Lent 2018: See the Lord's Salvation: Day 17

Moses Receives Additional Laws


Today's Text: Exodus 20:22-26, Exodus 21:1-36, Isaiah 44:6, Matthew 22:36-40

Exodus 20:22-26, Exodus 21:1-36, Isaiah 44:6, Matthew 22:36-40

I know every word of the Bible is inspired. I know it’s all useful for teaching and righteousness, but what is happening in this passage?! These rules don’t make any sense, and they make me mad. Did you read the one making provision for what to do if you hit your slave and knock her down?  If she can get up after two days, it’s no problem, because she is your property?! (Exodus 21:21). Are you kidding me? I feel like I don’t even know where to start.

But I think that’s exactly how I can get a sense for the justice in these laws—they are a start, a beginning. In Exodus, God’s people had just escaped the unbearable cruelty of their Egyptian masters. So, for them, a start was to begin by treating each other with more justice and mercy than they had received at the hands of the Egyptians—to give an individual human life value.

In Egypt, they were beaten with no recourse and no accountability. Contrast this lawless and brutal reality with the orderliness of the laws in Exodus. Under these new laws, there were consequences for loss of life and destruction of property. And these laws introduced the basic “a life for a life” concept, which was the cornerstone of ancient justice.

It’s tempting for my personal sense of justice to be the primary lens through which I read these rules. But God is just and merciful, and abounding in loving kindness (Psalm 103:8). So while it’s hard for me to understand why these laws don’t fit my idea of perfect justice, it helps me to look at what Jesus said to His friends about the law.

When Jesus’ disciples tried to interpret the law—to distill all the rules into one basic idea—they asked Him, “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” Jesus responded with this simple, beautiful, and uniting command, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands” (Matthew 22:36-40).

And, though these ancient civil laws of Israel may strike us as strange and even upsetting, we can see that the center of them was this: Love the Lord your God. Love your neighbor.

But there’s more—because it’s totally unsatisfying to look at a passage like this and think, I don’t get it, but I’ll just accept it and ignore the difficulties. God isn’t afraid of our questions, our doubts, or even our objections. However, He is quite interested in transforming us. This means that we don’t get to brush this stuff away. Instead we are called to dig in, to seek to understand.

The beginning of this understanding, however, doesn’t come to us by leaning on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Rather, we approach the difficulties remembering what we know: God is holy, just, merciful, and He is love (1 John 4:8). Yes, He is more loving than we are, and His laws for ancient Israel come from that love. When we make gods of gold for ourselves—or even gods of our own intellect, opinion, and understanding—we miss the mark. The law and God’s grace both exist for the same reason: to save us and to teach us to love the Lord. Begin there.


  • Lindsey Bailey

    I love how Rebecca put these passages into perspective. They are hard to read. They make me angry. And I have so many questions. But, she really helped make more sense of it all.

  • Lilly Dyer

    This is so hard for me, and one of my biggest stumbling for my faith. How can God allow fathers to sell daughters as concubines and say it’s okay to buy and sell people like cattle? I’m just confused, l understand needing to show the Israelites what order and justice look like, but why was it okay for these things to continue? Why not end slavery right then and there?

  • Brittany Couch

    The law and God’s grace exist for the same reason: to save us and teach us to love the Lord. Begin there! Love this do much… start there.

  • Lisa Hamilton

    Thank you for pointing me back to truth, context, and God’s heart in this passage. I too struggled!

  • I had the exact same feelings you described your first paragraph when I read the various laws in Exodus. I have read these before and always seem to have the same reaction. It reminds me of what our minister says every week, “context before content,” and I see how this is so true when reading God’s word! It was so helpful to see how you looked at this with a totally different perspective once you applied the context to it. Thank you God for helping me to understand your truths through the writings of others and for the gentle reminder that you don’t want me to brush off the things I don’t agree with or understand, you want me to question and dig deeper to know you more. Thank you for this study today!

  • I am a few days behind – but what was most interesting to me was to learn that 30 shekels was the price Jesus Christ was betrayed for – the price of a slave (v. 32). We may as humans not understand these laws and think them harsh. Yet Jesus the Son of God was treated very unjustly – to be the sacrifice for all to have salvation- all who believe on His name. Praise Jesus!

    • Allison Joy

      I noticed that too, and thought it was interesting! And very interesting, also, that Jesus himself called Himself a servant.

