When you are studying freedom in the Bible, it is easy to slide between discouragement and joy from story to story. As you watch God’s story played out in humans…fallible…hard…warmongering humans…you can get distracted and forget that the true arc of God’s story is about freedom.
And then I lift my head from the stack of books that are enlivening my study…I lift my eyes from the verse that says “It is for freedom that you have been set free”…I lift my head from stories of hope, mercy, and grace and see that we haven’t changed all that much.
I watch the children…hell the PEOPLE…of this conflict in Gaza and my heart is wrecked. Someone tell me one more time…WHY WHY WHY!?!?!?
Why, given all the peaceful and loving deities we claim to worship?
Why, when we can look over our shoulder at history and see that conflict enslaves and peace frees?
Why, do we tie on the chains of addiction, hate, jealousy, aggression…sadly the list could go on and on?
Then as I lower my eyes back to the pages, in need of a refuge from the ugliness of it all, and THIS:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. (LF Note: The ultimate “I got your back”!)
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.