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Exodus 23:14-19

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 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 GOD.

18 “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor is the fat of My 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.

God wanted them to remember what He had done for them, thus the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He didn’t want excuses, He just wanted them to remember how He saved them from Egypt with many miracles. Take a moment, think what God has done for you. Have you thought about it lately? Have you thanked Him for it lately?

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Exodus 23:10-13

10 “You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, 11 but on the seventh year you shall let it 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 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 from your mouth.

God knew the allure and the enticement of serving ‘other gods’. It seems that whatever you aren’t doing is always more fun then what you have been doing. So God warned them not to even talk about or mention the name of other gods. If you talk about something, you can start dwelling on it. And if you do that, pretty soon it will lure you in, and you can let down your guard much easier. So focus on God, the one true God, and stay on the path He has set for you.

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Exodus 23:1-9

1 “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 the masses in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice; 3 nor shall you 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 subverts the cause of the just.

9 “You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.

As revolutionary as Jesus’ teachings were in his day, they shouldn’t have been to the teachers of the law. He told people do love those who hated them, to do good to those that abused them, etc. In the middle of giving them guidelines to be partial to no one (even the poor), there’s a lovely snippet in verse five. If the donkey of one who hates you has collapsed under it’s load, you are to help the person who hates you. God doesn’t play favorites, and He doesn’t want us to either. That isn’t new or revolutionary. But it’s a difference from what human nature wants to do. Therein is the key. We are called to be unique as Christians, and here is one huge way we can show that. So do it. Today. And for the rest of your life.

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Exodus 22:25-31

25 “If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, you are not to act as a creditor to him; you shall not charge him interest. 26 “If you ever take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you are to return it to him before the sun sets, 27 for that is his only covering; it is his cloak for his body. What else shall he sleep in? And it shall come about that when he cries out to Me, I will hear him, for I am gracious.

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

29 “You shall not delay the offering from your harvest and your vintage. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. 30 “You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.

31 “You shall be holy men to Me, therefore you shall not eat any flesh torn to pieces in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.

These last rules were a reminder of who provided for the Israelites. Indeed, it is a reminder of who provides for us. Everything we have is a gift from God, and we should not hesitate to give the best that we have to Him.

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Exodus 22:16-24

16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife.17 “If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the dowry for virgins.

18 “You shall not allow a sorceress to live.

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

20 “He who sacrifices to any god, other than to the LORD alone, shall be utterly destroyed.

21 “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 22 “You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. 23 “If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry; 24and My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.

Even though God had chosen the Israelites to be His own people, He still cared very much for everyone else. At the end of this passage, God sets out protection for those who are not Israelites. They are reminded that they were once in just the same position. Instead, God wants them to show His mercy and love to those that don’t know it. Not much has changed in that regard. God doesn’t want us to take advantage of anyone. No, He wants us to be examples of His glory, through His love and mercy.

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Exodus 22:7-15

7 “If a man gives his neighbor money or goods to keep for him and it is stolen from the man’s house, if the thief is caught, he shall pay double. 8 “If the thief is not caught, then the owner of the house shall appear before the judges, to determine whether he laid his hands on his neighbor’s property. 9 “For every breach of trust, whether it is for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for clothing, or for any lost thing about which one says, `This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before the judges; he whom the judges condemn shall pay double to his neighbor.

10 “If a man gives his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep for him, and it dies or is hurt or is driven away while no one is looking, 11 an oath before the LORD shall be made by the two of them that he has not laid hands on his neighbor’s property; and its owner shall accept it, and he shall not make restitution. 12 “But if it is actually stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner. 13 “If it is all torn to pieces, let him bring it as evidence; he shall not make restitution for what has been torn to pieces.

14 “If a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it is injured or dies while its owner is not with it, he shall make full restitution. 15 “If its owner is with it, he shall not make restitution; if it is hired, it came for its hire.

