WORSHIP THAT WORKS
My times, my future, are in Your hand, Lord. I trust You for my life as I bow before You now.
Read Exodus 21:1–27
21 “These are the laws you are to set before them:
2 “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. 3 If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.
5 “But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ 6 then his master must take him before the judges.[a] He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.
7 “If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. 8 If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself,[b] he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. 9 If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.
12 “Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death. 13 However, if it is not done intentionally, but God lets it happen, they are to flee to a place I will designate. 14 But if anyone schemes and kills someone deliberately, that person is to be taken from my altar and put to death.
15 “Anyone who attacks[c] their father or mother is to be put to death.
16 “Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession.
17 “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.
18 “If people quarrel and one person hits another with a stone or with their fist[d] and the victim does not die but is confined to bed, 19 the one who struck the blow will not be held liable if the other can get up and walk around outside with a staff; however, the guilty party must pay the injured person for any loss of time and see that the victim is completely healed.
20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.
22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[e] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
26 “An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat marvelous love the Father has extended to us! ‘Just look at it – we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are’ (1 John 3:1, The Message). Spend a moment reflecting on your true identity as God’s much-loved child.
While the Hebrews were still slaves in Egypt, Moses had boldly announced God’s plan to Pharaoh: ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness’ (7:16). In today’s reading, as God’s ‘words’ in chapter 20 verses 1 to 17 are fleshed out into detailed legislation, we see clearly that ‘worship’ is much more than making correct sacrifices or singing the correct songs! Israel had been set free, not to ‘be free’, but to worship the true God by ordering their lives under his just rule. The former slaves were not to repeat the patterns of abuse and humiliation they had experienced in Egypt (vs 2–11). The inevitable experience of conflict in their society was to be moderated by laws intended to protect the innocent and vulnerable (vs 12–27).
If aspects of this legislation jar with modern Western sensibilities, it is worth remembering that God was working with his people at a particular point in time. God starts with us where we are and moves us on from there. That should be good news for all of us!
Who do you know who is finding their place of work or worship difficult at the moment? Pray for them, and maybe send them a text, email, or card to let them know that you are thinking of them.
Father God, I pray today that I will show to others the difference for good You can make in a life centered on You.
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