November 30, 1991. Reviewed and added to, October 22-29, 1992
Law of Rest
Laws of Justice
Isaiah 61ff as Isaiah works up to 65:20
Mt. 5:43-48 (44)
Vv. 1-8, laws of justice.
The law which is behind our Lord's words here is Ex. 20:16, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Ex. 23:1-13, gives the proper application of this law where the Lord requires honesty toward even those we have a problem with. Not only is this required in the court room, but it is also required in our every day activity. The Pharisees of Christ's day ignored this law showing love only toward their friends.
Honesty is required at all times, toward all people, but always in terms of God's law, not man's thought. (Therefore, when one intentionally seeks to destroy us or the Kingdom, they are not owed the truth. This is another study, What is truth?.)
Ex. 23:1, prohibits joining with others in a falsehood. The margin says, receive, indicating to believe a false report. The context would indicate that the purpose of the false report is for the gain which might be involved. I would suppose this is very common against insurance companies.
Ex. 23:2, is spoken by the Wise man in Proverbs 1 as he warns against joining with the wrong crowd. This crowd is determined to do evil, to do whatever is required in order to get what they want. This could easily refer to conspiratory groups, but the context would point to a group of people conspiring against someone whom they perceive to have money, "Deep Pockets."
Ex. 23:2, neither shalt thou speak in a cause.. (Marg. is answer.) The cause is to subvert justice. In other words, be sure our answers are honest. It is so tempting and easy to use an answer to give a false impression against some one we have a problem with, subverting justice.
On the other hand, it is tempting and easy to use an answer to give a false impression for someone we are close to, subverting justice. In both cases, justice is subverted and the commandment is broken. (Sin is a transgression of the law.)
Ex. 23:3, is repeated in Leviticus 19:15-18. Both show us that righteousness is our standard, not someone's financial status, social standing or might. Leviticus warns us not to follow our natural desire to give the rich or mighty man special treatment. James develops and applies this law, ch. 2. In Exodus 23, the Lord argues from the poor, giving us the basic law prohibiting special treatment for the poor.
We are living in a wicked day which is controlled by a sinful desire to place every one on the same level, socialism. There is a great effort being made to place a guilt trip on all who might have more than the poor. The result is that laws are passed and used to rob from the 'rich' and to give it to the 'poor.' The 'poor' are given special treatment under the law.
We know that the motive behind this evil is not care for the poor, but rather it is money. It has been documented that with the money being spent on social programs for the 'poor,' each 'poor' family of 4 could receive a yearly income of $40,000. There is money in socialism for those at the top at the expense of those at the bottom.
Exodus 23:4, 5, the care of an enemy's ox or ass, would seem to be out of place with the context speaking of honesty, v. 6-9. So, what do we have here? Evidently the man who owns the ox and ass is a man of means, to one extent or another. He has an ox and ass as well as land to use them on.
He is thine enemy. Why? Who knows. We only know that for some reason, he has offended or done something against 'us.' He may hate us, or has taken advantage of us in some way. We see his ox or ass going astray, wandering down the lane. The first thought is, "He has the money. He will never miss the ox or ass, and he should have taken better care for it. Losers weepers, finders keepers. And besides, we don't get along anyway. Now is my chance to get even with him. "
Maybe the animal is being overworked or overloaded. The ass is fallen under his burden or is in a ditch. The requirement is to help the animal. We are not to allow the personal relationship with the owner (others in general) to influence our obedience to the Lord, preventing our help for his animal which is in need.
It would be so easy to look at the prosperity of this neighbor, remember the evil he has done to us, and say that he can afford to lose his animal. It is so tempting to let the personal feelings between us influence our willingness to help him.
(If we are required to do good to our enemies beast, how much more to our enemy himself, Geneva marg.)
Ex. 23:6, tells us of a poor person who has a cause against the one we have a problem with. (Deut. 25:1, shows us that a Cause refers to a dispute, controversy, case at law.)
V. 7, the poor man's cause is unjust and false, or he may be expecting special treatment because he is poor. He is using corrupt justice to reach into our enemy's pockets.