  • Chrissy E

    I am so glad to come back here and read that the author of The devotional for Wednesday felt the same way I did when I read these passages. It made me mad, too! But reading my notes for my prayer, God reminded me of His love I love so great that He sent Jesus to die for us. Though I don’t quite understand why He gave rules like these, I know that because He IS love, there was basis of love here, and I know His intentions could only be good. I appreciate the author’s suggestion of these rules giving a “start” of order and some equality to these folks who had never experienced that themselves. Thank you for writing these daily posts! Though I don’t often make it here the day I read the daily passages in my SRT Bible study book, to come back here on grace day and clear up confusions like this one helps immensely.

    • DebRN

      I agree. I am so grateful that others will acknowledge their difficulty with Exodus 21. One of my fears as a young believer is that passages like this made me so fearful I thought it must mean I did not have the Holy Spirit in me teaching me and I would say the sinner’s prayer all over again. Yikes! I did not understand and who could I honestly share my reactions to? Can anyone else relate?

      • AmyQ

        Yes, DebRN. I can relate. And since I’ve been a believer for almost 20 years, I can say that there are things I still don’t understand….and many, many, many things He has revealed to me over time. To me, that is part of the joy of the journey – to have Him give me new insights. His Word is alive! Hebrews 4:12.
        P.S. Tell Satan to go away when you are doubting and praise Him for the things he has shown you so far.

  • Aw, lovely. I’ve been enjoying this series very much!
    Just wanted to point out one mistake: the author talks about Matthew 22:36 “When Jesus’ disciples tried to interpret the law”. However, the passage is clear that the Pharisees are questioning Jesus, not His disciples.

    • She Reads Truth

      Thanks so much for the feedback Maria, I’ll be sure to pass it along. -Margot, The SRT Team

  • Amanda Montgomery

    I love that the law is summed up in loving God and loving people, but the 2nd paragraph of the commentary has my eyebrows crinkled. Why would our ALMIGHTY God, give us “starter” laws? He’s God!! I don’t buy the info given… anyone have thoughts on this?

    • Heather

      I don’t think they were starter laws (and my 1st thought is being offended they are there at all). But The Israelites had been slaves for the past 400 years. Prior to being enslaved in Egypt, a person could sell themselves into slavery to pay off a debt. Now they’re free, but with almost no laws. So what do they do? They continue to treat each other as the Egyptians treated them. So God allows for slavery, but not like what we envision today. They couldn’t kidnap each other, they couldn’t force someone into slavery, however they could be born into it. Throughout history, people have enslaved their own people (look at Liberia’s history after our civil war). I think God is giving laws to help the heart of the matter. Humans have an evil sin nature. God says love me and all the other laws will be easy to follow, but because you don’t love me wholly, here are other rules to help you act justly.

    • Ola Ehirim

      I think the point was to meet the people where they were at. God understood these people were conditioned in the ways of Egyptian captivity living, and as such he was already proposing “radical ideas” that they did not have before (accountability for harm etc). I think He addressed and spoke to people in a time where slavery existed and was a part of their way of life and the way of life of many cultures at that time. These laws may seem like “starter” to us thousands of years later, but at the time they were unheard of. They reinforced what the scriptures say we should adhere to today, and that is to love God and love others.

  • Jenn Byham

    I appreciate the devo. This part in the story has never made sense to me. I’m high on justice and just the fact that they were allowed to own slaves makes my head spin! But I appreciate the challenge to wrestle and also to look at what was happening in this time period!

  • Michelle S

    Ladies, go read the devo on HeReadsTruth for this day. It is so very insightful. SRT, please partner with them on these difficult passages when they’ve done the context research. We ladies need the context too.

    • Cas

      Reading this devo alongside the He Reads Truth one was so helpful!! Thanks for the suggestion Michelle. I also struggle with passages like these about slavery, and having the additional context doesn’t just clear it up for me: debt-bondage is still slavery. This devo is a good reminder for me, though, not to look to my own opinions or intellect and brush this scripture aside, but to choose to remember who God is and wrestle with His word, especially when I naturally recoil from what I’m reading.

    • Sharon C

      Wow! so, so good. And having that context was excellent. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • She Reads Truth

      Thank you for the feedback Michelle and will be sure to pass it along! -Margot, The SRT Team

    • Lindsay Frasier

      Love that context It always helps!

  • Jessica McCreary

    Love is powerful! ❤️

  • Audrey Gonzalez

    Really appreciated this devo! I may not always understand everything…and that’s ok. Especially considering my understanding is so limited compared to God’s. My focus needs to be on loving God and loving others. I can look at all this through that lens.

  • Kymyetta Turner

    AWESOME AWESOME commentary!!! This commentary is so simple, yet so explanatory!! Thank you for providing such clarity to what in the past has been confusing and understood.

