|Exodus 21 (NKJV™)|
|1||"Now these are the judgments which you shall set before them:|
|2||"If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing.|
|3||"If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him.|
|4||"If his master has given him a wife, and she has borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself.|
|5||"But if the servant plainly says, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,'|
|6||"then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.|
|7||"And if a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do.|
|8||"If she does not please her master, who has betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her.|
|9||"And if he has betrothed her to his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters.|
|10||"If he takes another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights.|
|11||"And if he does not do these three for her, then she shall go out free, without paying money.|
|12||"He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.|
|13||"However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee.|
|14||"But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die.|
|15||"And he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.|
|16||"He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.|
|17||"And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.|
|18||"If men contend with each other, and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and he does not die but is confined to his bed,|
|19||"if he rises again and walks about outside with his staff, then he who struck him shall be acquitted. He shall only pay for the loss of his time, and shall provide for him to be thoroughly healed.|
|20||"And if a man beats his male or female servant with a rod, so that he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished.|
|21||"Notwithstanding, if he remains alive a day or two, he shall not be punished; for he is his property.|
|22||"If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman's husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.|
|23||"But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life,|
|24||"eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,|
|25||"burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.|
|26||"If a man strikes the eye of his male or female servant, and destroys it, he shall let him go free for the sake of his eye.|
|27||"And if he knocks out the tooth of his male or female servant, he shall let him go free for the sake of his tooth.|
|28||"If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, then the ox shall surely be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be acquitted.|
|29||"But if the ox tended to thrust with its horn in times past, and it has been made known to his owner, and he has not kept it confined, so that it has killed a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death.|
|30||"If there is imposed on him a sum of money, then he shall pay to redeem his life, whatever is imposed on him.|
|31||"Whether it has gored a son or gored a daughter, according to this judgment it shall be done to him.|
|32||"If the ox gores a male or female servant, he shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.|
|33||"And if a man opens a pit, or if a man digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls in it,|
|34||"the owner of the pit shall make it good; he shall give money to their owner, but the dead animal shall be his.|
|35||"If one man's ox hurts another's, so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and divide the money from it; and the dead ox they shall also divide.|
|36||"Or if it was known that the ox tended to thrust in time past, and its owner has not kept it confined, he shall surely pay ox for ox, and the dead animal shall be his own.|
New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
As we turn our attention to the precepts of God's Law, we remember that it serves as a tutor leading us to Christ. Let's consider how God's Law applies to our lives, remembering we cannot have a relationship with the Lord based upon the Law--only upon redemption through Jesus Christ.
Beginning in the brickyards of Egypt and ending in the tabernacle filled with God's presence, the book of Exodus chronicles the deliverance of God's people from Egypt and records the end of their oppression under Pharaoh. It also provides an account of the beginning of a prophecy fulfilled: God promised Abraham descendants beyond number, and on the pages of Exodus we see Israel become a great nation.
In this verse-by-verse study, Pastor Skip Heitzig presents an in-depth look at Moses, the ten plagues, the ten commandments, the desert wanderings, the construction of the tabernacle, and more. As we study, we'll see the grace of God, witness the glory of the Lord, and a catch a glimpse of Israel's coming Savior.
Visit expoundabq.org for more information on this series.
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Hebrew terms: παιδαγωγòς; paidagōgos – a boy's guardian or tutor, a slave who had charge of the life and morals of the boys of a family, not strictly a teacher; אֱלֹהִים; elohim – God;
Greek terms: Παũλος; paulos – Paul; δοῦλος; doulos - slave
Figures Referenced: Professor Van Den Haag; Professor Steven Lawson
Cross references: Genesis 9:6; Genesis 4:23-24; Numbers 33:30-34; Psalm 1:1-2; Psalm 19; Matthew 5:39; Matthew 24:36; John 1:17; John 15:15; Acts 25:11; Romans 6:6-18; Romans 10:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Galatians 3:11; Galatians 3:24
Topic: The Law
Keywords: the law, principles, precepts
Tonight, we're in God Exodus chapter 21. As your turning there, I've got a note from someone in our congregation says, "I truly enjoyed your sermon and study on Manna. The Crispy Kremes were delicious". And then this writer said, "If or when you do a sermon or study on fishes, can we have lobster, please." Now, it's good and out of hand.
Couple of quick announcements, after the study tonight in our expound prayer room that you're always invited to by the way, it's always open. We're always encouraging people to make that a part of their spiritual journey to pray with other believers and to take advantage of the power that exist when people come together in prayer taking communion, laying out of hands, annoying with oil, praying for the world. I mean you can make that such a fun, trip and journey as many do.
After the service tonight, in that expound prayer room, it's an after glow. If you want to wait on the Lord to the gifts of the spirit, you're invited to do so or after glow in the prayer room. Second, on the agenda this weekend Sunday after third service is baptism. You're invited to come on obey the Lord in water baptism. If you've never been baptized by water, we'll you Sunday.
