Hello Sean I was hoping you may be able to help I have been reading though Genesis (17:27) what dose it mean by (bought with money from a foreigner) ? I have read though the law later on in Leviticus about slaves and how they differ from modern slavery , but I am a little confused about this one as it says bought from a foreigner?
@Suren_Petrosian Great question I think the below 10 page article from Paul Copan has lots of great material and would be worth reading. The reality is that God did not try to transform ancient culture overnight, but rather sowed the seeds for social transformation by speaking redemptive truth into an existing social structure. God did not try to instate a law to abolish slavery, but rather told the Israelites to love the foreigner even as they were once foreigners in Egypt; to love their neighbor as themselves.
My understanding of Scripture is that God is always after the human heart. God could come down in blazing glory with a host of angels and enforce righteous behavior, but that would have no ultimate impact upon peoples’ hearts. God put the tree of knowledge in the Garden and allowed Cain to kill Abel and God allows much evil in the world. But God is always sowing the seeds of His love - calling us to choose what is righteous rather than what is wicked - sending His people to be salt and light. It doesn’t look like a very efficient process, but the aim is not mere external transformation, but rather that we humans could become sons and daughters of God by surrendering our entire selves to the love, mercy and wisdom of God. God wants our hearts; He wants us in His family not just for a few short years on earth but for all eternity - and in order for that to happen the transformation must come from within.
As I shall develop further below, we should not view the OT as offering an ideal ethic for all cultures across the ages. Rather than attempt to morally justify all aspects of the Sinaitic legal code, we can affirm that God begins with an ancient people who have imbibed dehumanizing customs and social structures from their ANE context. Yet this God desires to draw them in and show them a better way:
Let us revisit the case of slavery, going into a bit more detail here. Slavery is not prohibited outright. There are certainly negative aspects to it such as the possibility of limited beating of slaves (which, if severe, was punishable), the favoring of Israelite slaves over foreign slaves, and so forth. Yet Mosaic legislation simultaneously expresses the hopeful goal of eradicating slavery-a theme of Deuteronomy 15-while both diminishing the staying power of slavery in light of the exodus and controlling the institution of slavery in light of the practical fact that misfortune in a subsistence culture could reduce anyone to poverty and indebtedness. Indeed, God’s reminder to Israel of her own history exposes the reality of this institution as less-than-ideal. God had redeemed Israel from slavery to become his people (Exod. 20:7), and his redemptive activity was to be a model for Israel’s conduct within society-however miserably she happened to fail at this: "You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt (Exod. 22:21). Even more poignant is Exodus 23:9: “You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Indeed, the command to love a stranger as oneself is rooted in the fact that “you were aliens in the land of Egypt” (Lev. 19:34). The new atheists overlook or avoid these strong undertones, which help sow the seeds of slavery’s own destruction.
Even when God gave Moses His law, “because of the hardness of their hearts” , God allowed divorce for any cause. Matt 19:8.
Jesus refined that to drive back to divorce is only acceptable in case of infidelity, then only if the offended partner cannot forgive.
God gently leads His people through the snares and traps of society.