Jan. 25 Reading: Exodus 22-24 Commentary
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.'” (Ex. 24:12)
Exodus 22 – Laws About Property and Ceremonies
God outlined many laws in the book of Exodus. But why so many? The answer is simple. A new nation now existed and they needed standards to live by. God laid the groundwork for a national morality and quality standard of living because no nation could exist without rules to follow. That’s why the chapters that detail these laws are so important.
Exodus 22 shows God put in place laws dealing with property rights. In the cases of damage to property or theft of property, the person responsible was required to make restitution for the damage. In some cases, the restitution was actual greater than the value of the animal (v. 4, 7, 9).
Additionally, we see in this section various laws on moral issues including:
1. Virgins were protected. If taken advantage of, the responsible party was to marry her with the father’s permission or pay the bride price (vv. 16-17).
2. Sorcery was illegal. Those practicing it were executed (v. 18).
3. God has a tenderness of heart for the disadvantaged. There was to be no mistreatment of strangers (v. 21). Widows and orphans needed care (vv. 22-24). The poor were not to be taken advantage of, especially in the charging of interest on borrowed money (v. 25). The implication for us is clear: Our hearts should be wide open to all people groups, with special attention given to the underprivileged like widows, orphans, and the poor.
In all these laws, the focus is clear. God wanted His people to be “…holy men to Me” (v. 31). That is the same calling we have today.
Exodus 23 – Justice, Sabbaths and Feasts
God values honest justice for all. In Exodus 23, He instructs the people not to circulate false reports about one another. Lying and malicious behavior is condemned throughout the Bible (see James 3:1-12).
In regards to the land, God allowed the people to grow crops on the land for six years. Then, during the seventh year, God required them to let the land rest. They were to plant no crops during that year or collect any fruit from the vine (vv. 10-11). This Sabbath year’s rest demonstrated their faith that God would provide for them.
Three times a year the people were to conduct a feast to the Lord. The three feasts were:
1. The Feast of Unleavened Bread. This was done in the first month of the year (Abib) to commemorate their exodus from Egypt by the hand of God. The instructions for this were outlined in Exodus 12, just before the 10th plague (death of the firstborn) occurred in Egypt.
2. The Feast of Harvest. At harvest time, the people gave the firstfruits of their fields to the Lord.
3. The Feast of Ingathering. This feast is also called the Feast of Tabernacles (Ex. 34:22; Leviticus 23). It occurred at the end of the year after the people had “gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field” (v. 16).
Promise and Warning
God promised to be with the people. In fact, verse 20 of Exodus 23 says that God promised to send an Angel before the people to guide them to the land He’d promised. The Angel would go before them and bless them if they obeyed (v. 25-26).
Furthermore, God said He would send His “fear before you” to “cause confusion among all the people to whom you come, and will make their enemies turn their back on you” (v. 27). God would drive them out little by little.
The one prohibition for Israel was that they were not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land or serve their gods. If they did, it “will surely be a snare to you” (vv. 32-33). and God would not be with them.
Exodus 24 – Moses on the Mountain
At Mt. Sinai, Moses reaffirms the covenant with the Lord through a sacrifice at the base of the mountain (vv. 1-8). Then he, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu (Aaron’s two sons) and the 70 elders of Israel, saw God. What did they see exactly? We are not sure other than what the text says:
“And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in clarity.” (v. 10)
That’s not much of a description. They must have seen some manifestation of God in a human-like form. It reminds us that any ability we have to describe God or His appearance is limited at best.
After this, God calls only Moses to the top of the mountain to give him the law. It’s here we read for the first time about the stone tablets on which God wrote the law (v. 12). God instructed Moses to teach the people the commands (v. 12).
The glory of the Lord descending on the mountain must have been some sight for the people. Verse 17 tells us “…the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.” What must they have been thinking about this God who was leading and instructing them?
They wouldn’t know for some time. Moses was with God on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights.
Questions to Consider:
Believers have a responsibility to reflect God’s value system as it relates to ministering to those who are less fortunate – like widows, orphans and the poor. But too often the church turns a blind eye to their needs. What great ministries do you know of that are stepping in to fill the gap and serve these people groups?
Do you stand in awe of the Lord? When have you seen or felt His presence?
What other points would you want to know about in our Exodus 22-24 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.