God created us in His image to have fellowship with Him and to carry out His will on the earth (Genesis 1:26-27). When God created man, He gave him authority on the earth, which included dominion over the fish, birds and animals (Genesis 1:28). He did not give him authority to dominate another man.
Likewise, Jesus has given the believer authority in the spirit realm and the power to do mighty works (Matthew 16:19; Mark 16:15-18). But at no time has God ever given us dominion over other people. God did not create us to rule or control one another, nor did He create us to be ruled or controlled by other people.
Jesus set the captives free (Luke 4:18)! Slavery goes against the very nature of God, for He has given us a free will of our own and will not force us to do anything against our will (Deuteronomy 30:19). To subject a person to the bondage of slavery is to take that God-given freedom away from them.
Slavery resulted from the Fall of Man and is a product of the curse. As such, it became part of the cultures of the day. Because we know the attitude of God toward slavery and oppression, it can seem confusing when we read that the Israeli people did at times have slaves. Exodus and Leviticus contain the laws and instructions on how the Israelites were to care for their slaves.
The Life Application Bible addresses the question of why God allowed the Israelites to purchase slaves: “Under Hebrew laws, slaves were treated differently from slaves in other nations. They were seen as human beings with dignity and not as animals. Hebrew slaves, for example, took part in religious festivals and rested on the Sabbath. The Hebrew slaves were not oppressed. Nowhere does the Bible condone slavery, but it recognizes its existence. God’s laws offered many guidelines for treating slaves properly.”
In summary, slavery is not acceptable in God’s eyes. And as we examine the subject of slavery historically and in the light of God’s Word, we must never forget the general theme of the entire Bible which is that Jesus came to set people free from the hand of oppression (Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38).