  • Any Kellogg

    Repenting of thinking I know better than God. He is love. The very essence of love and he knows his people! Human thoughts of what’s “better” come and go but God’s word is consistent. Praise Jesus.

  • Peony Noirr

    God is LOVE!

  • Susann Williams

    I’m so glad that she said that these laws were a start for this new nation. I still can’t understand how the Israelites could even want to enslave other people even as they themselves were exiting slavery! But I guess God knew. The laws for slaves are so hard for me to wrap my mind around. If a master gave a woman to his slave and she bore children then as that man was leaving slavery he couldn’t take his wife and children with him? Thanks be to God for the blood of Jesus!

  • I found today’s HeReadsTruth commentary on this passage to be very helpful.

    • Amanda

      Thank you! I read theirs and it was SUPER eye-opening and helpful.

      • Amanda L

        I completely agree. Russ did a great job of explaining the Biblical context and bond slavery.

  • As I was reading the verses, I was asking….how are they going to make this make sense!? But thank you for the insight, it certainly helps us make a little sense out of these laws that seem strange to us in our world. I am very thankful for this study, as I have always tried to read the Bible myself, and can’t seem to grasp it, or make sense in certain areas such as today’s reading. I really enjoy the guest’s insight, and truly love reading everyone’s comments which add to the study!

  • Karen Bradley

    I love reading passages like this through the lens of asking, What does this teach me about God? How Kind He is to start with us right where we are. Whatever I did yesterday, whatever my failures – I’m not behind. He can start right here, speak to me in a way I can receive, and show me the next step. What an awesome Father.

  • I see these verses and think of my paternal grandparents who would believed that everyone was good until proven otherwise. I believe this includes the elderly. God and Christ loves everyone despite their age or any other conditions. Order and justice is needed even in the nursing world which I work in. We need to remember that God is our neighbor and He is there for us no matter what is going on. Also we need to watch that we don’t put material goods or money before God and Christ because many times we do that.
    My sisters in Christ, I need to ask for prayers, right now I am in a dilemma with my job. I am a traveling nurse, I am in Story City, IA, at a nursing facility. They are restructuring and the staff is quitting. Last night I was face with a situation that I felt my nursing license was in jeopardy. Before this I was wanting to stay as long at this facility as I can and now I am not sure. I have started to pray about it. My current contract ends May 15th. Please sisters in Christ pray with me for the wisdom to know what to do and continue to remain strong during this time.

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Dorothy thank you for sharing. We’re praying for wisdom and peace for you about this decision. We’re so grateful that you’re here! -Margot, The SRT Team

    • Kara

      Dorothy, thank you for sharing. I am not far away from you in Des Moines. You have a nearby sister praying for you!

    • Brooke Dahl

      Praying! ❤️

  • Lonna Capaci

    God had to take 400 years of a big mess; slavery, no repercussions for actions, cruelty, etc, and start somewhere. Restoring order, justice and kindness after 400 years of none of that isn’t easy. But like Rebecca said, He had to start somewhere. Many of these new laws made total sense back then. More importantly, they began to lay out and define what mercy and justice was. By the time God flew them out on eagles wings and brought them to Himself, many of them had intermarried, forgotten the God of their fathers and were aimless drifters. And were very skilled at complaining and always seeing the glass half empty. To get over a million people on the same page, God made beginnings. And isn’t that the way of the Creator? To create? It isn’t always pretty. It doesn’t always make sense. But if we wait, if we trust, even in the nonsense, we’ll begin to be changed. To be re-created. And eventually we are ok with not understanding it all, because we are sure of His great love for us. And that is enough.

    • Janice

      Thank you for your great explanation of these passages.

    • Lori

      Amen to these thoughts … indeed glass half empty, grumblers, who God dealt with, just as He does every one of us … right where we are!! PTL

  • Cynthia Johnston

    The physical exodus of the Israelites is a picture of our spiritual condition. Their bondage in Egypt shows us our bondage to sin. God’s leading them out is Christ’s setting us free from sin and spiritual death. God’s law for His people creates a civilized society and prepares them to live in freedom. Their wandering in the desert is the time spent growing in their new identity as a nation under God’s rule When they are ready God leads them into the Promised Land where they must trust Him to defeat their enemies and take possession of the land. Where are you in your spiritual journey?

  • Kayce A.

    Okay, I’m happy someone said it! I was reading this passage this morning and I literally was thinking…”Um, what?” Haha! It’s easy to view the God of the Old Testament as a little terrifying, but even thinking about how we depict God today, we are told to be “God-fearing” women and men.

