Exodus 23:1-13 Defending Truth; Maintaining Rest

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Life of Moses
Ex 23:1-13
More Laws: Defending the Truth; Maintaining Rest.
9/21/3; ed. 8.29.15


What is peer pressure? Why can the mob or crowd or social media today seem so intimidating? What are people afraid of?

lady justice

When’s the last time you found yourself pressured to NOT stand up for the truth…or what you felt to be the truth? What was the subject matter? Did you stand up for the truth? Were you ridiculed? How did it feel? Were you frightened? Did you lose some friends over the matter? Or did you give in and not stand up for what you believed to be the truth? Again what was the subject matter? Why did you not stand up for the truth? How did it make you feel to not stand up for the truth? Did someone else stand up for it? How were they treated? Did you speak up later?

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 herself, has taken her 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. Ex. 20:1ff.

With these rules, and God as their king, Israel has a government—a theocracy—and has become a nation.

Following the first Ten Commandments the Law very quickly turns its attention to addressing and raising the ethical/legal/moral bar concerning the ancient institution capable of great inhumanity. Ex. 21:1ff.

After this, the Law demonstrates, that by taking into consideration such factors as a person’s intent, as well as, their negligence and restitution, it is not only fair, but it is capable of handling the most complicated of human miscues.  Ex. 21:1ff.

Finally, the Law contains both soft and hard laws. Hard laws deal with actions and practices that are clearly morally out-of-bounds and that have serious consequences if ignored, such as witchcraft, bestiality and pagan worship. For such crimes, the penalty is death. For softer crimes such as sex before marriage, there is the penalty or grace of becoming marriage, along with the payment of the bride price, regardless of whether the bride is given away or not. Thus it costs to have sex before marriage, but not death.  Ex. 22:16ff.


Read Passage several times…

Ask Questions…

Exod. 23:1    “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness.   

In other words, don’t lie or be bought off to lie?

2  “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd,   

A huge one…the pressure of the mob.

3 and do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit.   

Interesting. We could side with the poor against the more affluent, but this would be wrong to.

4  “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him.   

It’s not finders keepers. Be ethical.

5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it.

Do what’s right; don’t be tempted to be prejudice against what is right because of some other factor.  

6  “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.   

On the other hand, don’t discriminate against the poor either.

7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.   

Preserve the truth. Be on the side of the truth no matter what…no matter the pressure.

8  “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous.   

Don’t be bought off.

9  “Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.   

Remember where you came from. Don’t forget how you felt and be guilty of the same thing.

10  “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops,   

11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.   

Because the crops would still grow…kind of like a perennial that comes us every year, just not as good.

12  “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.   

Everyone rests, not just the master.


13  “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips. 

• Don’t lie; don’t follow the crowd in wrong; don’t favor the poor or the rich in lawsuits; do the right thing when it comes to someone else’s property, even if you don’t like them; don’t condemn the innocent; don’t oppress the foreigner; leave your land unplowed during the Sabbath year so that the poor might have something to eat; allow everyone to rest on the seventh day; don’t pray to other gods.

Summary…when it comes to legal matters, do the right, moral, ethical and just thing. No matter what. Don’t be bribed or follow the crowd or side with the rich or poor or against someone you don’t like.

Also be merciful to the poor and rest in the seventh year and on the seventh day.

Bottom line…Do the right thing no matter what…no matter the pressure.

 Why? (What truths do I learn about God, man, people, myself, life?)

• Truth is big to God. He is a God of truth. He is truth. When we don’t employ the truth, we pervert and  seek to skew truth and justice. We side with the enemy, the Father of Lies, Satan. We are not children of God when we act in such a deceptively injurious manner.

• There is usually a reason to lie–to not be rejected by others; to not suffer; to avoid pain or justice or personal cost. In other words our motives are corrupt.

• The judicial or legal system is important to God, a nation or society. If that judicial system is corrupted, then there is no hope, no rules; anarchy reigns; there is no safety for the people or their children. It is a sick, perverted society.

• We all have our natural alliances and prejudices that often corrupt our insight.

• God desires us to rest and to provide for the poor. Every dollar of profit should not be our goal. Total productivity is not our objective. There should be some rest and grace.

• Not just for us, but for those who work for us.

• Don’t depend upon other gods to survive. Only the one true God.

So What?

2015 Application…

Thanksgiving…The cool August. Coolest I have ever experienced here in Missouri. I am also very thankful for God’s financial provision as of late. Incredibly generous. Lots of good counseling these days. My office seems like the Holy of Holies. Some kind leadership are in the process of assessing Red and Donnie’s needs. Shelly is coordinating some editing of the early portions of SLove. I have help with the grounds. My son is flying in this weekend so that we can go see the Cards play in St. Louis next week for his birthday. My daughter has a new job with more hours, pay and benefits. My Spiritual daughter continues to demonstrate amazing Spiritual growth. My teaching in John seems to have fallen upon a theme and direction that could not only greatly affect our church, but perhaps have even greater and more profound implications beyond our church. I am one blessed dude.

Struggle…Balance.  A lot to do. A lot to balance. A lot to continue to trust God for, including “stitching” the Nail together as Shelly refers to it. I have the old Nail prosed, along with three added sections on the biblical words for love…two Hebrew and two Greek—checed, ahab, agapao and phileo, along with their almost 1,000 Scriptural uses. Got to make ten Nail flow and work. Might have to edit some. May have to use an appendix. But must, with the Spirit and the Body’s help, grind it out…

Truth…Stand for the truth and regular worshipful rest… not just rest, but regular, worshipful rest…that’s where so many miss it…regular and worshipful. Rest is helpful, but regular Spiritual rest is life sustaining.


Application… The truth part is tricky. It seems we live in a day in age in which the social media mob has its way with what is truth. The mob determines the truth, which is totally contrary to the OT Law. Truth is critical for justice, and justice is critical for maintaining the cohesive trust and integrity of a nation or people group. No truth; no justice, and society breaks down. In this day and age, it will be interesting to see who can effectively speak the truth while standing up to the social media mob?

As far as regular worshipful rest is concerned, both can be difficult, especially the later, taking off one year in seven. No doubt, if it was possible, there would be far less burn out with respect to life, as well as, work, but we are no where close to pulling this off. And yet the principle stands, including the element of trusting God to provide for our needs on both the seventh day and seventh year, as well as, showing generosity towards the poor during that seventh year. I wonder what all this will look like during the Messiah’s millennial reign? I would assume work would be much more a delight, and life will no doubt both flourish and prosper when the nations are resting in the presence of the Messiah.

Your servant,

Joseph M. Cross

Your Struggle? 

Your Truth? 

Your Application? 


Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version‚ NIV‚ Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All rights reserved

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