Beyond the Ten Commandments, Exodus 21-23

While the Ten Commandments outline God’s law for His people in our dealings with Him and others, the Mosaic Law continues for two more chapters in Exodus. These laws fall under the umbrella of the Ten Commandments, further detailing God’s design for ancient Israel in the areas of mercy, justice, and social responsibility.

It’s easy and comfortable to focus on God’s grace, but the Old Testament reminds us that God is also perfectly just. Although these civil laws differ from contemporary customs, they follow the path of natural justice.

As Christians, we are not obligated under these laws since we are now under the new covenant. However, God has not changed His moral expectations of us. And we can still glean wisdom from reading the Mosaic laws God gave His fledgling chosen nation.

You may read Exodus 21-23 here: Bible Gateway.

Protection for Servants, Persons, and Property (21:1-22:15)

God’s value of life rings with tenacity through His commands that prohibit killing and stealing. He expects His people to respect their servants as human beings, even to the point of allowing families freedom in the Year of Jubilee. Who were these servants in ancient Israel? Layman’s Bible Commentary writes: “Foreign slaves were often war prisoners. However, impoverished Israelites sometimes sold themselves or their children so that they could work and be cared for. In other cases, judges sold some persons for their crimes, and creditors were, in some cases, allowed to sell debtors who could not pay. Forced Hebrew slavery for any reason was not practiced and is ranked in the New Testament with the greatest of crimes.”

Social Responsibility (22:16-31)

At first glance, these first few laws may seem harsh, such as: “Do not allow a sorceress to live,” (vs. 18). But sorcery was a crime against God Himself. The first commandment to “have no other gods” was abused by invoking evil powers. As one continues to read through this section, God’s mercy shines through His expectations of how the people are to treat widows, orphans, and the needy. God calls His people to honor Him by respecting and honoring those around them through generosity and justice.

Laws of Mercy and Justice (23:1-9)

God details acts of justice through the lens of fairness and honesty. Every practical requirement of God not only enables the Israelites to worship Him with their behavior, but also sets them apart from their pagan neighbors. He prohibits the lessening of faults and aggravating small ones. Neither does He allow excuses for offenders, accusations of the innocent, or trivial misinterpretations of the truth.

Sabbath Laws and Festivals (23:10-19)

These laws teach the need for dependency on God and the importance of mercy. The seventh week day and seventh year are designed for sacred times of rest and rejoicing in God. In following this schedule, God teaches His people to trust that He will provide and bless their faithfulness.

Because of the Israelites’ weakness for idolatry, God sets up a rigorous schedule in which they are to honor Him during three annual festivals. Their love and loyalty to God are shown when they arrive to these festivals with sacrifices instead of being empty -handed.

God’s Angel to Prepare the Way (23:20-33)

At the end of this chapter God promises to prosper and prepare the way for Israel by driving out their enemies and bringing them safely to the promised land. He commands them to be attentive and worship the angel alone that He will send ahead of them.

Reflect

I’m sure there are several questions to ponder in this section, but being a full-time taxi-mom lately, I’m drawn to the following question/challenge from Layman’s Bible Commentary: “Have you allowed your life to crowd out time for worshiping and celebrating God’s goodness? This is the blessing intended for all of God’s children—to come together in gratitude and to enjoy and honor Him on a regular basis. Indeed, periodic rest from the duties of the world helps us anticipate the heavenly rest which we crave—when all earthly labors and cares shall cease. How can you seize upon the blessing of a day of rest and worship more practically amidst a hectic life?”

Cheers to some intentional times of refreshment through worship and celebration! 🙂

Old Covenant Vs. New Covenant, Hebrews 8

Happy New Year! I’m not sure how this past year has flown by so quickly. But I’m sure having two teens and a preteen has something to do with it!

Thank you for your visit(s) and encouragement; I appreciate you! 🙂 I love how God opens our eyes to His truths and rich blessings through Bible Study.

Although I’m a fan of New Year resolutions, I’m trying to stay within Scripture and use the “newness” theme. But instead of picking up with Genesis 20, I’m jumping forward—backwards for us—with an overview of God’s plans and timing through His old and new covenants.

You may read Hebrews 8 here: Bible Gateway.

Why did God initiate these covenants in the first place?

Scripture declares that “the whole world is a prisoner of sin” (Galatians 3:22). So God set into motion a means to provide forgiveness of our sins.

Old Covenant

Fast forward about 450 years from when God gave Abraham His promise (Genesis 17:7, 8). God temporarily remedied our sin problem through His Old Covenant.

Under the old Jewish sacrificial system sacrifices were offered daily for forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 7:12-14).

The law God introduced to the Israelites through Moses included three categories: Ceremonial, Civil, and Moral laws. Although the moral laws still apply to us today (Ten Commandments – Exodus 20:1-17), the ceremonial laws primarily pointed forward to Jesus Christ.

And although the old laws revealed God’s character and will, they also pointed out our sin. For no one could please God by completely obeying every law. Hebrews 8-9 shows that the old covenant was a shadow of the real Christ. So the old covenant—a covenant of law between God and Israel—are no longer necessary.

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New Covenant

Although thousands of years have passed since God gave Abraham His promise (Genesis 17:7, 8), He has never revoked it. He saved Abraham through his faith, and blessed the world through his descendant: Jesus, the Messiah.

His new covenant reaches beyond Israel and Judah to include everyone. Christ offers a new way to forgiveness through faith. And instead of being bound to a temporal, external set of rules He writes His laws on our hearts and minds, reminding us of His words through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ death was the perfect sacrifice ending all need for further priests and sacrifices. “He sacrificed for their sins once and for all when He offered himself,” (Hebrews 7:27).

“Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith,” (Galatians 3:11).

Even though time marches on and circumstances change, I love that God remains the same. He doesn’t break His promises. We can be sure of His promise to forgive our sins through Jesus Christ.

Have you entered into this new covenant and enjoyed the better way with free forgiveness and unlimited access to God?

As you reflect on 2015, I hope you’ve evidenced God’s blessings through both the good and difficult times. Next week I will pick up with Genesis 20.