Emancipation, is defined as, “the act of setting free from the power of another, from slavery, subjection, dependence, or controlling influence.” As long as there has been bondage in this fallen world, people have longed to be set free. However, emancipation requires an authority with power over the oppressors, and those forces that exist to enslave do not yield their control peaceably.
On September 22, 1862 President Abraham Lincoln executed the Emancipation Proclamation officially set in motion the events that would free of all American held slaves. The event ultimately led to the bloodiest war on U.S. soil. As was demonstrated on the battlefields of our nations history, emancipation is a costly event. 700,000 deaths after the first battle at Bull Run the carnage ended at the Appomattox Courthouse as General Lee surrendered. 360,000 union soldiers spilled their blood so that emancipation could truly come to the fledgling nation state. On December 6th, 1865 the United States Congress ratified the 13th amendment, a promise that slavery and involuntary servitude would not exist in the American states. Property had been destroyed and life had been lost, but in the end the promise of emancipation had come to America. The promise of America that all men are created equal and all men should be free, had finally been fulfilled.
The exodus story is a journey of emancipation also. God heard the cries of his people's oppression. God intervened into the bondage of his son and daughters with an intent to set them free from their subjection, with a promise to bring them liberty. The process, was not without suffering. Egypt's hold on their subjection of the Hebrew people was iron clad, and the mere words of a desert nomad and his wilderness God were not about to waiver the great might of Pharaoh.
Emancipation is painful process. Their precious Nile turned to their blood. The Egyptians land swarmed with frogs, with gnats and with locusts. Pharaoh watched as the cattle died, hail fell from the sky, his citizens bodies were riddled with lice and boils, and darkness consumed the skies for days. Still the stature of Pharaoh's tyranny held strong.
The suffering was not exclusive to the oppressors. The Egyptians raised the workload, removed their supplies, and increased the beating of their slaves bodies. The suffering of God's people was so great they longed for the oppression they were familiar with. Freedom became a stench to those who did not want to bear it's toll. The Hebrew's journey to freedom, was not a marble promenade, it was a dangerous trail that while punishing the hold the oppressors retained, it also tested the limits of those desiring liberation.
Our own exodus, from the bondages to which we are enslaved, is also a pain filled journey. Our emancipation likewise requires an eradication of the comforts of our familiar places. Emancipation requires conflict, it's bottom line is always death. As we long to receive our promised liberation we must accept the adversity of the journey. As we claim our Freedom as God's people we must be remember Christ, whose body was broken and whose blood was spilled, so that the promise of freedom could irrevocably be fulfilled.
This is part 2 of a 4 part series I wrote for the staff of the Columbus Day retreat this past weekend at Rockford Christian Camp.