Slavery is mentioned in the Bible, but the word slavery means different things to different people. There are different types of slavery, such as forced labour, sex trafficking and use of child soldiers.

In answering the question about what the Bible says about slavery, we need to be clear about what type of slavery we are talking about. This is important because the term “slave” in modern culture is loaded with ideas of “human chattel slavery” that existed in America and other places in the world until 1865, when it was finally and rightly abolished.

In terms of the Mosiac law, slavery is centered around a type of slavery called “Indentured Servanthood”. As this type of servanthood existed in the world, the Old Testament neither condones or condemns slavery. It does lay down rules around servanthood, and if you look at the rules, these are mainly for the benefit of the servant, not the master.

In a nutshell, it lays down different rules depending on whether a Hebrew has a Hebrew slave, a Hebrew has a Gentile slave, or a Gentile has a Hebrew slave.

It explicitly states that masters must not rule over them ruthlessly, gives them various basic rights such as a right to keep a wife, the right not to be sold to a foreigner (where they may no longer be under the protection granted to them by the Mosiac law), the right to food and clothing etc.

It also states that when they have fulfilled their service, they are not to be sent away empty handed, but they must be liberally supplied with food and drink.

The bit that really demonstrates that this servanthood was nothing at all like modern slavery, it actually provides instructions on what to do if a servant does not want to be freed. This really highlights the reality that, for many people, being a “slave” or “servant” and belonging to a righteous master was far better than to be on your own. The fact that the law gave a procedure for such a request shows the disparity between what people consider slavery to mean versus the actual servanthood that went on at the time.

Ofcourse, that is not to say that there were people in Israel who mistreated their slaves. But this would have been in contravention to the law and not according to God’s command. We can’t blame God or the Bible for individuals breaking the law.

That would be like blaming our own government or our own laws that prohibit slavery, if someone breaks the law and has a modern day slave. It is not the laws fault, it is the person’s fault for breaking the law and if they get caught, they will get punished in accordance with what the law says.

In the west, we believe we are free. However, we ourselves are actually slaves to sin. Our own hearts and minds are set on ungodly lusts and desires, but we don’t recognise it as slavery because we can’t see any physical chains.

However, we know are captive to these when we try to break free from them (abstain from sin). Anyone who has tried this will find it impossible. It is only when you try to stop sinning that you begin to realise that you are indeed captive to sin.

This is why God sent His Son Jesus. He died to break the chains of sin and redeem you. The Bible says “who the Son sets free is free indeed”. He is waiting to redeem you and set you free.

Prisoners can become institutionalised and that used to their surroundings that they don’t want to be free. Sometimes we prefer the comfort of our own sins and think life will not be worth living without it. This is a lie and the devil has clouded the minds of many people who want to keep hold of their sin and reject the freedom that Christ offers.

Do you want to be set free or do you love your sin more than your own freedom? That sin will actually lead you to hell. God is patient and waiting for you, but one day it will be too late. You only get one shot. It isn’t worth it, and what God has in store for those that love Him is far greater than the pleasure you get from any sin.

Do not wait until “tomorrow”, because tomorrow never comes. The Bible says “Today is the day of salvation”.