Why Do Black People Worship the God of Their Slave Masters?
This question was asked by someone on Facebook recently.
This is my answer below:
God’s biblical instructions for the treatment of “Slaves” by their “Masters” has been often used to oppose Christianity and the Bible by those who have an inaccurate understanding of the issue.
There are two major points to note when discussing God’s biblical instructions to “masters” and “slaves:”
God’s Pattern For Human Civilization
From the beginning of time God created humans to rule over creation NOT EACH OTHER. Gen 1:28
People wanting to rule other people is a direct result of Adam’s sin and the destructive nature we inherited from Sin’s curse.
God giving laws on how a master should treat a slave in no way indicates His approval of the situation.
Why then would He do it? Why would He actually tell a “Master” how to treat a “Slave” if He wasn’t in favor of it?
This brings us to the two points I mentioned before.
Point #1: God allows slavery and all other evils to exist because He created humans with free will and will not violate our right to choose even when disobeying Him creates serious problems for us!
People owning people as slaves is not now and never has been God’s idea… God is absolutely against human slavery of any kind.
God said, “Kidnappers must be put to death, whether they are caught in possession of their victims or have already sold them as slaves. Exodus 21:16 (NLT)
God considers the stealing and selling of human beings as slaves to be a crime and a sin!
This is where we must begin this conversation.
It is only AFTER we have clearly established that God is NOT for the selling of human beings as slaves THEN can we begin to arrive at the truth concerning this matter.
I have been teaching the Bible for almost 30 years and have always said to my students, when studying the bible begin with the understanding that it was NOT written in English by Westerners living in the 21st century.
The Bible was recorded in 3 ancient languages, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek by people who lived 2,000-4,000 years ago in Middle-Eastern Lands saturated in Middle-Eastern Culture.
Their language was different, their culture was different, their customs, laws and lifestyle… everything was different!
So even though the message of the Bible is inspired by God and it’s power is eternal, the actual recording of the events was done by men living in ancient times in foreign lands, governed by archaic and alien laws.
The average person trying to interpret biblical events today attempts to make their interpretation fit into their 21st century understanding of society instead of accurately applying the correct culture and times to the passage they’re interpreting.
When they don’t make this adjustment it’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
Most times if we don’t understand and apply the correct culture and times to a passage of scripture it will either make no sense or be taken completely out of context and abused… As is the case with God’s biblical instructions to “masters” and “slaves.”
Different Culture and Times
Point #2: The second point to note when discussing the biblical issue of masters and slaves has to do with understanding and applying the correct culture and times to the issue under discussion.
Here’s what God said to the Israelites in the Old Testament, “There will always be some among you who are poor; that is why this commandment is necessary. You must lend to them liberally.
If you buy a Hebrew slave, whether a man or woman, you must free him at the end of the sixth year you have owned him, and don’t send him away empty-handed!
Give him a large farewell present from your flock, your olive press, and your winepress. Share with him in proportion as the Lord your God has blessed you.
Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God rescued you! That is why I am giving you this command.
But if your Hebrew slave doesn’t want to leave — if he says he loves you and enjoys your pleasant home and gets along well with you — then take an awl and pierce his ear into the door, and after that he shall be your slave forever.
Do the same with your women slaves.
But when you free a slave you must not feel bad, for remember that for six years he has cost you less than half the price of a hired hand! And the Lord your God will prosper all you do because you have released him!” Deuteronomy 15:11-18 (The Living Bible)
Here is verse 12 again from the New Living Translation, “If a fellow Hebrew sells himself or herself to be your servant and serves you for six years, in the seventh year you must set that servant free.”
This translation gives it a slightly different perspective doesn’t it?
Two things are apparent:
- This version uses the term “servant” instead of “slave.”
- It says if a man “sells himself” not if “you buy.”
I’ll address these two points later on.
Here are some verses from the New Testament, “Slaves, obey your masters; be eager to give them your very best. Serve them as you would Christ.
Don’t work hard only when your master is watching and then shirk when he isn’t looking; work hard and with gladness all the time, as though working for Christ, doing the will of God with all your hearts.
Remember, the Lord will pay you for each good thing you do, whether you are slave or free.” Ephesians 6:5-8 (The Living Bible)
God’s Concept of Masters and Slaves
Here’s what you need to understand about God’s instructions to “masters” and “slaves:”
In the ancient Middle East it was a commonly accepted custom if someone
became destitute and could no longer provide for himself and his family he had the option to sell himself as a “slave” which was very much like a live-in servant.
In this arrangement his “master” would provide for him shelter, clothing, food and whatever he needed to survive PLUS a minimal wage in exchange for his services.
Most times the people who engaged in this type of arrangement were folks who had borrowed money and could not repay the loan or who had become indebted for some other reason and couldn’t pay so this was their way of paying off a debt.
Their choices were either spending the rest of their lives in prison, dying from starvation or living a life of servitude to a “master.”
The reality of this situation was that the “master” actually became a type of “savior” to this individual who would have most likely starved to death not being able to support himself and his family.
Notice carefully in Deuterronomy 15 above God said to potential “masters”… “There will always be some among you who are poor.” “You must lend to them liberally.”
From God’s perspective the so-called “master” was helping the “slave” by extending an arm of financial salvation to him.
Compare the tone of this Deuteronomy passage with the one in Exodus 21 where God specifically says that anyone found trafficking in slaves was to be put to death.
There is a distinct difference between these two kinds of “slavery,” isn’t there?
