I don’t know much about Wilberforce (though I’d love to read up on him). But I have to wonder … did he see any connection between the British slave trade and the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt? And did he see a relationship between the Egyptian slavery and the inner slavery to sin” that Jesus said binds all human hearts? To hear Jesus tell it, every slavemaster is really a slave … to the sin in his heart (or her heart — though there are probably not many female slavemasters in history) which causes the slavemaster to enslave others.

Every tyrant is a slave. Every politician is a slave. Every ordinary human being is a slave. Every barber, accountant, bicycle messenger, student, farmer, vacationer — all are slaves. Madonna, Sergey Brin, Tom Cruise, you and me — all slaves to sin. Which maybe does not turn us into literal slaveowners, but which certainly affects our relationships with everyone around us.

Sin and slavery is pretty negative. After all, there’s a lot of good in the world, so why obsess over the bad?

Try this analogy. When someone is sick with cancer, the doctor doesn’t say, it’s true, they have cancer, but rather than deal with that, let’s focus on the fact that their heart and mind are healthy. Instead, the physician prescribes a regimen to fight the cancer and try to restore the person’s full health.

Slavery is a cancer on any society. Sin is a cancer on any person. Could that be why both Jewish and Christian tradition link the slavery in Egypt to the need for spiritual freedom? Maybe it was no accident that Wilberforce took an interest in both physical and spiritual slavery.

Meanwhile, as Passover approaches later this spring, you can read up on the Egypt/sin and Exodus/redemption connections here on our web site. And leave us a comment on this article, too.


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Rich Robinson | San Francisco

Scholar in Residence, Missionary

On staff since 1978, Rich has served at several Jews for Jesus branches and was a pianist and songwriter with their music team, the Liberated Wailing Wall. He now works at the San Francisco headquarters, where he conducts research, writes and edits as the scholar-in-residence. He is author of the book Christ in the Sabbath and co-author of Christ in the Feast of Pentecost. Rich received his Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a Ph.D. in biblical studies and hermeneutics from Westminster Theological Seminary.

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