The Israelites could clearly see the source of their bondage. He had a name and a face – Pharaoh. It was extremely tangible. For most of us in the Western World, we do not experience the same type of bondage as the Israelites. Our slavery is not due to an unjust ruler that lords over or binds us. In fact, America boasts of its freedom. We are a country built on individual freedom. We take great pride in being ‘the land of the free.’ But what does freedom really mean?
In his last book, “Memory and Identity”, Saint John Paul II made a bold proposition, “One may legitimately ask whether [the socioeconomic system of the West] is not another form of totalitarianism, subtly concealed…”
Make no mistake, totalitarianism is a strong and very pointed concept and worldview, requiring complete subservience to its masters. It’s safe to say John Paul II is questioning our freedom, to say the least. On many occasions, he described the West as “The Culture of Death,” which isn’t the most endearing endorsement either. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, doubled down labeling the West “a dictatorship of relativism,” a worldview denying the existence of objective and absolute morality and truth.
If the truth will set you free, then the lack of absolute truth will certainly do the opposite. Depending upon your definition of freedom, ‘the land of the free’ evolves into the ‘not so free’. Spiritual bondage then evolves into an even deeper bondage than physical bondage, with eternal rather than temporary implications at stake.
Bondage of a soul for all eternity is known as hell. Yikes! We started our journey by saying that God’s burning desire for you was for your freedom; now Satan’s burning desire for you has been revealed. Unfortunately, it’s a different kind of fire and I’m not interested in joining the misery of his company.
God cares about both the physical and the spiritual. We saw yesterday that it was undeniably God’s initiative to set his people free from the captivity in Egypt. Furthermore, this story from salvation history foreshadowed what was to take place and reach ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Christ came not just for the Israelites but for the entire world. The new Moses (Jesus) came not merely for a physical freedom of land but a spiritual freedom from the chains of sin. He came to break our chains and set us free! I’ve heard it said that when you swim in the ocean you start to smell like fish. Although we live in a beautiful world, meticulously crafted by the hands of God, it also has within it cultural concerns that require daily inner as well as external reflection and discernment to identify sources of bondage and honestly assess how free we really are.
Tomorrow, we take the next step in our journey and begin the process to clearly name our Pharaoh. Once we name it, we will confront it!