Mar 11, 2022 – part 1

(Exodus 22, John 1; Optional Psalm 49:1-12, Proverbs 13:23-25)

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EXODUS 22 – So many thoughts on today’s readings I’m going to have to finish the post this evening… There are aspects in this chapter that will challenge you no matter your political leaning 😊 God is making clear that He deeply cares about justice, and also clear that what’s often CALLED justice these days He abhors. We can NOT just apply everything straight into our lives today because we’re NOT called to try to make our country into theocratic Israel (see Ex 22:9 as an example of God’s direct justice we don’t have access to any more). But we SHOULD prayerfully think through what these chapters reveal about God’s unchanging character and values and about what they reveal about the unchanging tendencies of people. Then we should prayerfully and carefully apply these principles, leaving room for other Christians to apply them with some differences (see Rom 14).

Two cautions: 1) Beware our tendency to wriggle out of uncomfortable things and only pay attention to the parts that confirm what we already think. Much of the profit from the inspired word of God relates to our constant need for correction/rebuke (see 2 Tim 3:16). There’s a narrow road of grace AND truth (see my notes on John 1, hopefully tonight), and we often tend to one ditch or the other (and often over-correct when we’re in one ditch and skitter right over the narrow road of grace and truth and go into the other ditch). There’s a helpful statement that summarizes so much Scripture: “God comforts the afflicted (see Ex 22:21, 25-26) and afflicts the comfortable” (see Ex 22:23-24, the multiple death penalties in v 18-20 and elsewhere, etc). 

2) Many of these commands are STILL very clear in the NT and are NOT Romans 14 issues that are up for different application. For example, stealing is NOT just prohibited in the OT, but clearly also prohibited in the NT (see Eph 4:28 and notice the NT application of restitution that we see throughout Ex 22). So we SHOULD ponder how to apply the clear truth that God’s law never makes provision for long-term warehousing of people in jail/prison. He emphasizes RESTITUTION (see Ex 22:1-15) and restoration of community (see Ex 22:9 which we can’t EXACTLY apply now, but we should ponder the implications of restoring community when there’s a breach of trust). And that emphasis is one some us need to ponder more, but don’t miss that there’s also much more capital punishment and others need to ponder THOSE implications.

Some examples of applying these cautions from Ex 22…  

Ex 22:18 – The church is NOT given the power of the sword like God gave to Israel’s leaders (and still gives to governments today – see Rom 13:1-5). So in Acts 19:18-19 believers applied God’s righteous hatred for sorcery by burning their sorcery books rather than executing anyone. In our modern times where Wicca (modern witchcraft) is increasingly practiced Christians need to prayerfully apply God’s still existing abhorrence of sorcery. The PRINCIPLE still must be wrestled with, though the APPLICATION will be different now.

Ex 22:19 – Again, the church is NOT to execute for perverse sexuality, but we ARE still to be clear that the ONLY acceptable sex to God is between a husband and woman in marriage (see the very clear celebration of married sex and very clear warning against any other in Heb 13:4). The church is not to execute those who are having other sex (though if you’re in a culture where they still do, you needn’t feel that you should try to change that), but the church IS to excommunicate those who won’t repent and cease from unbiblical sex (see 1 Cor 5).

Ex 22:21-24 – Balanced by Ex 12:43-49 (especially Ex 12:49 – “one law for the native AND for the stranger who sojourns among you”). Both of these Scriptures have huge implications for our debates about immigration, etc.

Ex 22:25-27 – Clear that God is watching out for the poor and oppressed! No taking advantage of people when they’re struggling! But don’t miss the very hard work necessary in one of the solutions to destitute poverty – those very poor could sell themselves into slavery (see yesterday’s notes at Ex 21:1-6). That came with both hard work, belonging to someone else, and some very hard choices (see Ex 21:3-6). And see also Ex 23:3 as a balancing text.

Ex 22:29-31 – The whole point of God’s law is to keep reminding us that He doesn’t set us free from sin’s slavery to do our OWN thing, but to belong to HIM.