The image of a white police officer kneeling on the neck of a bound and helpless black man is forever stamped on the memory of all who have seen the killing unfold. I had never actually seen a human being killed before, until now. As I watched the killing unfold, I could not actually bring myself to believe that this man was being murdered right before my eyes. I kept thinking surely, he would stop now, he needs to stop. I was sure he was going to stop, and then I looked into his face. I took a good look at his face, and I knew I was looking into the face of a killer. I saw an absolute and complete indifference on the police officer’s face as he kept kneeling, hands in his pockets, on this man’s neck. When I heard George Floyd died, it just confirmed what I had already seen. A mixture of anger, sadness, rage, helplessness, and disbelief all swept over me.
From ancient times, the neck has been a symbol of subjugation and exaltation. The subjugated wore chains of iron, while the exalted wore chains of gold. Oxen were yoked together by the neck to pull the plow. In the scriptures the yoke on the neck separated master and servant. The enslaved were shackled by the hands and feet and the neck was encircled by an iron collar attached to chains (Ps 105:18). Thus, they were under complete domination, helpless, unable to fight or escape.
George Floyd hands were shackled behind his back and the policeman’s knee was on his neck. The perfect image of the helpless victim in bondage, except that here in place of an iron collar, the chain on the neck was the knee of a white representative of the law. Looking at that image, every black person , or any systematically oppressed and exploited people around the world would have seen and felt the shackles of racism on their development and the crushing weight of the knee of systemic oppression choking the life out of their own battle with inequality and injustice: Their own fight in striving for life.
The Scriptures contains a message for oppressed peoples, recorded in Isa 52:2-3
Shake off your dust;
rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem.
Free yourself from the chains on your neck,
O captive Daughter of Zion.
For this is what the Lord says:
“You were sold for nothing,
and without money you will be redeemed.” NIV
Since the death of George Floyd these words have echoed in my mind as I watched people rising up, proclaiming deliverance for the captives and the recovery of sight to the blind, setting at liberty them that are bruised, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor (Isa 61:1-2). I believe this is The Year of the Lord’s Favor. Many are anxious and worried because of all the difficulties and uncertainties this year has brought, but I believe this could be the year of the lord’s favor when needed changes will come to pass. The text challenges us to free ourselves from the chains on our necks, but God also promises that He will act on behalf of His people. In Nahum 1:13, he declares,
Now I will break their yoke from your neck
and tear your shackles away.
Is this the year of the Lord’s Favor?