Lessons from the book of Joshua
Joshua 16:10 – En-Slave-Ment
Joshua 16:10 And they drave not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer: but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day, and serve under tribute.
The expression “serve under tribute” in the King James translation means to keep in bondage so as to work under a heavy burden; in other words, slavery.
It is interesting to me that the nation of Israel, having just thrown off the shackles of slavery, would enslave another nation. It does not seem okay to me but since God did not complain, I guess it must have been okay to Him.
Right there is my first lesson; my sense of right and wrong may not always align with God’s. I might think something is not fair but that might just be exactly what the all-knowing all-seeing God wants to be done. The converse is also true; some things I consider absolutely right might not be what He wants done. The will of God is not always made obvious by my sense of morality.
A beautiful example from the scriptures is found in the life of the apostle Paul. In Acts 16:6-7, Paul, on two occasions, wanted to enter into some place to preach the gospel of Jesus to lost souls and God said no. Looking at the situation, it would have seemed somehow for Paul to say to his partners, “God has forbidden us from preaching the Gospel here” after all, God wants everyone to be saved. What does He have against these people? Well, it turns out God had nothing against them because much later in his life, Paul got to preach the gospel in those places evidently at the instance of the Lord. The issue was not the preaching but the congregation. God wanted them in Macedonia at that particular time.
I have a couple of contemporary testimonies in the same light but I’ll tell one. A well-known minister of a well-known church ministry received a seed in the form of a truck load of tiles for his church. Which pastor would not rejoice over that? But here comes the minister and said that God does not want him to receive the seed? Is he serious? As the “seed” was being taken away, a bomb was discovered hidden among the tiles.
Lesson? What is good and what is bad is determined by God and I should pay attention to him always. I can’t see which of the sheep are wolves in sheep’s clothing but God has X-Ray vision, He can’t be fooled.
Now to the issue of forced labour or slave labour. I observe that there is nothing a slave can be asked to do that a regular employee can’t be asked to do. Slaves are not slaves because of their job description but because of the job conditions. And the conditions are not really the lack of pay as much as it is the burden of doing the job against their own will. It’s a job they can do but do not want to do. Does that not describe a lot of us today? We stay on the job though we don’t want to do it simply because the employer holds the whip of a salary over our heads. Oh well.
I know someone who changed his working conditions and though he was acquired as a slave, he changed his portfolio and became a major benefit to his employer. His name was Joseph. Joseph’s power to effect a prison break was not in escaping his work schedule but in changing the mentality under which he carried out his duties. He went over and above his work load because he didn’t consider the slavery aspect of his portfolio. He focused on the big picture God had painted for him and so he saw himself working with God to effect the saving of many lives. So when the Bible says God was with Joseph, it wasn’t a figure of speech. And Potiphar saw it.
I challenge you to do the same; rather than complain about your working conditions and your lean pay-cheque, find the big picture of your life and focus on it. Consider how your present job fits into God’s master plan for your life and you would quickly notice how much energy you bring to work every single day and how quickly you can finish your work quota. You will find that you have more free time at work and if you do the godly thing, you would assist someone else on the team to get something done. In no time, the bosses would notice your efficiency and high morale and might think of upgrading your pay or promoting you to management level. I am quite sure that was what happened in Joseph’s case (Genesis 39:3-4)
Many of us pray for promotion on the job forgetting that God would only gives us favour before our superiors but we have to take it through diligence at work and that when the promotion does come, it means more work for us.
As a man thinks in his heart, so he is. To be a slave, you have to remain in a slave’s mentality (En-Slave-Ment). Don’t think like a slave.