Thoughts on a “Brush Over” Passage

Typically, Exodus 22 is not one of those chapters that you take the time to . . . think through.  And this is poor on many of our accounts.  Recent time spent translating the text caused me to slow down and deal with what was in the chapter.  Here are some thoughts, oxen, donkeys, and all:

Three simpletons:

God is concerned with reconciliation man to man.

God is concerned with justice.

God desires for man to love his neighbor.

Four More:

The love in this chapter prescribed for man implies the seedbed of that love, contextually (think Exodus 20 and the Ten Commandments), the love of God.  Indeed, every act of reconciliation, every act of love and compassion by man in this chapter is grounded in the expectation, nature, character, and redemption of God.  Thus, because He redeemed them out of Egypt, they are to deal kindly with sojourners; because God is compassionate, they are to be compassionate to the widow and the orphan, that pure and undefiled religion; because God is just, we are to deal justly with one another; because God is wrathful, we should fear Him by providing for those who do not have instead of taking for ourselves from the poor so that he has none.

This chapter teaches that God is intimately involved in the contingencies of human life.  Those things that we think about that make us anxious, He looks at with prescriptions, healing words, and the comfort of His concern and sovereign involvement in the intricacies of human affairs.  There is a straight link to the apostle James here, where it is written that we should cast all of our anxieties upon Him precisely because He cares for us.  This Mosaic text reveals the same truth.  God cares for human beings.  God cares for those intricacies, those contingencies of human life that tend to be the very things that we fret over.  And because He is involved in them, and knows them, indeed, prescribes them and gives the balm and answer to them, we can simply cast our cares upon Him and trust that He knows how to spin all things for the good of His children who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Moreover, Christ fulfilled every point of the law prescribed in this chapter by God.  Jesus Christ accomplished every expectation that God had of humanity and their dealings with one another.  He fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law.  He loved sinlessly.  And those who have believed upon Him, and have received His righteousness as their own – a gift from this God – are now free to do what this law prescribes without the fear of condemnation; rather, they are freed to do what this law prescribes with the fullness of joy and liberation because of the knowledge of complete acceptance with God on the basis of Christ’s person and work.

Therefore, God, help us to love other people.  Help us to love our neighbor – to care for the widow and the fatherless child; to meet the needs of the homeless and the impoverished; to engage in honest transactions of business; to work hard and not steal; to make restitution where restitution is needed; to go and tell others of the freeing news of God in Jesus Christ which is the basis of any hope for such a life as this; this will not be accomplished by moral reformation, and it is not mere moral reformation.  Doing these things apart from faith in Christ will leave the laborer woefully short, in infinite debt to be everlastingly paid off in hell – I say this harshly, for the reality is, again, that apart from faith in Christ, the ideal of God in this chapter cannot and will not be met.  In fact, both by Scripture and observation, humanity’s dealings with one another on both small and large scales are quite the opposite from the heart of God in this chapter.  This is the outworking of the love of God, produced by the work of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whereby God makes God lovers, and thus, people lovers. So this outworking has a horizontal reach.

At least there is food for further thought!

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