Disciple Hour: Exodus 22:18–31

Exodus 22:18–31 (ESV)

1.  Keeping Worship Pure: Three Capitol Offenses (22:18-20)

18 “You shall not permit a sorceress to live.

19 “Whoever lies with an animal shall be put to death.

20 “Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction.

These are all three means of false worship and fueled by demonic activity according to God these are abominations.  In each, Israel’s worship was perverted.  Worship was taken away from God and given to demons.  Each of the three, according to God is worthy of the death penalty.    

–Sorceress- witchcraft was forbidden in Israel.  The sorceress would seek to gain a spiritual advantage through demonic influence.  She would cast spells and practice occultic rituals.  This is false worship and is a capitol offense in Israel.

This also involves fortune telling, seeking to steal God’s sovereignty through demons, and communicating with the dead., which is simply speaking to demons.

Leviticus 20:27 (ESV)

27 “A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.”

–Whoever lies with an animal

Another means of false worship is when someone deviates from God’s design and order.  The second is a perversion because it is a flagrant disregard of the structure and order that God has endowed on creation.  It is a deviant abomination to have sex with animals.  It constitutes an act of rebellion against the authority of God.  It too is demonically influenced.

The context of why this is mentioned here is that the nations surrounding Israel, especially the Canaanites practiced these acts as part of their pagan worship.

Leviticus 18:23 (ESV)

23 And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion.

–Whoever sacrifices to any god.

This third crime was the act of committing idolatry by sacrificing to any god other than the true and living God of Israel.  This includes participation in any pagan worship and offering to their god a sacrifice.

These three capitol crimes and punishments were given to keep the purity of worshipping God alone.

As the Church, today, we must seek to keep the worship of God within the covenant community pure as well.

How might we keep worship biblical/pure?

2.  God’s Compassion for the Helpless (22:21-24)

21 “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 22 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. 23 If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, 24 and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.

Here we see God’s compassion especially for the helpless.  We also see something else about God…sin does not go unpunished.

Most societies trample the weak.  God desires that His people care for the weak in society.  In this section, we see God’s character shown in His laws.

Sojourner- foreigner, traveler

21 “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

A sojourner has no connections, may not speak the language has no family and no friends.

Here God speaks of how his people are to treat widows, orphans and strangers. We learn here that God is extremely concerned with the welfare of those who are most vulnerable in the community. This passage provides two explicit reasons and one underlying reason for God’s people being kind and just in their treatment of those who are most vulnerable in society. First of all, if you look at the second half of verse 21, you’ll see that Israel is to treat strangers and widows and orphans with fairness and justice. Why? Because they were once strangers in Egypt and therefore, they are to treat strangers graciously and compassionately and justly now. Secondly, if you look at verses 23-24, they are to treat strangers and widows and orphans rightly because of the warning of God. God promises that He will judge those who do not treat widows and orphans with kindness. He will make your wife a widow and your children orphans.  And underlying these two things is God’s own compassion and later in the chapter, we see a declaration of this: “I am gracious,” God says in verse 27. Because God is gracious or perhaps this should be translated compassionate, Israel is to be compassionate. Strangers were resident aliens; they were foreign born, permanent residents and because they were foreign born, they were liable to discrimination and God explicitly prepares a law that demands that they not be

mistreated and in fact, that they receive fair treatment from His people. This shows His compassion and His concern for those who are vulnerable. In verse 22, widows and orphans are mentioned. It would have been tempting to exploit because they had no natural protectors and we are told here that this is a grave sin in God’s eyes to do so. He says, “If they cry out to Me, I promise you I’ll hear them.” And His words of judgment are chilling. He says that if you take advantage of orphans and widows, I’ll make your wife and children widow and orphans. God’s warning of judgment in verses 23 & 24 promises that He will hear the cries of the mistreated and He will judge those who mistreat others correspondingly. It kind of reminds you of what happened in Egypt. The Pharaoh attempted to kill the male children; in the end the first-born of Egypt died–blow for blow, penalty to crime. God’s attributes warnings and commands in our own experience ought to move us to have hearts of compassion for the weak. The importance of these laws in Israel is apparent from how often they are repeated– especially in the laws of Moses. God is serious about concern for those who are most vulnerable.

