Exodus Chapter 23

Laws About Honesty and Justice

    • Don’t spread false rumors or cooperate with those who have evil intentions by lying on the witness stand. Don’t follow the crowd in doing wrong. If you are called to testify in court, don’t go along with the crowd to pervert justice. Also, don’t slant your testimony to favor a person just because that person is poor.

      • “The facts of a case and the principles of justice should decide a dispute, not the high or low standing or perceived victim status of those involved.” (Guzik)

    • If you find your enemies ox or donkey that has strayed from home, take it back to him. If you see that a donkey has collapsed under the weight of its burden and the donkey belongs to someone who hates you, even though you don’t want to you must help with it.

      – “ The principle was clear: How you feel about someone does not determine right and wrong behavior towards them. There are principles of justice that must be observed above our feelings.” (Guzik)

    • In a lawsuit, don’t deny justice to the poor.

    • Don’t falsely accuse someone of evil. Don’t put an innocent person to death, because I won’t declare a guilty person innocent.

      • Many Bible skeptics claim that God instructs His own people to break this command by ordering them to kill Canaanite children. HCSB details an excellent response to this claim explaining that this particular verse doesn’t speak on that topic at all and in fact only contextually refers to Israelite courts, “This verse is part of a larger section that provides guidance to judges when trying cases in Israel: in courts of law the innocent were not to be punished. But the elimination of entire people groups as punishment for long-term institutionalized sin was mot considered a legal matter. It was an issue of divine judgment following centuries of unacceptable conduct. God ordered the Israelites to eliminate cultures that had institutionalized despicable sin. Canaanite cultures were steeped in a religion that was polytheistic, idolatrous, and highly immoral. As part of their religious corruption, those cultures permitted human sacrifice and practiced cultic prostitution (worship of their ‘gods’ involved intercourse with women attached to their temples). All of this cultural perversity was offensive to God and was to be brought to a complete end when the iniquity of the inhabitants of Canaan was complete (Genesis 15:16.)

    • Don’t take bribes because they will make even a righteous person twist the truth.

    • Don’t oppress foreigners because you yourself know what it’s like to be a foreigner.

Sabbaths and Festivals

    • Plant and harvest your crops for 6 years, but let it rest uncultivated in the 7th year and allow the poor living among you to gather whatever the land produces during this rest year. Let the wild animals eat whatever is left.

      • “The principle of the Sabbath applied to more than the workweek. There were also Sabbath years, where the land was to rest and lie fallow one year out of seven… One reason God commanded the Sabbath year was to give the poor something to eat, in that they were allowed to harvest and process that which grew unplanted from the fallow ground. This was a way to help the poor that demanded both that the landowners hold themselves back from maximum profit, and that the poor work to help themselves…Failure of Israel to give the land its Sabbath-years determined the certainty and the duration of the Babylonian exile (Leviticus 26:32-35, 2 Chronicles 36:21).” (Guzik)

    • Work for 6 days and rest on the 7th so that your animals, your slaves, and foreigners living among you will also be refreshed.

    • Play close attention to all of My instructions. Do not call on any other gods.

    • Each year you must celebrate three festivals in My honor and all the men must come before Me, your Lord God:

      • During the Festival of Unleavened Bread you must eat bread with no leavening in it for 7 days every year on the anniversary of your departure from Egypt in the month of Abib. No one can come before Me without an offering.

      • During the Festival of Harvest, bring Me the first crops of your harvest.

        • “This was later called the Festival of Pentecost (see Acts 2:1). It is celebrated today (by Jews) as Shavuot.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

      • Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering (called Festival of Booths or Tabernacles elsewhere- Leviticus 23:34-36), when you gather all your crops from the field.)

        • “It is celebrated today (by Jews) as Sukkot or Succoth.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

    • Do not offer the blood of my sacrificial offering together with any baked goods containing yeast. Also, do not leave any fat remaining to the next morning from the festival offerings. When you harvest your crops, bring the very best to the house of the Lord your God. Do not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

      • Guzik explains, “Since leaven was a symbol of sin and corruption, atoning blood could never be offered with leavened bread…If atonement was to be regarded as a complete work, it must be wholly offered unto the Lord – everything must be given to God, not a portion reserved for later. This especially included the fat of My sacrifice, the best portion of the sacrificed animal.”

