has been outlawed in every country in the world, there exist between 20 and 36 million slaves worldwide.
The historical prototype for an enslaved nation in world history has always been the Israelites in Egypt. Entrenched in the overwhelming Egyptian culture, the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt was an unprecedented victory of the human spirit against oppression and prejudice. Such a thing had never occurred before and was not to happen in such a sudden and dramatic way again. (It can be argued that the slaves in America were liberated after the civil war, but many remained subjugated and oppressed for decades to come.) Moses asks the Children of Israel in Deuteronomy 4:34 ” Or has God ever before tried to deliver a nation from the middle of another nation, accompanied by judgments, signs, wonders, war, strength, power, and other very terrifying things like the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?”
This is the event which gave hope and solace to all oppressed nations of the world as the words of Moses echo throughout the centuries: ” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and speak to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me””. Wait – what were those last five words? “That they may serve Me”? Were the Israelites leaving one form of servitude for another?
Seemingly yes. Many scholars and commentators talk about this interesting phenomenon. The Israelites did not really leave Egypt and become “free”, but, rather, became servants or slaves, as you will, to someone else. Admittedly, the new “master” was God Himself, but it is still servitude. Yet, when honestly considering this point, it appears that there is no person in the world who is not controlled by someone or something, Our lusts and desires, our eagerness to impress others and attain honor, our pursuit of money and physical comforts, all seem to control us and lead us to yet another form of slavery. Jewish tradition believes that true freedom is servitude of God, for it frees us from all other external controlling forces and allows us to do what is truly right. God gave us a roadmap to how to live our lives. Believing in Him and following His map allows us to experience real freedom.
The exodus from Egypt was a true triumph of the spirit. Of an oppressed, enslaved people who marched out of the country that had enslaved them, on their way to true freedom. It is a universal message to the entire world that freedom is a basic right and an obligation as well. Perhaps the bible in Leviticus 25:55 says it best. ” Because the Israelites are My Own servants; they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”