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Chapter 82


Christ the Servant


Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them. If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him forever.” (Exodus 21:1-6)


In Exodus 21 the Lord God begins to give his judgments (civil statutes) to Israel, by which he typified and portrayed redemption, grace, and salvation by Christ.[1] Here we have the first of the civil statutes given to Israel. It appears to be the basis of all those that follow it. Exodus 21:1-6 gives us the law of God concerning the bond-servant. This, the very first civil statute given to Israel, was a blessed picture of redemption and grace by our Lord Jesus Christ.


            This law describes a man who would voluntarily make himself a bond-servant to his master for life. The servant spoken of in this passage of Scripture, by type and picture, is the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became the Servant of God that he might redeem and save sinners chosen of God from the foundation of the world (Matthew 1:21). He “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). How blessed it is to see and know Christ in this relationship! The eye of faith sees Christ the Servant and rejoices in all his work. Let me show you five things about this law of the bond-servant, by which our Lord Jesus Christ was typified.


Voluntary Servant


First, the Lord Jesus Christ chose to become Jehovah’s Servant. We understand and rejoice to know that this Servant is himself God, one with the Father in being, glory, and greatness, in all things equal with the Father. In his eternal Deity, as God the Son, our Savior is altogether equal with the Father. But he became a man, became our Surety, became our Mediator, that he might subject himself to and obey his Father’s will as a man for the salvation of God’s elect, “to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:6-8).


            Let it be clearly understood that the Son of God is and must be God, the second Person of the blessed Trinity. We are Trinitarians. We believe, according to the Scriptures, that there is one God, subsisting in three eternal Persons, in all things equal to one another (1 John 5:7). The Son of God is not, and cannot possibly be, inferior to the Father in his divine nature. If Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh, as the Scriptures declare, there cannot be any measure of inequality between the Father and the Son. As Augustus Toplady, wrote, “The uncreated and eternally begotten Son of the Father Almighty is and must be as truly a divine being as the Father who begat him.”


            Therefore, when we read in the Scriptures of Christ’s being the Servant of God, subjecting himself to the will of God, and obeying the commandment of God, we are assured that his servitude is and must be by his own free and voluntary consent. He is, indeed, the Servant of God; but his service was no forced work. — “He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). — “Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). — Our Lord himself declares, “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15)


            There was a perfect understanding between the Father and the Son from eternity. Let there be no misunderstanding in our own minds. Christ became the Servant of Jehovah by his own will (John 10:16-18; Isaiah 50:5-7; 42:1-4).


Christ’s Service


Second, the Lord Jesus served. From the moment of his birth, until his final breath in this world, the Lord Jesus served. He was ever Jehovah’s righteous and faithful Servant. He said, to his disciples, “I am among you as he that serveth” (Luke 22:27).


“Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:5-14)


Six Years


According to Exodus 21:2, a servant could only serve for six years, no more, except he become a voluntary bond-servant forever. Six years was the measure of a man’s obedience. That is not accidental. Six is the number of man, the number of incompletion, frustration, and failure. The Lord Jesus Christ came here to do as Jehovah’s Servant what no man had ever done before, but what all men must do; and he did it. He came here to make up for man, to make reconciliation for man, to make atonement for iniquity, to make an end of sin, to make restitution for transgressions, and to bring in everlasting righteousness (Daniel 9:24; Romans 8:1-4). If you will take time to read this section at one sitting (Exodus 21-23), you will see that all these civil laws given to Israel are laws requiring equity, righteousness, and justice. Wherever a breach was found, wherever an offense was committed, restitution was required: honor for reproach, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, an ox for an ox, a dollar for a dollar, a life for a life. Christ became Jehovah’s Servant to make restitution for us; and, blessed be his name, he did what he came here to do (Daniel 9:24; Romans 8:1-4). This Servant of God fulfilled the law perfectly, bringing in everlasting righteousness. The Lord Jesus Christ put away the sins of his people by the sacrifice of himself. He finished the transgression and made an end of sins.


The Servant’s Option


Third, the servant, according to the law, had an option. Had he chosen to do so, he could have gone out free. Our blessed Savior could have gone out free. It was the servant’s choice whether he remained a servant or went out free. So it was with our Savior, even after he had come into the world.


