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Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "Moses' Fourth Speech." To view all parts, click the link below.
The law is not merely an ethical guideline to define right and wrong in our dealings with God and our neighbors. The law is also prophetic, because it tells us the manner in which God deals with nations and with us as individuals.
For this reason, we see how Passover prophesied of the death of Jesus Christ at the precise time that all the Passover lambs were being killed. The feast of weeks, or Pentecost, was fulfilled seven weeks after Christ’s resurrection when the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 disciples in the upper room in Acts 2. The disciples would have loved to receive the Holy Spirit earlier, but they had to wait seven weeks because the law prophesied the appointed time.
The timing in the law was based upon the meaning of numbers, of course, but it also established waiting periods in order to arrive at “the fulness of time” (Galatians 4:4) and “the time appointed” (Galatians 4:2). Impatient men look for ways to bypass these appointed times, but God has established them out of the wisdom of His own mind.
The Creation Jubilee Calendar was established in the beginning to rule the earth. It was appointed that after six days of labor, God decrees a rest in the seventh day. Another rest is declared after six years. Still another rest—the Jubilee—is declared after seven sevens of years (49). Each is prophetic on its own level.
Therefore, when Moses says that slaves were to be set free after laboring for six years, this too is a prophetic pattern of things to come. This law not only looks back to the Creation pattern, but it also looks forward to the great Sabbath Millennium yet to come, when the first of the first fruits—the overcomers—are raised from the dead and enter into their full rest.
Revelation 20:4-6 speaks of this as “the first resurrection,” including only believers who are called to reign, judge, and minister with Christ in the seventh thousand-year cycle since Adam. The general resurrection of the dead is said to occur at the end of the Great Sabbath (Rev. 20:12). The timing of God, based upon the Jubilee calendar, was ingrained in Hebrew thought patterns. Unfortunately, when the Hebrew Christians were expelled from Judea and saw an influx of Greek converts, this thought pattern was lost in the second century. It was overwhelmed by Greek culture and ways of thinking.
One great advocate of Hebrew thought was Barnabas, who wrote in 13:4, 5,
4 Consider, my children, what that signifies, “he finished them in six days.” The meaning of it is this, that in six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end. 5 For with Him one day is a thousand years; as Himself testifieth, saying, “Behold, this day shall be as a thousand years.” Therefore, children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, shall all things be accomplished.
Barnabas did not shed much light on what God would actually do at the end of six thousand years. This is left to John in Revelation 20, where we learn that a limited resurrection was to take place. We may, therefore, relate this resurrection to the freed Hebrew slave who would return to have his ear bored to the Door of Christ.
Such a slave has the law written upon his heart, so he comes freely, motivated by love, to do the will of the Master. The work to be done in that Millennium is to teach the word of God to the nations in a much greater way than has been seen in past years. Isaiah 2 says,
3 And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways, and that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from [new] Jerusalem. 4 And He will judge [mediate disputes] between the nations; and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation. And never again will they learn war.
In other words, God intends to set up a government which Daniel 2:35 knows as the Stone Kingdom, which grows over time until it fills the whole earth. Jesus Christ will judge the nations as the Chief Justice, and under Him, “the saints will judge the world” (1 Corinthians 6:2).
The overcomers are called to rule and judge the world, not to condemn the world, but to mediate disputes according to the righteous law that has been written on their hearts. They are also called to teach the law, for it reveals the “ways” of God, His mind, and His heart. In this way Kingdom law and culture will be established worldwide until all nations are conformed to the image of Christ.
Those overcomers are the ones who learned to love their Master during the time that they were bond slaves of Jesus Christ. During their life on earth, they came to love the ways of God to the point where His law was written on their hearts. This is what qualified them to “return” as perpetual bond slaves to be attached to the Door of Christ by the ear, so that they could be elevated to full Sonship and do the work of their Father even as Jesus did.
In other words, their work is to deal with the nations who do not yet know God or His law. This Sabbath Millennium will be the greatest time of world evangelism that the world has ever seen. It will not be centered upon the old Jerusalem, nor the old Zion, for Hebrews 12:22 says,
22 But you have come to Mount Sion [typified by Mount Hermon, called Sion in Deut. 4:48] and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem [typified by Sarah in Gal. 4:26], and to myriads of angels.
These overcomer slave-sons will not only judge the world, but also will have to relate to the rest of the church, for there will be many Christian believers who do not qualify for Sonship at the first resurrection and must await the general resurrection to receive their inheritance. Jesus Himself said that there would be many believers raised from the dead at the same time that unbelievers are to be raised (John 5:28, 29). I discussed this greater detail in my book, The Purpose of Resurrection.
The law of perpetual bondservants speaks in greater detail of this in Exodus 21, even though Moses says nothing of it in his fourth speech in Deuteronomy 15. These details, relative to the two types of marriage relationships that God recognizes in the law, are given in Exodus 21:2-6,
2 If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment. 3 If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave plainly says, “I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,” 6 then his master shall bring him to God [that is, to the judge representing God], then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.
Here will see more details about this law than Moses specified in Deuteronomy 15. The slave may have greater motive than simply his love for the master. He may also love his wife and children.
At first glance, we may be horrified at the prospect of being set free while having to leave one’s wife and children enslaved. This requires some explanation. The first question to be raised is why the man should be released after six years, but not the woman and children. Do they not have equal rights to be set free and even the right to return to have an ear bored to the door? Yes, of course. Moses grants them this right in Deuteronomy 15:17, “and also you shall do likewise to your maidservant.”
So why should this slave’s wife not be set free along with him? What makes her ineligible for release after six years of labor? There are two possibilities: (1) she is a foreign slave, perhaps having been taken against her will in time of war, or (2) she is already a perpetual bondservant.