Third announcement is BBS is coming up and this coming weekend is the last we can assign up for it. Now, vacation bible school is something we do every year. But Roxy new children's director, she is got something in store for the kid,s age's grade 1 to grade 6. Massive water slide out on the park, obstacle course, lots of fun toys, plus in an enduring message. The vacation bible school, we want you to sign up and we can take as many as we'll want to sign up. We've got 250 volunteers waiting and ready to take your kids and take them on a spiritual journey this summer.
Let's have a word of prayer. Father in heaven, we thank you that the body has come together to take the Lord's Supper, to study the word and to fist upon the elements that speak of the sacrifice of Christ. We gather Lord tonight, in obedience but out of love. You told us to do it but we want to do it. We love that you love us without ever lasting love, that personal love.
We pray Lord that your Holy Spirit, the one who is resonant in every believer, the one who is moving us throughout life on a course, a sovereign course. We pray that it's that Holy Spirit that would speak to us by the over arching principles of truth that we find in the pages of scripture, your word. And then Father, we pray that we might be those who obey and respond in Jesus name. Amen.
I was going to say turn to the 21st chapter of Exodus but if you don't mind, I'm going to have you turn to Psalm 19 which you will be the doorway into Exodus 21. How is that? It's the doorway. I want to look tonight at the law of the Lord through the lens of Psalm 19. If for any other reason, then Psalm 19 is a great example of the difference between two kinds of revelation, general revelation and special revelations.
General revelation, God reveals himself through nature. Special revelation, God reveals himself through scripture. The first is the big book of the universe. The second is the little book of the bible. One is general, one is special. We can look around the universe and see certain attributes of God but it's only when we look into bible, the word of God that we understand who he is through his loss, his testimonies.
It was Charles Spurgeon who said, "He is wisest who reads both the world book and the word book." It has two volumes of the same work.
And say regarding them both, "They are my father's words." So Psalm 19 begins by saying, "The heavens declared the glory of God. The firmament chose his handy work. Day unto day utter speech night unto night reveals knowledge. There's no speech or language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone throughout all of the earth. They're words to the end of the world. He has set them a tabernacle for the sun which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber. And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, it circuit to the other end and there's nothing hidden from its heat." That's general revelation.
God speaks via the creation that He has placed us in and placed around us. We look around, we look up and we go, "Wow, God is big. God is powerful. He is mighty. Look what he is done. Look what he is provided". So the heaven speak. The universe speaks as general revelation.
But then David turns his pen toward special revelation, the scripture. What he says in verse 7 and notice the change, "The law of the Lord is perfect." That's what we are looking at tonight, the law, the Old Testament law and the special laws in particular of the Lord.
"The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is pure enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord", another synonym for scripture, "is clean enduring forever. The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold. Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb".
Tonight, beginning in chapter 21 of the book of Exodus, we look at some of the things David just mentioned. Judgments, statutes, testimonies, we go to the particulars of the law beginning in Chapter 21. We go from the principles that we're stated in the 10 commandments to the precepts, the fleshing out, the needy greedy of those broad principles. So look at this way. We have the 10 Commandments, the "Decalogue" we call it. And now, we have the expansion of the Decalogue. We flesh it out. We get in to the needy greedy real life. Rubber meets the road application of the 10 Commandments in everyday life. That's the law of the Lord.
But here is what I want to focus on tonight because we are going to take communion. Behind the law of the Lord is the Lord of the law and he wants a relationship with his people. He doesn't just give laws to say, "Okay, keep my rules and my regulations or else". But rather, "It's because I love you, it's because I care for you, it's because I want to protect you, I want to enrich you, I want your life to be fulfilled joyous, happy that I give you these laws, to govern you and to protect you", and so as the children of Israel have left Egypt. He now puts a fence around human life and a fence around human relationships to protect by saying, "Don't kill. Don't commit adultery", etcetera.
The bible has a lot to say about happiness, true happiness. And then in a nutshell, you could say that happiness comes through holiness. So he gives us his laws to draw us closer to him, to regard other people, to worship the Lord because in holiness, we find happiness. The very first Psalm David writes, "Blessed or owe how happy is the man who doesn't walk in the council of the ungodly or stand in a way of centers or sit in the sit of the scornful", but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law does he meditate day and night.
So, that's the preface, that's the lens by which we're about to read chapter 21 of the book of Exodus. The law of the Lord and behind the law of the Lord is the Lord of the Law. The one with whom we have a relationship through Christ, who is the "end of the law", the bible says to everyone that believes, so, chapter 21.
I think it's important to say that because as I mentioned before, right about now, right about here, we start loosing people when it comes to studying the bible. "Oh, Genesis is exciting. Those stories are amazing". But when you get into the pedantic particulars of the precepts of the law, the ins and outs, we loose people. And there's a partial reason that I understand but it's not a good enough reason.
The reason is because there is a cultural disconnect and historical disconnect from some of the laws we're about to read to modern day life. They seem odd to us when we read these laws in our modern technological computer society. I mean, when was the last time you had your axe gore somebody's next door? Or have to worry about covering up a cistern that you dug so that animals wouldn't fall into it. You don't live that way. At the same time, behind the law of the Lord is the Lord of the law. There are principles that are over arching principles that we can apply. And so, we always fall back on what Paul said, "All of these things were written for our admonition. New Testament believers use writing too. They're for us, they can apply to us.
