Exodus 22: A Holy Nation

“If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep. 2 If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. 3 If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. 4 If the theft is certainly found alive in his hand, whether it is an ox or donkey or sheep, he shall restore double.

-          This week, we continue to learn more about the way in which the legal system was designed. You’ll notice that regardless of the sin, there was an assigned consequence. Sin always has a consequence tied to it. We may not experience that consequence immediately, but there is still consequence. Every act we commit – whether good or evil – plants a seed and produces some type of harvest in our lives (see Matthew 13 for a great parable on the wheat and the tares). If we continually sow good, then good will bloom from our lives. If we continually sow evil, then evil will sprout.

5 “If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed, and lets loose his animal, and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.

6 “If fire breaks out and catches in thorns, so that stacked grain, standing grain, or the field is consumed, he who kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.

-          These two scenarios are different than the first because they could happen accidentally or through carelessness. But notice that even though it was accidental, there were still consequences. We’ve all inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings by saying something in an unloving way or accidentally darted out in front of someone on the way to the grocery store. Even though the acts were not deliberate, they still offer consequences. This is so key to recognize because in our world today, many people are self-consumed and fail to see that unintentional actions bear penalties, too.

7 “If a man delivers to his neighbor money or articles to keep, and it is stolen out of the man’s house, if the thief is found, he shall pay double. 8 If the thief is not found, then the master of the house shall be brought to the judges to see whether he has put his hand into his neighbor’s goods.

9 “For any kind of trespass, whether it concerns an ox, a donkey, a sheep, or clothing, or for any kind of lost thing which another claims to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whomever the judges condemn shall pay double to his neighbor. 10 If a man delivers to his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep, and it dies, is hurt, or driven away, no one seeing it, 11 then an oath of the Lord shall be between them both, that he has not put his hand into his neighbor’s goods; and the owner of it shall accept that, and he shall not make it good. 12 But if, in fact, it is stolen from him, he shall make restitution to the owner of it. 13 If it is torn to pieces by a beast, then he shall bring it as evidence, and he shall not make good what was torn.

14 “And if a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it becomes injured or dies, the owner of it not being with it, he shall surely make it good. 15 If its owner was with it, he shall not make it good; if it was hired, it came for its hire.

-          The Jewish society was to be built upon honesty and integrity. It’s devastating how far our current society has strayed from this original state. God desires us to be pure and honest, and the book of Proverbs provides us with several words of truth:

o   Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart (Proverbs 3:3).

o   For my mouth will speak truth; Wickedness is an abomination to my lips (Proverbs 8:7).

o   He who speaks truth declares righteousness, But a false witness, deceit (Proverbs 12:17).

o   The truthful lip shall be established forever, But a lying tongue is but for a moment (Proverbs 12:19).

16 “If a man entices a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the bride-price of virgins.

-          Until a daughter was married, she belonged to her father. Once a marriage was arranged, the husband-to-be would actually pay a dowry for her. I love this idea – especially as a woman – because we belong to our heavenly Father. And even more so, we are the bride of Christ (Revelation 21:9) and a dowry was paid for us through Christ.

18 “You shall not permit a sorceress to live.

-          The occult and witchcraft is common in this day in age. But, in Moses’ time, witchcraft was not even to be given a foothold – the individual was put to death.

-          1 Samuel 15:23 tells us, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” When we are rebellious, we intentionally place ourselves above God and His Word – and that attitude in our own life must die. Sit still and allow God to search your heart today for any rebellion. Confess and repent of that sin, and walk toward His goodness.

19 “Whoever lies with an animal shall surely be put to death.

-          It may seem odd to have this inhuman act listed, but the Egyptians had various gods. In service to these gods, it was not uncommon to lie with animals as an act of worship. As my friend, Angela, said to me one morning over our Saturday texting conversation: “Sadly, if God had to say, ‘don’t sleep with animals,’ it was because people were trying to sleep with animals…and as prevalent as adultery and homosexuality have become, bestiality and incest are going on, they’re just not as public.” Good word, my friend.

20 “He who sacrifices to any god, except to the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed.

-          You’re familiar with the Ten Commandments and the first one being, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” These supporting judgments may seem harsh to you, but remember that the Lord was establishing a holy nation – one set apart from the rest. To have a holy nation, you must have holiness among the people. Galatians 5:9 says, “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” If witchcraft, foul acts of worship, thieves, rapists, and idol worshipers were allowed among God’s people, the Israelites would wind up right back in bondage. The same is true in our own lives when it comes to sin – it must be removed. We can’t even entertain wrong thoughts because our thoughts stir our emotions and our emotions stir our actions. We’re told in Proverbs 4:23 to guard our hearts because everything we do flows from it!

21 “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

22 “You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. 23 If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; 24 and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.

25 “If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest. 26 If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. 27 For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious.

-          In these few verses, God is addressing one theme: selfishness. We live in a very blessed country – a country where selfishness is a disease. We can so easily become self-consumed in our own day-to-day activities. Ask yourself today: what are the things I’m doing to ensure I don’t become consumed with my own world and forget the needs of those around me? Yes, reading your Bible, praying, fellowshipping with other believers are all necessary actions. But how are you plugging in with those in you sphere of influence. I had this wake-up call just yesterday when one of my folks at work opened up to me about what a hard year she’d experienced. I felt so sad because I hadn’t seen it, nor taken the time to really dig into her life and understand what was going on.  

28 “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.

-          Now, here’s a good one – it deals with authority. Obviously, we must not insult God (as it states in the first half of the verse). But notice the little comma between and the statement of not cursing a ruler over us. We have to ask ourselves, why those two are connected. Because when we curse those in authority over us, we’re cursing God (and vice versa). Whether or not we agree with our husband, boss, the local police officer, our state governor, or our President, they each are still in authority over us. When we dishonor them, we are dishonoring God. First Timothy 2:1-2 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

29 “You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. 30 Likewise you shall do with your oxen and your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.

31 “And you shall be holy men to Me: you shall not eat meat torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.

-          The Lord speaks here of the first fruits belonging to Him – whether that be produce, grain, a son, animals, or the like. God desires our best because He gave His best: Jesus. This a rich truth for us to anchor in our life, especially as we begin each morning. I understand not everyone is a morning person, but we see Christ’s example throughout the gospels of how He rose very early in the morning (Mark 1:35) to pray. Jesus knew that feeding our spiritual man first, would bring about a godly harvest for the day. Amen.