The first possibility may be disputed on the grounds of equal treatment of foreigners who have become citizens of Israel and who are thus expected to keep the feasts and follow the law of God along with all other Israelites. As a prophetic type, such a woman comes into the nation against her will, and so the law is not yet written on her heart. A foreign maidservant under such conditions may be contrasted to a Hebrew handmaiden.
The second possibility is that she had already been released after a previous six-year time of servanthood and had returned as a perpetual bondslave. Under such conditions, her master’s authority takes precedence over the authority of her husband. If he returns after being set free, and his ear is nailed to the Door, then he and his wife may remain together, for they are “equally yoked together,” having open ears in common.
This entire question revolves around God’s law recognizing two types of marriage. There is the marriage of a slave and the marriage of a free woman. The law treats them differently, because these prophesy of two different relationships that the Bride of Christ may have with the Husband.
Years ago, when I first began to contemplate this distinction, I did not understand it. After reading Exodus 21:2-6, I rolled my eyes and said to God, “What is this?? Surely, this is one of the worst laws in Scripture!” God immediately responded with a simple statement: “Abraham had two wives.”
Suddenly, I understood, and I then saw the prophecy and wisdom inherent in this law. Abraham’s two wives were Hagar and Sarah. One was a bondwoman, and the other was free. Paul says in Galatians 4:22,
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the freewoman.
The bondwoman, Paul says, is the Old Covenant, corresponding to Hagar. The free woman is the New Covenant, corresponding to Sarah. The law establishes God’s right to treat them differently. Even as Hagar could not bring forth the inheritor, so also is it with any whose relationship with God is based upon the Old Covenant. Conversely, even as Sarah was called to bring forth the promised seed that was to inherit all things, so also is it with those who are of the New Covenant. Hence, Paul says in Galatians 4:31,
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman.
In the divine plan, God married Israel at Mount Sinai. Israel’s relationship with God corresponded to Hagar, and hence, that covenant relationship, though lawful, could not produce any inheritors of the Kingdom. There was a remnant in Israel, however, which had risen above the Old Covenant, for in Romans 11 Paul speaks of a tiny remnant of grace in the days of Elijah, no more than 7,000 at that time.
This remnant of grace had the law written on their hearts, whereas the majority did not. This remnant heard and obeyed the voice of God, and the law was a revelation to them. This remnant of grace corresponded to the slave who had learned to love his Master and had already decided to return in the seventh year to have his ear bored to the door. We, too, should follow their example—but many others do not have the law written on their hearts, neither do they delight to do His will (i.e., obey His law—see Romans 2:18).
Throughout the six thousand years of history, some men and women have become overcomers, but it is only at the end of this time frame that they have opportunity to “return” on this prophetic level. When they do, all the overcomers will return as single body at the same time to fulfill the law of perpetual bondslaves.
They will return not only out of love for their Master but also out of love for the wife and children that their master has given them. How does this prophesy of overcomers? The prophecy is on at least two levels, depending on whether we consider the “wife” to be a foreigner or a perpetual bondmaid.
First consider the foreigner, as opposed to a Hebrew. Hagar was a foreigner, being an Egyptian. As I explained in my commentary on Hebrews, the term Hebrew literally means an immigrant, or one who crosses over from one place to another. The book of Hebrews tells us how to immigrate from the Old Covenant to the New. A Hebrew also means “seeing or manifesting sonship,” because it is spelled ayin (“eye”) followed by bar (“son”).
Spiritually speaking, all believers start out in a Hagar relationship with Christ, learning to hear and obey, before maturing into a Sarah relationship. Historically, Moses established Israel in a Hagar covenant prior to Christ, but all were supposed to mature as Sarah into New Covenant believers. In other words, we start out as foreigners and then by faith we gain citizenship in the Kingdom of God as bondslaves of Jesus Christ. At the end of 6,000 years, those who have the law written on their hearts will “return” as manifested sons of God.
But these overcomers also have been given a wife who is yet a bondmaid. This bondmaid is Hagar, which on one level is the rest of the church. They have not been able to rise above their bondslave relationship with the Master, because the law has not been written on their hearts. The overcomers are then called to teach them—and all nations—the laws of God, so that they too may enter into a New Covenant relationship with their Master. The overcomers love the church and their fellow believers, and this is part of the prophetic motivation for their “return” as sons of God. As sons of God, they have greater ability to minister to the bondmaid wife so that in the end, she too may be set free by hearing the voice of God and returning as a child of God.
The second view of this process is if we consider the man’s wife to signify an overcomer. In this case, we must view the handmaiden as one who has already had her ear bored to the door at the end of a previous six-year cycle. As a perpetual bondmaid, she is under a higher authority than that of her husband, and for this reason, she cannot leave with him. If he wants to remain with her, he too must become an overcomer by returning to have his ear bored to the door.
This law may possibly apply also to marriage relationships where one is an overcomer and the other is an unbeliever or a non-overcoming believer. In such a case, in the resurrection, the overcoming spouse is no longer bound by law to the spouse. Although they are “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7), their marriage vows are not authoritative after the first resurrection. An overcomer is not bound to remain in such a marriage relationship in that day, for the law of the Master takes precedence.
Yet an overcomer who returns to have his ear bored to the door is partially motivated out of love for his Hagar wife and the children who are the product of that marriage relationship. This indicates that the overcomer, after being raised from the dead, returns to minister here on earth, not only to the nations, but also to the church. Both groups need to learn and to grow up into Christ, because no one can inherit as “Isaac” unless they have matured spiritually. The path to spiritual maturity is set forth in the feast days, as I have written in other places.
Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "Moses' Fourth Speech." To view all parts, click the link below.