Now, you remember that Paul the Apostle did say regarding the law, the law we're about to study. He called at the school master, right? Galatians 3 or a tutor, my translation says. He says, it was a tutor, in Greek paidagogos, and a child teacher, one who instructs a kid until the kid can grow up and be delivered on his own in a sense of freedom. He had a relationship with the law in the past but now he is gown up and he doesn't need that paidagogos that tutor any longer.
So the law becomes the tutor, the child discipliner until we can grow up and have a relationship with Christ and have the freedom in that relationship. So that as we read the law of the Lord, we don't get hang up on the law because it leads us to the Lord of the law.
So, enough said. Chapter 21, the precepts begin. Now, these are the judgments. We read that word in Psalm 19, which you shall set before them. If you buy a Hebrew servant, these are laws concerning servants, slaves. "If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years and then the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing". The Jewish people, the ancient Jews were permitted to have servants. Slave and servant is the same word in Hebrew, there's no distinction so they were permitted to have servants.
Typically, they were servants of other nations and you can understand why. If an Asian would attack Israel and they would fight and win the battle, the people that were – won in the battle become the servants of that kingdom. That's the way it's always been in ancient times.
So, an Israelite could use the servants of other nations or people from other nations as personal servants, not a Hebrew. You couldn't have a Hebrew slave if you're a Hebrew unless, and here's the key, unless that person was so poor and needed to pay off debt then he would work for you in a servant-master relationship for six years. After six years on the seventh year, that slave would be set free. He'd pay off his debt.
That's sort of, like well we should say in the olden days. If you go to a restaurant and you couldn't pay for the bill, get ready to wash dishes. You have to pay for food. Now, if you couldn't pay for the food, I suppose they could say well then we're going to make you come in the back and clean floors and wash dishes to pay off the debt that you've incurred.
So if in those days, you are poor and you incurred debt, you could become an indentured servant and thereby paying off your bill. That's what some of these laws were talking about here.
The servant would work for six years. In the seventh year, he could change the relationship from servant to bondservant. The first relationship is you become a servant because you have to. The second is you become a servant because you want to. I have to, that's the first. I have to pay off my debt. I'll work for you for six years. But if a relationship developed, if the relationship was good for both then that person could become a bondservant. I want this relationship to continue. I love my master. And I want to become not just a servant but a bondservant.
So if you buy a Hebrews servant, he shall serves six years and on the seventh year, he shall go out free and pay nothing. If you come in by himself, he shall go out by himself. If he comes in married then his wife shall go out with him.
Now before I get in to this. Let me just mention that we have pattern here. I want you to just to be familiar with or be reminded of. It's a six in one pattern. You've seen it before. Here we have six years of servitude the seventh year is the year of freedom, six in one, that's a pattern. That's the pattern for the Sabbath. You work six days, on the seventh day the one day, you kicked back. It's a Sabbath to the Lord. That's based upon creation. God created the earth, the universe in six days, on the seventh day he rested. That becomes the pattern God's creation for our week and the Jewish Sabbath.
But then, there was the six in one year relationship. For slaves as well as for crops, this is what God said, not here but in other places in the law, "You have fields, you plant and you harvest for six years. The seventh year, the entire year you get off". I like it. You take us Sabbatical. Literally, a seventh year off, you take the year off and God said, "Whatever grows of itself that year is what he live on." Love the concept. That's part of the Sabbath. It wasn't just the day. It was a year for slaves and for crops.
Now apparently, Israel as a nation failed to keep this law, the Sabbatic year and they failed to keep it for a long period of 490 years. And that is why God took the children of Israel out of the land into a foreign land for 70 Sabbath years. Get it? Seventy to the 490, 70 years Babylonian captivity because they disobeyed keeping the law of the land, and after the captivity, they came back.
Now some leave and take the analogy of the six in one and stretch it a bit into not just days, not just years but millennia, thousand years. Saying, that – and it's a Jewish belief. This is the year by the way, the Jewish year 5,771, almost 6,000 years since they say creations since Adam and Eve. And they will say the world has been under the servitude of the devil for 6,000 years. We're coming up on the seventh, the millennium, the millennial kingdom, the day of the Lords, sandwich in between when God eradicates the work of the enemy and does a new work, six in one.
It is interesting. It is fascinating but you have to be careful when you start playing with numbers because after all somebody, recently played with numbers and the end of the world, the judgment day was to have begun on the 21st of this month. And now all he can say is, "Well, it did. But it was just a spiritual judgment."
Now the real end is going to come on October, and I've heard this before. I heard it back in 1988, whenever 88 reasons why Jesus was going to come in 1988. And some people here were angry that I wasn't promoting this and getting people ready for the coming of the Lord. Listen, you should always be ready. No man knows the day or the hours, so you should always live in a ready state. And if it takes a book of 88 reasons or somebody making their predictions to jolt you, something is wrong.
