I Will Not Go Out Free–Part 1
Over the years I have heard much teaching on the Hebrew servant (Ex. 21:1-11; De. 15:12-18), much of which was challenging and profitable. It made deep impressions upon me and demanded that I make practical changes. Sometimes the preacher made doctrinal application to epistles like Romans. But there is another way to approach the Hebrew Servant, and that is Christologically. Over the next four Lord's Days, we will consider Exodus 21 and observe pictures of Christ in the text.
The approach is simple. We will survey the propositions made in Exodus 21:5 and apply them to the servanthood of Christ. In the first–I love my Master–we will examine the nature of the relationship between the Father and the Son. Second, we will observe the love of Christ for His Church in the statement, 'I love my...wife.' Third, we will scrutinise the love that Christ has for His own, in the statement, 'I love my...children.' Last, we will consider the statement, 'I will not go out free.'
First, A Contrast
Before considering how the type speaks of Christ, let's first look at how it doesn't. There is a limit to every type.
The limitation surrounds the basis of the slavery. How could a Hebrew become a servant? Wouldn't it be outside of God's purpose for one of His chosen people to become enslaved, even to a fellow Hebrew? Commentators suggest this was someone who had fallen into debt and entered slavery to pay it off. Notice that the law placed a seven-year limitation on the period. There was no intention that this should be forever. And so, in this regard, there is no correlation between the servant-hoods of Christ and the Hebrew. Sin enslaved the Hebrew servant; Christ 'enslaved' Himself. Paul says, he 'took...the form of a servant' (Php. 2:7).
I Love My Master
Imagine the scene. Having been subject to a master for almost seven years, a servant is now approaching the day of release. He is anticipating freedom and autonomy. But, he has a lingering doubt: His master is a good man. He has given him a wife, and from that marriage he has children. He loves them all, and so he loves his master also. At the point of his enslavement, he was bankrupt and single. Now he has paid his debt, has an occupation and a family. He couldn't have conceived of this. So as his emancipation approaches, he makes a decision: 'I will not go out free.' He had every right, but he denies Himself because of his love for the one who had done so much for him.
There is a lovely application to Christ. He had every right to remain in heaven–He is the Creator–Curator of the universe (Col. 1:16-17)–but He didn't. He took manhood of His own volition and subjected Himself to a real human experience. All so that we 'through His poverty might be rich' (2 Co. 8:9).
But note the prophetic reason given: 'I love my master.' How pure a motivation! There was nothing in Christ that was self-motivated or self-interested. He loved His Master.
Come to the Upper Room, where we listen in with the disciples as He prays to His Father. On three occasions (Jn. 15:9; 17:23; 26) He refers to the love that the Father had for Him. But on one lovely occasion (14:31) He speaks of His love for the Father;
But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so, I do.
How was the world to know that He, the Son, loved the Father? In the same way that the Hebrew servant's love for his master was known: by His obedience. We should be clear: the Father is never viewed as the master of the Son. But there is within the equality of the Trinity a voluntary subjection to the will of that Father, by the Son. The Son Himself said, 'I do always those things that please him' (Jn. 8:29).
And so the master would take the servant to the door and drive his ear through with an awl. The decision to subject His will to the Father was proclaimed in the body. 'Mine ears hast thou opened' said the Psalmist prophetically (40:6), or 'mine ears hast thou dug.' The Hebrew writer quotes this (Heb. 10: 5, 7) and says;
Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me...Then said I, Lo, I come...to do thy will, O God
The Hebrew servant revealed His love for his master by allowing him to drive an awl through his ear. The Son demonstrated His love for the Father by taking a body (the NT interpretation). In this, He showed His obedience to the world (Jn. 14:31).
May our hearts be drawn out in appreciation and worship as we remember the perfect servant today.