"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Saturday, May 15, 2021

EXODUS – GOD’s MIRACULOUS DELIVERANCE of ISRAEL FROM EGYPT – Chapter TWENTY TWO

Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire

Complete Study of Exodus by pastor Chuck Smith 

EXODUS 22: “Concerning Beasts, Burglary and Blasphemies” – by James Fire, Facebook video not available.

INTRODUCTION: We continue now with examining some finer points of the law in these next few chapters, and we see that GOD is watching over every aspect of Israel’s society, how He wants things to be done.
This is how it is for a believer in Christ; living for GOD is of course not only for Sunday church meetings and deals only with our ministry during such assembling for services, but it encompasses our entire lives.

We’ll be seeing a lot of laws where if they are broken, the penalty is death. Critics point to such passes to prove that GOD is blood-thirsty and cruel.
Yet the LORD is making a point: He is GOD, the Creator of all things, thus all things are owned by Him, which means He is LORD: He gets to make the rules! And being GOD, He is worthy of obedience. Only a rebellious, sinful heart would despise obedience to the LORD. And GOD is making another point: that we should take obedience seriously, for disobedience is rebellion and sin and such bear the wages of death, because GOD is holy and cannot associate with sin. Therefore, any soul that sins, is separated from GOD (which is why we all die, because all have sinned, and are separated from the only source of life!).

GOD is also all about private ownership (a concept that Socialists and Communists despise) and commands that justice is carried out on any that steal, kill and, or destroy – such citizens of this fallen world are apt to do, following the example of “the god of this world” who is himself the master thief (JOHN 10:10).

EXODUS 22:1-4
1 If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep. 2 If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. 3 If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. 4 If the theft is certainly found alive in his hand, whether it is an ox or donkey or sheep, he shall restore double
.

When King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and tried to hide it for years and years, the LORD eventually sent His prophet Nathan to him, and the prophet related the story about a rich man who owned scores of flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, and one day he was visited by a guest. Rather than taking of his own livestock, he took the one ewe lamb of his poor neighbor and slaughtered it and served it to his guest.

King David went ballistic and commanded that this man (which unknown to him, this was he, himself!) should pay back four fold and be killed.
Paying back four fold is what the law demanded according to EXOD 22:1, but David went a step further and said that the man must die. How severe our own judgment sometimes is on others, when we ourselves are guilty most of all!
Matthew Poole comments:
Question: 1. Why so much, seeing the stealer of other things was tied to restore but double?
Answer: 1. For terror, because these beasts being kept in the fields might more easily be stolen. 2. Because the loss of these was greater than of other things; for they did not only lose what the cattle might be sold for, but all the service, increase, and other benefits which a man might receive from them.
Question: 2. Why more for oxen than for sheep?
Answer: 1. Because it argued greater boldness and customariness in the thief to steal that which might more easily be discovered.
2. Because besides the intrinsical worth of the ox, the labor of the ox was very considerable to his owner, PROVERBS 14:4, and therefore the loss greater.
EXODUS 22:5-6
5 If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed, and lets loose his animal, and it feeds in another man's field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard. 6 If fire breaks out and catches in thorns, so that stacked grain, standing grain, or the field is consumed, he who kindled the fire shall surely make restitution
.

Carelessness is no excuse for breaking the law, neither is ignorance. Setting an animal loose is inviting trouble. That would be like letting your dog outside to roam free in a neighborhood where lots of the residents own lots of cats! 

No one can say, it’s not my fault my cow grazed in your field! Am I my cow’s keeper? It’s not my fault that this fire I had re-ignited after I thought I put it out safely and burned your crop!
Our actions and sometimes our inactions have consequences – whether they are intentional or not, if they cause damage to another person or their property, it’s only just and fair that we make restitution. It’s the old Little Leaguer’s soft ball breaking through the neighbor’s window sort of situation. The kid didn’t mean to break Mr. Jones’ window, but it’s still broken, and it must be paid for!

As we saw in EXODUS 21, the Law of GOD demands justice, but also shows restraint on those who would take justice to an unjust extreme: it’s only one eye for an eye, not two eyes!

EXODUS 21:24
Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot
, see also LEV 24:20; DEUT 19:21

How much more diligent should we be with our spiritual lives, that we shouldn’t be lax or careless with our walk before the LORD, just ‘letting the chips fall where they may’, but be diligent, intentional, deliberate in everything we do. This applies especially to those we are responsible for, and that’s not just livestock! It’s our families, and those that we minister to among the body of Christ!
PROVERBS 27:23
Make sure to be diligent to know the state of your flocks and look well to your herds
.
Think about how awesome the LORD is in tending to His flock (JOHN 10:14), and to the state of His Vine (JOHN 15:1-5) – Himself and to us His saints, His blessed branches that abide in Him! May we follow His lead!

