Braveheart is the 1995 movie based on the legendary life of William Wallace (1272-1305), still regarded as Scotland’s greatest hero, patriot and warrior. He inherited a family motto, Pro Libertate (“For Freedom”), which turned out to be prophetic. He grew up while the cruel king of England, Edward I “Longshanks,” was scheming to rule Scotland.
At the time many Scottish nobles were not so noble. In their greedy rivalries for titles and lands, they sought to appease Longshanks for favor and security, frequently at the expense of their Scottish countrymen. Their example was pride over principles, lust over liberty. Freedom is rarely free, and they were unwilling to risk anything.
But Wallace, a mere commoner but a “braveheart,” outraged at English oppression and fired with a vision for freedom, led a revolution that, after his death, resulted in the liberation of Scotland.
In 1305 he was betrayed, captured, sentenced and tortured to death. In the movie, Wallace (portrayed by Mel Gibson) is repeatedly offered a more merciful quick death if he will pledge allegiance to the king of England or beg for mercy. As the torturer begins to disembowel him, Wallace in agony indicates he wants to speak. But instead of muttering “mercy,” he shouts out his last word with all the strength he can muster—”Freedom!”
Freedom. Human beings in all places and all times have hungered for it. Yearning to breathe free. To feel free. To live free. To see their children born free. To be free physically, financially, mentally and spiritually. Many of history’s most inspiring true stories are of people struggling for liberation from bondage, captivity, tyranny or enslavement—and often achieving it.
History has been a roller coaster of subjugation and liberation of nations and peoples. We have witnessed encouraging achievements toward liberation in the last few years: Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iraq and perhaps progress in the Palestinian Authority—controlled territories. Now there are signs that Lebanon may throw off the yoke of its Syrian overlords who have occupied the country since 1976.
But even so, millions of people in dozens of countries are being oppressed, persecuted, terrorized and enslaved. Imagine every person in every country being free! Our world has a long way to go before it
is truly civilized.
Many people have never experienced liberty and cannot even envision it. They have been deceived with false freedoms and empty promises and propaganda. Instead of a spirit of freedom, they feel hopeless and helpless to achieve what they cannot even conceive. They are resigned
to their servitude.
A book about freedom
But in this dark world the light of understanding can be found. Many great books have been written and many great speeches given about freedom. But one book is more enlightening than all others. It has had a greater impact for liberation than all other books combined. It is the set of Holy Scriptures that we know as the Bible.
Indeed, one of the themes of this Book of books is true freedom and liberty!
It is no coincidence that many of the freedom-loving founding fathers of the United States of America were strongly influenced by their respect for the Bible. The Bible emphasizes that God loves all people and takes great joy in liberating them from all types of bondage. And it foretells the thrilling time when Jesus Christ will return to earth and bring true freedom to all the world!
But for now, “the whole world is under the control of the evil one”—Satan the devil (1 John 5:19 1 John 5:19And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness.
American King James Version×, New International Version). Satan “deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×), and one of the greatest bondages is deception and ignorance.
Satan infects people with lust for power and control. He is the driving influence behind human beings oppressing and enslaving one another. But individuals do have an option. By submitting to God’s rule over their lives, they can escape the bondage of Satan’s influence.
Both the Bible and logic make it clear, however, that freedom for human beings cannot be absolute independence. According to our Creator, we have responsibilities to God and our fellow man. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome [not oppressive, not a yoke of bondage]” (1 John 5:2-3 1 John 5:2-3 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
American King James Version×).
In fact, the Bible continually emphasizes that it is disobedience to God’s laws that brings curses and penalties (lack of true freedom), and obedience that brings blessings and benefits (freedom from penalties!).
True freedom—the best freedom—is not an absence of all authority. In fact, it is through submission to God’s authority that we can achieve maximum liberty. Righteous laws and God’s laws in particular, together with their enforcement, preserve and protect freedom. James speaks of the Ten Commandments as the “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25 James 1:25But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
American King James Version×; 2:12).
For a nation to preserve liberty, the rule of just, equitable law is actually more important than being a democracy. A free country must have a constitution that promotes freedom through the rule of law—law that is applied equally to all citizens, including the leaders.
A truly free country may have democratic processes, but the laws take precedence over what the majority of citizens might want to vote for at any moment. Strangely, even in free countries, greedy people voting unwisely usually chip away at their laws and their freedoms.
