God was about to do something so amazing, He was about to reveal His Word to-and-through his mediator Moses, in order to communicate the civil law to Israel who would be established as a nation ruled by God. This theocracy was unique for them among all the nations of the world.
So the LORD “descended” in the thunder, and lighting, and cloud, and smoke, and sound of a trumpet. It was all intended to plant a healthy fear into the hearts of the people…and it worked for the moment (Exodus 20:18-21).
But – before God established the civil law, He revealed the moral law, the 10 Commandments. The first 4 commandments deal with our relationship with God (vertical), while the final 6 commandments have to do with our relationship with others (horizontal).
The 10 Commandments are godly goals to strive for as a society. What harmony we would have if only we held to them and we should never cease in our attempt to keep them – but – they were also given to show us we’re sinners, due to the fact that no one can keep the 10 Commandments perfectly. Keep in mind Jesus’ words, that it’s not simply the act on the outside God considers, it’s also the thoughts on the inside (Matthew 5:21-28).
You’ll notice as we read through the Bible that 9 of the 10 Commandments are repeated in the New Testament explicitly, so the moral law (unlike the civil and ceremonial law) still stands. The only commandment NOT repeated in the New Testament specifically, is the Sabbath Day. Regarding the Sabbath, the Bible says we are not to judge others on this issue (Colossians 2:16), and although it’s a wise principal and good for us in every way, it’s not mandated, but, if someone chooses to keep 1 day out of the week as a Sabbath, that person has the option of choosing which day works best for them (Romans 14:5).
The issue of slavery is brought up here in Exodus 21. I found the following quote from “Got Questions” to be helpful.
“The Bible does not specifically condemn the practice of slavery. It gives instructions on how slaves should be treated (Deuteronomy 15:12-15; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1), but does not outlaw slavery altogether. Many see this as the Bible condoning all forms of slavery. What many fail to understand is that slavery in biblical times was very different from the slavery that was practiced in the past few centuries in many parts of the world. The slavery in the Bible was not based exclusively on race. People were not enslaved because of their nationality or the color of their skin. In Bible times, slavery was based more on economics; it was a matter of social status. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. In New Testament times, sometimes doctors, lawyers, and even politicians were slaves of someone else. Some people actually chose to be slaves so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters.” – Got Questions (full article)
Exodus 21:1-6 reveals the laws of a bondservant. This title of “bondservant,” is what many of the Apostles called themselves in relationship to Jesus Christ – willing servants, slaves, who have surrendered their rights to serve the LORD forever. It’s all rooted in love. We read in:
Exodus 21:5 (NKJV) “But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’”
May this be the declaration of our hearts.
As we read through the laws given to Israel, we may consider some to be not just harsh, but wrong. Imagine facing the death penalty because you cursed your parents! Well, it is harsh, but it isn’t wrong. I’m not saying this should be a law for all nations today (context needs to be considered) but it is tragic to see the disrespect and dishonor towards parents today. Those parents are the symbol of authority, so when children have no conviction to honor and obey their parents, it spills over into all other forms of authority – teachers, police officers, government, and ultimately God.
Penalties applied are indeed preventative.
Jesus indicts the Scribes and Pharisees vehemently. They were legalistic hypocrites who reproduced themselves with an evil that escalated. They devoured widows houses by taking their money (imagine that). They prayed long eloquent prayers, but only for show. They were fools who had it all wrong, backwards, they were blind leaders of the blind. They tithed from their gardens to God (there’s that legalism showing up) but neglected to keep the more important things, like justice, mercy, and faith. Jesus said, “You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” They were straining at gnats, but swallowing camels; they looked good, alive on the outside, but they were bad to the bone, dead on the inside (see Revelation 3:1).
These religious leaders who knew and had been given so much, with positions of great responsibility, would receive a greater condemnation, for one day, justice will be served (Luke 12:48; James 3:1).
As Jesus wept over Jerusalem we see not only His tears, love, and compassion, we also have provided for us a deep doctrinal truth. Did you notice the words “I wanted” and “you were not willing?” These simple statements teach us much about the doctrine of soteriology (salvation).
There are some in Christendom who say that ALL who God chooses, or wants to be saved – will be saved. They also teach that ALL the others who God does not choose, have no chance to be saved. These are some of the tenets, teachings of Calvinism.
But here we see the contrary, we see that Jesus wanted the people to come to Him, but they were not willing. He therefore wept over their eventual judgment.
If we are open and wise and don’t isolate certain passages at the expense of others, we will discover that the Bible clearly teaches that God wants everyone to be saved, but they/we are free to choose whether or not we will come to Him (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).
Another beautiful Psalm, Song, and Prayer of David’s – a cry for God to answer and protect him from his enemies, death, and most likely King Saul.
I love the way he ends most Psalms with declarations of faith – this is how we should pray!
Psalm 28:6–7 (NKJV) “Blessed be the LORD, because He has heard the voice of my supplications! 7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.”
In verses 8-9 David goes beyond himself and also prays for the people. He would make a good king one day.
We’re still in this section of sexual purity in the Proverbs. If we would only treasure, keep, and hide God’s Words of wisdom in our hearts, we’d defeat the beast, and slay the giant of sexual temptation.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.