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«Sermon #1174 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1 THE EAR BORED WITH AN AWL NO. 1174 A SERMON DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON, MAY 3, 1874, AT THE ...»

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Sermon #1174 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1


NO. 1174




“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 doorpost;

and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.” Exodus 21:5, 6.

THE slavery which existed among the ancient Jews was a very different thing from that which has disgraced humanity in modern times, and it ought also to be remembered that Moses did not institute slavery in any shape or fashion. The laws concerning it were made on purpose to repress it, to confine it within very narrow bounds, and ultimately to put an end to it. It was like the law of divorce—Moses authored that law, but he knew that the people were so deeply rooted in it that it could not be forbidden.

And therefore, as Jesus tells us, Moses, because of the hardness of their hearts, allowed them to put away their wives. And so, I may say, because of the hardness of their hearts he allowed them, still, to retain persons in servitude; but he made the laws very stringent, so as almost to prevent it. Among other repressive regulations, this was one, that when a slave ran away from his master it was contrary to law for anyone to assist in sending him back again. And with such a law as that, you can clearly see that nobody need remain a slave, since he could run away if he liked; it was nobody’s business—no, it was a sin for anybody to force him back again. Now, if a man can go when he likes, his slavery is a very different thing from that which still curses many parts of the earth; but the case stood thus, and sometimes persons who were insolvent, who could not pay, were compelled by the law to give their services to their creditors for a certain number of years, always limited, as you see in this case, to six.

A man who had committed theft, instead of putting the country to the expense of a prison, was sometimes fined for his theft sevenfold; and if he had no money he was placed in servitude till he had bought himself free again—an institution not altogether indefensible, I think, and having a good deal of rough justice about it. Sometimes a person who was extremely poor would sell his services for the six years, which are here prescribed, to some wealthy person who was bound to house him, clothe him, and feed him. This is very much like a system which still exists in some parts of our own country, where a person’s services are hired for the year, with so much nourishment to be given, and so much of wages.

Well, the law here says that if a man should have sold himself, or by insolvency should have come to be sold to his master, at the end of six years he might go free; he was quite free to leave his master’s house and go where he pleased, but it seems that the servitude was so exceedingly light, and, indeed, was so much for the benefit of the person in it, that frequently men would not go free. They preferred to continue as they were—servants to their masters. Now, as it was not desirable that this should often be the case, and as it was recognized that oppressive masters might sometimes frighten a servant into such an agreement, the law was made that in such a case the matter must be brought before the judges. And before them the man must say plainly—note that word—he must say it very distinctly and plainly, so that there was no doubt about it, that it really was his wish not to accept his liberty, but to remain as he was.

And then, after he had stated his desire and given as his reason that he loved his master—and loved the children and the wife that he had obtained in his service—his ear was to be pierced against the door of the house. This ceremony was intended to put a little difficulty in the way, that he might hesitate and say, “No, I won’t agree to that,” and so might, as was most proper, go free.

But if he agreed to that somewhat painful ceremony, and if he declared before the judges that it was his own act and deed, then he was to remain the servant of his chosen master as long as he lived! We are

going to use this as a type—and get some moral out of it, by God’s blessing. And the first use is this:

men are by nature the slaves of sin. Some are the slaves of drunkenness, some of lasciviousness, some of covetousness, some of sloth; but there are generally times in men’s lives when they have an opportunity of breaking loose. There will happen providential changes which take them away from old companions Volume 20 www.spurgeongems.org 1 The Ear Bored with an Awl Sermon #1174 and so give them a little hope of liberty, or there will come times of sickness which take them away from temptation, and give them opportunities for thought. Above all, seasons will occur when conscience is set to work by the faithful preaching of the Word of God, and when the man pulls himself up and questions his spirit thus—“Which shall it be? I have been a servant of the devil, but here is an opportunity of getting free. Shall I give up this sin? Shall I pray God to give me divine grace to break right away and become a new man—or shall I not?” Such a time may happen to some sinner here! I pray you, dear friend, do not slight it, because these times may not often come, and coming but being willfully refused, they may never return to you! If you are resolved to be the slave of your passions, then your passions will, indeed, enslave you; if you are content to be a slave of the cup, you shall find that the cup will hold you by its fascinations as fast as captive in fetters of brass; if you are willing to be the slave of unbelief and of the pleasures of the flesh, you will find that they will fasten you as with bands of steel, and hold you down forever! There are times when men might get free; their prison door is, for the moment, on the latch. “You almost persuade me to be a Christian,” cries Agrippa; Felix trembles and resolves to hear more of this matter. Many others in the same condition have been all but free—but they have deliberately preferred to remain as they were, and the result has been that sin has bored their ear, and from that day forward they have seldom been troubled by conscience!

They have sinned with impunity. The descending scale to hell has grown more and more rapid, and they have glided down it with ever-increasing pace. Have I not seen some such, for whom I hoped better things? The evil spirit went out of them and left them for a while—and oh, if divine grace had come and occupied the house, that evil spirit would never have returned! But they beckoned back that evil spirit, and he came with seven other devils more wicked than himself—and the last end of these once hopeful persons has become worse than the first! Slave of sin, will you be free? Your six years are up tonight!