EXODUS 22:7-8
7 If a man delivers to his neighbor money or articles to keep, and it is stolen out of the man's house, if the thief is found, he shall pay double. 8 If the thief is not found, then the master of the house shall be brought to the judges to see whether he has put his hand into his neighbor's goods
.

Stewardship over the property of another is also taken very seriously; if you entrust to me your property, and while under my protection, a thief comes and steals it from me, if the thief isn’t found, then I’m liable to replace it, and under the Law, there would be an inquiry on whether or not I may have stolen it myself!

In a very real sense, when we pay our taxes, we are entrusting the government with money to be put to good use, for the good of the public as well as ourselves. And if politicians (who are supposed to be 'public servants'!) ‘dip into’ such finances to line their own pockets, the JUDGE of all the Earth shall make inquiry on Judgment Day and after examining such abuse of power, will render His verdict of ‘guilty’! There is no such thing as eternal injustice! 
PSALM 82:8
Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations
.

PSALM 19:9
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether
.
EXODUS 22:9-13
9 For any kind of trespass, whether it concerns an ox, a donkey, a sheep, or clothing, or for any kind of lost thing which another claims to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whomever the judges condemn shall pay double to his neighbor. 10 If a man delivers to his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep, and it dies, is hurt, or driven away, no one seeing it, 11 then an oath of the LORD shall be between them both, that he has not put his hand into his neighbor's goods; and the owner of it shall accept that, and he shall not make it good. 12 But if, in fact, it is stolen from him, he shall make restitution to the owner of it. 13 If it is torn to pieces by a beast, then he shall bring it as evidence, and he shall not make good what was torn
.

There are some obscure matters whose solutions are not obvious and requires an outsider who can be objective, a righteous and discerning judge to clarify and determine the matter and make a decision in favor of the innocent.

In the case of property where two parties claim ownership, a most discerning judge is needed.
We find similar situations in the church, when leadership encounters a ‘he said, she said’ problem. Discernment and wisdom are a must! Since the LORD requires such justice in judging whose property the item truly belonged to, the judges of Israel could rely upon the Spirit of the LORD to grant such discernment in order to render a just decision.
Likewise in the church, we look to the LORD to grant us the discernment to properly watch over His flock.

Regarding livestock that was lost, hurt or dies, we have the following from Patrick Lowth Whitby and Lowman (PLWP) commentary:
“If he lend any of these things to his neighbour, upon certain considerations, or let them for hire: and his neighbour affirms that they died, or were hurt, or driven away by enemies who carried them captive; but there was no witness of any of these allegations; then the cause was to be brought before the judge to find out the truth, in the manner following:
“If there was no other way to discover the truth, then he to whom they were delivered, was to purge himself by an oath that he had not killed the beast, nor done any thing to hurt it; and the owner was to trouble him no further: nor was he bound to make any satisfaction, provided he had used these goods according to the agreement between them; for if he had employed them contrary to their contract, then he was bound to make them good to the owner of whom they were borrowed or hired. If he refused to take the oath, he was pronounced guilty; and restitution was ordered to be made out of his goods. But there were some temperaments of his law; for every man was not admitted to purge himself by an oath. For instance; he that was of so bad a reputation, that they had a suspicious he would not stick to perjure himself, was not admitted to be adjured; no, though he that brought the action required it.”
EXODUS 22:14-15
14 And if a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it becomes injured or dies, the owner of it not being with it, he shall surely make it good. 15 If its owner was with it, he shall not make it good; if it was hired, it came for its hire
.

If property is lent to a neighbor, if the owner is present with it during its use, or if the owner were to receive profit by lending it, whatever harm happens to the property the owner must take the loss: but if the owner was kind enough to the borrower as to lend it him in confidence, under his own supervision and if any harm occurs, the borrower must make it good. So we must learn to be very careful not to abuse anything that is lent to us.
It’s not only unjust to be careless with the property of another, but also a breach of trust. We ought to take the loss ourselves, than that any should sustain loss by their kindness to us.

EXODUS 22:16-17
16 If a man entices a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the bride-price of virgins
.

This is what we think of as a ‘shotgun wedding’. In today’s world people with such loose morals would look at this is bizarre; sadly even among Christians ‘shacking up’ is considered a normal situation.