So Verse 3, "He comes in by himself, he will go out by himself, he's not married or if he brings his wife with him, they go out free together. If his master has given him a wife and she has born him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her masters and he will go out by himself."
So you'd be face with the dilemma, he would come in working for a guy, it has to pay off debt but in the meantime the master hooks him up with a wife and they get married and have children and now he's in a dilemma. It's like, "Well, I can go free but I love you. You belong to him because he provided you for me", wife and children that's who he was talking to. And, "You're a part of his work force now, but I love you and frankly, I love my master." Well there's a stipulation for that.
Verse 5, if the servant plainly says, "I love my master, my wife and my children. I will not go out free" then his master shall bring him to the judges. In Hebrew, "Bring him to which is a name for God". Sometimes it's translated, "He will bring him before God." And other translations like here, "We'll bring him before the judges", those who represent the judicial aspect of God.
He shall also bring him to the door or to the door post. Now we don't know of this the door post to the master's house, that's where I lean or it's the door post to the tabernacle or some like to say. Probably it's the master's house. And the master shall pierce his ear within all. And he will serve him forever. He go, "Well that's not very nice". Meaning he wants to be a servant so, "Come here, I'm going to jam this in your ear".
By this gesture, the servant becomes earmarked, literally. That's where the origin of the term. A hole placed in the ear, women, you've done this for years and some of you guys. And you put in a mark, a marker, an earring, that designates in those days, it will designate, "I belong to a master." It's a willing servitude. I don't have to do it, I want to do it. I used to have to do it but life is good. I love my master. I love my wife, I love my kids. It's something I want to do. So the servant becomes earmarked. And the man, lift up the most important part and he will serve him forever. So it's willingness.
Okay now it changes. Now there's a shift in focus, in the next Verse. From slaves or servants to female servants, it's a little bit different and for different situations that a female servant may find herself in. If a man sells his daughter to be a female's slave, she shall go – she shall not go out as the male's slaves do. You say now, "Why would a man sell his daughter as a servant?" It's quite simple, he's poor. Life isn't good for him or for his daughter. His daughter could have a much better life. She could be talking care off.
Even a part from the servant relationship, it was very customary for a dowry to be paid because the man was losing part of his family, his daughter part of his work force. His daughter and so a dowry was paid to the father of the daughter.
In this case, he sells her to somebody who wants a wife. But the rules are a little bit different.
If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she shall not go out as the male's slaves do. So on the seventh year, the year of release she is not to go out. That is if there's an understanding that I am selling my daughter to you because you want to marry her, you want her to be your wife. Well then she can't say, "I'm out of here, this is really isn't working out. You're really not the guy I really want to be married to. See you." She doesn't have the same freedom.
There's been a contractual marriage agreement, or if he did it to give the wife to his son, the same idea. If she does not please her master, now this is an entirely different situation. If she does not please her master who has betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people since she has dealt deceitfully with her.
So the girls were protected. They couldn't be abused. They were very stiff laws and penalties if there was an abusive situation. Women were to be considered as just property or chattel. They have human rights and even servants, slaves had basic human rights. So it was an agreement and it was governed by law. They weren't second class citizens.
Verse 9, "And if he has betrothed her to his son, he will deal with her according to the custom of daughters". That is he is to treat her as his own daughter. If a servant is brought into the household, a female servant then, he becomes the father-in-law if he is giving that woman to his son as a wife. And he is to treat her as such. Not just a slave but as a daughter or a daughter-in-law in this case.
"If he takes another wife, if that man who has that woman takes another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights. If he does not do these three for her then, she will go out free without paying money". So she would be release from all of this, a contractual agreement or not. If there's an abusive situation where the slave owners mistreating this woman and doesn't do right by her according to the law, then she is free to go. She can be released. So these are the laws that govern the servants.
Now in the New Testament, it was estimated that out of the 120 million people that live in the Roman Empire, 60 million were slaves. Half of the entire Roman Empire was slaves, so all the labor was done by a slave labor force. Because slavery was so common in those days in a much worse form than anything in the Old Testament, this is governed by human rights and God's law and people were protected. But in Roman times, it was different. In Greek times is very, very different.
But because it was so prevalent this idea of slavery, the New Testament employs the term that we're a slave of Christ. Did you know it was one of Paul's favorite terms? He used it of himself. He would begin many of his letters, "Paul a slave of Jesus Christ". He was a servant, a slave of Christ.
And in Roman Chapter 6, he says this, "At one time you are a slave of sin. But now you have become a slave of righteousness through Jesus Christ." You might say that when you came to Jesus Christ at first, you came poor in spirit. Like the guy who becomes a slave or the woman who becomes the slave at first, you have to do it. You are poor in spirit. Nobody else can redeem you. But you continue in your relationship with Christ. In the second face, being a bondservant because you want to. You want to.
That's why Jesus says to his disciples, "No longer do I call you may servants. I call you my friends." For a slave or a servant doesn't know it is master's doing, "I call you my friends." The relationship is what he wanted.
So, that motif is very, very powerful in the New Testament because slavery was so apparent and so a common place.