The Lord tells His people to stay well clear of the man with injustice in his heart. To side with the ones who have an unjust cause against our enemy is to slay our enemy. It is wickedness and God will not justify the wicked, whether the wicked is the poor who is trying to steal from the one we dislike, or us, who side according to personal feelings. The child of God must always side with righteousness and above personal feelings.
V. 8, gives us a reason for siding with the poor in his unjust cause. There is the prospect of a reward involved. Maybe we will see our desire accomplished upon the one we dislike, or maybe we will gain in some way. The prospect of gain causes blindness to, or shades the truth of a matter. It causes one to say too much or not enough.
As usual, the Lord argues from the lessor to the greater. He argues from the ox or ass to the person we have a problem with. The principle is that if we are required to help his ox or ass, how much more are we required to help and be honest in another's behalf, regardless of how we feel about him. Is he not of more value than many oxen or asses in the sight of our Heavenly Father? Doesn't the Father send rain upon his garden as well as ours?
V. 9, a stranger... This could be someone passing through or some one who lives in the community but not a member of the covenant people. The temptation would be to take advantage of the stranger, especially if the poor person who has the cause against the stranger is a close friend of ours. It would be so easy to side with a poor friend against someone we do not even know.
The Lord requires two witnesses for any charge to be valid, Numbers 35:30; Matthew 18:16. (We have just seen the damage that can be done to a person when just one witness is permitted to speak against him. Physical evidence could be the second witness. Judge Thomas and the boxer, Tyson.) The Lord prohibits one law for the friend and one for the stranger, Numbers 15:16.
We are living in an extremely covetous age. A situation which we are all familiar with was the oil spill in Alaska. Every one jumped on the wagon against EXXON, wanting to place the blame where there was a prospect of gain. What took place was totally contrary to this law. The public united together against one whom they perceived as a rich enemy.
The court sided with the public against EXXON because EXXON was considered as having 'Deep Pockets.' That it was an accident which was completely beyond EXXON's control, had nothing to do with it in the public's eyes. The captain of the ship was the one responsible, but they didn't hold him responsible other than removing his license.
The principle in Ex. 23:4, 5, is that if those against EXXON saw the ship going off course, no matter how much they hated EXXON and all EXXON stood for, they were responsible to bring it back on course for EXXON.
The courts are responsible to protect EXXON and companies such as EXXON from men like the captain of that ship, and the crowd who seeks to rob EXXON. The court followed the multitude to do evil, as they sought to reach into EXXON's perceived 'Deep Pockets.' The people of Alaska slew EXXON through the courts, and the Lord will not hold such wicked people guiltless, v. 9.
As a side point: The stated purpose of permits and licenses is to protect the public from unsafe practices of the holder. A drivers license is an example. The stated propose is to keep unsafe drivers off the road. Therefore, when others are injured by unsafe drivers, the ones who issued the license should be held accountable if that is the purpose of the license.
Therefore, someone should take the state to court for not doing their self-proclaimed duty through the license when they did not provide a safe, sober captain for EXXON. This would go for every area where permits and licenses are required. If the public is harmed by the unsafe use of the permit, why not hold the issuer of the permit responsible? It is obvious that the actual purpose is control, not protection. How can the public be so blind?
The ox, ass, they are out and about. They are seen, but the person who sees the animal ignores him and lets him go. Now, what if the ox gores someone or damages someone's property? Is the one who saw him out and did not fulfill his responsibility because of the conflict with the owner, responsible? The owner had tried to restrain him, the neighbor saw him free, and may have thought in his heart, "I hope he gets in trouble. It will serve the owner right." This wicked person is required to do what he can to restrain the ox.
If one sees his neighbour's need, whether his animal or him personally, and he dies not respond to that need, the Lord considers him a false witness for not moving according to the law and doing what the law requires of him.
1) Note an implication: False witness must be considered in both positive and negative contexts. A witness who does nothing, contrary to the commanded by the Lord, is false (pull the needy ox out of the ditch); a witness who does something, contrary to the command of the Lord, is false (pulls the ox out and keeps him for himself).
