General Introduction: Moses, led by God, is leading the children of Israel, perhaps as many as 2-3 million strong, away from Egypt and closer to the land promised to their forefathers seven centuries before. Their journey has not been without its problems. Having overcome food, water and leadership issues and a threatening military foe, God’s people have reached his mountain–the same place where Moses was called by God to lead Israel out of Egypt.
There, Israel, having physically and spiritually purified itself, has taken its vows before God. Yahweh, now through Moses, begins to spell out the contract or covenant in more detail. In other words, if you are going to be my people and represent me to the world, these are the rules you must live by. These are the rules that will set you apart and above the world.
These are the rules that will set you apart and above the world’s godless din.
These rules are commonly called the LAW or the Mosaic Law or the Mosaic Covenant, since quite obviously, Moses mediated the covenant between Yahweh God and his bride, the children of Israel.
The first ten rules, vows or commands were referred to as the TEN COMMANDMENTS. They involve exclusive faithfulness to God as opposed to all other gods or idols, as well as, relational commands with respect to getting along with one another within the covenant community. They begin with the honoring of one’s aged parents, as well as commands not to kill, steal, bear false witness, covet or commit adultery against one another.
With these rules, and God as their king, Israel has a government, a theocracy, and has become a nation.
Last Week… Within a society, world and culture that tends to take advantage of and cares very little about the rights and dignity of all humans, including servants or slaves, through His new law or covenant with His nation-bride, Yahweh God seems to be trying to raise the bar of how all people, including servant or slaves, are treated and respected.
Ask Questions…12 “Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death.
Why would someone strike another? Anger? Malice? Rage? But I suppose it doesn’t make any difference? If you choose to hit someone hard enough to kill them, the Law or Covenant says you die too.
13 However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate.
Is v. 12 the given from the Ten Commandments, but the real emphasis here is if it is not intentional?
After all, accidents will happen. I have known someone who accidently killed someone who stepped out in front of his vehicle while the second person was driving down the highway. God forbid it would happen to any of us. And yet, in a nation of over two million people and growing, accidents or unintentional strikes were bound.
Note the reference to God’s sovereignty…”but God lets it happen.”
But if this happens, there is a place of refuge to run to, thus, once again, through his Law, Yahweh recognizes both the loss of life, as well as, the unintentional nature of the strike. Though one has died, the dignity of both is protected.
14 But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.
Premeditated murder is a different matter all together. This would go back to the sixth commandment against murder, thus motive matters.
Why take him away from “my altar”? Because the killer has sought refuge in the presence of God—his altar? Are we talking about the altar described in the previous chapter, made of uncut stones?
15 “Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death.”
So while we are on the subject of the “death penalty” for premeditated murder, here is another crime that God, through his Law, will not tolerate amongst his national bride—attacking (strike; see v. 12) one’s parents.
16 “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.
Here is another “death penalty” crime — kidnapping.
17 “Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.”
Even “cursing” (to treat lightly, revile, curse, treat contemptible or shamefully, as opposed to “honor” in 20:12)—not just striking. Respect for parental authority seems to be critical not only within the Law, but universally. The younger, weaker and immature are to submit to the older, wiser, more responsible because while youth thinks or would like to think that they know it all, or that they have the strength to take authority back away from the older and aged, there seems to be something about surviving, or even thriving from one generation to the next that is dependent upon this universal law of the younger or newer respecting the older or former.
18 “If men quarrel and one hits the other with a stone or with his fist and he does not die but is confined to bed,
19 the one who struck the blow will not be held responsible if the other gets up and walks around outside with his staff; however, he must pay the injured man for the loss of his time and see that he is completely healed.
Despite not having died, restitution for having been momentarily hurt or wounded and therefore unable to work and make a living is only fair.
20 “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished,
21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.
How was the harsh master to be punished? Thus once again, while slavery was a given in the ancient world, slaves were protected within the Law. And while one was allowed to discipline his slave, he could not to do it to the point of death.
22 “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows.