      • Guzik expounds on the command not to boil a goat in its mother’s milk, “This strange-sounding command was actually a command to not imitate a common pagan fertility ritual.” Guzik includes a quote from Cudsworth who is cited in Clarke, “It was a custom of the ancient heathens, when they had gathered in all their fruits, to take a kid and boil it in the milk of its dam; and then, in a magical way, to go about and besprinkle with it all their trees and fields, gardens and orchards; thinking by these means to make them fruitful, that they might bring forth more abundantly in the following year.”

Promises and Warnings

    • I am sending an Angel to protect you on your journey to the place that I have prepared for you. Listen to Him and obey Him. Don’t rebel against Him. He won’t forgive you because My name is in Him.

      • Who was this Angel?

      • We have discussed previously that Jesus is repeatedly referred to as an “angel of the Lord” in several passages. For a look back on our previous discussion check out the notes for Exodus Chapter 3.

        • Cole writes, “My name is in him seems to translate the ‘messenger’ into the supernatural realm, for God’s ‘name’ is the equivalent of His revealed nature.”

    • If you obey Him and do everything I say, then I will be your enemies’ enemy. My Angel will lead you to the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites and I’ll wipe them out.

    • Don’t bow down to their gods or worship them and don’t imitate their practices. You must destroy them completely and smash their sacred pillars.

    • If you worship the Lord your God, I will bless you with food and water, protect you from sickness, your women won’t suffer from infertility or miscarriages, and I will give you long lives.

      • “It was characteristic of the Mosaic covenant that blessing was based almost purely on Israel’s performance. If they obeyed, they would be blessed. If they disobeyed, they would be cursed…Under the New Covenant we operate on a different principle. Though there are inevitable consequences of sin and God’s loving correction for disobedience, we are blessed in Jesus, and not because we have been obedient (Ephesians 1:3).”

      • Many of you may wonder why I take such a strong stance against the heretical teaching of “Mosaic law-keeping” sects and this hits the heart of the issue. Today, many sects that teach that their followers are under the Old Testament Mosaic Law also teach that by keeping these laws they will be blessed in these same ways- monetarily, with health, etc. However, this is not how the covenant Christians are currently under operates. This leads to massive issues in these congregations that I have been a personal witness to. Wealthier members of the congregations tend to believe that the poorer members aren’t being blessed because they somehow lack in piety. The same holds true when members suffer a decline in health or fall prey to incurable illness. This leads to a type of “class resentment” when certain poorer or less healthy members feel that their “level of piety” is greater than wealthier or healthier members, yet the appropriate blessings don’t seem to follow. Often times, this results in questioning God and a loss of faith- all attributable to belief in a false teaching.

    • I will cause the people ahead to be afraid of you and your enemies to run from you. I’ll send a terror ahead of you to drive out the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites. However, I won’t drive them all out from their lands in one year because the lands would become desolate and the wild animals would take over and be a threat to you. I’ll drive them out little by little until your population has grown enough to take possession of the land. Your boundaries will be from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the wilderness in the east to the Euphrates River. I’ll hand the people now living in these areas over to you and you will drive them out. Do not make any treaties with them or their gods. You must completely remove them from your lands or they will cause you to sin and fall into idolatry.

      • “This encompassed a huge portion of land, one that Israel has never fully possessed. Many suppose that the closest they came was in the days of King David and Solomon…There is a spiritual principle here. God may grant, but we must possess. He withholds our possession of many blessings until we will partner with Him in bold faith and obedience. We have been granted every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3); but will only possess what we will partner with Him in faith and obedience to receive…God is not an indulgent, spoiling father, pouring out on His children resources, blessings, and gifts they are not ready to receive or be responsible with. When His people are ready to possess in faith, what was promised becomes realized… Through lack of discernment, Israel did end up making a covenant with some of the people of the land (Joshua 9). There is no area of the law that Israel – or anyone – has ever kept perfectly.” (Guzik)

Biblical borders of Israel