Now, in the beginning in Verse 12, we're dealing with a whole different set of laws. And this is the expansion of the 6th commandment, "Thou shalt not murder". And these are the laws of capital punishment, the laws regarding life and the taking of life for capital punishment. Verse 12, "He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely, be put to death."
Now you have to understand something. This law is not new in Exodus. It has its roots all the way back in the book of Genesis. Many of these laws were and are new but this law goes all the way back to the book of Genesis. Sorry, I'm thinking while I'm reading a text question on the screen. So turn back with me to Genesis chapter 9 for just a second. We're only doing one chapter tonight if you're wondering, "He'll never make it and do communion". I will.
Genesis 9. Now we have an Email question. This is in a text question by you and it doesn't come from the internet, those who watching by the internet now you know. This is a very active, dynamic group on Wednesday nights. But, we have an email question that was sent to us. It says, "In Mathew 15, Jesus refers to both Exodus 20 and 21. He is advocating the death penalty here and the other 16 offenses in the Torah that allowed the death penalty?" I don't totally understand the question to be honest with you, but I think I'm going to answer at least the principle and the heart, the spirit of the question by continuing on.
So once again, turn to Genesis chapter 9 where it says in verse 5, "Surely for your life blood, I will demand a reckoning from the hand of every beast I will require it. From the hand of man, from the hand of every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood by man, his blood shall be shed for in the image of God he made men."
So the law that we read in Exodus has its roots way back in the beginning of civilization, the beginning of creation almost. Chapter 9 of Genesis. By the time we get to the laws that are written, the statutes, the precepts, the testimonies, we find that capital punishment is commanded by God for several offenses: (a)murder, (b)child sacrifice; which is murder, (c)killing your child to worship to another God, (d)kidnapping, (e)cursing your mother or father. Here I go, oh I heard and "Uh oh", (f)idolatry and several others that we'll read about.
Capital punishment was never considered murder because God said, "Don't murder" and then the very next chapter he says, "Okay, here's the list of things by which you should enact capital punishment". So, God isn't stupid, he wouldn't say, "Don't murder" and then say, "Murder". It wasn't regarded as murder. Capital punishment was never considered murder. It was considered, listen "Righteously administered judicial execution". Righteously administered judicial execution.
By the time, we get to the New Testament that was the question that was texted in or emailed in.
Jesus talks about this, "It seems that by New Testament times, they had taken something that was judicial something that was on a court room basis and made it personal". If people were saying, "Well the bible says, I can take the life of somebody who has taken the life of somebody in my family". No, you can't. It was never to be personal. On a personal level you forgive, you turn the other cheek. That's what Jesus said. You have heard that it was said by those of old, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth which we're going to get to.
But, I say unto you "If somebody smites you on the right cheek, turn the left cheek to him". So, on a personal level you forgive. On a judicial level, a societal level it's very different. There are laws that protect life and the list will be given but this is where it first appears. Now, why is this law given throughout the scriptures? Not just once, it's throughout the scriptures. Capital punishment, why is it given?
Well number one, it is seen if done swiftly, not lingering, swiftly as a deterrent for a crime. How? I know that people would disagree with this is been under dispute in our judicial system for years. Some people say "No, no, no, capital punishment is never a deterrent for crime". Well, some would say that, some would say otherwise. A researcher named Professor Van Den Haag, Dutch, did a study of prisoners who had committed murders. And he said this, "99.9% of murderers convicted of the crime of murder would much rather prefer a life sentence than the death penalty". And then he added, "What is feared the most is what deters the most".
Another study by Steven Lawson, University of North Carolina studied the effect of execution, capital punishment on different societies. And said, "For every one execution of a murderer, an average of 18 murders are prevented that would otherwise be committed". So some will say it's not deterrent but there are a lot of stats that say it is a deterrent, that's number one.
Number two, it's not always about retribution, it's also about restitution. And this is what I mean. I'm going to throw you a curve ball. According to the law, when blood is shed, the land is defiled. The land is defiled. I'll read it to you, unless you want to just write it down or turn to Numbers Chapter 35 quickly, because I'm about to read and it might be gone by the time you turn to it.
Numbers 35, verse 30, "Whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the testimony of witnesses. But one witness is not sufficient testimony against a person for the death penalty. Moreover, you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death. And you shall take no ransom for him who has fled to the city of refuge that he may return to the, dwell in the land before the death of the priest. So, you shall no pollute or defile the land where you are for blood defiles the land and no atonement can be made for the land for blood that is shed on it except by the blood by the blood of him who shed it.
"Therefore, do not defile the land which you inhabit in the midst of which I dwell for I, the Lord dwell among the children of Israel". So, these are some the scriptures, these are the principles that govern capital punishment. Now, I know some of you are thinking, "Well, that's Old Testament Skip. We live in the new covenant. We live in the New Testament. These are all testament principles you're talking about". You're right partially.
What you've fail to leave out is Paul the apostle; he was pretty New Testament, wasn't he, validates the Old Testament law in those New Testament times. He stands before a trial of Festus the procurator of Judea later on Felix, later on Agrippa. And he says because he has been accused he says "If I have committed. If I have offended or committed anything worthy of death, I do not object to dying". Do you get his drift? Paul says, "I agree with the biblical mandate for capital punishment even on myself, if I've done anything worthy of death."
