Using Things and Loving People–Exodus 22

God continues His discussion on the framework for His chosen people. Today’s topic—“stuff.” God did not free a bunch of thieves.  He believed and believes in the private ownership of property and that people that work hard and build a life should be able to enjoy the wealth they have accumulated in peace. But, God saw a huge distinction in the preservation of life and the preservation of property.  God made clear—if you wrongfully acquire or destroy the property of others—you will restore that property and pay double, triple and up to five times its value in restitution.  God’s plan was to take away the benefit of wrongfully acquiring wealth—but, still, not to raise wealth to the same level as the value of life.

The main premise is simple, As a people–God wanted his people to use things and love people. If they valued life and people over the stuff they acquired then they would have the same perspective that God has.  Face it, God created the most amazing planet filled with beauty, wonders and all forms of life.  He shares that beauty he created without concern or reservation.  But, as a people, humans often lose the perspective and grow to love things and use people.  The result is that people’s love for stuff has caused them to devalue life.  That switch caused people to hoard and steal to the point of total chaos and anarchy.  Even in this information age, we have valued our information over our very lives.  Once again, God calls us to be different.  If we focus on loving God and people, he will make sure we are provided for and protected. More importantly, in the midst of chaos—we will experience peace that passes human understanding.  You simply cannot put a price-tag on that!

God Bless You

 

Whoever steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.

“If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed.

“Anyone who steals must certainly make restitution, but if they have nothing, they must be sold to pay for their theft. If the stolen animal is found alive in their possession—whether ox or donkey or sheep—they must pay back double.

“If anyone grazes their livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in someone else’s field, the offender must make restitution from the best of their own field or vineyard.

“If a fire breaks out and spreads into thornbushes so that it burns shocks of grain or standing grain or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution.

Personal Responsibility–Exodus 21continued

Even from the beginning, God knew that their were some things that simply had to be dealt with. Killing was never OK. If you killed someone without cause or schemed to do so—you too had to die.  With that the death was avenged and the killer would not do it again.

It is more interesting to see that the way one treated their parents was as serious. Death followed if you attacked or cursed your parents…while it seems harsh, If ne was unable to respect the ones that gave him life and sacrificed to raise and prepare them to be adults, odds were they would never respect any authority or even God.

In our culture, we do not stress the notion of personal responsibility, anymore. Our children are allowed to be disrespectful to parents, teachers, and other authorities with little or no consequence.  As a result, we have a nation of adults that have carried the disrespect for elders and authority into an adult world.  Treatment of senior parents, disregard for employers and their requirements, hate of law enforcement all are fruit of a lack of respect for initial authority.

We must be different. We need to honor our parents and all authority.  Our children should be raised to be respectful and act in line with the authority placed over them.  God knew failure to do that would end in chaos—Look at our nation, He was absolutely right!

God Bless You

“Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death. 13 However, if it is not done intentionally, but God lets it happen, they are to flee to a place I will designate. 14 But if anyone schemes and kills someone deliberately, that person is to be taken from my altar and put to death.

15 “Anyone who attacks[c] their father or mother is to be put to death.

16 “Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession.

17 “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death

Bond Servants–The New Free–Exodus 21

God intended for his people to be free. Once the exodus from Egypt occurred, God set out the law.  After the law was set out, God had some other issues for his people.  He wanted them to remember not to make idols, not to build alters that make the alter the object of worship. He also wanted to make sure that when his people were enslaved that the hope of freedom always loomed.

God set a term of 6 years for enslaving one of his chosen. On the seventh year, a slave was feed as if he had never been enslaved.  If he was married when he was enslaved, he and his wife would be free.  If he married after–only he could be freed.  If he loved his master and wanted to stay with him or with his family he could become a bond servant.  As a bond servant, he would be committed as a slave for life, but, it would be as a family honor and treasure, not simply as a slave.  The idea was that he would live free even as a slave.

The irony is that is what we become as “all-in” servants of God. We make a commitment to submit to him as Lord of our lives and he accepts us forever as family and treasure.  The commitment becomes two way and lasts forever.  The great news for us is– as bond servants to God the father, we receive the right to become children of God. ( John 1:12).  In our submission to God, he frees us to be joint heirs with Christ.  There is no better relationship for us as bondservants; and, there is no better picture of faith than the freeman that chooses to submit to a loving Lord and master!

God Bless You

“If you buy a Hebrew slave, he may serve for no more than six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave, he shall leave single. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife must be freed with him.

“If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave and they had sons or daughters, then only the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I don’t want to go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God.[a] Then his master must take him to the door or doorpost and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will serve his master for life.

