Series 47


by Francis Dixon
Study verses: Exodus 21:1-6

God’s purpose and desire for each one of us is that we should serve Him for ever; but what is meant by serving Him? Often we have a very limited conception of what it really means to serve God. We think of service as being involved in activity and movement, but the real meaning is far deeper than that. To serve the Lord, to be His servant, is to be His bond-slave, to be completely at His disposal and ready, without question, to do His will (2 Samuel 15:15). The alternative is to be the servant of sin (Romans 6:17); self (Romans 7:18-24); and Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4). How terrible to be a slave to sin, self and Satan! But how wonderful to be a bond-slave of Jesus Christ! – to serve Him not only in this life but in eternity (Revelation 22:3)! Read Exodus 21:1-6 carefully, and picture a young man in the situation described in these verses.


1. He was Bought with a Price (verse 2)

We read, “If you buy a Hebrew servant…” The young man we are picturing was in the slave market, waiting to be bought. Why was he there? Possibly because his parents were poor and had sold him, or possibly he had committed some crime and had been sentenced to become a slave. But look at him. He was in bondage, unable to free himself, and waiting to be sold – not to the man of his choice, but to the highest bidder.

One day, however, there came into the slave market a master whom he at once recognised as being completely worthy of his loyal service. This master struck the bargain, paid the price and bought him, and the young man went out of the slave market the property of the one who had bought him. He had been bought with a price. Now, we were once in the slave market and in bondage to sin, self and Satan (John 8:34; Ephesians 2:2-3). One day, however, there came into the slave market One whom we at once recognised to be completely loyal. He paid the price of our redemption with His own blood (1 Peter 1:18-19); He bought our redemption on Calvary because He wanted to make us His own for ever (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). But notice something else about the young man pictured in Exodus 21:1-6:-


2. He was Faced with a Choice (verses 2, 5, 6)

He had been purchased by his master, but at the end of six years he could, if he chose to do so, go free. We are faced with a similar choice. Our Master has bought us with His own blood and now we have to choose whether we will serve Him or whether we will go on serving sin, self and Satan. The Lord never forces anyone to serve Him. The cry goes out, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15); and the choice is between Christ who died to redeem us – and sin, self and Satan! What a solemn thought this is! Because God has given us a free will we can choose not to serve Him but to go on in our own way (Isaiah 53:6). Many do so, but there is one mighty force which constrains a man to serve the Lord and to give Him whole-hearted allegiance. It is the love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14), and notice the words in Galatians 2:20, “the Son of God…loved me and gave himself for me”. This thought of the constraint of love is brought out beautifully in Exodus 21:5.

The six years had passed, and now it was the morning of the first day of the seventh year, and the master said to his servant, “Choose…this day…” And what did the servant say? Verse 5 tells us: “I love my master…and do not want to go free”. So we see that the young man pictured here was not only bought with a price, and faced with a choice, but also:


3. He was Constrained by a Love

In what way did love constrain this man to remain with his master and to serve him for ever? Love constrained him in three ways:

  1. 1. To make a clear decision. Notice in verse 5 (KJV) the words “plainly say”. Have you ever made a clear-cut decision to be one hundred per cent available to the Lord as your Sovereign?
  2. 2. To make an open confession. Verse 6 tells us that the young man had to be brought before the judges, that they might witness his surrender and dedication. He made a public confession. It is great when a Christian is willing to confess the Lord openly and unashamedly (Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 10:9-10).
  3. 3. To make a permanent dedication. See what happened, according to verse 6. After taking the young man to the judges, he was taken to the doorpost and his ear was bored with an awl, as a token that he had handed himself over unreservedly and of his own freewill to serve his master for ever. From now on he was a marked man; he had the mark on his ear, and the dedication he had made was a permanent one – it was “for life”.

Are you asking the question, Why should I serve the Lord for ever? The answer is in Psalm 40:6, where we hear the Lord Jesus, speaking in the voice of prophecy and in anticipation of His incarnation and redemptive work, saying, “My ears you have pierced”. How wonderful it is that our Saviour should love us so much as to be willing to be identified with us in our humanity (apart from sin), in order that we might be redeemed and serve Him for ever!