Last week we started a new exciting series called, “Personal Relationships based on Servanthood: To the Lord, To Each Other, To Our Spouses”. Check out Part I of ‘Servanthood to the Lord’ Here
THE AWL CEREMONY: Part II of “Servanthood to the Lord”
There is more here than first meets the naked eye so we need to move slowly and deliberately. Only in Deuteronomy 15: 15-16 and Exodus 21: 1-6 does the word awl appear, something that is used to bore a hole and make a permanent mark:
The Awl [N] [S] an instrument only referred to in connection with the custom of boring the ear of a slave ( Exodus 21:6 ; Deuteronomy 15:17 ), in token of his volunteering perpetual service when he might be free. (Compare Psalms 40:6 ; Isaiah 50:5 ).
Here we have the visible mark of the servant whose inward characteristics are his total obedience and his lifetime commitment. He might have gone out free and left his master. Instead, he voluntarily chose lifelong service to his Lord and Master.
TWO WHO BORE SERVANT’S MARKS ON THEIR BODIES
There are two people of significance in the Bible who bore servant’s marks on their bodies. One is Paul:
17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
– Galatians 6:17 New King James Version (NKJV)
The word marks is translated as stigma and means in the Strong’s Concordance: a mark incised or punched (for recognition of ownership – emphasis mine), a scar of service. In other words, Paul has been branded with the name of Jesus, his owner, and Paul is in His exclusive service. He has the marks on his body to prove it ( 2 Corinthians 11: 23 – 27; 12: 7 – 8). He was whipped five times, beaten with rods three times, stoned once and “gifted “ with the physical thorn in his flesh as a chronic condition (the word “gave” in 2 Corinthians 12: 7 actually means “gift” ).
Paul had multiple scars on his body just as a servant had a scar on his ear made by an awl that signified his promise of perpetual service. Yet there was Another with permanent scars from having His body pierced while being hammered into wood because the motive of His heart was servant obedience.
45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
– Mark 10:45 New King James Version (NKJV)
Twenty odd years ago my family built a cedar log cabin. Because it was cedar we used nails to join the logs. I had just read a book about the crucifixion stating 8 inch long nails were used on Jesus’ wrists. Each time I watched my husband and teenage son drive in the 8 inch spikes we used on our log home, I thought of Jesus’ wrists. I saw how difficult it was for my men to drive those massive spikes into the wood. I thought on how the Son of Man came to serve; how He laid down His free will and was totally obedient to the will of His Father. He asks that, as His soon-to-be Bride, we would be just as obedient, no matter what the cost.
25 The other disciples therefore said to [Thomas], “We have seen the Lord.”
So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.
–John 20:25-27 New King James Version (NKJV)
His scars identified Him. They were a permanent reminder of infinite love, a depiction of the laying down of His life and will to The Father. He was the perfect servant.
TWO IMPERFECT HUMAN EXAMPLES
There is so little we can do for Him in return for what He has done for us. When I go through trials that require obedience to become a worthy servant, I am always conscious of the fact that I may not obey as I wish I would and as He is worthy. In His faithfulness He often gives me Scripture lessons to give me understanding to make the testing of my faith easier. About 20 months ago I had surgery on nasal polyps and totally lost my sense of smell and taste. That meant, among many other things, no more restaurant trips (why spend money when you can’t taste what you’re eating?); no smelling freshly-baked bread or cookies, etc. I was also told there was no end in sight and I could feel bitterness creeping in. I needed a desperate talk with the Lord. First, He reminded me that the Israelites had to eat this strange food called manna (which means ”what is it?” ) every day, three times a day for 40 years. Obviously it became boring. Well, my food tasted boring because it all tasted the same – it had no taste at all! Ah, but God is always good, so He went on to the second part of the lesson. That was to remind me that manna, according to Psalms 78:25, is “angel’s food.” Perfect! – angel food cake was the special cake my mother cooked only for me as a child. I was beginning to understand. This was God’s special gift to me; I was going to learn something important. The flesh was going to die some more and, if I would adjust my thinking, it would be a gift from God. My Heavenly Father, knowing that it was going to last a long time and also knowing that my flesh wasn’t going to die an easy death, added one more lesson to make a deeper point.
12 “I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”
–Exodus 16:12 New King James Version (NKJV)
The word for complaints is also translated as grumblings or murmurings. More importantly, the root words for complaints are ‘obstinate’ and ‘grudge’. Let me share something as an example: We have a new puppy. We love him; therefore, we put a leash on him for his safety. My Father loves me; therefore, He will lead me to Scriptural words strict enough to convict me so that I don’t complain or grumble when He pulls on that leash to train me to obey. Most of all, I will not hold a grudge against Him in my heart and become bitter against Him. He loves me and He is training me so that one day I won’t even need a leash to walk closely beside Him. Is there any thought sweeter for a bride than to walk closely beside her Bridegroom in perfect step with Him?
Training for those times is worth anything.
I have a dear, sweet, tender-hearted friend who is basically in constant pain. She suffers from chronic migraines, Lupus and all the side-effects of that debilitating disease. Recently she went through a flare-up of her disease, accompanied with massive back pain. At the same time her mother-in-law fell off a ladder and broke several bones. Her husband was torn between his devotion to his wife and his mother. My friend had him fly to his mother’s side, leaving her alone for quite a while. What was her humble, servant’s heart throughout this? The following is her email to me:
As for me and my family, we continue to have our fair share of challenges, yet that is part of living in this life on earth, whether people are Christians or not. For in what other ways would we be able to practice our faith? I say that with a smile. Our God is mighty to save and He honors those who honor Him. He is merciful and gracious toward all. Our trials are minor compared to the saints of old and even the saints of now who are in places where Christians are greatly persecuted. I shan’t complain about anything. God is always good. I am grateful that He gives me the faith and blessing to know and experience that truth about Him.
I do not hear any murmuring or obstinacy in that email. I hear, instead, sweet obedience to His will and acceptance. I hear a desire to want to be “His servant for life.”
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I would like to thank my fellow consultants for all their assistance in getting this blog published: Michelle Arrington, Hannah Hall, Ariel Mcgarry, Carol White, Tracy Yoder, and J.P.Wilhelm. Their encouragement and patience have been invaluable to me.
This cool pic and additional information about the Awl Ceremony can be found on slideplayer.com. The presentation I found this from was called “The Pierced Slave Sacrifice” by Ms. Susanna Freeman. Here is the link: http://slideplayer.com/slide/8539836/