The Ten Commandments–Final Thoughts Exodus 20 Continued

God set out to accomplish three things when he spoke to the children of Israel. He wanted to gain their reverence, bolster their leader and provide some framework for them to do life.  At the close of the discussion, God clearly accomplished his goal.  The people clearly feared God.  It was a fear that caused them to desire Moses to be an intermediary for them to God.  Moses as their leader was also a Levitical priest, so it worked nicely.  They had no doubt about God’s power and authority, they had no doubt Moses was their leader and they were now clear on the parameters necessary for them to live together as they followed him to the promised land—Mission accomplished!

Many times we simply do not understand God’s mission in our lives. Because He loves us as a father, and treats us with grace and patience, we lose sight of his power and authority.  We treat him like an internet shopping site or a blame repository. The truth is, He is God—the creator.  He is all powerful, all knowledgeable, in all places and times at once.  He has seen it all and heard every line we have tried.  Still, first and foremost, He loves us and wants to be in relationship with us.  But, we need to understand who He is and treat Him with reverence and trust, following where he leads. While it is simple, it is no way an easy task.  It requires a selfless faith and a desire to be like him. To have that desire, we must take the time to get know him through prayer, study and fellowship with other believers.

Help me Lord to know you more, and to follow you today and each day hereafter!

God Bless You

When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.

19 And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!”

20 “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!”

21 As the people stood in the distance, Moses approached the dark cloud where God was.

The 10 Commandments Continued–Exodus 20

The last four commandments address how we treat others and their possessions. Adultery, lies, theft and covetousness all deal with man’s inability to be content with what he has, and his selfish nature. Both lead him to believe others lives are there for his taking. God knew that his people would be in close proximity for a very long time, and as that continued, it would become easier to compare what others had and start coveting, then lying, cheating and stealing. The result—total chaos and anarchy.  He wanted them to be content in their current circumstance.  He knew that until they were content in current state—they could never be content in any state.

Nothing has changed. God knows that we must be content in our journey.  Until then, everyone else’s journey seems brighter and better.  All at once, others homes, families, jobs and possessions become the focus of our lives and not God.  The result—total anarchy and chaos—code name: America 2015. Then and now, we, as his chosen, must model the selfless and contented life.  With a Christ centered focus, we could be the start of a revival that would change the nation. Help me, Lord to follow you on the journey you have laid out for me.

God Bless You

Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You must not murder.

14 “You must not commit adultery.

15 “You must not steal.

16 “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.

17 “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”

18 When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.

19 And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!”

20 “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!”

21 As the people stood in the distance, Moses approached the dark cloud where God was.

The Greatest Commands–The Ten Commandments continued

God was not trying to make things difficult when he laid out the 10 commandments. He simply loved his people and wanted to set the parameters for their daily lives.  It was simple, Love God with all that you are—your heart, your mind and your spirit.  Then allow that selfless devotion to pour over into the way you love and treat others—Love them as you love yourself. 

Jesus reiterated that very construct to the teachers of the law–hundreds of years later; as they tried to somehow trip him up with crafty questions. Funny, they were the experts in the law’s interpretation, and yet, they were unable to implement its very core principles.

There is only one thing worse than not knowing the way to live. It is knowing how to live and simply choosing to ignore it. That is why God gave us the law—not because we did not know how to live, but because we simply chose to do otherwise.  The irony is that as we follow these principles–we are blessed and free.  Our selflessness acts as the catalyst by which we are protected, provided for and prepared for an eternity with him.  Solomon said it best—“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.  Acknowledge him in all your ways and he will make your paths straight!” Proverbs 3:5-6

God Bless You

 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

All Lives Matter–The 10 Commandments continued

The second set of commandments focused upon how people are to treat each other. 1st on that list was that one should not intentionally kill another, no murders.  Clearly, the command did not mean that in all circumstances taking a life was forbidden.  Self defense, war, “crime and punishment” and self-preservation were all circumstances that could justify the taking of another life. But, God wanted to make clear that all lives were valuable and to take a life was not acceptable in most cases. When one takes the starting premise that the two laws were to Love God and Love others, then the value of others lives become obvious.

In our culture, it has become both shameful and preposterous that we value the lives of all non-human things above the lives of each other. We literally threaten the lives of people because they kill a pet. We think nothing of killing babies, but stop a communities economy to preserve a snail darter?!!! As a society and a church, we have to realize that the value of human life is immeasurable.  From womb to tomb we need to treat each other with much greater care than we do our possessions and our pets. Please note that the possessions and pets are valuable, but simply no where nearly as valuable as our family, friends, authorities and armed forces.

All Lives matter—Especially to the one that created them.

God Bless You

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”