2) If one sees another moving falsely against a third party, and he knows that the one moving is using maybe his station in life (poor) or a false story to move against an innocent third party, if the observer does not move in defence of the innocent, he is as guilty as the false witness. There is no such thing as an innocent bystander. See my paper on Gothard.
THE LAW OF REST
This passage introduces an apparently completely different thought, the sabbath year. This gives us two points.
First, the principle is rest, v. 11. The law gives rest to the faithful covenant people: rest from hating our neighbor, rest from having to get even with him, rest from looking for someone with a cause against him to make him pay for the way he treated us.
In other words, the law would give the public rest from having to seek vengeance against EXXON over an accident. It would give companies like EXXON rest from wicked men. (Now, of course, if it were the companies' fault through blatant negligence, that would be a different story.)
Second, the law provides for the poor, Deuteronomy 15. (Det. 15:15 & Ex. 23:9, both remind of former bondage. Therefore, at issue is freedom from bondage, John 8:31-36.)
One purpose of God's law, including the sabbath year, is the eradication of poverty, Deuteronomy 15:4 (marg. to the end that there be no poor among you), and chapter 28. But, the poor shall never cease out of the land, and as the Lord's commandments are ignored, there are even more poor, Deuteronomy 15:11.)
Exodus 23:11, one reason for the sabbath was for the poor. US News, 10/21/91, asks this question, "What keeps the poor poor?" The article opens with "Every Sunday-school child knows that Jesus said the poor are always with us. But not even the Christian Messiah detailed why the poor endure..." Well, we must say that the Lord did not have to say why. Moses already told us that their presence in the land reveals society's attitude toward God and His word.
Observe these results of Christians forgetting poor:
1) When the covenant people forget or ignore their responsibility for the poor, then where does much of the blame lie when the poor brings false charges against those who are perceived to be rich? Certainly, this does not justify the attempted theft of the poor from the rich.
2) Where does the blame lie for the overburdened welfare and social spending? Someone must care for the poor; it will be either God's people or the state.
Leviticus 19:9; 23:22; Deuteronomy 26:12, 13, the law concerning gleaning provided for the poor. Do we provide work they can do, or do we cast them onto the Babylonian welfare system?
Leviticus chapter 25, is the poor brother treated as a stranger or as a loved one? Now, we are not talking about the poor who hold the law of God in disrespect.
Deuteronomy 14:28, 29, is there money in the house of God to provide for the poor? This is money over and above the 10% tithe, called the poor tithe. Without the finances, it is not possible to properly care for the poor in the name of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 15:9, 10, do we take advantage of the poor? "Well, he needs the money, he is in a fix and he has this skill. His skill is worth $15.00 an hour in the market place, but because he is against the wall, I can get it for $7.00 an hour." He was just robbed of $8.00 an hour because of his poverty. Of course, if the person is not being forced because of his poverty to take lessor pay for his skill, that is a different story.
The NT has a great amount to say about the duty of the child of God toward the poor. It could be summed up with Ephesians 4:28, Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (Cf. James 2; 1 John 3:17.) Clearly, one of the reasons for the Christian working hard is to have money to give to the poor.
Exodus 23, the poor man has a cause against the one perceived to have wealth. He brings charges against the rich that he may steal from him. The answer? The ones who desire wealth are not to bring charges against the rich thinking he can get something for nothing, but get to work.
One last point, Exodus 23:13. God's people are not to even consider joining in false charges against one who is not guilty. To join in such wicked activity is to serve the gods of this world. Not only is it a violation of the ninth commandment, but it also violates the first, Thou shalt have no other gods before me. To seek any other way of gain and prosperity than obedience to the law of God, is to have another god before Him.
How much of the blame lies on the covenant people when the poor have an unjust cause against the rich?
When God's people allow their covetousness to prevent their obedience to the law, not only toward the poor, but in general, can we really blame the poor for allowing their covetousness to bring false matters against the ones who have more than they do?
