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Gleanings In Exodus

31. The Perfect Servant


Exodus 21:1-6

The law of Moses had three grand divisions: the moral the civil, and the ceremonial. The first is to be found in the Ten Commandments; the second (mainly) in Exodus 21-23; the third (principally) in the book of Leviticus. The first defined God’s claims upon Israel as human creatures; the second was for the social regulation of the Hebrew commonwealth; the third respected Israel’s religious life. In the first we may see the governmental authority of God the Father; in the second, the sphere and activities of God the Holy Spirit—maintaining order among God’s people: in the third, we have a series of types concerning God the Son.

"Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them. If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master has given him a wife, and she have borne him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children. I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him forever" (Ex. 21:1-6). This passage begins the series of "judgments" or statutes which God gave unto Israel for the regulation of their social and civil life. Its chief value for us today lies in its spiritual application to the Lord Jesus Christ. We have here a most beautiful and blessed foreshadowment of His person and work: Psalm 40:6 compared with Exodus 21:6 proves this conclusively. In that great Messianic Psalm the Lord Jesus, speaking in the spirit of prophecy, said, "Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; Mine ears hast Thou digged." The passage before us pertained to the servant or slave. It brings out, in type, the Perfect Servant. Messianic prophecy frequently viewed Him in this character: "Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold" (Isa. 42:1). "Behold, I will bring forth My Servant, the Branch" (Zech. 3:8). "Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently. He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high" (Isa. 52:13). "By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many for He shall bear their iniquities" (Isa. 53:11).

In Philippians 2 we are exhorted, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (v. 5). This is enforced as follows: "Who, being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a Servant, and was made in the likeness of man: And being found in fashion as a man He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Marvelous stoop was this: from the place of highest authority, to that of utmost dependency; from honor and glory, to suffering and shame. The Maker of heaven and earth entering the place of subjection. The One before whom the seraphim veiled their faces being made lower than the angels. May we never lose our sense of wonderment at such amazing condescension; rather may we delight in reverently contemplating it with ever-deepening awe and adoration. One whole book in the New Testament is devoted exclusively to setting before us the service of the perfect Servant. The design of Mark’s Gospel is to show us how He served: the spirit which actuated Him, the motives and principles which regulated Him, the excellency of all that He did. (This has been treated of in our book, "Why Four Gospels".)

"Lo, I come, to do Thy will, O God" (Heb. 10:9), was His utterance when He took the Servant form. "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business" (Luke 2:49) are His first recorded words after He came here. "I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me" (John 6:38) summed up the whole of His perfect life while He tabernacled among men. As the perfect Servant. He was dependent upon the pleasure of His Master. He "pleased not Himself" (Rom. 15:3). "I am among you as He that serveth" (Luke 22:27) were His words to the apostles.

The servanthood of Christ was perfectly voluntary. The passages cited above prove that. And herein we behold the uniqueness of it. Who naturally chooses to be a servant? How different from the first Adam! He was given the place of a servant, but he forsook it. He was required to be in subjection to his Maker, but he revolted. And what was it that lured him from the place of submission? "Ye shall be as God" was the appealing lie which caused his downfall. With the Lord Jesus it was the very reverse. He was "as God." yea. He was God; yet did He make Himself of "No reputation." He voluntarily laid aside His eternal glory, divested Himself of all the insignia of Divine majesty, and took the servant form. And when the Tempter approached Him and sought to induce Him to repudiate His dependency on God, "make these stones bread," He announced His unfaltering purple to live in subjection to the Father of spirits. Never for a moment did He deviate from the path of complete submission to the Father’s will.

"If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve" (v. 2). The first thing to be noted here is the service of the servant. His master had a certain definitely defined claim upon him: "six years he shall serve him." Six is the number of man (Rev. 13:18), therefore what is in view here is the measure of human responsibility what man owes to his lawful Owner. The Owner of man is God, what, then, does man owe to his Maker? We answer, unqualified submission, complete subjection, implicit obedience to His known will. Now the will of God for man is expressed in the Law, conformity to which is all summed up in the words "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart . . . and thy neighbor as thyself." This every descendent of fallen Adam has failed to do. The Law has brought in all the world guilty before God. (Rom. 3:19).

Now the Lord Jesus came down to this world to honor God in the very place where He had been universally dishonored. He came here to "magnify the Law and make it honorable." Therefore was He "made under the Law" (Gal. 4:4). Therefore did He formally announce, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17). God’s Law was within His heart (Ps. 40:8). In it He meditated day and night (Ps. 1:2). Prom beginning to end, in thought, word, and deed, He kept the Law. Every demand of God upon man was fully met by the Perfect Man: every claim of God completely upheld. Christ is the only man who ever fully discharged human responsibility Godwards and manwards.

"And in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing" (v. 2). After the Hebrew servant had served for six years, his master had no further claim upon him. When the seventh year arrived (which tells of service completed) he was at liberty to go out, and serve no more. This was also true of the lord Jesus, the anti-type. The time came in His life when, as Man, He had fulfilled every jot and tittle of human responsibility, and when the Law had, therefore no further claim upon Him. We believe that this point was reached when He stood upon the "holy mount," when in the presence of His disciples He was transfigured, and when there came a voice from the excellent glory proclaiming Him to be the One in whom the Father delighted This, we believe, was the Father bearing witness to the fact that Christ was the faithful "Hebrew Servant." Right then He could (so far as the Law was concerned) have stepped from that mount to the Throne of Glory, He had perfectly fulfilled every righteous claim that God had upon man: He had loved the Lord with all His heart and His neighbor as Himself.

"If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master has given him a wife. and she have borne him sons and daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out by himself" (vv. 3, 4). We shall confine our remarks on these verses to the anti-type. The lord Jesus had no wife when He entered upon "His service." for Israel had been divorced (Isa. 50:1). Now although He was entitled by the Law to "go out free," the same Law required that He should go out alone—"by himself." This points us to something about which there has been much confusion. There was no union possible with the Lord Jesus in the perfections of His human life: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn a wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone" (John 12:24). Nothing could be plainer than this. The very perfections of the Servant of God only served to emphasize the more the distinction between Him and sinful man. It is only on resurrection-ground that union with Christ is possible, and for that death must intervene. It was on the resurrection-morning that He, for the first time, called His disciples "brethren." Does, then, our type fail us here? No, indeed. These typical pictures were drawn by the Divine Artist, and like Him. they are perfect. The next two verses bring this out beautifully.

"And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children, I will not go free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door posts; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever" (vv. 5, 6). Most blessed is this. It was love which impelled him to forego the freedom to which He was fully entitled by the Law—a threefold love: for His Master, his wife, and his children. But mark it well: "if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master," etc. When was it that the perfect Servant said this? Clearly it must have been just after the Transfiguration, for as we have seen, it was then that He had fulfilled every requirement of the Law, and so could have gone out free. Equally plain is it that we must turn to the fourth Gospel for the avowal of His love for it is there, as nowhere else, His love is told forth by the apostle of love. Now in John’s Gospel there is no account of the Transfiguration, but there is that which closely corresponds to it: John 12 gives us the parallel and the sequel to Matthew 17. It is here that we find Him saying, "The hour is come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Verily, verily: I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone" (John 12:23, 24), and then He added "But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." Mark carefully what follows: "Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father save Me from this hour?" Ah, He answered His own question: "But for this cause came I unto this hour: Father, glorify Thy name" (vv. 27, 28). "What led Him to say that? Love! Love that thinks not of self at all; love that places itself entirely at the disposal of the loved ones. No matter what that terrible ‘hour’ contained, and He knew it all, He would go through it in His love to His Father and to us" (J. T. Mawson). Love led Him to undertake a service that the Law did not lay upon Him, a service that involved suffering (as the "bored" ear intimates) a service which was to last forever.

Every detail in this truly wondrous type calls for separate consideration. "If the servant shall plainly say, I love my master." This, be it noted, comes before the avowal of his love for his wife and children. This, of itself, is sufficient to establish the fact that what we have here must be of more than local application, for when and where was there ever a servant who put the love of his "master" before that of his wife and children? Clearly we are obliged to look for someone who is "Fairer than the children of men." And how perfectly the type answers to the anti-type! There is no difficulty here when we see that the Holy Spirit had the Lord Jesus in view. Love to His Father, His "Master;" was ever the controlling motive in the life of the perfect Servant. His first recorded utterance demonstrated this. Subject to Mary and Joseph He was as a child, yet even then the claims of His Father’s "business" were paramount. So too, in John 11, where we read of the sisters of Lazarus (whom He loved) sending Him a message that their brother was sick. Instead of hastening at once to their side, He "abode two days still in the same place where He was!" And why, "For the glory of God" (v. 4). It was not the affection of His human heart, but the will of His Father that moved Him. So, once more, in John 12, when He contemplated that awful ‘hour’ which troubled His soul. He said, "Father, glorify Thy name." The Father’s glory was His first concern. At once, the answer came, "I have both glorified (Thee) and will glorify (Thee) again" (v. 28). What is meant by the "again"? The Father’s name had already been glorified through the perfect fulfillment of His Law in the life of the Lord Jesus, as well as in that which was infinitely greater—the revelation of Himself to men. But He would also glorify Himself in the death and resurrection of His Son, and in the fruits thereof.