So as a deterrent if swiftly done, righteous execution and because of the pollution of the land, something else you ought to know, just as an aside. Traditionally in our country, we have thought that incarceration is the best way to deal with the criminal and yet we face a problem. The problem is we don't have enough prison space. And so, what they're doing in some states, they've been doing it the last few months is releasing prisoners out into the public because they can't keep so they try to figure out. Well, these people have done crimes worthy of incarceration, murder or rape, armed robbery, etcetera. Let's release some of those less dangerous people, the salt of the earth. Let them go back out to society and mingle because we don't have enough space for them.
Do you know that 85% of inmates who commit crimes go back into the prisons once they're released? That's the percentage, 85%. The cost of keeping a prisoner throughout a lifetime is the, of a single prisoner is the equivalent of an IV League Education. If you could afford Dartmouth, or Yale, or Harvard or just to send your kids to, that's what it costs for one. So, these were God's laws. I won't get into the politics of it any more than that.
Back to chapter 21, "He who strikes a man so that he die, will surely be put to death." However, "if he did not lie and wait", that is just not intentional "but God delivered him into his hand then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee". There were six cities, we just read about them in Numbers where I read it you. Six cities, three on the western side, three in the eastern side of the Jordan River called cities of refuge.
If somebody was killed unintentionally, it wasn't premeditated murder he could flee to a city of refuge and wait there for a fair trial. Why? Because in tribal societies, ancient tribal societies there was a designated family member called "The avenger of blood" and it is still a prevalent practice in that part of the world. "You killed somebody in my family? I'm going to kill somebody in your family", the avenger of blood. "You've destroyed our honor. I have to get our honor back by killing somebody." If it was unintentional, it demands a fair trial. That's what these laws are governing.
So, if you didn't do it, but notice it says, "If he didn't lie and wait but God delivered him into his hand." It was unintentional killing but, it's couched in the language of the sovereignty of God that all of life is governed under the sovereignty of God. That's how the law is rendered.
Verse 14, "But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from my altar that he may die." Now the only ones that are at the altar are the priests and here's what God is saying, "Even if it is a clergy man, somebody who is officiating as a priest in the priesthood from the family of Aaron. If he has committed murder and its premeditated murder, I don't care if he's worshipping in the tabernacle at the altar. Go get him."
So, all people, all people are governed by these laws. I just got a message that was texted in. "If capital punishment is the punishment for murder, why didn't Cain, who murdered his brother Abel, why didn't God kill him?" Well we serve a merciful God and Cain said his punishment was worst that death because he was, had to live publicly with a mark in isolation. So, the bible doesn't say why but once the law came, God basically has his own prerogatives. God is God and you and I didn't get what we deserved either, that's called mercy and grace. So God for his own reasons to let Cain be sort of the foster child if you will of murderers, put a mark on him and he had to bare that forever.
Verse 15, "He, who strikes his father or mother shall surely be put to death. He who kidnaps a man and sells him or if he has found in his hand shall surely be put to death. He who curses father or mother shall surely be put to death." Now, this will help you understand what we read back in chapter 20 in the 10 commandments. Look at verse 12. Now you'll get it when I read it. "Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long upon the earth or the land which the Lord your God is giving you" get it?
Make sense now? Now when a child is disobedient, is recalcitrant toward a mother or father. A disobedient child will become typically, somebody who doesn't respect any authority in life, any authority. And will be bad for all of society. If he is not going to respect that authority, he's only after his own will, his own whims, his own wishes, he won't respect any authority.
Now the Rabbis in interpreting what we have just read, all these aspects of the law restrict this to somebody invoking the name of God when cursing a father or mother, bringing God, asking God to damn their father or mother, asking the living God to place a curse on them. That's the restriction, the Rabbis have in saying, "Whoever curses father or mother shall be put to death".
Now by the time we get to the New Testament, things are different. Under Roman law, there was a law called "The Patria Potestas" or The Absolute Authority of the Father over a child. Which meant at any time, for almost any reason, a father could demand the life of his son even he's grown up and as an adult, he could take his life. And it would be permissible under Roman law. God's laws are more fair and balanced and exact and pure. The law of the Lord, David said is, "Perfect" reviving the soul.
Verse 18, "If men contend with each other or have an argument, a fight" and they often do. "And one strikes the other with his stone or with his fist and he does not die but is confined to his bed. If he rises again and walks about outside with his staff, then he who struck shall be acquitted. He shall only pay for the loss of his time and shall provide for him to thoroughly heal". Or literally, in Hebrew, "In healing he shall be healed".
In other words, if I smack you upside the head and don't worry I never would. But if I did, and I put you out for a few days or a week, you recovered from and I was really angry but you recovered, I wouldn't acquitted for murder. But I would have to take care of your medical bills. I'd have to pay for that. I'd have to compensate you for your loss of time in work. You'd be walking and you'd be rehabilitating. I'd have to make sure that in healing you would be healed. Completely thoroughly healed, it would be on my shoulders to do so.