Let us not join in false charges either for or against our neighbour. Rather, let's obey our Lord's command toward him, But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
V. 12, the law of the Lord even protects and provides for the work animals. They are not to be misused, mistreated, muzzled or overworked; they are to also rest on the sabbath. The law leaves nothing unprotected. It protects the wild beast from "Sport killing;" it protects the bird on her nest in the field; it protects the fruit trees; it protects man and every part of God's creation.
may be refreshed. Man and animals need the rest; it is not wasted time to lounge around, but, like all good things, it can be overdone to the point of sin. There are many warnings about too much rest, but none against not enough rest.
1) Three times a year all the males (v. 17) were commanded by the Lord to appear before Him in the place appointed by the Lord. The males were probably above 20 years of age, and this did not exclude women and boys. The men had to be there, and the women were optional.
2) They were forbidden to appear before Him empty, v. 15. They had to have something with them for a sacrifice and for the feast. "The gifts demanded by God were the tribute, it is true, which the Israelites paid to their God-King, just as all Eastern nations are required to bring presents when appearing in the presence of their kings; but they were only gifts from God's own blessing, a portion of that which He had bestowed in rich abundance, and they were offered to God in such a way that the offer was thereby more and more confirmed in the rights of covenant fellowship," Keil.
3) Three feasts:
V. 15, Feast of unleaven bread.. This was a yearly reminder of the redemption of the Lord from Egyptian bondage. This feast celebrated redemption.
V. 16, Feast of harvest.. This was at the beginning of the fall harvest, and celebrated the fact that the Lord was going to bless one's labour. Notice the words, which thou hast sown in the field. This feast celebrated faith; they sowed by faith, and they were now going to start reaping what they had sown by faith. This was Pentecost, 50 days after passover.
V. 16,Feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field. This celebrated the bounty of the Lord in the harvest.
4) Not only did the Lord command a feast at the beginning of harvest, but He commanded that they bring the firstfruits of that harvest to His house at this feast. This was a reminder to them that the bounty of harvest depended upon His goodness to them and not on their hard work.
5) V. 18, 19, even though these were feasts of rejoicing in the goodness of the Lord's redemption and blessing, the people were not free to do as they pleased. They still had certain restrictions placed upon their feasting.
V. 18, apparently is referring to the passover feast:
A) my sacrifice, not the people's.
B) leaven was forbidden to remain in the house during that time.
C) none of the lamb could remain overnight.
V. 19, the reference is back to v. 16, and the feast of harvest.
The details of this offering are given in Num 18:12, 13 &
A) This offering was the first of the whole.
B) This was a separate offering from the tithe on the increase, Deut 26:22ff (14:22ff.).
C) There was no minimum amount attached to this offering, but it was required. I wonder if the niggardly gift to the Lord (and thus to the teachers) would result in a niggardly harvest? The size of this required offering was determined by the individual's faith
D) It was to be shared with the teachers of God's law-word.
Of course, this offering spoke of the coming of Christ, the Firstfruits of the dead, 1 Cor 15:20-28.
A) Feast.. it is interesting that the Lord commands time of feasting, not fasting (latter in the NT, the Lord said, When ye fast, do not as...). Fasting was a sign of sorrow and heaviness over sin. Feasting was a sign of rejoicing. Thus the people are to rejoice over the blessings of God in the midst of this life of labour, toil and trouble. God's people are commanded to rejoice in all things (and again I say, Rejoice) and in the midst of the turmoil of this world. In order to do this, our minds must be stayed upon Him, Isa 26:3. The world provides precious little to rejoice over, and if our minds are stayed upon it, there will be no rejoicing.
B) All of these feasts stressed unity among the covenant-people, and their unity was around their love for the Lord and his word. If they obeyed God's word (which is here being given), they would be united in brotherly love. This would be a big family gathering and would preserve the family unity.
The Lord God encourages his people to get together and feast and rejoice in his goodness: Cookouts, fellowship dinners, picnics, &c.