When someone entrusts something to your care, it is a huge responsibility. Here we see that someone who fails that trust must repay double what was entrusted. God has entrusted us with much. What are you doing with it?

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Exodus 22:1-6

1 “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.

2 “If the thief is caught while breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguiltiness on his account. 3But if the sun has risen on him, there will be bloodguiltiness on his account. He shall surely make restitution; if he owns nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. 4 “If what he stole is actually found alive in his possession, whether an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double.

5 “If a man lets a field or vineyard be grazed bare and lets his animal loose so that it grazes in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.

6 “If a fire breaks out and spreads to thorn bushes, so that stacked grain or the standing grain or the field itself is consumed, he who started the fire shall surely make restitution.

When it came to theft, there was no ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’. You gave of your best, and in some cases, gave multiple times back as restitution. God wanted to give the people extra motivation to stay away from sin. He doesn’t want any of us to sin. He wants us to live for Him, obey His words, and glorify Him with our lives.

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Exodus 21:22-36

22 “If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. 23 “But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

26 “If a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye. 27 “And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth.

28 “If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall surely be stoned and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall go unpunished. 29 “If, however, an ox was previously in the habit of goring and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death. 30 “If a ransom is demanded of him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is demanded of him. 31 “Whether it gores a son or a daughter, it shall be done to him according to the same rule. 32 “If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall give his or her master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

33 “If a man opens a pit, or digs a pit and does not cover it over, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 34 the owner of the pit shall make restitution; he shall give money to its owner, and the dead animal shall become his.

35 “If one man’s ox hurts another’s so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and divide its price equally; and also they shall divide the dead ox. 36 “Or if it is known that the ox was previously in the habit of goring, yet its owner has not confined it, he shall surely pay ox for ox, and the dead animal shall become his.

God was willing to show a bit of mercy when accidents happen. But when a person was just plain negligent, and knew there was a hazard, and did not protect others from it the story was a bit different. They could potentially pay with their own lives if they caused someone to die by their negligence. God took life seriously, just as He took families seriously. The loss of life was not to be taken lightly, especially when it could have been prevented. Let us not forget how much God values each life on this earth.

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Exodus 21:12-21

12 “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. 13 “But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint you a place to which he may flee. 14 “If, however, a man acts presumptuously toward his neighbor, so as to kill him craftily, you are to take him even from My altar, that he may die.

15 “He who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.

16 “He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.

17 “He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.

18 “If men have a quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and he does not die but remains in bed, 19 if he gets up and walks around outside on his staff, then he who struck him shall go unpunished; he shall only pay for his loss of time, and shall take care of him until he is completely healed.

20 “If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. 21 “If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.

It is a bit interesting what punishments God set forth for different crimes, especially those that are violent crimes as listed here. Particularly of interest is that if a man commits murder (not just an accidental death), it carries the same penalty as striking your father or mother: death. On the surface, that seems a bit odd, but in this, and many other things, God valued family above anything else. Your parents have done a lot more for you, and that bond is so valuable, that God didn’t want folks to even think about committing violence against their own parents.

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Exodus 21:1-11

1 “Now these are the ordinances which you are to set before them:

2 “If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment. 3 “If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 “If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone. 5 “But if the slave plainly says, `I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ 6 then his master shall bring him to 1God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.

7 “If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do. 8 “If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her. 9 “If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. 10 “If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. 11 “If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.

The example here is a human one, but it has an interesting correlation to our relationship to God. We are like slaves that He has purchased. He already paid the price on Calvary, and everything we have is a gift from Him. It all rightfully belongs to God. However, we have a choice, much like the slave. God has released us from obligation and given us the freedom to choose, no matter how odd that seems. If we choose Christ, and the things He has given us, we become permanent slaves, marked for life. Are you marked? Are you honoring that commitment? Even still, once we have made that choice, it is up to us to fulfill it. He will not force anything on us (He may send a few hints our way). Honor the choice you have made. And if you haven’t made the choice, think about the price that was paid. Jesus gave His life so that you could have yours to choose.