            Living here as a Man, the Lord Jesus had perfectly honored and pleased his Father (Matthew 17:5). Even in Gethsemane, the Lord Jesus told Peter he was under no constraint, except the constraint of his own voluntary will, to die in our place at Calvary (Matthew 26:52-54). But, had he gone out free, he would go out by himself.


Freedom Refused


So, fourth, I want you to see that our Lord would not go out by himself. — “If the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free” (Exodus 21:5). Oh, how I thank God that our all-glorious Christ, Jehovah’s Righteous Servant, said, “I will not go out free!” Rather, “he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51; John 12:27-32; Isaiah 50:7).


            Try to picture in your mind the great covenant of grace. The Lord Jesus, way back before the world was made, stood before God the Father, and said, “I love my Master.” Why did the Lord Jesus Christ come into this world? The answer is found in these words. Christ came here because of his great love for his Father, to glorify God the Father. The first Adam, who was made for the glory of God, failed miserably. The last Adam succeeded gloriously. He restored that which he took not away.


            He was altogether competent for the work he came here to do, because this man is God, because this God-man was altogether without sin. — “In him is no sin” (1 John 3:5). — “He knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). — “He did no sin” (1 Peter 2:22). When tempted of the devil, Satan found nothing in him by which to seduce him.


            He had no work, no ambition, no will, but to do his Father’s will. When he was just a boy, he corrected his mother on this subject, saying, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). There was never a boy who loved, honored, and sought to please his mother like this boy; but there was someone he loved more, sought to honor more, sought to please more, someone more important than his mother. He loved his Father too much to be detracted from his work by the fleshly sorrows of his mother. When he was a man, he said, “I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29). When his labor was ended, when his work was done, when the faithful Servant gave an account of the work he had done, he said, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4).


            It is by the covenant Surety’s glorification of the Father that elect sinners are saved with an everlasting salvation and eternally justified. The love of God for us and the love of Christ for his Father is the source and cause of it all.


            Next, the Servant says, “I love my wife.” — You who are loved of Christ cannot fail to see your Beloved here. Here we see something of the marvelous love of Christ for his bride, the church. What David said concerning Jonathan, we say from the heart concerning our Redeemer. — “Thy love to me was wonderful” (2 Samuel 1:26). Oh, that we might know the unknowable! Oh, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).


            Where can we find illustrations of Christ’ great love for his elect bride? Jacob’s love for Rachel was rewarded with deceit (Genesis 29:18-20); but it did not dampen his love. Our Savior’s love for us caused him shame and suffering unknown; but the more he endured the more his love was made manifest. His love for us is stronger than death and as firm as the very life of the eternal God!


            Adam’s love for Eve gives us another illustration of our Savior’s love for us. Nowhere do we see the love of Christ, the last Adam, for his bride more fully illustrated than in the love of the first Adam for his wife Eve (Genesis 2:23; Ephesians 5:25-27). The Holy Spirit tells us plainly that Adam was not deceived by the devil (1 Timothy 2:14). He knew exactly what he was doing. He sinned with his eyes wide open. He saw Eve in the depths of her sin, guilt, and shame. Yet, he loved her. Because of his love for her, before he would be separated from her, he chose to be damned with her. He cleaved to his wife, for they were one. He plunged himself into ruin. He freely, deliberately plunged himself under the wrath of God. He made himself sin for Eve’s sake, because he loved Eve. In all this Adam stands out as an eminent type of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13-14).


            Next, the Servant says, “I love my children.” — Even back then, in the covenant of grace, before the world began, the predestined children of God were given a family relation with the Son of God. Is he the Son of God? So are we, by divine adoption and special predestination, from eternity. Thomas Bradbury wrote…


“Through the perfection of his righteousness, the preciousness of his blood, the power of his resurrection, and the prevalency of his intercession, he brings forth the progeny of grace (His Seed – A Seed To Serve Him) from the womb of the eternal purpose, to serve, praise, and adore the eternal Three-in-One to all generations.”


