Can you imagine living in a World that everything and everyone naturally did what was good or right. Heaven on Earth, right. As I read this chapter I am astonished how God is so detailed. He really wants the Israelites to have the best life on this world. A life a that is totally connected with the King of the Universe. Of course, we have to remember that these people are starting from scratch, 400 years as slave in a pagan country. If it was me I would be carrying a lot of baggage. But God was there to help them be changed. Sound like our story God will help us to be change, after all these years of slavery to a separation with God. Let’s see what principles from this 21st century BC (probably) can we apply to our 21st century AD.
23 “You shall not bear a false report; do not join your hand with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. 2 You shall not follow [a]the masses in doing evil, nor shall you [b]testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after [c]a multitude in order to pervert justice; 3 nor shall you [d]be partial to a poor man in his dispute.
4 “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him. 5 If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release it with him.
6 “You shall not pervert the justice due to your needy brother in his dispute. 7 Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent or the righteous, for I will not acquit the guilty.
8 “You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and [e]subverts the cause of the just.
9 “You shall not oppress a [f]stranger, since you yourselves know the [g]feelings of a [h]stranger, for you also were [i]strangers in the land of Egypt.
The Sabbath and Land
10 “You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, 11 but on the seventh year you shall let it [j]rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.
12 “Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as [k]your stranger, may refresh themselves. 13 Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let them be heard [l]from your mouth.
Three National Feasts
14 “Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. 15 You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And [m]none shall appear before Me empty-handed. 16 Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field. 17 Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord [n]God.
18 “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor is the fat of My [o]feast to remain overnight until morning.
19 “You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God.
“You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of its mother.
Conquest of the Land
20 “Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. 21 Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him. 22 But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. 23 For My angel will go before you and bring you in to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them. 24 You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces. 25 But you shall serve the Lord your God, [p]and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst. 26 There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. 27 I will send My terror ahead of you, and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28 I will send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you. 29 I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. 30 I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land. 31 I will fix your boundary from the [q]Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you. 32 You shall [r]make no covenant with them or with their gods. 33 They shall not live in your land, because they will make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”
As I read this chapter I seem to break it down into 3 sections.
- Verses 1-9. God has a sense of equality or justice running thru these verses. Is that important for us today? To deal with with everyone with Justice. There would not be any needs of lawyers, of laws to protect workers, or union strikes that would break the twinky company. How is possible to love our neighbor if we do not practice justice? Remember, love is the fulfillment of the law. What I love about this section is verse 2. God does not want to us to be a follower just because. But He wants us each to have a voice and opinion. WOW!!!!!! Did you get that? God wants you and me to have an OPINION. Alright think about it like this. There is a group of four, and you want to decide if a person is guilty of a crime and the first 3 say guilty and now it comes to you to make your decision. God says just because they said guilty does not mean that it is guilty if you feel different then say it. Or if the person is guilty have your own opinion and do not just go with the flow. WOW!!!
Verses 10-19. This section I see the worship of God as the main point. First with Sabbath year for the fields. WOW can you imagine that happening now? But what was the purpose, was it possible? Yes, not only because God said it. Today I met a friend that lives in the country. Young guy in his 30 and physical therapist. He and his family can several things from their garden. Peaches, pears, tomato, apple sauce, ummmm. It was delicious. So think about this way when they can it, it is good for three years. So if the israelites would obey God, God would bless them. They would have a lot of food they could preserve it and not starve. So it was possible. But for who was this law for? This was especially for the poor because whatever was not harvested was free game and for the land not to be overused. So God was thinking about the poor. Second this passage is connected to the Sabbath and the festival. That all pointed to Jesus. What would the Israelites do with all this new free time. Well, that was intended to be a Spiritual year. Were the people could sit down learn about God, hear the scripture…I also like that God did not expect them to come to Him with empty hands.
verses 20-33. This last part I see the promises of blessings if we follow God. Here is the last verses on this covenant that God is making with the Israelites. Some scholars think that the Angel that God talks about here is none other than Jesus. First, because the word use her is Mal’ak, which means Angel or Messenger. It refers to the Angel of the Covenant Mal 3:1, which is Christ, not that Jesus is angel but the Jesus is that ultimate Messenger from God. “Christ was ever the Messenger of God to Israel (PP 366), and as such conveyed to them a knowledge of the character, will, and mercy of God (Gen. 22:1, 10–12; Ex. 32:34; Isa. 63:7–9; Mal. 3:1; John 8:56–58; 1 Tim. 2:5)” *
Second because in verse 21 God say that His name would be in Him. “Here the first person of the Godhead, the Father, speaks of the second person of the Godhead, His Son. This statement implies that the “Angel” bearing God’s name is coequal with God Himself (see John 1:1-3, 14; Col. 1:13–19; Heb. 1:8).” *
More importantly here are the rewards and consequences for following God or not. One of the promise (vs 25) is that God would provide bread, water, and keep us from getting sick. What more can we ask? I cant ask for more because these were good enough for Jesus, so it is good enough for me. Friends lets follow God and keep His covenant with us, that we may have some peace in this world, a little piece of Heaven in this World, and in our hearts.
*all added notes from the Seventh Day Adventist Commentaries.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.