“Freedom From” and “Freedom For”

I’m incredibly excited that we are doing a sermon series on Deuteronomy. Moses is such a major figure in the Bible, and this final book in the Pentateuch surely holds invaluable truths that not only the Israelites of his generation (his “original audience”) needed to be reminded of… but us as well.

When it comes to Moses, I suspect though, that I’m probably not the only one who would associate him most closely with the book of Exodus and the whole Egypt, Pharaoh, “let my people go” saga. So, it might be no surprise that even in Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the Israelites multiple times of that event when God faithfully delivered his people against all odds from slavery in Egypt. Unfortunately, alongside those glorious reminders also come some embarrassing details. Even though God has consistently been so faithful, his people have (on the other hand) been consistent in their unfaithfulness and disobedience. It’s not exactly a great look.

As a result, that generation of Israelites face God’s judgement, and the punishment is that they will not be able to enter the promised land. Rather, they will wander the desert and die there. In summary, God’s people were freed from slavery under Pharoah, only to be slaves to their own sin (disobedience towards God), and therefore still not truly “free”.

Jesus comes to perfectly fulfil the laws of Moses

What does freedom look like then for a Christian (God’s people)?

I was thinking of contrasting this definition to how our secular world might define it, but then I came to a startling realisation. I believe at a basic level, the definition is kind of the same! Or at least part of the definition.

I think our world would generally define freedom as something that entails the ability to “be your true self”, and to be able to “make the choice” to do so. If we go with that same definition, the Bible tells us that the true selves we were all created to be in Genesis in the Garden of Eden were to be able to enjoy a relationship with God, living under his perfect rule. Our inability to “choose” to obey him can be seen as our slavery to sin. In Romans 7:15, the Apostle Paul also articulates this tension.

Perhaps that’s why there are so many laws in Deuteronomy. The point of the book isn’t to chain God’s people down with miserable laws (which they could never keep perfectly anyways!). Rather, it is a beautiful picture of what it should look like to be free to be the people God has created us all to be. The problem is that we can’t do it because we are naturally law-breakers. The good news is what comes in the New Testament. Jesus comes to perfectly fulfil the laws of Moses, and by trusting in him, we can claim Jesus’ righteousness as our own and be made right before the holy God.

I used to think the Old Testament was the boring bit, and the New Testament was the exciting part. However, the more I understand how the Bible works as a whole, the more I appreciate books like Deuteronomy because, ultimately, a deeper understanding of Scripture increases my view of and love for my Lord Jesus Christ. He’s the knight in shining armour who has come to free us from our slavery to sin, so that we can be free to joyfully obey and serve our loving God – what we were originally created to enjoy.

Pastoral Worker