            In us Christ sees the fruit and satisfaction of his soul’s travail. In him is all our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30). In him we were chosen to salvation. In him we have been redeemed from all sin. In him we are begotten again unto a lively hope by his resurrection. In him we have been quickened into spiritual life by his Spirit. In him we have been born again never to die. In him we are saved. He carries us in the bosom of his everlasting love. He washed us from every stain of sin in his own precious blood. He has justified us with his spotless righteousness. He shall at last present us faultless to the Father in perfect holiness (Hebrews 2:13).


            Why did Christ become the Servant of God? Because he loved his Father, he loved his wife, and he loved his children.


Servant Forever


We read in Exodus 21:6, “He shall serve him forever.” So, the fifth thing we see is the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ shall serve forever. How delightful and blessed it is to our hearts to see the willingness, the delight of Christ to bow, to humble himself, to become obedient to the Father’s will, to suffer and die for us. Oh, how he loved us! He said, “I will not go out free!” He had his ear bored. He solemnly and publicly (before the Father, before the Spirit, before the heavenly angels) declared himself to be Jehovah’s Servant forever, and never had a second thought about it.


            A human body was prepared for the Son of God; and he came into this world as Jehovah’s Servant in that body, saying to his Father, “A body hast thou prepared me!” What a glorious sight for the comfort of every believing heart! — The Son of God wears and forever dwells in a human body! He has a real human heart to feel the sorrows and sufferings of his loved ones in this world, real human eyes to watch over his people, to weep with those that weep, to weep for those who cannot weep for themselves. He has real human ears ever attentive to the cries of his beloved, real human hands to minister to the necessities of his family, real human feet frequently weary in errands of mercy for his beloved. Our dear Savior has real human lips ever filled with grace, ever flowing with words of love and life for his chosen, a real human soul which was troubled and sorrowful, even unto death, that his sinful, sorrowing people might be sinless and joyful to all eternity. Blessed be God forever, yonder in heaven’s highest glory there is a man, a real man, Jesus, the Christ, Jehovah’s Servant, my Savior!


            Pause to consider what our Lord Jesus has done and is doing for chosen sinners as Jehovah’s Servant. He brought in everlasting righteousness by his obedience to God as our Representative. He put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. He lives in heaven to make intercession for transgressors, according to the will of God. He sends his Spirit to regenerate and save his redeemed ones in the time of love. He keeps and preserves his believing people secure unto eternal glory. He rules the world for the good of his redeemed ones. He is coming again to gather his elect up to glory and present them before the throne of the Triune Jehovah in all the perfection and beauty of his own perfection and beauty, holy, unblameable, unreprovable, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, “to the praise of the glory of his grace,” “that God may be all in all” (Ephesians 5:25-27; Jude 24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28).


            All praise to Christ, the Servant! — “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6). Whatever our need may be, it is supplied from the unfailing stores of our heavenly Bridegroom. The time of our destitution and helplessness gave him opportunity to exercise his love and care. When we were lost and loathsome, he came to us in love. When we were naked, he clothed us with the garments of salvation (Isaiah 61:10). When hungry, he feeds us. When fainting, he restores us. When helpless, he upholds us. Do we long for glory? He will bring us in!


            The time of our Savior’s service is “forever.” Hear what he, himself, says about it. — “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them” (Luke 12:37). Time will not terminate his service of love. In the ages to come God will show the exceeding riches of his grace toward us through Christ Jesus. When time shall be no more, the Lamb in the midst of the throne will feed us, lead us to fountains of living water, and bless us with eternal joy in his presence — “forever!


            Forever adore, love, and trust the Lord Jesus Christ, who stooped so low to lift us so high. If Christ our Savior is the Servant of God, let us imitate him as we endeavor to serve our God and one another. — “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5; John 13:13-15).






Don Fortner








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[1] Ever remember, the law of God, these civil statutes, ceremonial rites, and all the commandments were messianic. They were given to Israel alone and applied to Israel alone. The law of the Old Testament has absolutely nothing to do with Gentiles. It was never given to Gentiles. The law was messianic. It pointed to Christ, who is the fulfillment and the end of the law.