    It’s so awesome how God has been speaking to me throughout this whole study:
    So, during this Lent season, I have told myself that I want to be more intentional in my prayer time, and I want to do some time of quiet time every morning. A week or so ago, I was reading in the study when Moses was in the process of trying to get the Israelites out of Egypt and out from Pharaoh’s reign. I was reading though the scripture and I was seeing the few times that Pharaoh would start to agree, but then he would have his heart hardened by God. I remember thinking, “Why is all of this necessary?” It was honestly coming off almost a little bit cruel to me. I remember thinking, “My God is kind, loving, and understanding…why is He treating Pharaoh like this?” (Maybe it’s the humanitarian in me, hehe.) So, I didn’t necessarily put it to prayer, but I thought about it all day long-and I know God definitely heard me. The next day, I sat down to do my bible study, and I have come to find out that on top of God having an unconditional love for me, He also can play with my sense of humor and personality. I was reading and it laid out word for word why God had brought down the plagues and the first passover. I just chuckled, thanked God, and continued on my merry way.

    So, I know it seems hard to understand know. But, it is so true that if you just open your heart and listen to what the Lord is telling you and showing you, then you can see the bigger picture. I like to read between the lines. I pray everyone is having a good time with this study and that God is revealing Himself to you in ways that He never has before, I know He has with me. <3

    • She Reads Truth

      Thank you for sharing this Kayce! We’re so grateful that you’re a part of our community. -Margot, The SRT Team

  • I read chapter 21 by mistake yesterday…and it was funny and sort of comforting to know that most of us think alike. I was appalled by some of the rules, but yet so intrigued by the awfulness of them I could not stop reading.

    Thanks for putting it in perspective!!!!

  • Amy Alexandra

    Worshipping and honoring God has nothing to do with my efforts. At the end of chapter 20, God makes this very clear. Not only were the people forbidden from making gods to worship, gods that they had come up with in their imaginations, they were also instructed not to make an altar that reflected their own craftsmanship (“for if you wield your tool on it you profane it”, Exodus 20:25). To draw near to God, they could only use what God had provided: earth, sheep and oxen, stones that were uncut by man. This concept is repeated over and over again in Scripture—my works have nothing to do with my relationship with God—yet I still struggle with it. My impulse is to try to figure out what I’m doing wrong so I can fix it, so I can finally find the method or the formula that will give me a happy, spiritually healthy life. I forget that my access to God is based entirely on what He has done. My relationship with Him depends on Christ’s finished work on the cross, not on my own efforts, and the more I try to earn His approval or draw near to Him with my own efforts, the farther away I drift. All He asks of me is to love Him with all my heart and soul and mind—as to the rest, “it is finished” (John 19:30).

  • Susan Myers

    These readings like today’s have always given me pause as well. But them I am reminded that Because of Jesus we are all equal. I look at them as another promise of the great gift of Christ to come. It was a reminder that there was an inequality even in Laws of that time. The gift of Christ gives us ALL salvation. No matter our station in life. ❤️

  • I strongly recommend listening to the commentary by Jon Courson on Exodus 21. It can be found on blueletterbible.com and explains this most difficult portion of Scripture. One thing he said was that slavery was deeply ingrained in the Jewish culture. God was not initiating or condoning slavery, but regulating it. He exposits verse by verse, clarifying how God’s mercy is reflected here, how the laws about slaves given to the people of Isreal were revolutionary for that time. How these verses point to Jesus, who though being in very nature God, put on human flesh and came to serve.

    Can’t recommend this commentary enough. It answers so many of the hard questions posed here.

    For even the Son of God did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. –Mark 10:45

    • Sarah Peterson

      Alice, thank you so much for your recommendation to follow up with Jon Courson’s commentary. I listened to his sermon on Exodus 21. Sooo very powerful all that these laws teach us about God’s grace and mercy and how these laws point to Christ!!!

  • Kate Wells

    I also have had issues with some of the wording in scripture. It is an excellent reminder to not lean on my own understanding and that God is Love. If I can get behind those two ideas I can trust that whatever words were used, it was in mine and humankind’s best interest to hear it that way. I don’t always understand everything that you do Lord, but I trust that everything you do is for the good of your people. Thank you Lord, for always keeping us close to you.

  • By the blood of Jesus, I have been set free! Hallelujah!!!
    BUT – man do I struggle with the desires of my human nature, the expectations of the world around me and the whispers of the enemy in my ear telling me THOSE are the things that are real.

