Give Me Liberty…In Messiah!
By Sam Nadler
In history, our nation’s forefathers sought liberty from the tyranny of England’s King George. They believed that since we are creations, beings created to live in relationship to the Creator, certain truths are self–evident. Namely, that all people are created equal, and such truth demands ‘liberty and justice for all.’ In Scripture, liberty brings forth many blessings. In the world in which we live, we see an interesting phenomenon in some recently liberated countries: liberty does not always, in and of itself, provide blessing. In fact, we see that liberty without godliness produces insecurity, looting and terror. In Messiah, however, liberty is an opportunity to have personal fulfillment in the very purpose of our creation.
Liberty brings Release from Bondage
The prophet Isaiah wrote that one of the things Messiah was to accomplish would be to bring about freedom and liberty: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1). This portion is explicitly fulfilled by Yeshua in Luke 4:16-21. The promise is that the Messiah will set the captives free. But captives of what? Freedom from what? Often we think of freedom in political, health related, or economic terms: slaves freed from an evil master, deliverance from the ravages of disease, or a person freed from the bondage of poverty. Being set free provides the liberty to make choices that are no longer limited by a master, illness, or financial restrictions. This is certainly a freedom that most people desire and even seek. But the Bible speaks of a deeper freedom and a greater liberty. The Scripture speaks of a freedom from the mastery of sin. Sin not only defiles the soul, but also perverts our liberty into a license that results in an even worse bondage. Biblical liberty sets people free to fulfill the very purpose of their creation, to enjoy a relationship with God. Some might object, “With all His rules, God is a great limitation on my liberty!” Not at all. Just as a train is only fulfilled and free while on the track, so we are only fulfilled and free when we are “on track” in His will, which is revealed in His word. Though you may have been derailed by sin, freedom can be enjoyed when His word is applied.
In this regard, the New Covenant writer, Paul, along with Moses, Isaiah, and all the prophets declares with one voice: “It was for freedom that Messiah set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galations 5:1, 13). Peter also warns in his first letter, “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond slaves of God” (1 Peter 2:16). In fact, he then states in 1 Peter 2:19 that false teachers teach an abuse of ‘liberty’ that is mere licentiousness, “promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.” While sin promises freedom, it ensnares the soul in further misery. Therefore, let us stand firm in the freedom and grace we have in Messiah!
Liberty brings Restoration for Creation
This liberty is not for us alone but for all creation, as Paul also writes: “that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). The only hope for all creation is our promised glory and liberty in Messiah. In fact, it might be said that we are ‘joined at the hip’ with creation. We were created in His image to represent Him in creation. But sin came in. Therefore, the creation is now subject to vanity, or ‘corruption’ (Romans 8:20). Life, apart from the Lord of Life, is empty and vain, regardless of your wealth, or prominence. This world cannot fulfill you. In Genesis 3:16-19, God imposed His judgement on creation along with Adam and Eve. Isn’t that unfair? No, not at all. Creation was created for us (and was under the dominion of man), so it was judged along with us. In a paradigm shift, one change affects the whole. Just as man’s greed has polluted rivers and streams, so man’s fall corrupted all creation. But corruption was never designed to be final. There is hope for creation as surely as Messiah has been raised from the dead for us. If, for man’s sin, the earth was cursed, so creation shares in man’s redemption. Presently we are hidden with Messiah in God. At our glorious revelation with the Lord at His Second Coming, the earth itself will be healed, and ‘the lion will lay down with the lamb (yearling)’ (Isaiah 11:6)! Creation itself needs freedom and redemption, but it’s dependent upon us! Creation’s hope is in our revelation. Why desire the world’s glory, when it depends on ours?! Do not look to the creation, but to the Creator for fulfillment. As good as it gets here, is as good as it will ever be for non-believers. But the best experience this world offers is incomparable to the glory that will follow. For eye has not seen nor has ear heard what God has prepared for those that love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9)! In your freedom stay on track, and don’t live by the world’s values, but in Messiah’s victory and grace.
Liberty Brings A Return to Blessing
“You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family” (Leviticus 25:10).
The liberty that brings release was a release to return to both home and family. This is the picture that points to Messiah’s true liberty and jubilee. God created us in His image not only to represent Him to the world, but also to relate to Him forever. When sin entered the world and our souls, it separated us from relating rightly to God. Isaiah declares, “…Sin has separated you from your God…” (Isaiah 59:1, 2). Thus, when we repent (teshuvah, to turn back) we are literally turning away from the sin which causes separation, and turning back to God. It is for this relationship that all our hearts hunger; it is this fulfillment that liberty provides in Messiah. But without the Lord, liberty is a mirage that leads to a “dry and weary land where there is no water“ (Psalm 63:1). Like money, or any other resource, freedom requires faithfulness in order to find fulfillment. “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides in it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does” (Jacob/James 1:25). Ultimately, liberty is opportunity for the Lord to provide your thirsty soul with what it really needs: His Love in Yeshua.
As we rejoice in our liberty, let us pray for Iraqis, Afganis, Israelis, and other “liberated” peoples to look to God’s word to live out that liberty for His glory, and for their eternal blessing.