Exodus 23 Commentary
The laws on social justice continue. Many see the law in terms of ‘donts’ but there are sections where the ‘dos’ appear quite prominently. We are commanded for example, to return a lost animal back to its owner.
The laws regarding the Sabbath reveal something interesting. Sabbath is a concept and not necessarily a day. So we have the seventh year being observed as a Sabbath. It is for a piece of land to rest. The usual seventh day rest is meant to refresh slaves and foreigners. Both the animals and the workers must be rested so that they can be refreshed. Physical rest is implied.
Don’t follow the crowd in doing wrong. This verse has importance for our day. The world puts pressure on the saint to behave and act in a certain way – a way that isn’t godly. The list is long: spending patterns, our dressing, our language, our properties (phones, cars, household goods). All these are affected by the crowd. They may appear innocent but the objectives of the world (crowd) is pride, selfishness, greediness…best described as desires of the flesh. Don’t follow the crowd in wrong doing.
Verse 13 has implications for our day. To invoke other gods means to make them a factor verbally. It’s easy to blame a pagan farmer who invokes a god of rain before planting season, but what about a man who sings about the potency of a drug before taking it! Or a man who smuggles his way to the cockpit just to say thanks to the pilot for safe landing. Gratitude? Yes. But the absence of God is worrying. The reluctance with which we approach the Throne of Grace is worrying. Apathy. Struggled. Forced. It takes us back to these pages. Is it our intelligence and hard work, or it’s the hand of the LORD? We have a lot of small gods around us and we are constantly invoking their names. God forbid, according to this chapter!
Three times men are to appear before the LORD. It’s a scandal that we have more women in our churches.
Verses 20-33 are unique. The LORD promises His very presence. The blue print for the occupation of Canaan is laid down. The LORD will accomplish it for them. They must destroy evil and not make friends with it. Canaanites represent evil and must be destroyed. Here is good reason why we shouldn’t keep bad company. We need to keep away. We need to be separate. Holiness involves physical separation.
Many groupings are operating today under different names and objectives. Some of these may have the problem of being evil. Keep away physically.
Note: Some social groupings be it for fundraising or just social interaction are evil and saints are warned to stay away. They may look attractive but these are not meant for saints. Some have lost money or made even poorer in the process because these groups are not meant for them. The saint is strongly encouraged to seek the face of God before joining any of these groupings. Testimonies of profits alone isn’t good reason enough. Seek the face of the LORD.
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