"I love . . . my wife." In the type this was said prospectively. The Lord Jesus is to have a Bride. The "wife" is here carefully distinguished from His "children." The "wife," we believe, is redeemed millennial Israel Both the "wife" and the "children" are the fruit of His death. The two are carefully distinguished again in John 11: "But being high priest that year, he (Caiaphas) prophesied that Jesus should die for (1) that nation; and not for that nation only, but that (2) also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad" (vv. 51:52). Looking forward to the time when Christ shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied, the Holy Spirit says to Israel, "Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker is thine Husband: the Lord of hosts is His name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall He be called. For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment, have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid My face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord, thy Redeemer" (Isa. 54:4-8).

"I love . . . My children." Christ’s love was not limited to Israel, even though here. as ever, it is the Jew first. No; not only was He to die for "that Nation" not "this Nation." the then present nation of Israel, but "that" future Nation. which shall be born "at once," (Isa. 66:8), but also He should "gather together in one (family) the children of God that were scattered abroad." "Children of God" is never applied in Scripture to Israel. These "children" were to be the fruit of His dying travail. Blessed is it to hear Him say, "Behold I and the children which God hath given Me"
(Heb. 2:13).

"Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post, and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl" (v. 6). The boring of the ear marked the entire devotedness of the servant to do His Master’s wilt. "The door-post was the sign of personal limits: by it the family entered, and none else had the right. It was not therefore a thing that might pertain to a stranger, but pre-eminently that which belonged to that household. This too was the reason why it was on the door-post that the blood of the paschal lamb was sprinkled; it was staving the hand of God. so far as that house was concerned, on the first-born there, but on no one else. So here" (Mr. W Kelly). Important truth is this. Christ died not for the human race why should He when half of it was already in Hell! He died for the Household of God, His "wife" and "children," and for none (else: John 11:51. 52 proves that cf., also Matthew 1:21: John 10:11; Hebrews 2: 17, 9:28, etc. Significant too is this: when his master took his servant and bored his ear. So long as he lived that servant carried about in his body the mark of his servitude. So, too, the Lord Jesus wears forever in His body the marks of the Cross! After He had risen from the dead, He said to doubting Thomas. "Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into My side" (John 20:27). So, too, in Revelation 5 the Lamb is seen, "as it had been slain" (v. 6).

"And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him forever" (v. 6). Very wonderful is this in its application to the Antitype. The service of the Lord Jesus did not terminate when He left this earth. Though He has ascended on high, He is still ministering to His own. A beautiful picture of this is found in John 13, though we cannot now discuss it at any length. What is there in view is a parabolic sample of His work for His people since He returned to the Father. The opening verse of that chapter supplies the key to what follows: "When Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father." So, too, in the fourth verse: "He riseth from supper (which spoke of His death) and laid aside His garments," which is literally what He did when He left the sepulcher. In John 13, then, from v. 4 onwards, we are on this side of the resurrection. The washing of the disciples feet tells of Christ’s present work of maintaining the walk of His own as they pass through this defiling scene. The towel and the basin speak of the love of the Servant—Savior in ministering to the needs of His own. Even now that lie has returned to the glory He is still serving us.

"But "he shall serve him forever." Will this be true of the Lord Jesus? It certainly will. There is a remarkable passage in Luke 12 which brings this out: "Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them" (v. 37). Even in the Kingdom He will still serve us. But how can that be? Our feet will not require washing; we shall no longer have any need to be met. True, gloriously true. But, if there is no need on our part. there is love on His. and love ever delights to minister unto its beloved. Surpassingly wonderful is this: "He will come forth and serve them." How great the condescension! In the kingdom He will be seated upon the Throne of His Glory, holding the reigns of government: acknowledged as the King of kings and Lord of lords; and yet He will delight to minister unto our enjoyment. And too, He will serve "forever": it will be the eternal activity of Divine love delighting to minister to others.

Thus in this wondrous type we have shown forth the love of God’s, faithful Servant ministering to His Master. His wife, and His children, in His life. His death, His resurrection, and in His kingdom, The character of His service was perfect, denoted by the six years and seventh "go out free." The spring of His service was love, seen in His declining to go out free. The duration of His service, is "for ever"! The Lord enable us to heed that searching and needful word, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5).


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