In chapter 23, Moses explains the laws of justice and mercy, sets Sabbath laws and explains how God sent an angle to bring them to the place in which he has prepared.. We finish things off in chapter 24 by the confirmation of this covenantThere are a lot of meat and potatoes in these two chapters, so let's get to it. We start off in Exodus 23 with the laws of justice and mercy. These laws are just as important today as they were back then. If were deny justice to anyone then we are no better than those who committed the crime. We are also told that we must be impartial to who receives it. Often, we associate the twisting of justice in favor of the rich, but here we are told that we must also not influence it in favor of the poor as well. We cannot give into the demands of what the public wants. Just because the opinions of a crowd may all be one way does make it the right way. In shifting from justice to mercy we are instructed to help our enemies when they are struggling. That is something that is really hard to grasp because I think deep down we want to see those that hate us struggle. It’s a tough pill to swallow helping those that we know won't help us but that’s what Jesus would still do. As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey.
The last part of this short section stuck out to me because we have seen this take place in the United States over the last few years with the large flow of refugees coming in. Verse 9 "Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt'. Yikes. Every time I start to feel any negative emotion towards foreigners I have to put myself in their position and ask 'how would I feel right now if this were me'? The answer to that would be scared and confused. I do not want anyone to feel that way when they are around me and anyone who claims to be a Christian should be the same way.
The Israelite's were told to pay attention to an angle sent by God and listen to what he says and not to rebel against him. They were brought into a land where other gods and idols were worshiped. Today we are also around those who worship false idols and it is very tempting to give in to those things of the world. We cannot conform to these standards and idols that are not of God. God's word should dictate how we live.
"28I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you". The Israelite's have to constantly be in obedience to God in order for the things he has promised to happen. If it were all just given to them in one go then what would they have learned or earned? Like the Philadelphia '76ers, you gotta trust the process.
All of chapter 24 is the ratification ceremony of this covenant God had created with the Israelite's. This was done by the sacrificing of an animal because God deemed sin worthy of death. Instead of the Israelite's killing one another, God allowed animal substitutes for the sinner. This was changed though with the death of Jesus. It is hard to describe how it makes me feel when I think about what Jesus did for me on that cross. Seeing what had to be done back then in order to be forgiven of sin really does make one appreciate what was done by Jesus and becoming that perfect sacrifice.
Everyday we are presented with opportunities to show mercy and seeing justice be fulfilled.They might not be these big grandiose moments but that should not take away from what needs to be done. Be kind to your neighbor and even the ones who hate you. The biggest step we can take from here though is to not take for granted what was done by Jesus for us and dive deeper into our relationship with God.
Author | Sam Carroll