Back in the late ’70’s, there was a family saga by the name of ‘Roots’. It told the story of an African boy, Kunta Kinte who was captured and taken to America as a slave. On arrival, they were branded. This painful process was part of their dehumanising. It showed they were slaves, and belonged to someone else.
I thought about this when I read today’s section – Genesis 17 v 9 – 14 – where any man bought into the household had to go through circumcision. Similarly they had been captured and sold, and had to go through a painful process that declared their new ownership. However, the difference here, is that this was a process that all those from the household of Abraham and his descendents went through. In a sense, it brought the slave into full membership of the group, and gave him the rights of belonging into the protection and provision of the Covenant. He became one of the people of God. God wanted to care for all, whether they were children of Abraham or children of aliens.
In the first promise given by God to Abraham, back in Genesis 12 v 2 – 3, he was told, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Being taken into captivity and sold as a slave may not have seemed much of a blessing, but this was the first indication of Abraham and his faith impacting the other nations around him. God cares for all, and longs that all come into his kingdom, under his protection and his provision.
Other nations come to our land – for the most part willingly, not as slaves. If we are living wholeheartedly submitted to God ourselves (circumcision of the heart, as the bible puts it in some places) then maybe we can impact others and draw them into full membership of the Kingdom of God.
And for those who do come as slaves – for human trafficking is a very real problem; or who have become slaves through debt or drugs and prostitution – what can we do? God’s heart is that they be protected and provided for. Don’t judge them for getting captured. The irony is that their only hope of freedom is to submit themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
For us too, the greatest freedom is in belonging wholeheartedly to the Kingdom of God, a full member of the New Covenant. Therein is our provision, and our protection.