Yet GOD in His holiness seeks to protect the preciousness of a woman’s virginity, and if anyone violates it, he will not only be required to marry her, but also pay the full price for her as his bride. But if this fellow is the sort that the father of the woman disapproves of, and doesn’t want him included in his family tree, he can abstain from the wedding, but the violator still has to pay up!

Sin must be paid for, always. GOD is careful to observe every debt owed to Him, for He is utterly just and holy.
Just as a man might unlawfully take a woman that doesn’t belong to him, so had Israel taken to her gods that she truly didn’t belong to; she was the bride of YHWH, and yet it was because of her idolatry that she delved into all sorts of iniquity that the LORD brought severe judgment upon (even though He had warned her repeatedly many times of such danger in falling into these sins!). Hear the words of Micah the prophet in his third chapter:
MICAH 3:1-12
1 And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment? 2 Who hate the good and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; 3 Who also eat the flesh of my people and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron. 4 Then shall they cry unto the Lord, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings. 5 Thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.

6 Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. 7 Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God. 8 But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.9 Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity.

10 They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. 11 The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us. 12 Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest
.
Paul the apostle addresses this issue regarding the judgment of GOD falling upon a society that has deteriorated into sin in increasingly perverse ways (and if this doesn’t describe America then I don’t know what does!):
ROMANS 1:28-32
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them
EXODUS 22:18-20
18 You shall not permit a sorceress to live. 19 Whoever lies with an animal shall surely be put to death. 20 He who sacrifices to any god, except to the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed
.

Here are such transgressions that require the death penalty.
During the Salem witch trials, there were many who were accused of witchcraft and not all of the judgments were just.

The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. More than two hundred people were accused. Thirty were found guilty, nineteen of whom were executed by hanging (fourteen women and five men). One other man, Giles Corey, was pressed to death for refusing to plead, and at least five people died in jail.
There was a lot of paranoia and inordinate suspicions, and the judgment to execute such witches was according to Old Testament canon that was Israel’s responsibility to uphold, not the church.
Witchcraft is a sin, as it means trafficking in the demonic, even though the practitioners deny this. They rather claim that they worship nature spirits, the Mother Earth and her consort, Pan and flatly deny any involvement in devil worship, as their religion doesn’t even recognize a Satan. As Christians we realize that there are no such nature spirits, that the Earth itself has no spirit (Gaia) and that Pan is merely a euphemism for the devil (‘undercover’ as it were; see 1 COR 10:19-21).

Nowhere is the church called upon to execute sinners; it is the responsibility of governments to protect its citizens from dangers both foreign and domestic:

The Constitution, when it says, "We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America,"

Murderers, rapists and thieves are certainly to be punished; but in this age of grace, those given to idol worship and false gods (whether one is talking about devotees of Islam, Hinduism, Scientology, Wicca or Voodoo) are not to be executed by the church, but called upon to repent and turn to Jesus Christ for salvation:

Observe for example:
ACTS 19:17-20
17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19 Many of them also which used curious arts [witchcraft, sorcery] brought their books together and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed
.

Regarding bestiality: when man and woman come together, there is a union made between them even beyond the physical (EPH 5:31; GEN 5:2; 1 COR 6:16-18). So for a human to so join with an animal is blasphemous.

It’s the same sort of blasphemy when an angel joins in union with a human female (GEN 6) or when there is a union between same sex members.
The union of Christ and His bride is pictured in the marriage between a man and a woman; any other union other than that ordained of GOD ruins this picture of Christ and His bride:
EPHESIANS 5:31-33
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband
EXODUS 22:21-24
21 You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 22 You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. 23 If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; 24 and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless
.

GOD is showing His great tenderness, compassion and care for the underprivileged – foreigners, widows and orphans – the weak and defenseless that are too often at the mercy of oppressors who show them none!

GOD is emphatic with His forewarning on any who think about victimizing these particular members of society – He says that if any widow, orphan or foreigner cries “at all to Me” – with absolute certainty, He will hear their cry, and what will be His response?

“My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.” Essentially the LORD is saying that these oppressors are going to reap what they sow – if they victimize these weak, defenseless ones, they will be killed, and their families will be widows and orphans!

There are so many forces in our society that is convincing women that they don’t need their husbands, such as Black Lives Matter (a Marxist organization that, like all Marxist philosophies wants to dissect the biblical family unit and deteriorate society). The over-sexed obsession of society is leading men to disassociate themselves from their responsibilities as fathers, as they pursue a loose lifestyle and fornicate as much as their pleasure desires. 

