We start off this week by reading Exodus 23:1-19
v1: All of these are commandments – they’re not suggestions or options but are G-d-given mandates for those who claim to be His people.
· A false report/testimony is not based upon truth. It’s deceptive and perverts justice.
· Don’t be associated with an individual who takes delight in the suffering of others.
v2: When we are committed to justice and to the will of G-d we put ourselves in the minority.
· Don’t answer concerning a conflict in order to distort it, twist it or cause it to move in a way that the majority want. Standing up for truth is often lonely business.
v3: Just because someone is poor doesn’t mean that we can twist judgment in his favour. Someone can be poor and still be wicked – in which case he would also need to be punished by the law.
v4 -5: One of our principles should always be “Do unto others as you would want done unto you.” We need to be a people that always show justice. Do the right thing. We don’t show favouritism to the poor and nor should we show contempt for our enemies.
· Help the donkey with its burden – lighten its load so that it is able to get up. Take pressure off people – even off your enemies. This is behaviour that pleases the L-rd.
v6: This is the exact opposite of verse 3. If someone is poor don’t allow your judgement to go against him in favour of someone wealthier than him. Judgement needs to be fair and not based on the economic conditions of others.
v7: Don’t associate with anything false. Stand up for truth. The killing of the innocent and the righteous all stems from someone who violated the first part of this principle – they did not stay away from that which is false.
· I will not justify the wicked – this is a very important principle for salvation.
v8: Bribes come in a variety of different forms. When we do things based upon what we think is best for us, rather than what G-d says is a right thing to do, we are going to have our perspective distorted.
v9: The word “heart” here refers to the essence (feelings etc) of a person.
v10-11: There are four usages for the word Sabbath.
1. Every seventh year is a Sabbath year -a year of resting the land (as seen in this verse)
2. The Sabbath day ie the 7th day of the week that is a day of rest.
3. A festival day -also called a high Sabbath (eg first and last day of Unleavened bread)
4. The Jubilee or 50th year (7 cycles of 49 years lead to a year of rest)
· In that 7th year there would be a natural growth in the field, but the farmer wasn’t allowed to harvest that produce. Instead, this produce would go to the poor or to the animals.
v12: Rest brings refreshment, a reenergising – produces a physical change for the good in peoples and animals bodies.
v13: As believers we don’t affirm other religions like Islam, Buddhism etc. When we embrace and participate in other religions (for the sake of “unity”) we are going against the Word of G-d.
v14 and v17: These next three feasts are primary, pilgrimage (people went to Jerusalem to celebrate them) festivals – Feast of Unleavened bread (Passover), Shavuot (First Fruits) or Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). These three festivals have great significance for understanding the person and work of Yeshua.
v15: None shall appear before Me empty – Don’t come before the L-rd without an offering.
v16: Feast of Ingathering – ie Feast of Tabernacles which was celebrated at the end of the (Jewish) year.
v18: This command was primarily in regard to the Passover sacrifice. The fat remaining until morning was seen as a sign of carelessness and was disrespectful to G-d.
v19: Judaism places a lot of emphasis on this verse. It forms the basis for the separation between meat and dairy (eating kosher). Mother’s milk was given in order to sustain or give life to this young lamb etc. What G-d supplied for life people turned into an instrument for death – the exact opposite of G-d’s desire (shook their fists at G-d, so to speak). The spirit of antichrist is at play here (This same spirit is seen in the transgender movement today -an act of rebellion against G-d’s created order)