Free at Last: the Greatest Emancipator

In the history of mankind, has any longing stirred the human spirit more intensely than the dream to be free? Free from shackles, want, oppression and violence!

Some 150 years ago, New Year’s Eve 1862, during the dark days of America’s bloody Civil War, black churches watched and prayed through the night.

It had become clear to a large segment of American society that the term “we the people” in the U.S. Constitution didn’t include all the people. They were anxiously awaiting the coming of a new year and with it the official proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln declaring the slaves free for all time.

“The glorious morning of liberty”

Nineteenth-century abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass called it “the glorious morning of liberty about to dawn upon us.”

New Year’s Day 2013 marked the 150th anniversary of the enactment of Lincoln’s proclamation. It was a defining moment in the history of the United States of America. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation would shape the human rights of a major segment of the people of that great nation. Along with the British Parliament’s Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, banning slavery in the British Empire 30 years earlier, Lincoln’s decree would encourage hope in the oppressed masses the world over.

At the dawning of the new year Lincoln’s decree was carried out: “I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated states and parts of states are, and henceforward shall be, free.”

His proclamation began the end of a terrible era in American history. From the 16th to the 19th centuries, an estimated 12 million Africans were shipped as slaves to the Americas. Black men, women and children alike were kidnapped, shackled, wrenched from homes and families, sent to a faraway land, and sold on the auction block as beasts of labor, like horses and oxen.

Another proclamation of emancipation

Recently the historic Emancipation Proclamation document, fragile with age, was put on display for three days alongside the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in the rotunda of the National Archives Building.

Many do not realize that another proclamation of emancipation, the Holy Bible, has been on display around the globe for centuries! God Almighty’s freedom proclamation eclipses even Lincoln’s historic order. The celebration of God’s festivals year by year proclaims events that will culminate in a global emancipation—ultimately the freedom of virtually all who have ever lived!

Annual festival plan

One of the marvelous mysteries of the Holy Bible is the annual festival plan. The Bible’s seven festivals map God’s plan to emancipate mankind from its slavery to sin (Romans 6:16), shown by our increasingly dysfunctional world. He will replace it with an entirely new and improved society. What will this utopia be like? It will be better than what most humans could wish for or even imagine!

Precious few of earth’s inhabitants know of the Greatest Emancipator’s plan to send Jesus Christ to planet earth to defeat and remove enemies, seen and unseen, and to implement a worldwide paradise of peace, order, justice, freedom and liberty for all nations, races and cultures.

Revelation 11:15 predicts, “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’”

The whole creation

Lincoln’s proclamation of the emancipation of the slaves was a major stepping-stone toward extending human rights, freedom and liberty to a major segment of the people of the United States. It resulted in dramatic changes to the American society. But there is a proclamation that outshines even Lincoln’s.

We find in the pages of the Holy Bible the emancipation of not only those slaves kidnapped and forced into hard labor in the U.S., but the emancipation of the entire human race—indeed, the whole of creation. In Romans 8:21-22 Paul wrote: “Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”

Free at last

Just as President Lincoln decreed the slaves free from bondage, so Almighty God in heaven will eventually fulfill His emancipation proclamation, freeing all of mankind from Satan, sin, tears and death.

Another glorious morning of liberty is soon to dawn upon us. All eyes will be on the sky. “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Romans 8:21-22 ).

The Great Emancipator God, His Son Jesus Christ and all of creation are watching through the night of our dying age for the dawning of freedom from Satan, from an increasingly sick society, from tyrannical rulers, war—and a short time after the Millennium, tears and death will end.

The apostle John wrote, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). On that great day, borrowing a phrase from the civil rights movement, we will once again hear the refrain: “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

For more about how God frees us from sin, see the sections on “How God’s Holy Days Reveal His Plan of Salvation and “Christian Conversion.”

About the Author

Sam Shrauner

Sam Shrauner is an elder in the Lakeland, Florida, congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.