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Arbeit macht frei

The words, “Arbeit macht frei,” or “Work sets you free” welcomed everyone who entered the Auschwitz death camp. The emaciated few that remained when the Russians liberated the camp were far too weak to have done anything, much less work.

The prisoners were so frail that they were largely unable to eat the food that their liberators provided. They had endured unimaginable horrors in that place and they had to go out into the world, replete with the knowledge that their lives would never be the same, their loved ones were dead and their nation decimated.

Imagine one of the prisoners saying to the Russian soldiers, “I love this camp and I want to stay here forever. The Nazis were good to us. Can they come back?”

We would say that the terrors of the camp had driven them stark, raving mad. This type attitude, while appearing to be insane, has nonetheless existed for a long time.

The people of Israel were suffering mightily from the hands of their Egyptian captors. They “groaned because of their bondage, and they cried out” to God to save them (Exodus 2:23, NKJV). God intervened and brought Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh. God brought plaques upon Egypt because of the stubborn refusals of Pharaoh to release the people of God (Exodus 7-12).

As a result of God’s work, Israel was released from captivity. Yet, shortly after their liberation, Israel began to whine and complain. When they finally received the freedom they dreamed of, they despised it.

“So the LORD’s anger was aroused against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone” (Numbers 32:13).

On several occasions, the nation of Israel inexplicably asked to return to Egypt. They willingly wanted to return to slavery, beatings and oppression. They were unconcerned about what would happen to their children. They only thought of themselves.

Can we imagine what Pharaoh would have done to them, had they returned?

We are in bondage to sin as humans (Romans 3:23; 7:24; John 8:34). We have no hope of attaining salvation on our own. No human holds the key to the prison doors. We needed a Savior so Jesus used his keys to open the cell doors (John 10:10).

Jesus came and paid the blood price for our sins on the cross (Romans 5:6-11). He is the only who could bring us back to God (John 14:6; John 8:32).

Three days after Jesus died on the cross, “a great earthquake” occurred and the stone was rolled back and the tomb of Jesus was empty (Matthew 28:1-6). In that moment, Jesus conquered death and provided everyone a way of salvation. In essence, the earthquake opened the spiritual prison doors of every person who would ever live. Everyone had found freedom!

Yet, billions of people refuse his offer and close the cell door again. They would rather remain imprisoned. Meanwhile, Satan’s laughs reverberate through the corridors of the dungeons as the prisoners believe the lie.

Jesus says to Satan, “Let My people go!” Yet, most do not want to go. They would rather be devoured by Satan.

Jesus offers never-ending joy and happiness. Satan spews forth nightmares and perpetual agony. However, beyond any rational thought, people prefer the nightmares and the torture.

Even Christians leave the Lord and go back to the squalor of sin (2 Timothy 4:10; Hebrews 10:32-39).

Someone physically stands between heaven and hell and gets to choose. They see with their eyes the overwhelming beauty on one side and the overwhelming ugliness on the other and say, “Sorry, Jesus. I choose hell. It looks nice.”

I seriously doubt that sane people would do this. Yet, they do it every day when they reject Jesus.

The phrase over our door can be, “Rationalization will NOT set us free.”

– by Richard Mansel @ www.forthright.net

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