Summary: A consideration of how we are to handle our freedom in Christ
Intro: This morning, I want to begin by visiting the closing tag of the movie “Finding Nemo.” It features a number of aquarium creatures who have just escaped from the aquarium inside the dentist’s office.
(Play clip from the end of the movie "Finding Nemo" - “OK. Now what do we do?”)
Nemo’s friends aren’t the first ones to wish for freedom and then wonder what to do with it.
• After 13 American Colonies warred for and won their independence from the British Empire they had a huge task ahead of them. The formulating of the Constitution and the first U. S. Government was a hard, drawn-out task.
• After the North won America’s bloodiest war ever, the former slaves were free. But free to do what? More than 4 million former slaves who’d previously lived in the South found themselves without land, without education, and without work.
• It isn’t too unusual for men who’ve served time in prison and then are free to end up back in prison; recidivism, it’s called. What do they have once they’re released? In OH, I once had a man come in off the street seeking help. He’d just been dropped off, by bus, after serving a several year prison sentence. He was free now. He had very little money, no car, no place to live, no family to turn to, and basically only the clothes he was wearing. It’s no wonder someone like him would end up back in prison.
• Many students, once they’re finally free from high school, discover what that freedom includes. I left home and went to Bible college – where I was the freest I’d ever been – free to do my own laundry, pay for my own meals, and to take care of my own problems. Many students arrive at secular universities and about 85% free themselves from their faith in their first year of college.
• The US made the move and liberated the nation of Iraq. On the day that Saddam Hussein was captured, there was celebration in the streets. In the Middle East, that involves shooting guns in the air. Somewhere around a dozen people died from stray bullets fired in celebration that day. Since then, Iraq has been dealing with the challenge of restoring order while lawless people seek to cause trouble.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" Speech, Aug. 28, 1963, ended with: “And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
OK. Now what?
Freedom isn’t the absence of rules or authority. Doing away with law and authorities in power just creates chaos. History has proven it and current events illustrate it.
Israel was free. Egypt was in their rearview mirrors. The chariots of Egypt were buried in the Red Sea. No more slavery. No more taskmasters breathing down your neck. No more beatings and insults. Freedom. And right away, they have challenges and new needs:
• For 400 yrs the nation of Israel lived in a society full of gods. In fact, each one of the 10 plagues was a judgment on some god of Egypt. Israel hadn’t been free to worship God in the way He wanted them to. Now, they needed to organize proper worship of God in their community.
• Israel had never needed an army. Now, they’re getting ready to conquer all the nations of Canaan. They weren’t ready for this.
• There wasn’t a very well established system or structure of government for a growing nation. They were already over a million in number. They would need to establish that.
• They didn’t really know where they were going, or how exactly to get there. Just finding food and water for so many was already out of their hands.
Israel was free, but that meant they had a lot of challenges to handle. So, one of the first priorities in the history of Israel, as a free nation, is ch 20ff of Exodus. You can remember Exodus 20 as one of the 2 places in the OT where the 10 Commandments are listed. From there, God goes on to list another 603 commands that will give Israel the help they need.
Those 10 Commandments really aren’t that radical – they’re pretty basic. I like the way Erwin McManus points this out. They aren’t the standards of heaven – the rules by which angels live. The 10 Commandments are the lowest possible standard of humane living. But they gave something to Israel that all free people need in order to remain free people: rules to live by, and to please God.