    As someone else has posted, God knew the hearts of the Israelites. They already had a track record of not doing what they had been told (ex./ collecting too much manna during days 1-5). Their reference for life was enslavement to the Egyptians. They had been born and raised under a certain realm of expectations and experiences. Many of them had lived their entire lives keeping their head down to avoid wrath. Even when Moses came to help them, their work load was doubled for no reason other than the pleasure of the Pharoah.
    Just because they were physically free didn’t mean they were emotionally/spiritually free. I like Rebecca’s perspective that God was giving them boundaries and guidelines to “ease” them into freedom. They were relying on their past experiences in slavery to guide them rather than seeking God.
    I know I often let my past experiences in life guide me and far too often I let fear be my master. Today that I would turn away from my bondage of the sin in this world and become a slave of my true master and King, Jesus Christ!

  • While I was reading the passage you reference regarding the female slave, I had the same reaction. I actually said to myself “ I don’t want to read this” and moved on to the next set of verses. Then I read your devotion and it made sense I still didn’t like it, but that is ok.

  • Mrs. Sholey

    Rebecca, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your devotionals. I have been doing SRT studies for over 3 years now, and your devotionals always have so much insight and clarity. You are such a talented writer! I have befitted immensely from reading what you have to say. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and reflections about scripture with the SRT community!

  • Aebuckland

    I like to think of the laws in Exodus as that is how God needed to parent the Israelites at that time, just as we have to parent each child differently due to the condition of their heart, their age, their understanding…we live under a different law because of Jesus…Jesus changes EVERYTHING!!!

  • Sarah D.

    These verses are definitely hard…they remind me though that we can’t strive for perfection, no matter how hard we try. We always fall short and sin. And that’s the reason why Jesus came, so that we could live knowing that we are forgiven and don’t have to earn our way into heaven. We don’t have to strive to be perfect. Instead we can rest in Jesus’ work on the cross, that reminds us that the work is already finished. He covers our sin and washes us clean. And He never fails us, no matter what.

  • Kimberly

    Excellent. Thank you, Rebecca Faires!!

  • Thank you to SRT and all the ladies on this site! My heart immediately rebelled to this passage and I was furious. After reading, I read the devotion. My heart relaxed and opened to God’s infinite love and wisdom. I am grateful for everyone’s insight and discussion.

    • She Reads Truth

      We’re so grateful that you’re here Kali! -Margot, The SRT Team

  • Brittany Ringo

    I am really enjoying this study and learning from all of you! The SheReadsTruth app is making me fall in love with the Old Testament when I have always had such a hard time understanding it…thank y’all so much!

  • It feels like God is trying to tell them, okay, we are basically starting over here. You were enslaved and now you’re free and you probably want to come up with your own way of doing things, but I am still at the center and I’m in every detail. Don’t lean on your own understanding! This resonates with me. We are on new ground with our 20 year old son, it is my hope that God is delivering him, but every time I try to make a presumption or even a specific hope about his future, God is bringing me back, saying, it’s me. Trust in me. It’s hard!!

  • These passages are hard to read, especially as a woman. If a man buys a woman to be his wife but she doesn’t please him, he can just marry again? In another place it describes the difficult process men had to go through to divorce their wives, but women are never allowed to divorce for any reason. I initially read these and think “what the heck? God is fine with this??” But theb once I had someone explain to me something similar to this Bible study…how radical ANY type of respect for human life, particularly women, was in the world and in these cultures at this time. To tell these men, you can’t mistreat your first wife if you want to marry again, was PROTECTIVE to women. Telling men they couldn’t divorce and abandon their wives for no good reason, was protective and radical. What a perspective shift!

  • April Hawkinson

    I am enjoying these so much! It’s like they I’m having a conversation who the author!

  • Kaitlyn Learish

    My study Bible has some insight on the challenges of this passage! (Hope they help!) the Hebrew word “slave” here is “ebed”…meaning a variety of things. The word covers many types of relationships, including slaves, bondservants, or servants. In OT times, the Hebrews could enter “slavery” with each other voluntarily, perhaps in order to escape poverty or pay off debts. They could also enter involuntarily by birth, being captured (Egypt!!), etc. the voluntary types often were more like employment. The slave could own property, achieve social advancement, and was able to be released after the purchase of their freedom of in the Year of Jubilee, etc. We have a horrible association with slavery in America due to our history…but Israel had a much different culture! This little tidbit helped me understand today’s passage so much more. God did provide laws regarding their culture, the temptations they would face, and the choices they would have to make!