In Joshua chapter 22 (9ff), when Joshua released the 2 1/2 tribes to go back home, they built an alter with the stated purpose of keeping unity within the 12 tribes. God had already given the law which would bring about unity: three appearances a year in Jerusalem for a time of feasting and celebrating. But these men felt that they could improve upon what the Lord had given. How like fallen man; he thinks he can improve upon God's law; he thinks he can have unity apart from faithfulness to the revealed will of God.
I think that an application here for our day is modern Denominationalism. The alter built in Joshua 22 would be unity around a denomination; the unity which God desires is unity around love for His word and the desire to be faithful to that word.
C) These three feasts continually remind Israel that they were God's people: their God commanded them to appear before Him! He was the living God Who personally gave commands, contrasted with the dead pagan gods around them who the pagans appeared before with great "reverence."
The Lord promised to protect their land from their enemies if they were obedient to Him throughout the year and then went to these feasts.
It is interesting that the enemies NEVER attacked Israel during their obedience to any of these feasts. That is, until the destruction in 70 AD. That was the only time in Israel's 1500 year history that an enemy every attacked them at a feast.
D) It is surprising how many feast days the people were to set aside. The life of a child of God is to be one of feasting, rejoicing and enjoying life. Furthermore, there were no days set aside by the Lord for mourning although there would be days proclaimed by their leaders and even by the Lord as days of mourning over sin and wickedness. These feast laws take for granted obedient people. Also, obedient people will have no cause for worldly sorrow and mourning.
E) We should celebrate with feasting important events in our family's life: birthdays, anniversaries, salvation dates, or maybe even dates of getting a good job. Remembrances are important or the Lord would not have commanded feasts of remembrances.
Every family should set aside a child's birthday for a very
special day for the family.
F) These were not one day events as we have now. These feasts would be extended events of at least a week. In fact, the feast of firstfruits was eight days long, Lev. 23:39 & Num 29:12ff. Thus, the total number of days off just for these three feasts was at least 21 days a year. When a people are free from covetousness and the desire to have more, bigger and better, they are able to live a life of freedom. God Himself set aside a minimum of 21 vacation days a year, as well as a sabbath year, and the individual supported himself!
G) God did not make man to work all the time; God did not intend for life to be a burdensome with no rest. Sin turns one's occupation into an endless burden with no rest.
God made no provision for retirement other than passing the family business on to the next generation and the children providing for their parents when the parents are unable to work. God did make many provisions for rest, relaxation and rejoicing in the blessings which the He provided for His faithful people. Families, both spiritual and physical, should enjoy one another.
V. 19b (Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.) is given again in Ex 34:26 & Deut 14:21. What is the purpose of this restriction which is given three times? We are really not told, but I will speculate that this prohibition is again a reminder of the sanctity of the home.
From our ignorance of the circumstances, this is perhaps one of the most difficult prohibitions to understand. (Edersheim)
Whatever the Lord's reason for giving this prohibition, He feels very strongly about it or He would not have given it three times. In Deut He gives it with eating meat that died on its own.
Exodus 23:19, see further ch 22:29, 30 (abt pg35)
Exodus 23:20-33, Obedience to the Word
the Angel. This passage winds down the command-word which started in 20:1, 2. The LORD their God is speaking this warning to Moses to give to the people who are waiting at the foot of the mountain. Notice the word is capitalized, thus referring to a physical manifestation of Jehovah (the Son of God).
This was no common angel, however exalted, but a manifestation of Jehovah Himself, prefigurative of, and preparatory to His manifestation in the flesh in the Person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (Edersheim)
1) He was sent by the Father to go before His covenant-people.
2) His (the Angel's) responsibility is two-fold: guard them in the way and to bring them into the place which the Lord had prepared for them, vs. 20, 22.
3) This Angel has the very authority of the Lord God with Him: for my name is in him. In fact, this Angel was Jehovah God Himself manifested for the sake of guiding and protecting His people: note the wording, v. 22, obey his voice, and do all that I speak. Therefore, beware of Him, render Him unconditional obedience and provoke Him not, for He will not pardon disobedience.
