We are continuing with more ordinances that extend beyond the Ten Commandments. Many commentators believe that these are not just a list of picky laws but "case studies" of God's principles in action. The objectives were (1) to protect the nation, (2) to organize the nation, and (3) to focus the nation's attention on God.
Here is a brief overview:
22:1-4 contains ordinances concerned with the theft of animals that expand upon the eighth commandment (20:15).
22:5-6 contains ordinances concerned with property damage.
22:7-13 contains ordinances concerned with safekeeping. Since there were no banks in the ancient Near East, neighbors were sometimes given personal property for safekeeping. These laws were set up in case there were problems.
22:14-15 contains ordinances concerning borrowing.
22:16-17 contains ordinances concerning sexual seduction and expanded upon the seventh commandment (20:14). A daughter was considered personal property. The loss of her virginity reduced her monetary value. So, the father had to be compensated. This custom is still followed today in parts of the Middle East. You might find it interesting that in Malaysia, where we lived for two years, the bride pays! We will learn later in Scripture that if a girl was seduced who was betrothed, she and the man were both stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:23-24).
22:18-20 contains ordinances concerning idolatrous practices. All three of the the things mentioned: sorcery, bestiality, and sacrifices to other gods were all practiced in that time. Bestiality is described in many ancient myths and epics. It was common in Canaanite Baal worship (Leviticus 18:23-24).
22:21-27 contains ordinances concerning the care of the needy because God is compassionate (21:27).
22:28-31 contains ordinances concerning reverence for God and rulers. They were to honor God with their first-fruits and firstborn.
I hope your eyes are not glazing over, and you are still hanging in there with these various laws! I read something this morning that brought these laws to a more practical level:
What does the Bible have to say about television? How about Sunday football? Where would you turn in your bible to find daycare centers discussed? Or movies? Or smoking? What about birth control? Or rock music? Or recreation vehicles? Or horoscopes?
If you go to your Bible expecting a detailed answer for every situation you encounter today, you will come away disappointed and discouraged. Even the seemingly exhaustive regulations of chapters 20-23 leave much unsaid. But where God has seen fit not to provide particulars (either in Moses' day or in yours), He has supplied principles that help you to determine His mind in every situation. His Word, though ancient, is always relevant.
Expedients are for the hour;
principles, for the ages.
(The Daily Walk, January 2008)APPLICATION
What are the "principles for the ages"? What are your convictions about various subjects based on those principles? What are some of your questions about life and conduct that might not be specifically answered in the Bible? Can you draw principles from your reading of Exodus 20-23 that will help you in making decisions in how you will live out your walk of faith?
Lord, help us to walk by faith in You. Help us to learn precept upon precept and line upon line Your Word so that our hearts and minds are so saturated with it that Your principles come out of our every pore. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.