When a society has a breakdown of moral character and people increasingly violate God’s commandments, the nation almost always passes more and more civil statutes to protect the society. But the laws passed to restrict criminals restrict everyone. Less and less godly character results in less and less freedom (see 1 Timothy 1:5-11 1 Timothy 1:5-11 5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
6 From which some having swerved have turned aside to vain jangling;
7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for murderers,
10 For fornicators, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for enslavers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
American King James Version×).
God spells out the only true and lasting solution: Someday worldwide freedom will be protected by God’s Word being the “constitution” and His laws being “the law of the land.”
Captivity and liberation
Our Creator is a God of justice and mercy. Biblical history and prophecy show how God frequently punishes the people of a nation by causing them to be taken into captivity by their enemies, and then, when they deeply repent of their sins, He blesses them by liberating them from captivity.
Many Bible prophecies reveal that at the end of this age, because of the increasing sinfulness of mankind, God will bring about an enormous captivity. Jesus Christ referred to this time as one of “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:9 Matthew 24:9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
American King James Version×, 21-22).
But Christ also offers safety during that time to His true followers. “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world …” (Revelation 3:10 Revelation 3:10Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come on all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth.
American King James Version×). And after that time of punishment is finished, Jesus will liberate all people from their captivity.
Israel’s great story of liberation
The Exodus—the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt—ranks as one of the greatest examples of liberation and emancipation in history. It is described in great detail and referred to many times in the Bible.
This awesome sequence of events was made possible by a series of spectacular miracles plus 40 years of ongoing daily miracles. God extracted an entire nation from slavery in what at the time was the world’s superpower. This stands as supreme dramatic proof of God’s mercy, love and power!
At Mount Sinai, God spoke the Ten Commandments in the hearing of all the people. And how did God introduce Himself? How did He want to be known then and throughout history? “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2 Exodus 20:2I am the LORD your God, which have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
American King James Version×). And God’s Fourth Commandment states that every weekly Sabbath day is a reminder of His monumental intervention in history (Deuteronomy 5:15 Deuteronomy 5:15And remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD your God brought you out there through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.
American King James Version×).
Where was God taking the Israelites? To the Promised Land—”a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8 Exodus 3:8And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good land and a large, to a land flowing with milk and honey; to the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
American King James Version×)—a land of freedom, peace and prosperity. God promised to give them houses, water wells, vineyards and olive trees, which meant private property and opportunity for every family (Deuteronomy 6:10-11 Deuteronomy 6:10-11 10 And it shall be, when the LORD your God shall have brought you into the land which he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you great and goodly cities, which you built not, 11 And houses full of all good things, which you filled not, and wells dig, which you digged not, vineyards and olive trees, which you planted not; when you shall have eaten and be full;
American King James Version×).
The Bible relates many spiritual lessons to events of the Exodus. For one thing, the Exodus is a thorough illustration of God’s process of spiritual redemption and salvation. It is a sequence of events symbolizing how God calls His followers and how they should respond, how they must escape from the “Egypt” of enslavement to their sinful life, how the crossing of the Red Sea pictures the need for water baptism, how they must go wherever and whenever God leads them, how God’s people must rely on Him daily for all their physical and spiritual needs while living in a spiritual “wilderness,” how God will bless them with answered prayer and miracles, and many other profound lessons.
The “Promised Land” of Canaan is a representation of life on earth after Jesus Christ returns and establishes the Kingdom of God. This wonderful age to come is described in Micah 4. All the world will be taught to obey God’s laws (verse 2). “They shall beat their swords into plowshares” and the world will be at peace (verse 3). And “everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree …” (verse 4).
As mentioned before, this signifies private ownership of property, the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of one’s own labor and free enterprise. It will not be an economy of socialism with its accompanying heavy taxation and oppressive government.
Verse 4 continues, “… and no one shall make them afraid.” There will be no dictators, secret police, terrorists, criminals or enemies to frighten or hurt them! What freedom and tranquility!
God’s love of liberty is illustrated by His law concerning the “year of Jubilee”—every 50th year—a time when properties that had been bought and sold reverted to their original family owners (Leviticus 25:9-17 Leviticus 25:9-17 9 Then shall you cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall you make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.
10 And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee to you; and you shall return every man to his possession, and you shall return every man to his family.
11 A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be to you: you shall not sow, neither reap that which grows of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of your vine undressed.
12 For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.
13 In the year of this jubilee you shall return every man to his possession.
14 And if you sell ought to your neighbor, or buy ought of your neighbor’s hand, you shall not oppress one another:
15 According to the number of years after the jubilee you shall buy of your neighbor, and according to the number of years of the fruits he shall sell to you:
16 According to the multitude of years you shall increase the price thereof, and according to the fewness of years you shall diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the years of the fruits does he sell to you.
