Freedom to ServeDecember 30, 2013 - 5:00 am
“So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me.’”—Exodus 10:3
The Torah portion for this week is Bo, which means “come,” from Exodus 10:1–13:16, and the Haftorah is from Jeremiah 46:13–28.
As this week’s Torah portion begins, Moses reiterated the well-known refrain, “Let my people go!” This slogan, now made famous in songs and movies, is the reoccurring phrase in the Exodus story. It also was a significant message in the modern-day struggle to free Jews in the former Soviet Union, where the call was again uttered, “Let my people go!” However, people often miss what immediately follows that phrase: “ . . . so that they may worship me.”
While the second half of the verse is not as familiar to most people, we can argue that it is the more important part of the verse. Why? Because freedom is meaningless without purpose. In fact, freedom can be dangerous without direction. The point of the Exodus was not to set the children of Israel free. The goal was that they would be free so that they could serve God.
In May 2013, famed talk show host Oprah Winfrey gave the commencement speech at Harvard University. In sharing words of wisdom culled from her own life experiences, Oprah explained that while she had been on television since she was 19, it wasn’t until many years later that she realized the point of it all. In 1994, she interviewed a nine-year-old girl who had taken upon herself to collect spare change from family and friends so that she could give it to charity. The girl raised $1,000 just from nickels and pennies. It was then that Oprah thought, “If she could raise $1,000, what could I raise?” So Oprah asked her viewers to send in their spare change. One month later, she had raised over $3 million for charity!
Oprah had an epiphany. Her purpose wasn’t just to be on television. Her mission was to be a successful talk show host so that she could use her influence to do good in the world.
God gave the Israelites freedom, and He bestows countless blessings upon each of us, for a purpose. Our blessings aren’t the end goal; they are a means to fulfilling our mission and serving our Lord. We are called upon to share our time, talents, wealth, and energy to serve God’s purposes and make the world a better place. As Mordecai said to Esther when he asked her to use her position of influence to save the Jews of Susa: “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
Let’s take a look at our blessings and the sphere of influence we’ve been given — then resolve to use them for God’s purposes. After all, it’s why He gave them to you and me.