Verse 20, "If a man beats his male or female servant with a rod", be a dirty thing to do, "so that he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished. Not with standing, if he remains alive a day or two, he shall not be punished; for he is his property".
Now again, here's what you have. You have God's laws and then you have Rabbis, scholars throughout history interpreting these things falling in different camps. According to some, Jewish laws, some Jewish writing, the Rabbis a bulk of them say that if a master physically abuses a servant to cause this, that he should be beheaded. So laws were stiff for any kind of slave owner, any kind of master to mistreat the servant.
All right left off Verse 22, "If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely and yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman's husband imposes on him". I heard a lot of noise backstage. "As the woman's husband imposes on him and he shall pay as the judges determine." So both as the husband in collaboration with the judges who will determine the case, he has to pay. "But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
"If a man strikes the eye of a male or female servant and destroys it, then he will let him go free for the sake of his eye.
"If he knocks out the tooth a male or female servant, he will let him go free for the sake of the tooth". The law that we just read is known in most law books as the Lex Talionis. It's a Latin term for "the law of exact retribution", that is the punishment should exactly match the crime. Help. So often, people specially unbelievers love to pull these verses out of scripture to show that the God of the Old Testament is unmerciful, blood thirsty, eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. It's exactly the opposite.
God knows human nature. Human nature is bent on revenge and often, usually, typically, more than has been given to begin with. That's human nature. This is an act of mercy. The punishment matches the crime because human nature is you take out one of my teeth. I'm going to make you wear dentures, a full set. You take out one of my eyes. I'm going to make, sure your blind in both eyes. That's human nature to exceed the crime.
God in mercy wanted the punishment to match the crime because he knew us. He knows human nature. And again, by the New Testament times, it had been taken out of the Law courts. That's what all this is dealing with. Well these are laws to be righteously administered, judicially in a court of law. By the New Testament times, people had taken out of a Law courts, made it personal. And that's why Jesus said on a personal level, "You forgive". That doesn't negate, taking it to court and enacting the laws that we have just read, eye for eye and tooth for a tooth.
I say its human nature. I think I can prove that. We've read about it in the book of Genesis with the guy by the name of Lamech. Do you remember Lamech? Lamech said, "I have killed a man for wounding me, even a young man for hurting me". For if, Cain shall be avenged seven fold then Lamech shall be avenged 77 fold. Not an eye for an eye but 77 eyes for one eye. I mean he was going all out, "I killed a man for hurting me". So the Lex Talionis, the law of exact retribution is employed.
If an ox gores a man or a woman to death and the ox shall surely be stoned. Everybody must get stoned, even the ox. Sorry. Some things just hang on for a long a time. And its flesh shall not be eaten because it's defiled, it can't be ritually cleansed or eaten. But the honor of the ox shall be acquitted. But if the ox tended to thrust with its horn and times passed, it is been known to it's master and he has not kept it confined so that he has killed a man or a woman. The ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death. If there is imposed on him a sum of money, then he shall pay to redeem his life whatever is imposed upon him. Whether it has gored a son or gored a daughter, according to the judgment, it shall be done to him.
If the ox gores a male or a female servant, he shall give to the master 30 shekels of silver and the ox shall be stoned. So if you've got a problem animal and you knew about it but you didn't keep it confined, then you've released a murder weapon into society. And you yourself will incur the punishment, in this case capital punishment.
Verse 33 and we'll bring it to a close. "If a man opens a pit that is digs cistern", I'll explain in a moment. "Or if a man or digs a pit and does not cover it over, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit shall make it good. He shall give money to its owner, but the dead animal shall be his". Okay here's the deal. In the Middle East, rivers are not plentiful and rainfall is only seasonal. There's a Jordan River and a few tributaries and they relay on rain. They didn't have Nile River there. It's a very different set up.
So, in order to survive in Israel in ancient times, you'd have to dig some collection pool to collect the rain water so that during the summer months, you'd have water. So they would dig it out of pure rock, it was called a cistern and they're massive.
I mean they're as big as 10,000 square foot home, some of them huge. And they go to a narrow neck and you get to it by a ladder and there is a covering on top where the ground level is. If you're digging the cistern or if you've dug the cistern but you fail to cover, it up an animal might fall into it and get killed, you have to make restitution. It's interesting it doesn't talk about the law. It exempts humans because it figures that the human is smart enough to be able to see "Oh! There is a pit; I'm not going to walk into that hole."
So I'm bringing that up because here is a law governing animals falling into a pit not humans because the bible obviously knows there is a huge difference between humans and animals. Our society seems to have forgotten that. Our society basically would say, "Animals are people too. They have rights too, they have souls too, they have feelings too." Okay, whatever. They're not put on the same level as humans and this law is a good example of that.
"If one man hurts, one man's ox", Verse 35, "hurts another so that it dies. Then they shall sell the live ox and divide the money from it and the dead ox will shall also divide. Or if it was known that the ox tended to thrust in times past and its owner has not kept to confine he shall surely pay ox for ox" like life for life, tooth for tooth, ox for ox, "and the dead animal shall be his own". Oh, boy I get a dead animal.