    • Pam

      That definitely helped me! It is so hard to understand the concept of God condoning slavery but this explanation gave me some insight into what it really was. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Julia MacCready

    God is love and frame it from that perspective

  • Julia MacCready

    It’s also helpful when reading stuff like this to begin with the fact that

  • Casey McKinney

    I love how this study is cross-referencing the New Testament soooo beautifully. It is helping me have this whole, big-picture understanding of God’s big story, from Moses to Jesus. It’s helping me understand where Jewish people were at when Jesus came, and it’s giving me a whole new appreciation for who Jesus is and what He did for us. My whole body relaxed when I read Jesus in Matthew this morning- what a relief that He fulfills the law for us!!

  • This was an incredibly helpful perspective on a very difficult passage of scripture. God has an amazing way of meeting us where we are and not requiring more than we are able. It is good to remember that He can do that justly even when it doesn’t all make sense to us.

  • Bridget Sabbath

    I’m glad that the reflection mentioned historical context being important. Life at that time was extremely brutal and even barbaric. God is meeting His people where they are in a way they can understand how to live.

    • Mallie Griffin

      I agree 100%! I was getting mad about it, and about the fact that women get the short end of the stick a good bit in the OT. BUT, when you look at when all of this was written and understand the circumstances, it helps you see a glimpse into God’s grace. He already knew future state, but he was willing to get on their level and deal in the moment. It’s a great viewpoint.

    • Kayla Zertuche

      I like that perspective! He was meeting them where they were, and where they were wasn’t ideal to say the least. Thanks for that input <3

    • Julie Waldvogel

      I totally agree!

  • This was such a good reminder! Sometimes we slip into the idea that we know better than God, like you said making a god of our own intellect. He loves more than we can and in all His infinite wisdom we can certainly trust He knows what he is doing when he makes rules for us to follow. At the center is trust of His goodness, trust of his character. Thank you!

  • Thank you for sharing that insight. I struggled reading through this passage and I’m thankful God meets us in our mess, but depending on my own intellect I’m like, “Lord, this isn’t right! This isn’t just!” But He alone is God and He is good. Thank you for challenging us to press in and not just brush over this passage.

  • Amber Upton

    I think it’s okay to question God, particularly when you’re seeking knowledge and understanding. I’m not sure this is correct but I wonder if God instilled these particular laws because He already knew their hearts. He knew if He said “No slaves,” they would disobey and probably mistreat those slaves. So He put laws into place to better protect people and to show the Israelites how to treat these people. I don’t believe that God creating laws regarding slaves, concubines, multiple wives, etc., meant that He condoned these things. Rather, I think it meant He knew where the people’s hearts were and showed them how to love people in the context in which they found themselves.

  • Valerie Hines

    For me every time I read through the laws, I become so grateful. There is NO way I would remember all the do’s and don’ts. This makes the cross even more precious and real to me. I am so thankful that Jesus willingly died for Me! Oh that I may live in the light of his grace with reverent Fear and Awe, not taking this gift lightly.

    • Lois Wilson

      Agreed. So grateful! I feel like I can’t even follow through on the greatest commandments of loving God & my neighbour most days. And it makes Paul’s words so much more clear when he says to use our freedom to serve each other in love. The Israelites must have had to spend so much of their time following rules that they didn’t have time to love & care for each other. Now, because of our freedom, we should spend our time on love.

  • I don’t think God is establishing, validating, or instituting slavery. It was God who pulled them out of slavery from the Egyptians. But, this was the times the Israelites were in and I believe they had slaves because of poverty, a debt needed to be paid, or a crime had been committed. So, God is ‘simply’ regulating the practice of slavery, which is already a part of their culture. He gave them a better way to treat a slave than how the Egyptians treated them. He gave them mercy. He also gives us a better way than slavery. We can be slaves to sin, or slaves to righteousness. But, Jesus gave us mercy so that we might be His bond servant, a slave to Righteousness.

  • Churchmouse

    Yes these passages are hard to comprehend and yes they are hard to reconcile with the loving God we know. Yet… There they are and we have to deal with them. I’m reminded to look at both the culture of the time and the full counsel of the Scriptures. The times were evil and the Israelites were newly released from captivity. God was telling them there’s a new way you must live. You must be different, separate, unique, holy. Start by living this way. But the account doesn’t stop there. It leads straight to the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem and all the way through to His death on a cross. Jesus expanded on that new way to live. He challenged them (us) to live even more generously and lovingly in our time. It was a struggle for the Israelites then – it’s a struggle for us now. While we may not always understand His ways, we can always trust His heart. He is a good good Father.