Again, if I know that there could be a potential cost to unintentionally hurting an innocent bystander due to my fighting, particularly causing a pregnant woman to go into labor, then I might be more careful NOT to fight in the first place. Why? Because of someone else. Because of life. Because of a boundary.
23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life,
24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
Now God expands the principles of causation and restitution for causation, even if unintended—insurance so to speak.
These phrases, that have often been taken out of context, are legal phrases having to do with legal restitution–no different than when someone’s dog wounds another and the attacking dog’s owner has to pay the medical bills.
In addition, there is an equality of restitution.
I can’t imagine the enforcement of this type of restitution, but it would certainly make someone more cautious as to indiscriminate brawling.
26 “If a man hits a manservant or maidservant in the eye and destroys it, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the eye.
You had to be careful how you treated your servant, the eye being particularly important, not only in living, but carrying out one’s duties as well. Thus again, the restitution penalty resulting in the servant’s freedom serves as a premeditated boundary for the master in order to control his actions.
27 And if he knocks out the tooth of a manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the tooth.
28 “If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull must be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible.
Uncontrolled livestock are destroyed. Why? because one can’t always control an animal. At the same time, because the animal is destroyed, there is still a cost to the owner, and thus an indirect honoring of the life of the one that was killed.
29 If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull must be stoned and the owner also must be put to death.
But there does seem to be a reasonable limit to one’s negligence, thus the principle of accountability.
30 However, if payment is demanded of him, he may redeem his life by paying whatever is demanded.
Here is an example of God’s grace, as well as, a foreshadow of what Christ will do for imperfect, fallen man, only Christ will do the redeeming, not the imperfect owner of the uncontrolled animal.
31 This law also applies if the bull gores a son or daughter.
Children also have adult human value.
32 If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull must be stoned.
Is this in reference to the bull whose owner has been warned many times or just any wild bull attack? Was this a common occurrence…bulls getting out and goring people? And are we to assume that the slave lives? What if the slave dies?33 “If a man uncovers a pit or digs one and fails to cover it and an ox or a donkey falls into it,
Thus responsibility and precaution should be exercised as well.
34 the owner of the pit must pay for the loss; he must pay its owner, and the dead animal will be his.
35 “If a man’s bull injures the bull of another and it dies, they are to sell the live one and divide both the money and the dead animal equally.
36 However, if it was known that the bull had the habit of goring, yet the owner did not keep it penned up, the owner must pay, animal for animal, and the dead animal will be his.
Again an accountable fairness based on history or experience is assumed or valued.
• Unintentional killing is differentiated from premeditated or intentional killing. The former is treated with some mercy. 12-14
• Disrespect towards one’s parents via attacks or cursing or kidnapping another person receives the death penalty. 15-17
• When men fight and one is hurt, restitution is required. 18-19
• One cannot mistreat his slave. 20-21
• If two men fighting injure a pregnant woman causing her to go into premature labor they are fined whatever the woman’s husband demands. 22
• If on the other hand, there is serious injury, then a physical restitution is required. Eye for eye. Mischievous and irresponsible behavior will be held accountable. 23-25
• Slaves that are physically wounded by their masters, such as losing an eye or a tooth, must be given their freedom. 26-27
• Irresponsible behavior by someone else’s livestock will not be tolerated, but will be handled in a fair manner. 28-36
• If a bull gores someone to death, the bull is destroyed. 28
• If a bull has been known to do it and the owner has not keep the animal responsibly secure, then the owner is also put to death. 29
• But the owner can buy his life back. 30
• Same law applies to one’s children being injured. 31
• With respect to a servant being gored, there is an additional fine of thirty shekels, besides the bull being destroyed. 32
• Same law applies to an uncovered pit. If an animal falls into pit and is injured, the owner of the pit must buy the animal. 33-34
• If the bull injures another bull, the good one is sold, with the money and the dead bull being split equally, unless the bull has a habit of doing this, then the owners swap bulls. 35-36
• Murder or killing is regulated as to intent;
• violent disregard for one’s parents is also punished severely;
• irresponsible fighting is punished;
• abuse to slaves is also punished;
• an equal and fair restitution is required when someone is injured by
• irresponsible behavior such as fighting or quarreling;
ª slaves are given their freedom if permanently injured by their masters;
• irresponsible care of livestock is also punished, depending upon the repetitiveness of the irresponsible behavior.