So these are and this is the law of the Lord. This is the law that David said, "The law of the Lord is perfect. The judgments of the Lord are sure righteous altogether." This is the law of the Lord but behind the law of the Lord is the Lord of the law. Loving, protecting, helping, and ensuring people have a great life if they follow his rule. It's because people have departed from the Lord that they depart from the law of the Lord. It's relational. It's not just legal or judicial, and it's relational.
If you depart from the Lord, you depart from the law of the Lord. You see it's because people have departed from the Lord that they depart from honoring life. It's because people depart from the Lord that they depart from honoring marriage. It's because people have departed from the Lord, on and on and on it goes.
So it's not just about keeping the laws, it's about the relationship with the Lord. Now we open with Psalm 19, I'm going to close with Psalm 19. I'm going to go out the same door I walked in. It ends by saying, Psalm 19, Verse 12. David said, "Who can understand his errors, cleanse me from secret faults, keep back your servant from presumptuous sins, let them not have dominion over me then I will be blameless, I shall be innocent of he great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight. Oh, Lord my strength and my redeemer."
Now you remember David began Psalm 19 by beginning in the far reaches of outer space. The heavens declare the glory of God. He begins by the far reaches of space, he continues by saying, "The law of the Lord is perfect".
Now he is talking about inside of his heart. So he goes from far reaches of outer space to the familiar reaches of his own heart. And he is saying, "The sky has revealed of your glory God, the scriptures reveal your glory God, and I want to reveal your glory God, personally in my own personal life." Do you see the flow of this? He is going from the law of the Lord to the Lord of the law, it's relational. And so he says, "Keep me from secret faults, cleanse me from presumptuous sins. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable."
The law of God isn't to just govern the outward actions but the inward attitude. It's a matter of the heart. And Psalm 19 closes with a single word that is perfect for us to take the Lord supper communion with in the last few minutes and that is the word redeemer notice. "Oh, Lord my strength and my redeemer.
The word redeemer literally means to buy a slave back from the slave market. It's what the law could never do to us as the people, couldn't redeem us. "No man", Paul said, "is justified by the law. You can't be redeemed by the law itself. You can't have a relationship solely based upon the law". You need a relationship with him based upon redemption that comes through Jesus Christ. "For the law that was given by Moses", John 117, "but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ". Galatians Chapter 3, "By the law shall know man be justified". We need a redeemer.
So maybe you're a rule keeper. "I keep the rules whatever the rules maybe." Some people say, "I keep the Ten Commandments." Well they've just broken one, then what about lying and the rest. Because Jesus said, "If you're angry with your brother, you have committed murder. If you lust, you've committed adultery" and so forth. It's inward not just outward. It's not just about the law it's about the Lord of the law. How is your relationship with him?
As we take the elements that you have in your chair and now's the time to take them. We have symbols or redemption. If you would take the top clear film off of the cup, you'll get to the bread. The bread symbolizes the body of Christ. At the Passover meal, Jesus took the bread and he broke it, he gave thanks and he said, "Take this bread, this is my body broken for you."
And he took the Passover meal and he instituted something that should be done often to remember redemption, a redeemer. That Jesus would pay for our sins. That we could stand before a Holy God who demands in account of our sins. We could stand before him clean and pure because Jesus would wash our sin away by his broken body and has shed blood. So we take this bread, this token as a group of believers acknowledging that what Jesus did on the cross 2000 years ago, he did individually for me and for you. Let's take the bread.
Then if you peel back the second layer, you have the fruit of the vine and in this case grape juice. It seems more politically correct than wine I suppose for some. This represents the blood of Jesus and at the supper, Jesus took the cup of redemption during the Passover meal and said, "This is the cup of the new covenant, my blood which is shed for you".
Last week, my wife and I had a privilege after our conference in Jerusalem, Monday afternoon, to go over to the garden tomb in Jerusalem where some believed is the place where Jesus was buried and rose from the dead. And we were able to sit in one little corner with our eye on the empty tomb and take communion together.
Thanking of the 30 years of covenant we have enjoy in our married life, coming up on 30 years of marriage, and we though about the covenant, our covenant then we though about God's covenant. The covenant that Jesus kept with his father for mankind by shedding his blood and we just couldn't contain the tears as we realized the faithful, love of God. God is so faithful, he'll never leave you, and he'll never forsake you. Would you take this blood in here as you take this cup, it's a remembrance of the covenant faithfulness. His blood that washes away our sins, let's take it.
And father, we close by thanking you for your laws, for us, principles.
None of us today worried about our ox goring somebody or the pit left uncovered or an indentured servant that wasn't cared for. But all of these principles translate nonetheless into respecting others personal property, getting along with people, being responsible in our lives, making restitution, extending forgiveness.So we thank you Lord that we can observe the law of the Lord but look behind the law of the Lord and see you Lord, the Lord of the law. And I pray Lord that everything we read in scripture would draw us into deeper relationship with you. Everything we do in life would be evaluated by a relationship we have with you. May the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart, be acceptable in your sight. Our Lord and our redeemer, in Jesus name. Amen.