The Exodus type refers to what we 21st century folks know as slavery while the Deuteronomy type has more in common with an Employer/Employee type relationship which is why most times I have the words “master” and “slave” in inverted commas.
Of course everything is not identical to our modern Employer/Employee relationship but the main problem with the biblical concept of masters and slaves is not so much the substance of the experience but the terminology used.
When 21st century people hear the words “Master” and “Slave” it automatically conjures up images of Alex Haley’s “Roots” or the more recent “12 Years a Slave” movie and the reality of the atrocious treatment of black people by white slave owners.
But when we put things into perspective and interpret the scriptures in their correct context we understand that God’s instructions to “masters and slaves” for the most part can be interpreted as instructions to Employers and Employees.
Even in the extreme cases in Old Testament times where slaves were taken from prisoners of war God still intervened with His own guidelines on the merciful treatment of those foreigners in service to their Israelite masters.
God said, “If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished.” (Exodus 21:20)
This is saying that the master shall be punished if he inadvertently caused the death of his own slave.
God also said, “If a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye. And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth.” (Exodus 21:26-27)
Did you get that?
God said, if a slave owner knocks out a slave’s tooth he must let the slave go free for the damage caused. Does that sound anything remotely like the treatment of African slaves under white slave owners of the last several centuries? I think not!
Be assured God is not, never was and never will be in favor of people owning or mistreating other people in any way.
When mankind chose to follow his own sinful ways and subjugate each other God gave laws encouraging men to show mercy to each other but humans enslaving each other was never God’s will.
God’s perfect human civilization consists of a society of Kings and Priests (both male and female) all equal to each other and worshiping God in equality.
God’s Will – Kings and Priests
From the beginning of time God wanted Human Beings to form a Holy and Royal Society reigning over God’s creation.
The Bible says, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Genesis 1:27-28 (NLT)
So, in the beginning God wanted a society of Kings and Queens.
After the first human family sinned and fell from grace God formed the nation of Israel as an example for every other nation to follow.
He told the Prophet Moses to say to them, “And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.” Exodus 19:6 (NLT)
In creating the nation of Israel God was still looking for a society of holy Kings and Queens.
Israel failed to fulfill God’s will and even in this present age God’s will for the Human Race is still to form a holy kingdom of Believers through faith in Christ Jesus.
He inspired the Apostle Peter to write to Believers saying, “For you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” 1st Peter 2:9 (NLT)
At the end of time God will finally have the human society of holy Kings and Queens He desired from the very beginning. He will accomplish this through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
John the Apostle saw Christian Believers in the future and recorded in Revelation 1:6 concerning them saying, “And hath made us kings and priests unto God.”
And in Revelation 5:10 he said again, “And hast made us unto our God, kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”
Do these scripture verses sound like a God who is in favor of humans enslaving and mistreating each other?
If that’s the case then why did Jesus come and die in the first place?
Do not be ignorant Brothers and Sisters. Learn the truth before it’s too late. God is FOR us and NOT against us!
He has always wanted the best for us but we keep getting ourselves in the way and hindering His best from reaching us.
A Message To My People
To my black Brothers and Sisters, the weapon the devil is using against you is false ideology.
He is giving you a false sense of importance and a perverted sense of identity and destiny.
There can be no true knowledge of self outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ… Anything else is a cleverly constructed Lie meant to lull you into a false sense of security until it’s too late.
Jesus Christ is the Divine mold from which every human being was originally crafted and it is only when we return to that source can we find true peace and everlasting satisfaction.
The Image of The Christ is the ideal of human perfection… In this context Christ has NO Race, NO Color, NO Ethnicity, NO Nationality, NO Gender!
He is simply… The Divine Expression of God!
This same Divine Expression is birthed in you when you receive Him as Savior and are regenerated in the image of God.
That feminine looking white man with blond hair and blue eyes in those religious paintings is utter nonsense… everybody knows that!
The Bible says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
I can add to that verse, “neither black nor white” and it would fit in perfectly.
Do you know how liberating it is to be fully aware of the history of slavery and racism and even be aware of the present reality of racism in America but still have no hate in your heart for any white person?
To look at a white stranger and the first thought is, “this is a human being like me and he/she might even be a Brother or Sister in Christ”… THAT IS FREEDOM!!!
On the other hand, when you’re carrying around the burden of the memory of what white people did to our ancestors and the present experience of what they’re still doing to us today and having those memories and experiences taint every interaction with white people… THAT’S SLAVERY!
If your every interaction with white people is prejudiced by the reality of slavery and racial injustice then you’re still a slave… You’re not free!
You’re in a psychological prison!
Freedom is knowing the FACTS of racism and slavery but choosing rather to live the TRUTH of racial unity in the Love of God… This is what True, Bible Christianity is about.
It’s not about worshiping the “white man’s God” it’s about coming to the revelation knowledge of the truth… God loves us all EQUALLY and sent His Son to die for HUMANS!
Based on this knowledge, you need to make the most important decision of your life.
What are you going to do with Jesus Christ and His Salvation?
Joshua told his people, “If you think it’s the wrong thing for you to serve the LORD, then choose for yourselves today whom you will serve — the gods whom your ancestors served on the other side of the Euphrates River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose territories you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15
I am asking you Brothers and Sisters, “Choose this day whom YOU will serve, the gods of our African ancestors or adopt New Age Ideologies, as for me and my family … WE WILL WORSHIP JESUS CHRIST!
For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2nd Corinthians 6:2
Please make the right decision!
May God grant you grace to receive and faith to believe the Gospel of your salvation. Amen!