Bottom line…With respect to the law, fairness, responsibility, repeatability and intent are all taken into account to awarding the various judgments. God’s laws are fair.
Why? (What truths do I learn about God, man, people, myself, life?)
• God is aware of life’s crucial details. In other words, one cannot just make general laws, and not be in tune to life’s exceptions or extenuating circumstances. Details matter, thus the Law had to reflect these details.
• “God lets it happen” implies that God has some say so or control it what happens, or that God could have stopped or prevented the person from dying.
• Via, the Law, God is certainly fair. There is a sense of equality within his laws.
• God holds men accountable for their actions, including negligence, and especially, repeated negligence.
• Accidents will happen, and because of this non-intentionality, God has made fair provision for this within his Law, and yet, the Law still honors or respects the value of the deceased or injured person’s personhood.
• On the other hand, continued negligence or horseplay…fighting… does have serious consequences. Learn from your mistakes.
• Parents, slaves and children were protected within the Law.
• The entire Law seems to be about protection…protecting people’s implied rights, their lives, even freedoms.
• Death was not too severe a penalty for some crimes.
• Laws, agreements, covenants serve as warnings and boundaries. If you exceed this boundary, there will be consequences, so think ahead. Be disciplined. Don’t be thoughtless. Be wise, because offense, defense, emotion, threat will suddenly motivate you to do things that can affect others’ lives, and you as a part of a larger community, are responsible.
Thanksgiving…Been having some amazing Spiritual experiences as of late. And I feel like I can see it Spiritually all fitting together. I want to be careful of acting like a Spiritual know-it-all, but it just seems obvious, and it just is. It’s like when you just know something. Obvious about what, you ask?
Well, let me described some of the pieces first.
It has to do with 1) what we have been learning in John, particularly, John 15, about what it means to “abide in the vine—trust and love.” Trust the Son’s atonement for sin and love one another as he loved his own or us—sacrificially.
2) The promise to this abiding in Christ’s living vine or trusting and loving is, much as the apostles experienced at Pentecost and beyond, as Jesus had repeatedly promised to them that they would experience (John 15;7), and then much later when the apostle John, in turn, re-promised to those he was writing to within his letters—the church, and that is receiving what they/we Spiritually asked for on behalf of others (1 John 3:18ff), or as we do what he commanded us to do, love others as he loved us (John 13), having our consciences or petitions on behalf of others, shaped by the Spirit of God, so that we are lead not to pray as we would want to, but as the Spirit directs us—praying the mind of God…praying heaven’s will…or like a Spiritual key to a Spiritual lock, asking for what heaven desires to ask for or what is Spiritually best or seeks to further the Divine’s Spiritual agenda.
Granted, that was a mouthful. But do you believe that that can happen? That God himself can lead and shape our prayers or our petitions on behalf of others…or our trusting or loving, or particularly our loving others as he sacrificially loved us, his own? Or is this just religious mumbo-jumbo what I am saying here or perhaps mental positive thinking or pseudo-Spiritual smoke and mirrors? I don’t think so, but I am certainly willing to entertain the doubt or accusation. It’s okay, but it is what it is and it just keeps on occurring.
What is occurring, Joe? The presence of God. When? Within my wife and family; within my counseling; within my home church; within my prayers; in other’s prayers. It just is…How do you know, Joe? Quite often, I see the results. People seem “unlocked.” People are “unlocked.” They open up, tell the truth, confess the truth, their fears, hurts, anger; some cry. Insight is uncanny.
