Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Do Right by thy Neighbor Exodus 22

Exodus 22 26-27 "If thou at all take thy neighbor's raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down: For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious."

Here is a list of everyday "do rights" . It would seem that much of it could have gone without saying as they cover just plain acting right toward others. But having lived a long time, I can see that people tend to do the wrong until there is a penalty to redirect them. Even then, some people will still do what they can get away with.

Our society seems bent on breaking every commandment in the Bible. It seems to be the attitude that if enough people do wrong that it somehow makes it right. Not so.

A couple of verses jumped out at me. Verse 16 "And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife." Now, for the most part that one has been thrown out the window but it is still right. It is a way to right a wrong.

Verse 21 "Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." There was an old song about a stranger. It said of a young man that he was someones son. A person may be a stranger to us but somewhere they are known and not a stranger.

Verse 22-24 "Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry. And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. A very strict punishment for a very low action.

Psalm 34:13 "Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Exodus 21 "Day to Day Laws"

Exodus 21:1 "Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them."

It would have been difficult for Moses or any judge to come up with fair settlements between people without some guideline. With these guidelines, they did not have to 'think up' the proper path but had only to know the law as God had given it. As in our day, the judge had some leeway here and there but mostly he just had to know the law and dispense judgement accordingly.

I admit, as I study, I get bogged down in some of these chapters. There is one passage that stands out to me. It deals with being a welling servant.

Exodus 21:5-6 "And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him forever."

There were specific guidelines for a servant to be set free. He might be purchased and serve for six years but on the seventh he was to go free. In this case, the master has given him a wife and they have children, but the rule is he can be set free but since his wife was a gift and the children are a product of that gift, they belong to the master. The servant is free to leave but his wife and children must stay. So, because he loves his master and his family the servant, due to be freed willingly becomes a servant for life.

Exodus 21:3 "If he came in my himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him."

It is near impossible for us, in this modern age, to get a handle on the servant and master relationship of the early Bible days. Any thoughts we have are clouded by the cruel slavery days of years past. Servants were treated much different in early Bible days. They were trusted members of the household and had lives of their own and rights under the law. If I had to make a comparison, I would think their situation was more comfortable than many modern free people who must work in a plant for people who could care less about their well-being. People who work very hard but never make enough to accumulate any kind of wealth.

In our verse, it is better for the man to become a servant than to be free. He has all the wealth of his master's house and his family is taken care of by the same laws. He can be free with nothing or stay with the master and have everything. He is more free in his master's house than he would be 'out on his own' . Out on his own, he would have to work for someone, provide a place to live, food and protection for himself. And he would be alone. In the master's house he is protected, fed, sheltered and loved by his family. The only hang up is he must serve the master. But wait, he loves the master, so if you love someone, serving them is a token of love. Does a mother consider changing a baby or feeding it a burden? No. She loves the child even though she is a servant to its every cry. Does a man or woman consider it a burden to work and feed her family? He or she may get tired but the joy of being able to provide for them takes away the burden and replaces it with joy over their comfort.

As we serve the Lord willingly, are we being treated badly because we are asked to keep the house clean or tell another of the joy of having a master who talks of himself as our brother and shares his endless kingdom with us. He could just give us the kingdom to do with as we see fit, but what if we squandered it as did the prodigal son and there was nothing left. No. It is better that He keep the kingdom with all his wisdom for He is able to preserve it for our joy.

Psalm 27:4-5 "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion; in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock."