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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

November 1, 2017

Exodus  21:12-36

  1. As we continue our study in Exodus, I want you to remember two things. 1. The book of Exodus must read with the book of Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Some of the principles found in one book are complemented in another. 2. I want to you to see that the Lord is giving laws and commands not just for specific instances, but as legal concepts for broader use and application for the people once they get to the promise land as well as pointing us to Christ. What is the theory, or as Jesus said, “the Spirit of the Law?” What concept is God trying to teach? The laws and commands are really templates for bigger ideas, but God will give examples to show the commands with a practical application. In last week’s lesson, the idea was that you couldn’t take advantage of people when they were in financial and social distress. The idea was that poor people need protection from the oppression of powerful wealthy people. In today’s lesson, we will see that God wants us to value and respect each other. God gives the consequences of certain actions to dissuade you from doing something disrespectful to another person. We must value the lives of our neighbors. We just can’t treat people any kind of way. One thing that is not acceptable is violence. In Old Testament times, there weren’t any police or public prosecution services, so all prosecution and punishment had to be carried out by the injured party and his family. This punishment was swift in nature, but it would be quite possible for injured parties not to insist on their full rights under the law, but negotiate a lower settlement or even forgive the offender altogether.

  2. Verses 12-14. In this passage, we need to read Numbers 35:6-34 as well to get the whole perspective. God has already told us not to kill, these laws speak of murder and manslaughter. In one case the killing was intentional, and the other unintentional. In both cases there is guilt, but different remedies under the law. If the act was intentional, capital punishment is allowed. If the act was unintentional, a person would flee to the city of refuge. God set aside these cities to which the murderer could flee for refuge. He would be safe from the avenger--the family member charged with avenging the victim’s death (Numbers 35: l9)--until the case could go to trial. The congregation would judge to find if the attacker acted unintentionally. If he did, he would return to the city of refuge and live there safely until the death of the high priest who was in office at the time of the trial, at which point he could return to his property. If the attacker left the city of refuge before the death of the high priest, however, the avenger would have the right to kill him (Numbers 35:24-28). The establishment of those privileged sanctuaries among the cities of the Levites is probably traceable to the idea that the Levites would be the most suitable and impartial judges, that their presence and counsels might calm or restrain the stormy passions of the blood avenger. By their consecration as priests, the Levites were mediators between the Israelites and God. As such, they would have been gifted to calmly mediate between the attacker and the victim’s family, ensuring that no further bloodshed would occur. The cities of refuge are types of Christ, in whom sinners find a refuge from the destroyer of our souls. Just as the guilty person sought refuge in the cities set up for that purpose, we flee to Christ for refuge from sin (Hebrews 6:18). We run to Christ to escape the danger we are in from the curse and condemnation of the law, from of the wrath of God, and from an eternity in hell. Only Christ provides refuge from these things, and it is to Him alone that we must run. Just as the cities were open to all who fled to them for safety, it is Christ who provides safety to all who come to Him for refuge from sin and its punishment.

  3. Verses 15, 17. We have already been told to honor our mothers and fathers previously in the first 10 commandments. Now we see that to do violence towards a parent is met with swift justice. There is no tolerance with regards to the abuse of a parent. This is contemptuous and disrespectful. This is just unacceptable. Violence toward a parent is the ultimate dishonor. The word attack most likely means to kill, but it may just mean meaning to kill whether the parent died or not. Remember killing is about unchecked anger. Violence is the birth child of unchecked anger. Most children get angry with parents because they don’t want to submit to rules and regulations that the parents have established. Anger and resentment built over time fuels violence. Honoring parents is about seeing that most parents want what is best for us just like God wants what is best for us and knows more then we can ever know. Trusting a good parent is like trusting God because sometimes you must do what they say without understanding why you must do it. God not only hated violence, but God also hated when children would curse/wish evil upon their parents openly. One could not be openly disrespectful to a parent and not find themselves facing severe consequences.

  4. Verse 16. Kidnapping is taking someone by force. It is a violent act of asserting power over another. According to this law most American slave owners and slave traders would have been executed. To physically take someone from their home or family was punished by death. Probable kidnappers were people of power kidnapping people to profit off them through slavery or prostitution. Women and children were most often the victims of kidnappings.

  5. Verses 18-19. These verses deal with payment for personal injury when people get into fights. The idea is that you can’t injure another and not be financially liable for their injuries and loss wages as well as see to it that the person makes a full recovery. The injured person must be able to fully recover. If you won the fight, you lost financially. This is a command to temper people from getting into violent quarrels. Violence and fighting could become quite costly.

  6. Verses 20-21, 26-27. The owner of a slave/indentured servant would be forced to set a slave free if they hit them. If the slave died, the owner would be punished. If slaves were just injured, they could go free. This law was to protect a person who had to bond themselves into slavery. This law was meant to keep an owner from practicing violence on an indentured servant.

  7. Verses 22-25. These are protections for unborn children. The life of an unborn child is to be protected. If a pregnant woman is hit and a premature birth is caused, the consequence is payment if the baby survives and the woman is not seriously injured. If a death occurs, there was a severe penalty. The wording used eye for an eye and tooth for tooth meant that the injured party could demand the death of any person in the offender’s family. This is a law that is supposed to teach the people to be extremely careful around women who are pregnant and to protect unborn children. Even if the injuries were minor, the husband and the courts could impose a very high fine.

  8. Verses 28-32. These are protections against negligent animal owners. The point here is that a person is responsible for their animals. Animals are dangerous and the burden is on the owner to keep others safe from their animals. If the animals did it one time, the animal is to be killed, and the owner is not responsible, but if the animal has a habit of being unruly, the owner is to kill the animal and the owner faced death as well. The owner could avoid death if the victim demanded payment. If the animal hurts a slave, the owner is to kill the animal and pay the owner of the servant enough to compensate for lost work. In every case, the animal that creates a serious injury is to be killed. Animals that attack and bite tend to do it again. This is a protection against animal violence. To knowingly keep an animal that is dangerous is deliberately putting the safety of others at risk. This is irresponsible and reckless. The cost of a bull was significant, so in this case, the cost is very high.

  9. Verses 33-34. This law to protect animals from the negligence of people. In this case, a person must realize that an animal might not see a danger that would be apparent to a human. Precautions and safety measures must be used to protect animals from injury and death. The death of an animal like a donkey would be a significant loss, and that loss must be reimbursed. The idea here is that if I am doing some work, I need to think about any dangers to others and property of others.

  10. Verses 35-36. This law speaks about fairness. If your animal kills my animal, I need to be compensated. If it was an accident, we spilt the money of the sale of your animal. If it was the result of a bad animal that has hurt before, I get all the money from the sale of your animal. The idea is that accidents happen and when they do, we have to be fair to help a person who lost, but also not take from person who lost as well in the accident. The other idea is about being responsible and realizing that being irresponsible can be very expensive. Being responsible is about not just doing the right thing, but thinking about how your actions affect others around you.

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