Leviticus 19:34 (ESV)

34 You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

We too must show compassion to the helpless in our midst.  The Church must be a defender of the weak and care for the helpless.

3.  God’s Compassion for the Poor (22:25-27)

25 “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. 26 If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, 27 for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.

These are laws on lending to the needy. Here God reveals His own heart of compassion for the downtrodden and shows us how He expects us to live in relation to them even in these laws that He gives to us about lending to the poor. As above, we see here Israel’s concern for the disadvantage is more than humanitarian; it’s based on God’s command and on God’s character.

God is explicitly dealing with poor relief, and He is demanding that His people not charge interest at all on money which is given for the relief of poverty. This interpretation is confirmed by verse 26. Look at the language there in verse 25, “If you lend money to My people” and here is further explanation, “to the poor among you, you are not to act as a creditor to him. You shall not charge him interest.” This is a law about generosity to those in need of poverty relief and it is a law about restricting the taking advantage of the poor.

Furthermore, in verses 26 and 27, we have this story about returning the cloak of a person before sundown. The cloak was often a person’s only possession. Certainly, it was the most significant possession of the poor, and it was used as bedding at night as well as covering during the day. Sometimes the cloak was taken as a pledge when something was loaned to that person. So again, we see this law in verses 26 and 27 protecting the welfare of the needy.

Just as Israel was to care for God’s people who were poor, we too are called to share our means with them.  Here, it is emphatically God’s people who are poor.  Whenever someone has a need in the Church we are to go to their aid.

Acts 4:32–35 (ESV)

32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

4.  How God’s People are to Respond to His Kindness and Care (22:28-31)

28 “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.

29 “You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. 30 You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me.

31 “You shall be consecrated to me. Therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.

The first way God’s people are to respond to his kindness is to show God fear and respect.

God’s people are to display a proper reverence and respect for God and for civil rulers who are under His providence.

Why are we to not curse a ruler that is over us?  Because in God’s sovereignty that person has been placed over us.  It may be for our good or for our discipline or it may be judgement but the person is there because God put him there.

In the first part of verse 28 we have a reiteration of the third commandment. The third commandment told us not to take the Lord’s name in vain; this commandment says not to curse Him or revile Him. It is put in the negative but it is the same command applied. And the concerns of this verse also link the third and fifth commands about honoring father and mother. We see that in the very next phrase. The second part of the verse is an application of the third commandment to others in authority. “You shall not curse God nor a ruler of your people.” Do you know where this verse is quoted in the New Testament? You remember what was happening in Acts 23:5?

Acts 23 (ESV)

23 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?” And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ ”

He was being mistreated and treated unjustly and some guy was mouthing off next to him, and Paul rebuked him. And he was then struck and Paul found out that the man was the high priest and he said, “I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have rebuked him because the Bible says that you are not to revile your leaders.” Paul quotes this very passage in the context of persecution. And this is an important principle for us because modern cynicism about, and disrespect for, authority is rife. I would suggest to you that it is not simply derivative of our disillusionment of government leaders but it is also due to a failure to embrace respect for God and His words about leaders.

The second way God’s people are to respond to His kindness is to be generous givers.

29 “You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. 30 You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me.

Here the tithe and the firstborn offering are rightfully God’s.  When his people withhold these from God they are in direct defiance and are choosing not to participate in His covenant.

The first tenth of the harvest and vineyards were to be an offering to God.  The firstborn male was to be dedicated to God and redeemed by the substitution offering or payment.

Proverbs 3:9–10 (ESV)

Honor the Lord with your wealth

and with the firstfruits of all your produce;

10  then your barns will be filled with plenty,

and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Malachi 3:7–8 (ESV)

From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.

Malachi 3:10 (ESV)

10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

I pray that you are biblical givers because God will get it from you…

The third way God’s people are to respond to His kindness is to be set apart from the world.

God wants His people to be different.  His desire is that His people are not like the other nations around them.  Certain foods were not eaten.  Here we see an animal that was killed and torn by beasts should not be eaten but rather thrown out.

31 “You shall be consecrated to me. Therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.

Resources Used:

Exodus Phillip Ryken

Exodus by Douglas Stuart

Sermon by Ligon Duncan

Exodus by John Currid

Exodus by John Davis

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