Entire generations of youth have been abandoned by their fathers, and with the ruination of the family unit, these children go out in the streets and find families for themselves in gang membership.
GOD will not hold them guiltless who’ve plotted and executed the ruin of the family and caused ‘widows’ of a sort, and these fatherless!

EXODUS 22:25-27
25 If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest. 26 If you ever take your neighbor's garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. 27 For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious
.

Here again, the LORD promises to hear those who are oppressed, through unfair interest rates on the Israeli’s brethren. This was to ensure that everyone was taken care of and had sufficient provision – money lent, was to be repaid certainly – but at no extra cost. Even clothing, given as a pledge (a promise) for payment, was to be returned to the rightful owner.
Failure by the Jews to exhibit such mercies would result in the cry of the oppressed being heard by the LORD Who in His graciousness will answer their cry and defend them!

EXODUS 22:28
28 You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people
.

“Revile” here means “to make light of; a trifling; to show contempt for”.
This is a serious charge because this is what the world does commonly. They even use the most holy Name of GOD as a curse word.
Associated with this, is cursing a ruler of the people, for there are no authorities that exist except those appointed by GOD (ROM 13:1).

This is true in two different senses: GOD is all about order, law, and justice, for the safety and well being of any nation, so there are appointed structures that the LORD provides in government. The laws and enforcers of such wield the sword of justice (ROM 13:4) and are “a terror” to those who do evil.
There is no law breaker who sees those flashing red and blue lights in his rear view mirror that doesn’t have their heart skip a beat or two!

Then there are those powers ordained of GOD which are in fact evil – the Roman Empire with its plethora of pagan pantheon, preceding nations that routinely sacrificed their babies to false deities. The Nazi regime and its slaughter of 6 million Jews and millions of others besides.
I must make this clear however; just because these powers were ordained of GOD, this does not mean He approves of their actions.

A President may appoint a member to his cabinet, but that member may go on and do things that the President disapproves of and is then dismissed.
GOD’s dismissal of ancient pagan cultures, the Roman Empire, Nazi Germany is evident. In the case of Nazi Germany, it was the actions of Hitler and the atrocities committed in his nation (and elsewhere in Europe) that brought about global sympathy for the Jews which led to a fulfillment of prophecy: the regathering of the nation of Israel on May 14th, 1948 (ISAIAH 11:11)!

It’s vitally important as Christians that we not speak evil of our leaders, but rather focus on their words, policies and deeds as being reprehensible and ungodly; let us be mindful of respecting the position of authority if we can’t respect the person in authority, even as Paul the apostle did, quoting this verse in Exodus (ACTS 23:5).

EXODUS 22:29
29 You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. 30 Likewise you shall do with your oxen and your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me
.

The first fruits, the first born were to be dedicated to the LORD; He is the Creator and thus the Owner of all things. He would be well within His right to claim everything, but He limits Himself to only the first of these things. By offering to Him our first, we recognize and give thanks for His provisions, and as the first – being the best, we express our hearts to give unto the LORD the finest that we have, out of a love and devotion to Him!

The LORD brought for the firstfruits of salvation when He raised His Son from the dead (1 COR 15:20), and He is the first of the harvest – the resurrected/raptured church of His saints, to the glory of GOD our Father (1 COR 15:23)!

GOD is looking for firstfruits in our lives, that is, the fruit of the Spirit, which we offer up to the LORD in honoring Him. He is indeed honored when He sees the likeness of His dear Son in our hearts and lives (ROM 8:23).

Being the sacrifice of eight days, is a foreshadowing of something new (eight being the number of new beginnings just as seven is the number of completion or perfection); 
GALATIANS 4:4-6
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"
Sacrifices and offerings under the Old Testament (HEB 10:8) could never regenerate old hearts (TITUS 3:5) and transform souls to become children of GOD (JOHN 1:12) in the sense that is under the New Testament (MATT 26:28). Of course the Old Testament saints were saved by faith, just as we are (ROM 4:16). But the new covenant is based on better promises, that has brought about salvation through Christ (HEB 8:6-10), the regeneration and new birth into the kingdom of GOD!

EXODUS 22:31
31 And you shall be holy men to Me: you shall not eat meat torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs
.

Sacrifices are to be offered up by holy priests, not slain by beasts. In today’s world, we have so-called ministers (who are the transformed agents of Satan; 2 COR 11:13-15) who are actually “brute beasts” (JUDE 1:10-12) who are unholy – and the idea of them even ministering in the church of Jesus Christ is an abomination. Such places of ministry is reserved for the holy people (1 PET 2:9), and among them, those appointed to lead the body of Christ (EPH 4:11-12).

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