17 You shall not therefore oppress one another; but you shall fear your God: for I am the LORD your God.
American King James Version×). This prevented the long-term concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few to the detriment of the many. Every family was essentially given the opportunity for a fresh start every few generations.
Notice that to officially begin that year, the Israelites were to “proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants” (verse 10). Someday when God’s government is established on the earth, there truly will be liberty throughout all the land.
The greatest story of liberation
What is the all-time greatest act of liberation—a feat that far surpasses even the mighty Exodus? It is the series of events that was climaxed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! This magnanimous and magnificent self-sacrifice is the miracle that opens the door for the ultimate rescue and saving of all human beings.
The steps God took are almost too profound to put into words. God the Father and God the Son made the awesome decision that the Son would temporarily give up the freedom of His power and glory, become incarnated as a human being, experience all the usual limitations and sufferings of human life, be tormented and tortured, and die a humiliating and horrible death.
God’s plan depended on the Son, while in the flesh, to live a perfectly sinless life to be a perfect sacrifice. Because He was God, His life would be worth more than all human beings combined. His one sacrifice would pay the death penalty for all human beings who have ever lived.
He would be resurrected from the dead to be once again glorified as God (John 17:5 John 17:5And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.
American King James Version×). He would then be the Savior (Redeemer, Liberator, Emancipator) for all mankind ( Jesus means “God is salvation” or “God saves”!). All this happened! It is miraculous beyond words. It is love beyond words (John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
American King James Version×; John 15:13 John 15:13Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
American King James Version×).
When God calls an individual to be His disciple, he or she receives all the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice, including numerous freedoms, all summed up as God’s grace (which is gratis—a free gift!). Grace is the full package of God’s good and generous gifts, but chief among those benefits is the forgiveness of all past sins. That in turn paves the way for the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, which make possible a Father-child relationship with God.
The freedoms God offers are seemingly limitless. God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” so they can receive glorious eternal life with Him (1 Timothy 2:4 1 Timothy 2:4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
American King James Version×).
But God loves us so much He desires to answer our prayers and to help us with all our needs even while we are yet in this human life. When Jesus was on earth, He not only preached to the people, He spent much time listening, comforting, encouraging, helping and healing. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 Hebrews 13:8Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
American King James Version×). He desires to give all the same blessings to those who follow Him.
The greatest freedom
God offers us many freedoms (see “Some of the Freedoms God Offers Us”). But He also offers us the ultimate freedom —the liberation from this human flesh into a glorious spirit existence! The resurrection and change from death to life—the transformation from mortality to immortality (Romans 8:11 Romans 8:11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
American King James Version×; 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 50 Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×; Philippians 3:21 Philippians 3:21Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself.
American King James Version×; 1 John 3:1-2 1 John 3:1-2 1 Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
American King James Version×)!
All who have ever lived and died will be brought to life to have their opportunity to learn God’s truth and to have eternal life! (To learn how and when this will take place, request your free copy of the booklet What Happens After Death? )
Then all of our problems will be solved. No frail and fragile human bodies. No ills of society when the tyrannical Satan is replaced by Jesus Christ as the ruler of the world. Lives that were cut short will have new life and the freedom to live forever. We’ll have the freedom and time to explore every inch of the earth, and every inch of the universe. We’ll have the freedom to enjoy God’s paradise forever!
Note these inspiring words in Romans 8:18-21 Romans 8:18-21 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
American King James Version×: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God … because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Revised Standard Version).
But what must we do to attain this freedom?
It sounds ironic, but to become truly free we must surrender to God and become servants to Him. He is all-wise and all-benevolent. He knows what is best for us and will always do what is best for us.
And He will give us lives not just of joyous freedom, but of awesome variety. Consider how God gave Adam and Eve a park in which to use and enjoy the wonderful variety of flora and fauna. God restricted them from only one tree, but they gave in to the temptation to take the forbidden fruit. God offers us the freedom to choose from a wonderful variety of wholesome options. To be truly free, we must be willing to deny ourselves the forbidden trees. We must never choose to be independent from God.
Free at last!
On Aug. 28, 1963, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. He began his speech by repeatedly saying, “I have a dream”—mentioning various hopes such as for racial equality, peace and freedom for all people.
In one part he said: “This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: ÔMy country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!’”
He concluded by referring to a time when all people will be able to join hands and sing in the words of an old spiritual song, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last!”
Someday the visions of freedom-loving people will come to reality. When Jesus Christ returns to earth and liberates all mankind, there will be great celebration. All people will be free at last! Free at last! GN