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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 2:23Exodus 2:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 And it came to pass in the course of those many days, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.

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, 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 32:13Numbers 32:13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 And Jehovah's anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander to and fro in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of Jehovah, was consumed.

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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; 7:24Romans 3:23; 7:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; 24 Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?

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; John 8:34John 8:34
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Every one that committeth sin is the bondservant of sin.

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). 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 10:10John 10:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.

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Jesus came and paid the blood price for our sins on the cross (Romans 5:6-11Romans 5:6-11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 For while we were yet weak, in due season Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: for peradventure for the good man some one would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life; 11 and not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

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). He is the only who could bring us back to God (John 14:6John 14:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.

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; John 8:32John 8:32
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

32 and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

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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 28:1-6Matthew 28:1-6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

28 1 Now late on the sabbath day, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it. 3 His appearance was as lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 and for fear of him the watchers did quake, and became as dead men. 5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus, who hath been crucified. 6 He is not here; for he is risen, even as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

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). 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 4:102 Timothy 4:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 for Demas forsook me, having loved this present world, and went to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.

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; Hebrews 10:32-39Hebrews 10:32-39
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were enlightened, ye endured a great conflict of sufferings; 33 partly, being made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, becoming partakers with them that were so used. 34 For ye both had compassion on them that were in bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of you possessions, knowing that ye have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Cast not away therefore your boldness, which hath great recompense of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise. 37 For yet a very little while, He that cometh shall come, and shall not tarry. 38 But my righteous one shall live by faith: And if he shrink back, my soul hath no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them that shrink back unto perdition; but of them that have faith unto the saving of the soul.

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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