January 24

Exodus 22-24, Psalm 24

The Mosaic law consists of 613 laws. As we go through them, it’s easy to gloss over the bulk of them, or consider them irrelevant or arbitrary. Some even read them and misconstrue God’s loving hand and come up with an incorrect view that Father God is a God of wrath wanting to punish, while the God of the New Testament, Jesus, is a God of love and wants to forgive. As we go through them, let’s see God’s loving hand throughout.

Approximately 8 years ago, my house was robbed. The robbers were eventually caught, but the 20,000 dollars of jewelry that they took from me was quickly sold by the robbers, and my insurance did not cover this, so I received nothing for my loss. While our system revolves around incarceration with almost 2 million filling our prisons. His system was one of restitution. We read in Exodus 22:1,3, “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…He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.” .In our system the criminal is punished, the victim receives nothing. In God’s system the robber either paid back more than he took, or he became the slave of the victim. Unlike slavery in our nation, this was a temporary situation, and the slave could not be mistreated. Where I grew up in Brooklyn, there was very little grass to play on. One game we played as a kid was peel-away. In it the one kid in the middle of the grass would be rushed at and that person would have to wrestle someone to the ground and not let him pass. Once caught, then it would be two against the rest, etc. There was only one “nice” house on our block, with a beautifully landscaped front lawn. The neighborhood kids designated that lawn as our site for peel-away. In retrospect, we destroyed that lawn, falling into bushes and hedges as we wrestled. We viewed it as typical childhood pranks and fun. We read in Exodus 22:5-6, “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 vineyard. If a fire breaks out and catches in thorns, so that the stacked grain, standing grain, or the field is consumed, he who kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.” I came from very modest means, if my family, could not pay for the damage as a result of my childhood pranks, I or my father or family members would either make restitution or become their slaves. This would no longer be a childhood prank with no consequences but would cost us seriously and serve as a deterrent.

In our current society, the overwhelming trend in society is premarital sex, if the couple remains together it is followed by living together. Often it is now followed by having children and buying a house together before either getting married or as so often happens, breaking up. We read in Exodus 22:16-17, “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. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the bride-price of virgins.” Realize the bride-price or dowry represented a significant portion of one’s income. God wanted people to think long and hard before sexual relations occurred. This concept of casual, consensual sex has no equivalent in the Bible. There was no classification for this type of sex. This is not something new, it is just something which our morally decaying society has accepted as the norm and new standard.

Many wonder in the many dietary laws, where does the separation of dairy and meat in the kosher laws occur. It all comes from this portion of Exodus 23:19, “…You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” Writings from 1300 BC revealed that nearby cultures were doing this as a fertility rite to their false gods, in order for those gods to bless them with children. We must remember there were no chapters and verses when Scripture was written. This would bring it in proper context to the surrounding verses which prohibited having anything to do with foreign gods. This is the problem of taking verses in isolation and out of context. This one verse, meant for something completely different, makes the kosher laws so much more difficult to follow with requiring separate dishes, etc. Man’s tradition and interpretation often clouds what the Bible actually says.

So as we continue through these laws, both here and in Leviticus, rather than seeing them as outdated and arbitrary. let’s instead see them as coming from a loving God setting up boundaries to protect His people. Though we are children of grace and not law, and no longer follow many of the dietary and ceremonial laws, the laws were indeed good.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Aaron Salvato