4) The promise for obedience to the Angel. A) The Lord God will be an enemy to the people's enemies; He will be an adversary to their adversaries. B) The Lord God Himself will cut off the enemies, v. 23
5) When Jehovah God has cut off the enemies and brought them into possession of the land, they still must render the Angel unconditional obedience, vs. 24, 25.
6) Vs. 26-33 is based upon the unconditional obedience called for in vs. 24, 25. We'll look at these concluding verses next.
A) The Angel will go before His faithful people; He will keep them and take them where they are suppose to be according to the covenant-promise. Unquestionably, it is the Lord's work. His people's responsibility is no more than to do what they are told. Notice that although the Lord will subdue the enemies, the people will still have to fight many long, hard and tiring battles. Yes, the Angel will lead, but the people will still have to march. Yes, the Lord will subdue the enemy according to the promise, but the people will have to fight. No doubt that on this side of the "wall," the people felt many times like they were alone and deserted, but they were not.
B) But if thou.. There is that if again. The Lord gives the terms of the covenant to Moses as being obedience to the Angel. The relationship is covenantual at all times, even though it is the Angel keeping them faithful to the covenant, vs. 20ff.
C) He, the Angel, will cut off, He will deliver the enemies into their hands for destruction. There are only six nations listed here, but Deut 7:1-3, lists seven. Notice that each nation is greater and mightier than Israel, but the Lord used Israel to cut them off. (He used Israel to cut them off because of their utter wickedness, Gen 15:16.)
D) The people readily agree to the terms and conditions of the covenant (obedience to the Angel at all times), 24:3.
a) we are not to worry about the strength, size or might of the enemies of God; all we are to worry about is obeying the voice of the Angel Who goes before the people of the Lord.
b) the Angel fights the battle, for He is a man of war, Ex 15:3. Certainly, He is the Prince of Peace, but there can be no peace until there is war against sin; sin must be subdued, 1 Cor 15:24-28.
c) we are not to be men of war; we are to be men of peace and obedience. The Captain of the Lord's hosts will fight for us, as we walk faithfully in His commands.
d) since the Angel (of the covenant) is the Lord Jesus Christ, His NT command, if ye love me, keep my commandments (Jn. 14:15), encompass the whole of Bible law. The same Angel speaks to God's people today as spoke to them 3500 years ago at the foot of the mount. And His message is not changed.
Accordingly, all obedience is to be shown to His guidance, and every contact with idolatry and idolaters avoided. In the case that case the Lord would fulfil every good and gracious promise to His people, and cause them to possess the land in all its extent. [ED. Of course, Hebrews clearly tells us that the new inheritance under the covenant for God's people is Christ, prefigured by the land of Canaan.] (Edersheim.)
The conclusion for our day of faithlessness is that the size, might and greatness of the enemies of God around us should not frighten us or cause us to compromise the commands of our God. The battle is the Lord's; our responsibility is to walk faithful to His word; His responsibility is to subdue His enemies under the feet of King Jesus. AND HE WILL!
Vs. 24, 25, eight commands. (Ex. 22:20; 23:13, 24, 31.)
Encompassed in the required unconditional obedience to Jehovah God in vs. 20-22 are vs. 24 & 25: five negatives ("don'ts") and three positive ("dos") commands concerning the gods of the heathens. These commands show God's hatred toward the false gods which the pagans serve.
Five "don'ts" required in the unconditional obedience:
1) no sacrifice to them. In other words, nothing is to be given
to the surrounding false gods which the pagans serve.
2) make no mention of their name.
3) don't bow down to them.
4) nor serve them.
5) nor do after their works.
Three "dos" required in the unconditional obedience:
1. thou shalt utterly overthrow them,
2. and quite break down their images.
3. drive them out of the land.
A) Note the severity of avoiding other gods. Three points deal with actually serving them, sacrifice, bow and serve.
B) God prohibits his people from even speaking the names of the false gods. They were not to even talk about them. The obvious reason would be that talking about them would make the children inquisitive about how to serve them. Note that it was the Lord that was to be talked about in the home at all times. The false gods were not even to be mentioned.
