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"Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 
Hosanna in the Highest!
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--- Matthew 21:9

 

 

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The Grace of God through Slavery

(08/27/2017)


Recently, there are many incidents that the statues of the historical figures were destroyed or removed due to their ties to the history of slavery in America. The racial conflict was intensified and someone even wants to remove the statues of the founding fathers of this country or blow up the Mount Rushmore. These radical behaviors or advocates were all pointed to the history of slavery in the United States, even the statue of Columbus was destroyed as his discovery of America was considered as the origin of slavery. It seems anything related to the slavery is evil, but people might not aware of what kind of grace of God brought through slavery.

In the Bible’s Book of Genesis Chapter 37-48, the other sons of Jacob (Israel) were jealous about Joseph’s dream of his superiority over his brothers and they plotted to kill Joseph while they grazed their flocks out of town. They stripped Joseph of his robe and threw him into the cistern. They initially wanted to kill him, but then they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites passing by from Gilead to Egypt, so they decided to sell Joseph to Ishmaelites as a slave instead of killing him. Then Joseph was sold again in Egypt to one of Pharaoh’s officials. After many years and several incidents, Joseph eventually became the top official in Egypt and saved his family, including those brothers who plotted to kill him, during the seven years of big famine.

If the caravan did not pass and there was no slavery-trading system, Joseph could die in the cistern rather than being sold as a slave to Egypt. During this process, God showed his grace through the slavery-trading system and saved Joseph’s, and eventually saved the life of Israel family during the big famine. This showed God could turn a bad thing into a good result with His grace.

Same thing happened with the slavery system in the early American history. Without the slavery trading system, no one would spend the money and effort to go to Africa and bring Africans to the American Continent. God had mercy on those suffering Africans so He used the slavery-trading system to bring many Africans to the new Continent of America. Although the initial condition of slaves was very harsh or even brutal and inhuman under some cruel slave masters, eventually they all became the free men after the Civil War. In the contrary, many Africans remained in Africa mostly died of famine, plagues and tribunal wars. So those slaves who came to America had a much better result than those who remained in Africa.

However, bringing Africans to the New World through slavery-trading system was only the first step of God’s grace to save Africans. The next step of God’s grace was to inspire white people to free slaves in America based on the principle that all men were created equal by God. During the Civil War, God inspired a poet, Julia Ward Howe, to write a song which later became the Battle Hymn of the Republic. In the last paragraph of this song, it sings:

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!
While God is marching on.

This song inspired many union soldiers to march on the field to win the final victory of the Civil War and eventually free all the slaves as free men in the United States. Many white Christian soldiers died in the battles fulfilling this spirit of this lyric, “as He (Christ) died to make men holy, let us die to make men (Black men) free!”

Now, as the racial conflict intensified, some people want to deny everything related to the slavery, including the founding fathers of the United States of America. It won’t help America. If people, especially African Americans, can go back to Africa to see what kind of life people are living there, they will really appreciate the grace of God that brought their ancestors to this New World, even though the early condition was very harsh.

In fact, after the Civil War and slavery was abolished in the United States, there was no incentive for people to bring Africans to the United States of America. The 300-year immigration of Africans to America was totally stopped, and most Africans left in Africa had suffered famine, plagues, tribunal wars and foreign occupancy for the next hundred years. Their living condition in Africa was much worse than the living condition in the plantations in the southern states of the United States.

Slavery system existed in almost every nation in the past four thousand years. It’s part of human mistakes that people made during the human progress. I am not trying to white-wash the sin of the slave-trading system, but I want to show people how God utilized a bad system to generate a good result for African Americans. We should still work hard to stop any sort of discrimination in our society, but there is no need to go back to hundreds of years ago and use current moral standard to judge the historical figures, especially the founding fathers of this nation.

Therefore, I hope that people can move forward to the future and work together to make this country better, rather than dwelling on the hatred and vengeance over the slavery system two hundred years ago. It’s the grace of God to save Africans from the awful condition in their homeland in Africa and bring them to the New World through slavery system, and then free them as free men in the later years as the society progressed. Please remember there were over a hundred thousands white Christian soldiers in the Union followed the footstep of Christ and sacrificed their lives in the Civil War to "make men free'. It’s time to appreciate the grace of God and put the past behind to work together for the bright future of the New Millennium.

Son of Man

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