God in the Detail
Lord, I thank You for the good gift of Your Word and the wise directions for how we are to live.
Read EXODUS 23:1-19
 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness.  “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd,  and do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit.  “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him.  If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it.  “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.  Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.  “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous.  “Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.  “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops,  but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.  “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.  “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.  “Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me.  “Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt. “No one is to appear before me empty-handed.  “Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. “Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.  “Three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD.  “Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast. “The fat of my festival offerings must not be kept until morning.  “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God. “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat are the main principles you see in these verses?
So powerfully does the energy of Jesus Christ run through these verses that it is as if Exodus 23 and Matthew 5 were written by the same person. Of course, in one sense they were!
In many ways, the ancient Israelites were a primitive bunch. They were not the most advanced tribe of their time and were not the only ones to produce intelligent legal systems. But there is more to these laws than just an ordinary code of practice. Behind the legal provisions we can sense the compassion of the mind who wrote the words. The instructions almost feel as if Moses, divinely inspired, has gathered around him a small group of followers, into whose eyes he is gazing as he reads out God’s words.
Of course, it probably wasn’t like that. However, there is a strong connection between these laws, with their close attention to the small details of the rights of the poor, and Jesus’ teaching. He cared about the things that concerned people, the oxen, donkeys and slaves (12). He expected the very best of his disciples (19) because he had given everything for them.
How might you best understand and act on Jesus’ concern for the poor and apply v. 19 to your own life?
Lord, I want to live out the commands that You’ve given in Your Word. Show me how best to do it.
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