  • I’m really struggling with this one, & I don’t understand why these laws would have even been given. I understand that the Israelites had just come from Egypt and they were treated harshly without any justice, but why put anything in their laws about slavery at all? Weren’t the people supposed to be free? I’m especially having trouble with the part of “if a man sells his daughter as a servant she is not to go free as menservants do (Ex21:7).” Why was it okay to sell their daughters at all? I’m sure this is what 18th and 19th century American slave owners used as justification for their actions…it just doesn’t seem right. I understand what Rebecca is saying about how we’re looking at it through a different lens, but I still don’t see how that justifies what is being said. If we are to take the Bible literally, which I believe we’re supposed to, then God was okay with slavery, and with people being treated this way? I’m still having a hard time reconciling that…

    • Emily B.

      Here’s what a note in my study Bible says about the slavery mentioned: “The Hebrews, though freed from slavery, had slaves (or servants) themselves. A person could become a slave because of property, debt, or even crime. But Hebrew slaves were treated as humans, not property, and were allowed to work their way to freedom. The Bible acknowledges the existence of slavery but never encourages it.” I hope that helps!

  • Micah Marshall

    I felt the same way reading this. It’s like one of those passages that I just choose to skip over because it infuriates me. Then I think about Hebrews 10:1 “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming–not the realities themselves”….. it’s a start. Great way to view this passage.

  • Heather Shores

    Lord please help my loneliness today. Lord help all my fears and worries and anxieties to be put to rest. Put down. Cast away. Eliminated. Pushed out. Every last one of them gone.

    • Kayla Zertuche

      Praying for you and along with you, Heather! May God give you all the peace and love you need to get through the day <3 dwell deep into His Word, He is our comforter and our Protector. He will be your family and hope.

    • Katie Werner

      Just lifted you in prayer, Heather. ❤️ I hope you can find comfort and joy in His presence and His Word today. Keep pressing into Him, He loves you so much.

    • Kathy

      Oh, Heather. Your prayer makes my heart hurt for you. Papa God, please be such a strong presence in Heather’s life today that she is totally enveloped in your love. Put all her fears, worries, and anxieties to rest. Send someone who can help ease her lonliness. Let her feel your love in a real and tangible way today. Amen.

    • Brandi

      Dear sister. I’m so sorry you are feeling lonely and fearful today. Please know we are here. Sisters in Christ all over the world- we are here. We are standing in the gap, standing in faith, kneeling before our Father saying your name. And He, our wonderful Father knows what we ask before we even ask it and is already at work on your behalf! Praying you feel His peace and His Presence with you today! ❤️

    • Churchmouse

      Praying for you and with you, Heather. Grateful you posted so that we can all lift you up this day in prayer.

    • Mari

      Just prayed for you Heather. May you find comfort and peace as a we your sisters pray for you.

    • Lou

      Praying for you Heather – I know those feelings. Prayed you will see God’s love in the smallest of things and know his peace, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. Much love.

    • Bessie

      I’m praying for you, Heather. God is closer to you than the air you breathe and we all care for you. Let God hold you in His loving arms and I pray that you will feel us reaching out to hold you as well.

  • Anna DavisTart

    Here I see the great commandment of Love and that the wages of sin is death. To not Love is to sin. Israel did not yet have a redeemer so they paid a physical wage for their sin. Praise the Lord we have a Redeemer because we cannot be perfect in this law on our own. He has paid for our sins. We can live because of him.

  • Kayla Zertuche

    This was timely as I just reread Exodus and Deuteronomy these past few weeks, and came back to feeling grief and unsettled after reading the laws given. They’re harsh and hard to process, but I often find solace in the fact that Jesus came to set the matters straight. Often completely contradicting it, going as far as saying “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a] But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:38-39). Nowhere does Jesus say anything harshly, and even more so, Paul came to further what it means to be a servant of Christ, as we should have “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. I’m so grateful over the fact that we now live in a new period of time, where most of the laws that had to be given are now too harsh to even understand. We now have a better moral code, our hearts are less hardened due to the beauty and sacrifice of Jesus, and God is able to give us laws that reflect His Heart now more than ever before <3.

    I also like to think that God allowed these laws BECAUSE the people at the time were so evil, not because it was according to His Will. Jesus even states in Matthew 19:8, “Jesus replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.’” Note: “Moses permitted”, also note, “because your hearts were hard”. It seems as if such laws were allowed BECAUSE of the evil at the time, but it wasn’t how God intended us to be. When the old laws bother you, look to Jesus. You will find your comfort there.