C) God's people were/are forbidden to serve the Lord God in any manner similar to that which the heathen use to serve their gods (do after their works). This is the sin that Aaron fell into here at the foot of the mount with the golden calf. (See both Edersheim and Josephus.)
Other gods, would be any other way of success other than the Lord God and obedience to His law-word.
D) Three "dos." Two of the three points are interesting because they are listed in the same verse as three "don'ts" (don't bow down, don't serve, don't imitate pagan works). These two points under unconditional obedience require active commitment to overthrow the pagan false gods; evidently, God's people are to have the same commitment to overthrow the false gods of this world as they have not to serve those false gods.
Notice then that it is not enough not to serve the gods of the pagans; God's law requires that His people actively work to overthrow those false gods. Of course, His people are not to kill the idolaters as Israel did when they went into Canaan; rather, the false gods are overthrown basically by obeying Mat 28:19, 20 (cf. 1 Cor 1:17-2:5). The Christian religion is an active religion which must actively seek to overthrow paganism; it cannot stand still and survive any more than sodomy can be still and survive.
The third "do": drive them out.. Again, the sodomites are a good example. They should either remain in the closet, or be removed from the land. I think this would probably be restricted to removing the pagan worshipers from the church, but...
Vs. 25-30, God's promised blessings.
This chapter (and Moses' instructions at this time) concludes with God's promises of great and wonderful victory to His people who unconditionally obey the Angel which led them into the land.
1) Again, we are reminded that this is a if-then covenant. Only as God's conditions are met can they claim His promised victory. How unlike the 'gospel message' of unconditional love and victory of our day. One of the main conditions was no covenant with the pagans because such agreement was an agreement with their gods.
2) V. 26, notice that growth in population and long life is a sign of God's blessings upon a people; whereas, the anti god crowd considers population growth as a curse. (Children are the heritage of the Lord.) Therefore, a static population is a sign that God's blessing is removed. Now, these two go together: population growth and long life. There are many countries today which have population growth but the life-span is short.
3) Vs. 25, 26, is very similar to Deut 28, only this is given many years before Detu 28. This is given to Moses the first time he went up the mountain to receive the commandments. Notice now what is promised by the Lord here: 1) victory over their enemies, v. 22; 2) the Lord's blessing upon their food stuffs; 3) long life, and 4) low disease rate. It sounds like the Lord promises to remove the curse which fell because of Adams: not completely, but to a very large extent.
I looked to see what Keil had to say on this verse, and this is his statement:
The taking away of "sickness" (cf. xv. 26) implied the removal of everything that could endanger life. The absence of anything that miscarried, or was barren, insured the continuance and increase of the nation; and the promise that their days should be fulfilled, i.e. that they should not be liable to a premature death (cf. Isa. lxv. 20), was a pledge of their well-being." Keil.
Keil gave the passage that came to my mind when I thought about this promise that the Lord was giving to Moses here in Exodus: Isa 65:20. Notice what the promise does:
A) restores the promise to Adam in the garden, but does not promise that one will never die. Sin is still present, but the curse is lifted to a great extent. (Unlike a radio speaker who I heard the other day, the curse was not work; the curse was that the ground would resist the effort which man would put into it; the curse was that the effort of man would be wasted many times.
B) of course, being many years before Christ, the Spirit of Grace was not yet active as He would be under Christ. The result was that they were not covenant-faithful.
C) the promise of the new covenant was/is that the Spirit will be quite active in making God's people covenant-faithful. The result will be the fulfillment of the covenant-promise which the Children of Israel never fully realized because Christ had not yet come. They possessed all the land (which we have already seen), but the basic removal of the curse has yet to develop.
Let me add that no matter how many blessings they inherited under the old covenant, Christ is the better covenant. The blessings are very much better under Him to His faithful people. Furthermore, He never made the blessings of the covenant unconditional; the land of Canaan only prefigured Christ and the blessings to be found in Him.
D) the promise fulfilled in Isa 65:20 follows Isa 61:1-3 and the first advent of Christ. Therefore, Isa 65:20 is build upon Christ and His work in the covenant-people. Note that there is really no mention of another advent between 61:1-3 and 65:20, as the premils hold to; rather, the passages between these two verses clearly tell us that it is the Spirit of God working in His people which will bring v. 20 about.
