Heads Held High

Leviticus 23:16 — “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.”

Something about the powerful imagery of this verse evokes a response. It stirs our emotions. It speaks to our deep longing for freedom.

When we are conquered by a more powerful entity than ourselves and are forced to surrender control to the conqueror, our pride takes a beating. Human nature dictates the necessity of retaining control over your property, and when control over yourself is relinquished, fear and shame result.

From the pride we take in our self-sufficiency, it follows that we would naturally fear any threat to our sense of self. We fear the future because we feel unprepared; we fear death because it has the final word. Fear is the natural response to a lack of control, and the natural reaction to fear is self-preservation — shielding yourself to retain control over your physical body as a last resort when protection is gone. A ducked head is an indication of insecurity; a head held high is a sign of courage and inner strength.

Submission is also a direct threat to our pride in that it forces an unwilling admission of weakness. We want to be viewed as the conquering heroes, not the conquered slaves. To be subservient to a stronger opponent is to be stripped of our dignity; when it is not within our power to restore our status, we feel shame. No one likes to lose or to be overcome; frankly, it’s embarrassing. We feel that it is disgraceful to be seen in our helpless state of surrender, so we hide our faces from the judgmental eyes of the world. A bowed head is an indication of shame; a head held high is a sign of freedom and self-respect.

All of us have experienced the fear and shame of being controlled by something stronger than ourselves; addictions would defnitely fall into that category. Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin — once we give in to our desires, soon we find that we are no longer in control, but that sin has mastered us. As the consequences pile up, eventually we are hardly able to stand under the weight of fear and shame.

But the God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt is still in the business of redemption. His name is Jesus, for He has saved His people from their sins and enabled us to walk with heads held high — Unconquered. Unashamed. Unafraid.

Published in: on May 20, 2011 at 4:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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