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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

November 29, 2017

Exodus  22:16-30

  1. Verses 16-17. In this section, there is no real common theme like the previous sections, but these principals do expand on the earlier commands. These principals are not the only way the commands could be broken, but they provide some scenarios where the law would be broken. Verses 16-17 runs parallel to the seventh commandment, "You shall not commit adultery" (ch. 20:14). The case described, however, is fornication not adultery. It may be more appropriate to say that this section is a warning to men to keep sexual desire under control. God warns against giving in without restriction to natural desires and to unnatural ones, like in vs.19. The word that is translated with “seduce" in vs. 16 is the Hebrew pathah. According to Strong’s definition this means "to open, i.e. be roomy; usually figuratively (in a mental or moral sense) to be make simple or (in a sinister way) delude." The KJV translates it with "allure, deceive, enlarge, entice, flatter, persuade, silly (one)." The intent is to break down the fences of moral restriction. It would even stand to reason that the mere act of trying to seduce a woman who was off limits is the first violation in this case study. The fact that the girl is seduced suggests that she gave in to the man's approach willingly. The man led her astray into sin. It is not a matter of rape. In Deuteronomy 22, the difference between rape and consent is defined, also whether the girl was engaged to be married to someone else or not must be declared. The latter would be a ground for the death penalty for both the man and the girl. She is considered to have broken her vow, as if she had committed adultery. The command is basically a call for men to engage women properly, understanding that some are off limits, and to take seriously relationship with people of the opposite sex, and if there is a strong attraction there is a right way to go about the furthering the courtship. There was no room in the community for casual sex, since sex is never casual but always significant. This command also raises the importance and sacredness of the sexual union. Sex has always required a commitment, and in this case it was financial and marital, and always financial even if the male suitor was deemed unfit.

  2. Verses 18-20. Witchcraft is put on the same line as prostitution in Leviticus 20:6-27, where God says: "I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people." This verse suggests that the real meaning of adultery, fornication, and prostitution is spiritual. Just as we have seen that the real meaning of sexual intercourse is spiritual, a person who practices witchcraft is a professional who has intercourse/relations with demonic powers. The human body is meant to be given to the Lord. A person who, not only refuses to surrender himself to the Lord but instead surrenders himself to God’s enemy, commits blatant sin. That is why Leviticus says: "A man or woman who is a medium among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads." If witchcraft makes a profession of human intercourse with demons, in bestiality man lowers himself in giving his body to something that is lower than he, in having sexual intercourse with an animal, a human being makes a caricature of the image of God and thus of God Himself. In idolatry man attributes supremacy to God's enemy and denies God's supremacy. Not only is the object of worship completely opposite of God, but the worship itself is contrary to what worship is intended to be. We have seen already the first and second of the Ten Commandments that in making idols man tries to control his own destiny. Idol worship is never an innocent occupation with wooden or metal statutes; it is intercourse with demonic beings.

  3. Verses 21-24. These verses deal with love to the neighbor, or rather, the negative side of it. The focus is the treatment of foreigners, widows and people who are in financial need. The point in question is that a man would use the disadvantage of other people to his own advantage. The first category in this section is the aliens. The KJV calls them strangers. They are not of Hebrew ancestry, but who have come to live among the people of Israel for one reason or another. The intent of the law seems to be that immigration should be encouraged. This is in accord with God's designation of Israel as "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." The presence of aliens would allow Israel to function as priests. God had entrusted them with His revelation so that they would pass it on. The subject is very relevant in our day. In many developed countries foreigners come to work, but most nations do not see this as a God-given opportunity for the witness of the Gospel. In many situations it is considered to be a threat to the labor market and a cause of unemployment for the natives of the country itself. A Christian should look at those conditions from a Biblical perspective, not from an economic one. God reminds Israel that they were foreigners themselves. When this law was given, only a few months had passed since they had come out of their own slavery. Evidently, some people had already forgotten this and had started to treat the aliens among them with hostility. This must have been the reason that this commandment was given at this point. The Israelites did not see themselves yet as "World Christians," to use a modern term. The next commandment is even closer to home. God warns the people, "Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless." There are many references in the Old Testament to show how God feels about widows and orphans. (See Deuteronomy 24, Ps. 94:6-7, Ps. 146:9, Isa. 1:17 and Zech. 7:10). God has a special place in His heart for widows and orphans. He is describes himself as: "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." (Psalm 68:5).

  4. Verses 25-27. This commandment pertains to the Jewish people. As God's children, the Israelites were to exercise compassion toward each other. As in the preceding verses, the intent is that they do not take advantage of someone else's misfortune. It is true that, in the body of Christ, we are not under the law; but this law should be a guideline for the relationships among Christians also. The case in point in this commandment is a man in need. The borrower needs the help to survive. Vs. 25-27 indicate that the Israelites were allowed to take a pledge against a loan, only certain articles were prohibited as items of pledge. In these verses, it is the cloak; another one is a pair of mill stones, or even a single one. In Deuteronomy 24:6, we read: "Do not take a pair of millstones--not even the upper one--as security for a debt, because that would be taking a man's livelihood as security." The implication is that compassion is not to be separated from responsibility. Giving money without holding the borrower accountable is not in essence an act of compassion. "If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it to him by sunset, because his cloak is the only covering he has for his body. What else will he sleep in? When he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate." The Lord foresaw the evil intent of the loaner to bring the borrower under his dominion. By taking a poor man's cloak as a security against a loan, the man would have no blanket for the night since, obviously, the cloak doubled up as a blanket. We are dealing with a society of poor people, who live on the edge of starvation. It seems that the practical impact of this law upon society was that the borrower would deposit his cloak at his creditor in the morning and pick it up again in the evening and then, again, return with it the next morning until the loan was paid off. The people were also warned not to lend with interest. (Leviticus 25;35-3 7)

  5. Verse 28. The word for god in this text, most likely refers to high officials thus making the connection to the later part of the verse. The point is that leaders should be respected. The assumption is this is referring to good godly leaders who are acting in the best interest of the people. The idea is that they should be given a level of respect. When this command was given, there was a tendency for certain people to revile Moses and attempt to undermine his leadership. This always worked out bad for those people. Those people weren’t seeking truth or justice but division and power.

  6. Verse 29a. The offerings were used to feed the poor. To hold them back would mean to deprive the needy of food.

  7. Verses 29b-30. Here, God tells the Israelites that their firstborn cattle and sheep must be offered to Him on the eighth day of life. Likewise, the firstborn of the Israelite children--or rather the redeeming sacrificial lambs with which the parents bought back their newborn babies from God--must be offered on the babies’ eighth day of life. In the case of a boy, this coincides with the day of his circumcision. The baby was "presented" to God at this time, although the parents had redeemed the baby, God still claimed the firstborn as being special to Him and still belonging to Him!

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