Sing a freedom songPublished 6:06pm Wednesday, July 2, 2014
The people of Israel had been in Egypt for 400 years. They began as guests and ended up as slaves. Slavery demeaned them. They lost their culture, their music, their dance, their song.
When Stephen, the New Testament evangelist, was preaching his sermon to the Jewish leaders in Acts, chapter 7, he quoted God, in verse 34: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them.”
The “groaning” was certainly the cry of despair, but it also might have been the dirge of slaves trudging in the mud to mix the straw to make the bricks, to complete the structures the Egyptians were building.
The dirge was like the chant of the chain gang, or the guttural grunt on the prison rock pile. If it was a song, it was no more than three notes on the bottom of the scale.
We know the music we enjoy today as the “Blues” was birthed in American slavery. This groaning, chanting or grunting to rhythm was not a sound of joy or freedom; it was the sound of the doomed locked in despair.
God used Moses to deliver the people of Israel from Egypt. It required 10 devastating plagues to convince the Pharaoh to release God’s people.
When they left Egypt, the first obstacle was the Red Sea. God parted the sea and the people walked through the seabed on dry land. When all of Israel had passed through the path in the water, the Egyptian army rushed in after them. God released the water to come back to its place, and the soldiers were drowned.
Among the people of Israel already on the other side, a song broke out. It was no longer the groaning dirge of the slave; it was the song of freedom. That song is found in the Old Testament book of Exodus, chapter 15. The song was triumphant, it was exultant, and it was full scale.
Miriam, the sister of Moses, grabbed a timbrel (tambourine), an instrument the Egyptians used to taunt the people of Israel. But the music Miriam made with this tambourine taunted nobody but gave glory to God. In Exodus, chapter 15, verse 20 we read, “. . . and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.”
The music and the dancing came with freedom. Freedom has a song!
There are all kinds of slavery. It all robs our song. Slavery could be financial, it could be physical, and it could be emotional.
Find your song, break free and dance your dance of victory. As long as the Living God of Heaven reigns, we have a song. Sing it!
Dan Puckett works with road team operations at Life Action Ministries in Benton Harbor, Michigan.