Will you be free? The Spirit of God will help you to break every chain! The Redeemer will snap your fetters! Are you ready for liberty? Or does your heart deliberately choose to abide under the bondage of Satan? If so, take heed; that awl of habit may bore your ear, and then you will be beyond all hope of reformation; you will be the victim of yourself, the slave of your sins, the idolater of your own belly, the abject menial of your own passions! “He that would be free must break the chain himself,” is the old saying. But I will improve it—“he that would be free must cry to Christ to break the chain.” But if he would not have it broken and hugs his bonds, then on his own head will be his blood! Christian, the lesson to you is this: since the servants of Satan love their master so well, how well ought you to love yours? And since they will cling to his service, even when it brings misery into their homes, disease into their bodies, aches into their heads, redness into their eyes, and poverty into their purses, oh, can you ever think of leaving your good and blessed Master, whose yoke is easy, and whose burden is light? If they follow Satan into hell, surely you may well say— “Through floods and flames, if Jesus leads, I’ll follow where He goes.” They are the willing servants of Satan! Be you, with more than equal ardor, the willing servants of Christ!

Our text reads us a second lesson, namely, this. In the 40th Psalm, in the 6th verse, you will find the expression used by our Lord, or by David in prophecy personifying our Lord, “My ear have You opened,” or, “My ear have You dug.” Jesus Christ is here, in all probability, speaking of Himself as being forever, for our sakes, the willing servant of God. Let us just dwell on that a moment. Ages ago, long before the things which are seen had begun to exist, Jesus had entered into covenant with His Father that He would become the servant of servants for our sakes. All through the long ages He never started back from that compact; though the Savior knew the price of pardon was His blood, His pity never withdrew, for His ear had been pierced. He had become, for our sakes, the lifelong servant of God; He loved His spouse, the church; He loved His dear sons, His children whom He foresaw when He looked through the future ages—and He would not go out free. Our insolvency had made us slaves, and Christ became a servant in our place! When He came to Bethlehem’s manger, then it was that His ear was pierced, indeed, for Paul quotes as a parallel expression—“A body have You prepared Me.” He was bound to God’s service when He was found in fashion as a man, for then He “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” When he came to the waters of baptism at Jordan and said, “Thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness,” then did He, as it were, go before the judges and say plainly that He loved www.spurgeongems.org Volume 20 Sermon #1174 The Ear Bored with an Awl 3 the Master, whom He was bound to serve, loved His spouse, the church, and loved her little ones, and would, for their sakes, be a servant forever!

When He stood foot to foot with Satan in the wilderness, the arch-fiend offered to Him all the kingdoms of this world—and why did He not accept them? Because He preferred a cross to a crown, for His ear was bored! Afterwards the people, in the height of His popularity, offered Him a crown, but He hid Himself from them. And why did He hide? Because He came to suffer, not to reign; His ear was bored for redemption’s work, and He was straitened until He had accomplished it! In the garden, when the bloody sweat fell from His face and He said, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me,” why did He not put away that cup? If it had pleased Him, He might have applied for 12 legions of angels, and they would have come to the rescue. Why did He not summon that celestial bodyguard? Was it not because He had wholly surrendered Himself to the service of our salvation? Before His judges He might have saved Himself. Why didn’t He? One word when He was before Pilate would have broken the spell of prophecy, but why, like a sheep before her shearers, was He dumb? Why did He give His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to those that plucked off His hair? Why did He condescend to die and actually, upon the cross, pour out His heart’s blood? It was all because He had undertaken for us, and He would go through with it! His ear was bored—He could not, and He would not leave His dearly beloved church— “Yes, said His love, for her I’ll go Through all the depths of pain and woe!

And on the cross will even dare The bitter pangs of death to bear.” He would not accept deliverance though He might have done so! “He saved others, Himself He could not save.” Now, hear it, you believers! If Jesus would not go free from His blessed undertaking, will you ever desire to go free from the service of His love? Since He pushed onwards till He said, “It is finished,” will not His love, by God’s Holy Spirit, inspire you to push forward till you can say, “I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”? Can you go back when Jesus goes before you? Can you think of retreating? Can desertion or apostasy be regarded by you with any other feelings than those of abhorrence when you see your Master nailed to the gallows of Calvary, to bleed to death, and then to lie in the cold grave for your sakes? Will you not say, “Let my ear be bored to His service, just as His ear was dug for me”?

Let these observations stand as the preface for our sermon, for my discourse, though I will try to make it brief, deals with ourselves in an earnest fashion. Brothers and sisters in Christ, I think I speak for all of you who love Jesus, when I say—we are willing to undertake, tonight, perpetual service for Christ.

To lead you all to renew your dedication, I shall speak upon our choice of perpetual service and our reasons for making that choice. And then I shall call you up, and try to pierce your ears with some one of certain sharp awls which I have here ready for the purpose!

I. First, let us speak upon our CHOICE OF PERPETUAL SERVICE. The first thing is we have the power to go free if we will. This is a very memorable night to me. Pardon my speaking of myself, I cannot help it. It is exactly 24 years this night that I put on the Lord Jesus Christ publicly in baptism, [May 3, 1850] avowing myself to be His servant; and now, at this present time, I have served Him four times six years, and I think He says to me, “You may go free if you will.” In effect He says the same to every one of you, “You may go free if you will. I will not hold you in unwilling servitude!” There are plenty of places you can go—there is the world, the flesh, and the devil; for a master you may have either of these three if you choose. Jesus will not hold you against your will. Do you desire to go free, brothers and sisters, free from the yoke of Jesus? I can only speak for myself—and you may say, “Amen,” for yourselves if you wish, but nothing more. “Blessed be His name,” I never wish to be free from His dear yoke! Rather would I say— “Oh, to grace how great a debtor, Daily I’m constrained to be!

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