    • Shannon Davison

      Although I completely understand your sentiment Kayla, I think you’re not entirely correct. Jesus DID say things harshly at times – calling people foolish, hypocrites, flipping tables in the temple etc. He wasn’t just some passive “only good feelings” man. He was God in PERSON. He says himself he didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. He himself doesn’t contraindicated the Word of God – that would be against His character. Instead often what he said was actually MORE difficult- likening wishing your brother was dead to murder. I think it’s a mistake to think we’re any less “evil” than the people in biblical times. We’re just lucky enough to be living post Jesus, with His grace and sacrifice to cover our sins and the Spirit to direct our hearts.

    • Angela G

      While reading all of these laws, it completely makes sense why the priest and pharisees were TICKED off when Jesus came into the picture. Jesus was telling them to do thing COMPLETELY differently then what they had been taught.
      I don’t think we have a “better moral code” today as much how far legalistic the priest became. A lot of the laws were to separate how the Israelites lived from the other cultures (which wow, they must have been worse).
      Also, all of these laws show how they need a perfect person to complete these laws. It’s a great reflection of how imperfect we are and how perfect HE is.

    • Kayla Zertuche

      Shannon, I get what you’re saying, but “eye for an eye” was actually what the law from God said. Exodus 21:23-25, “But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” Jesus later went on to contradict this, saying we aren’t to do “eye for an eye” tactics anymore, but be forgiving and merciful. He didn’t abolish, no, but He fulfilled, just as you said. And when He fulfilled, the old laws were no longer needed, as a new covenant was made. And I do still dare to say we have a better moral code now than in the old times (not all of us) but the majority of us now see how awful slavery is. We also allow women amazing freedoms, no longer allow women to need to marry their rapists, no longer consider women as under complete reign of her father or husband. We still have immeasurable evil, definitely, but I’m happy to say that the old laws are now too harsh for us to bear. This shows that we’ve become better in some ways, and I dare to say it’s BECAUSE Jesus came and taught us to be better, because of His Grace just as you said. And I never said Jesus didn’t act harshly, I meant He didn’t give us harsh laws. Were they harsh to Pharisees and Jews at the time? Yes, because they challenged everything they ever knew. But the regulations Jesus set were in no way harsh or controversial when it comes to loving and being holy. I never implied Jesus didn’t deal with people passively, either. Please reread my word, sister.

    • Kayla Zertuche

      And Angela, yes, yes, yes! The fact that the old laws were STILL so harsh just goes to show how bad things must have been back then (yikes!), and how much more astray the rest of the nations were. And yes, Jesus was truly Holy Rebellion :’) He loved on and praised Samaritans and sinners, dared to teach women and speak to them in the open, dared to declare people be peaceful in a society that loved violence and mercilessness, spoke against the evils of wealth which was glamorized, and preached submissiveness amongst His followers in a place where the idea simply didn’t exist. He came to divide and conquer, totally switching the narrative and rules of the times! It’s incredible, He’s incredible. I’m fired up just typing it all out! And yes girl, those laws definitely showed how much we needed saving, because I know we are still very much the ancient Israelites, and we STILL go against God and His Word. So glad we live under the Grace and Love of Jesus’s sacrifice <3

  • This is a really helpful commentary on a passage that would be easy to gloss over as irrelevant to us today. I appreciate this insight and tie in to the New Testament.

  • Tricia Cavanaugh

    I’m glad to have read this today. If I had looked at this passage in Exodus without the commentary after I would have had a difficult time understanding where it all was coming from. To realize that God, in His mercy brought the Israelites out of Egypt, and what He gave them was so much better than they had, brings me understanding. Even these laws which seem so odd to me were so much better for them.
    Thank you for helping me to see his more clearly.

    • Erika Jaeger

      I feel exactly the same. Without the commentary I might have been unsettled about what I read but considering this was written TO slaves gives it a context that makes it so different than my perspective today.

      And yet I still wonder, why didn’t he say no hitting or no slaves at all? And is it even ok for me to question Him like that?

      • Amber

        I think it’s okay to question God, particularly when you’re seeking knowledge and understanding. I’m not sure this is correct but I wonder if God instilled these particular laws because He already knew their hearts. He knew if He said “No slaves,” they would disobey and probably mistreat those slaves. So He put laws into place to better protect people and to show the Israelites how to treat these people. I don’t believe that God creating laws regarding slaves, concubines, multiple wives, etc., meant that He condoned these things. Rather, I think it meant He knew where the people’s hearts were and showed them how to love people in the context in which they found themselves.

  • Alice Carroll

    I have to remind myself- where does my authority come from? God? Or the little voice in my head that tells me not to trust God?

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