My prayers are changing. Less and less, with all due respect, I find myself NOT praying performance prayers for others to hear, but instead I try to listen to God, his Spirit, God speaking to and through my conscience, and it just comes. Not always perfectly, partially because I have subconsciously prayed the way I have prayed for so long. So I am still learning to listen, pause, seek his permission to speak or not speak and trust that it is more of God or God working through me as opposed to just me or my selfish interests.
3) Add to this what we just took a closer look at on Sunday, the origins of the First and Third Great Awakenings—I mean the eye-witness accounts of those very moments, as well as, their humble beginnings… much as early Acts describes what occurred within the lives, loving and ministries of Jesus’ disciples, as they depended upon their new-found Spiritual power, the Spirit himself, to birth and found the early church—something that two thousand years later, with as many as two billion plus adherents on this planet, is undeniable. Just as the Spiritual and historical repercussions of the great Spiritual Awakenings, with their millions having been saved or given their life to Christ or trusting the Son’s atonement for the forgiveness or divine release of their sins, as well as, their ensuing and massive undertakings to fulfill his New Commandment—to sacrificially love others, as he sacrificially loved us—is undeniable. I mean, if you don’t believe what happened at Pentecost, you have to trace Christianity and its profound and massive effects on this planet (granted, some of those effects are not so good, because they were of man and not of God) back to something. If you buy into Holy Scripture, the Acts of the Apostles describes its origins.
But even if you don’t buy into Scripture, more recent history, such as the First Great Spiritual Awakening, whose roots many trace to the Moravian Pentecost in August, 1727 within the tiny Moravian Christian village or hamlet of Hernnhut (the Lord’s Watch) in what is now eastern Germany, are undeniable.
The impact of this Spiritual awakening became global and was the birth of Protestant missions. This small band of lay Christians, took it upon themselves, very courageously and sacrificially, to pick up from the ground upon which it had seemingly fallen upon, the Apostles’ mantle or Spiritual legacy to fulfill Christ’s great commission to his apostles (Matt. 28:19-20) to carry the gospel’s truth–the good news of the Son of God’s sacrificial atonement for sin in order to offer Spiritual redemption, forgiveness, love and hope to God’s fallen creatures–to the ends of the earth, and that is exactly what they did.
Eventually, the Baptists, led by William Carey’s taking the truth of the gospel to India; the Methodists, led by John and Charles Wesley and George Whitfield, and their taking the good news to the Americas, and Hudson Taylor’s taking it to China, the surface of the globe was Spiritually and radically transformed. Christianity, the gospel, the church and good works had taken root in around the globe.
I am not saying that Christ returned, quite obviously, or that his kingdom was established upon the earth—Creation still awaits her Savior–but I am saying things happened. Things changed. People changed. Culture changed. Protestant Christianity and it good news of the Creator’s reconciliation with his fallen creatures via the offering of his Son as a divine-human sacrifice to pay for God’s righteous judgment of the sins of the many had gone forth across the globe…as Christ had commanded his disciples centuries before, and not only had this wonderful offer of God’s salvation been proclaimed throughout the earth, but it had been wonderfully received by many. Christianity was now a global movement.
Was evil conquered? Some, yes. All, no–not by a long shot.
But Good’s war with Evil had not only greatly expanded upon the earth, and this war had a new and different complexion—one rooted in a love, hunger, study and application of the Bible; a preaching and teaching of divine salvation through faith or trust alone in the divine Son’s atonement or payment for sin, and one that sought to prayerfully, Spiritually, passionately and practically love one’s neighbor, including addressing many of the human ills that have and still continue to plague mankind.
I mean historians write about this stuff. And the same goes for the Second and Third Great Awakenings, although I am not as familiar with the Second Great Awakening, and whose roots are typically ascribed by historians as congealing in the late 1700s and early 1800s in what today could be considered the backyard of the multi-billion dollar sport of thoroughbred racing-the tiny, forgotten hamlet of Cane Ridge, Ky. Cultures were changed. Lives were changed. Churches born. Movements birthed. Denominations, particularly the Methodists, with their lay-preaching circuit riders, as well as Baptists and Presbyterians, grew up.