Summary: The text teaches us how to be a community of faith that is distinct, i.e. freed up folks in Christ by choosing the way of non-exploitation.
To exploit or not to exploit
By Andrew Chan, PBC, Vancouver, BC
June 20, 2001
18 “A sorceress must not be allowed to live.
19 “Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal must be executed.
20 “Anyone who sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed.
21 “Do not oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.
22 “Do not exploit widows or orphans. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, then I will surely help them. 24 My anger will blaze forth against you, and I will kill you with the sword. Your wives will become widows, and your children will become fatherless.
25 “If you lend money to a fellow Hebrew in need, do not be like a money lender, charging interest. 26 If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge of repayment, you must return it by nightfall. 27 Your neighbor will need it to stay warm during the night. If you do not return it and your neighbor cries out to me for help, then I will hear, for I am very merciful.
28 “Do not blaspheme God or curse anyone who rules over you.
29 “Do not hold anything back when you give me the tithe of your crops and your wine.
“You must make the necessary payment for redemption of your firstborn sons.
30 “You must also give me the firstborn of your cattle and sheep. Leave the newborn animal with its mother for seven days; then give it to me on the eighth day.
31 “You are my own holy people. Therefore, do not eat any animal that has been attacked and killed by a wild animal. Throw its carcass out for the dogs to eat.
I believe all of God’s Word is inspired. But some of us maybe less than inspired when they read the above text.
At first blush we may ask, What in the world has that gotta to do with us today? Obviously we don’t put witches/sorcerers to death now, right? There are Christian agencies to lend out money to Christians and charged interest too, so what gives? Didn’t Christ fulfill all the law’s requirements? We’ve governmental agencies now that look after orphans and widows, and since we have freedom of religion we can’t put folks to death for expressing their religious practices and beliefs? So why waste time?
Only because it is still God’s word and it has loads to teach us how conduct life as a special distinct people holy unto God just as Israel was taught in OT days. Their lessons are also our lessons, if we take a deeper look at it.
Facts to remember as we go thru’ this section of God’s law:
1. Grace: Ex.19:4
And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6‘And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Ex.19:3-6 (NKJV)
19:4 – brings home the fact of grace – it was God’s doing, bearing them on eagles’ wings – speech talks of God’s gentle but firm love acting on their behalf when they did not deserve it. Here Moses is instructed to tell how much God does love them and desires for them to know they have a special place in redemption history, privileged status among all nations. See it also in this next Scripture verse:
7 “The LORD did not choose you and lavish his love on you because you were larger or greater than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! 8 It was simply because the LORD loves you, and because he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors. That is why the LORD rescued you with such
amazing power from your slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt. Deut.7:7-8 (NLT)
This is not a matter of “do this” and then I will come thru for you and save you. Nor a matter of wow Israel is filled with such nice guys and gals. They are so cute! They are so holy and obedient, never rebel, never use any swear words, wash their hands after they have used the washroom, don’t worship idols, etc. It is just simply GRACE in a big way, there’s no ifs and buts about it. He just wants to lavish his love on people. It’s a special relationship –“brought you to myself.” Not merely being brought out of Egypt to the Promised Land but to God! And today same grace is applied to all who believe in Christ... grace is the way God works! If righteousness could be gained thru’ law, we’ll all be dead in the water, no one can fufill them, not one and Christ’s death means nothing (Gal.2:21, Rom.3:20-28, 5:1).