Living In Community
Mighty God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I bless Your name and bow in worship before You.
Read Exodus 22:16-31
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
One of the hardest things we face is the call to be consistent. Remember whose you are and whom you serve!
Here is a mixture of instructions about a range of situations. The common thread is the need to take our responsibility to others seriously: how to live within a community. The passage highlights some extreme, unacceptable forms of behavior and then deals with some breaches of the social code. Marked out as a distinctive people, the Israelites were to shun the dark arts of witchcraft or idolatry and avoid inappropriate sexual relations. In any well-ordered society there need to be agreed boundaries of what is acceptable behavior. There is an expected level of decency demanded in all aspects of life, reflecting the dignity of being the people of God.
Arrangements were made for how to cope with premarital sex, through marriage or compensation. Then, in various instances, concern for the vulnerable is spelled out, whether the stranger, the orphan, the widow, or those in debt. Theirs is to be a compassionate society because God has shown mercy to them. There is no place for loan sharks. Loans should be given out of a desire to provide help, not to make a profit. Even pledges should not result in unnecessary hardship for the debtor.
The chapter finishes with more instruction to emphasize that they are to be a society whose lifestyle expresses its faith. Above all they are a redeemed community, whose very existence is due to the grace of God. They must never forget that at Passover each oldest son was spared. For ever after, the firstborn sons would belong to the Lord. They would need to be redeemed, as would the firstborn of their cattle and sheep. This would be done by a thank offering and, as with their grain, given gladly, not grudgingly or withheld. Those who have been saved should show their gratitude in renewed dedication and praise.
Attention is drawn to the weakest and most vulnerable, who are open to exploitation: widows, orphans, resident foreigners, and the poor (22-27). Read James 1:27. What steps can you take to help those in need?
Lord, help me not only to look up, but to look around. May my love for You be shown in my consideration for others.
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