How Awl-ful

Exodus 21:6 “He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life” (NIV).

Observation: Moses had just received the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai.  The people’s attention was riveted toward the mountain where God was manifest. They had seen lightning flashes, heard thunder and a heavenly trumpet, and the mountain began smoking. Responding to their fear, Moses told them not to be afraid; God was testing them, he said, but He would be with them and would keep them from sinning. Exodus 21 then begins by saying, “These are the laws you shall set before them,” and plunges into a litany of arcane rules about slavery.

Application:     Imagine what it must have been like for the entire nation to witness God’s manifestations on the mountain. Their eyes must have widened in wonder, mouths agape, bodies quivering from fear. Had there ever been a more riveting moment in all of human history? 

Now that God had their attention, how did He use it? By making them slog through obscure instruction about how slaves could win their freedom, and how to mark them if they choose to belong forever to master, wife, and children. Take them before the judge, then stand them against a doorpost and pierce their ears with an awl. Ouch! How “awl-ful.” But notice it is the servant’s choice to be pierced. If so motivated by love for his bride to be willing to go through the procedure, he voluntarily submitted to the process. Indeed, he asked for it. He knew in advance the required payment to have his bride forever. 

See how in God’s earliest laws He foreshadows Christ and His sacrifice? For love of His bride, He would willingly be pierced. He would willingly go before the judge and be nailed to a cross as symbolized by the same doorpost on which Passover’s blood was smeared. For love of His bride, He would carry forever the marks of piercing in His side. 

This is a God who so loves His children that He surrenders His divinity to become a man forever, then lays down even this life in search of voluntary lovers. He will paint other pictures later in the book to show His love for the Hebrews, and for me. But I ought to remember this first one; it contains the whole Gospel.

Prayer: O God, my soul groans with added understanding of Your immeasurable sacrifice for me. Remind me, Lord, each time I use the word “awful”; remind me of Your piercing.

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