(Exodus 23, John 2; Optional Psalm 49:12-20, Proverbs 14:1-4)
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EXODUS 23 – In this one chapter, God twice reminds Israel to carefully obey ALL that He has commanded (Ex 23:13, 22). We have such a tendency to pay attention to Scriptures that confirm what we already think, sliding over the convicting verses. But notice the commands keeping us from either ditch on both sides of the narrow road of “grace and truth” (see notes from yesterday’s reading by John 1:14, 17).
For example, one ditch is using the legal system to take advantage of the poor/oppressed and God gives a fierce warning about that (see Ex 23:2, 6-8). But there’s another ditch warned about in Ex 23:3 about being partial TOWARDS the poor/oppressed. Any ideas that we should get “justice” for those who have been discriminated against in the past by being partial in their favor now is NOT biblical justice.
Another example of needing to obey ALL that God has said… You may be good about honoring all the calls to diligent labor through Scripture. Proverbs is full of these commands and Ex 23:11 shows that even the call to care for the poor involves very hard work for them to get a survival portion. But don’t miss the calls to regular and planned REST (Ex 23:10-11, 12) and regularly leave all the work behind to worship God (Ex 23:14-17).
May we listen to ALL God says, and then be constantly grateful that Jesus is God’s perfect sacrificial Lamb who came to take away our sins (Jn 1:29). Because ALL of us give regular proof that we are sinners that need Jesus’ salvation!
Ex 23:1 – Huge implications for both our justice system and our use of social media!
Ex 23:8 – Notice that loving your enemy and doing good to him is in the Mosaic Law, too.
Ex 23:9 – Balance with Ex 12:43-49 – “There shall be ONE LAW for the native AND for the stranger who sojourns among you.” (Ex 12:49, ESV) Our text today commands KINDNESS for the sojourner. Ex 12:49 reminds us that kindness involves some significant assimilation for those who want to stay, and a submission to the existing law.
Ex 23:11 – Another example of biblical balance. One ditch to avoid is not caring for animals, but the other ditch is implied in the fact that the animals could graze AFTER the poor PEOPLE have an opportunity to work hard for a survival ration.
Ex 23:23-24 – Remember Gen 15:12-16 that God told Abraham hundreds of years before. God would bring Israel BACK into the Promised Land after 400 years of slavery to carry out His righteous judgment on the wickedness of the people in the land. Also see Ex 23:32-33 – this was not a “race” issue with God but a faith issue! (I put “race” in quotes because Acts 17:26 makes clear that there’s only ONE race – all of humanity.)
Ex 23:25-26 – A unique promise for this particular point in redemptive history IF the nation of Israel would obey God. When Paul cried out repeatedly for God to give relief from his suffering, God gave grace to endure rather than taking away the problem (see 2 Cor 12:7-10). But we ARE told that the END of the story for all believers is complete healing and complete deliverance (see Rev 21-22)!
Ex 23:27-30 – God is so gracious and knows our limitations so well! Even the victory He would give GRADUALLY so they had time to settle in the land. There’s an important principle here for parents/teachers/coaches, who sometimes aim for overly large goals. My dad would say as I was growing up: “Better a small victory than a great defeat.” Yes, and sometimes we need small victories because a huge victory would be too much for us to handle.
JOHN 2 – Jn 2:2 – “disciples” – see Jn 1:35-51.
Jn 2:5 – Rather than get offended by what Jesus said in v 4, Mary tells the servants to obey whatever Jesus told them.
Jn 2:10-11 – Jesus is the Creator (see Jn 1:1-3) – He always makes the best! This beginning of Jesus’ public miracles is a signpost to who Jesus is and calls for faith in Him (see John 20:31 – that’s the whole purpose of John’s Gospel). And the disciples of Jesus who had some initial faith (see Jn 1:35-51) are strengthened and confirmed in their trust in Jesus.
Jn 2:13-22 – Only John’s Gospel records this cleansing of the Temple EARLY in Jesus’ ministry. There’s a similar cleansing of the Temple at the beginning of the week where Jesus laid down His life on the cross.
Jn 2:23-25 – True saving belief is the purpose of John’s Gospel (see Jn 20:31). But here we see a MEASURE of “belief” that falls short of saving faith. I have friends who say things like “God healed me of cancer and I give Him all the credit for that. But NO ONE is going to be in charge of my life except for me.” That’s SOME measure of belief, but NOT saving faith. Saving faith involves a happy submission to Jesus as God in the flesh who has the authority to CLEAN and COMMAND like He did in Jn 2:13-22!
Optional Psalm 49:12-20 – See yesterday’s notes 😊
Optional Proverbs 14:1-4 – Prov 14:4 – Another of many reminders in Proverbs about the importance of our TALK. Prov 14:4 – some messes are worth having! Growing up as a pastor’s kid and being in ministry myself we’ve often commented: “Ministry is messy.” Yup, and raising children, and EVERYTHING that’s worthwhile will have some messes!