Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out of there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. – Deuteronomy 5:15
This is part of Deuteronomy’s version of the fourth commandment, about keeping the Sabbath. In it, Moses has just told the Israelites to make sure all who live with them, including immigrants who work the land and even the livestock, rest on that day. Why? Because God, unlike neurotic, work-aholic Pharaoh, believes in resting and enjoying life. Take a day off. See your blessings. Enjoy the people around you. Thank God for each second.
And it all starts by stopping and remembering when were you a slave.
Slaves don’t have any self-respect. They’re told what to do and when to do it. They are treated as less than human. Any time come to mind when you felt powerless?
Slaves don’t deserve to rest. They’re useful only as long as they are productive. They’re on call 24/7. Any time come to mind when you couldn’t turn off the time-clock? Any time you felt you had to produce in order to survive?
Slave harbor resentment. I’ve never read any story where a slave enjoyed being a slave. They would do anything they could to be free.
And Israel’s first introduction to God is when the Lord swamped Pharaoh’s chariots and led the Hebrews through the wilderness to the Promised Land.
Our first introduction to God should always start with remembering how we’ve been freed. Through Jesus we are loved, given worth, affirmed. We are invited to rest and enjoy his company and that of new brothers and sisters. We exchange resentment for gratitude.
As Paul put it, “Christ has set us free for freedom. Therefore, stand firm and don’t submit to the bondage of slavery again.” (Galatians 5:1)