F) Isa 65:20; chapter 66 and Rev. 21 & 22 can not be referring to heaven because sin, heathen nations and death are still present, Rev 22:15. Therefore, it must be talking about the glories of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Certainly, the Lord must return visibly one day, but here we are reading Isaiah's figurative view of the success of the gospel as men obey Mat 28:19, 20.
A necessary word or two about some high points in Isaiah 61ff as Isaiah works up to 65:20:
61:1-3, the coming of Christ and the promise of liberty: Note that liberty is liberty from the bondage of sin (whether the source of that sin is the world, flesh &/or devil, the promise is liberty from sin through the work of Christ on the cross and in the life of His people); it is not a promise of liberty from incarceration, trying or oppressive circumstances, or even from death. Everything from this point on is based upon the work of Christ in the people of God, although much of what Isaiah gives before this point is also based upon Christ.
[V. 2, Geneva Bible marg: "The time when it pleased God to show his good favour to man, which S. Paul calleth the fullness of time, Gal. 4:4.]
61:4, based upon vs. 1-3, the people of God, with the Spirit of Christ working in them, will rebuild what has been destroyed by sin. Clearly, their call is to reconstruct what had been desolate & waste by many generations of sin. V. 6, the promise is not to the old Hebrew (jewish) race; rather, it is to the New Israel, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
[V. 6, Geneva Bible marg: "This is accomplished in the time of Christ, by whom all the faithful are made Priests and Kings, I Pet 2:9.."]
61:8, the everlasting covenant is the covenant made with Christ and through Christ with the elect who are in Christ, Isa 55:3 (trace it into the NT, Acts 13:34. Paul makes it extremely clear that all who are in Christ are heirs to the covenant, Gal 3.) Note 61:9, the blessings of the Lord upon the elect will be so obvious that everyone will have to acknowledge the fact.
61:10, could not be more obvious in its reference to the Church, the bride of Christ.
61:11, points out that just as the Lord causes the earth to bring forth her fruit, He will also cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. It is the Lord which will work in people to make them covenant-faithful.
62:6, speaks of the watchman on the walls of Jerusalem. The marg reference is Heb 13:7, so obviously, this is referring to faithful men of God speaking out in the church, cf. He 12:22-24. The glorious thing is that as the faithful watchmen cry out the law-word of God, the Spirit of God will cause the people to listen and obey the word.
[V. 6, Geneva Bible marg.: "He exhorteth the ministers never to cease to call upon god by prayer for the deliverance of his Church, and to teach others to do the same."]
62:7, the result will be that Jerusalem will become the praise of the whole earth.
62:8, 9, the promise that the labour of the righteous will not be for naught; the Lord will allow them to reap and they and their families enjoy the fruits thereof.
62:10-12, another clear reference of who this passage is dirrected to: The redeemed of the Lord.., those called out and redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ.
[V. 10, Geneva Bible marg: "Signifying the great number that should come to the Church, and what means he would prepare for the restitution of the fame, as Chap 57:14."]
The Geneva Bible gives a good introduction to Isa 63: "This prophecy is against the Idumeans (Edomites?) and enemies which persecuted the Church, on whom God will take vengeance, and is here set forth all bloody after that he hath destroyed them in Bozrah, the chief citie of the Idumeans: for these were their greatest enemies, and under the title of circumcision and the kindred of Abraham, claimed to themselves the chief religion, and hated the true worshippers, Ps 137:7."
Following further the Geneva marg notes:
V. 4, "Showing that when God punishes his enemies, it
is for the profit and deliverance of his Church."
V. 5, "God showeth that he hath no need of man's help for the deliverance of his, and though men refuse to do their duties through negligence and ingratitude, yet he himself will deliver his Church, and punish the enemies, read Ch 59:16."
V. 6, "I will so astonish them and make them giddy, that they shall not know which way to go."
V. 7, "The Prophet speaketh this to move the people to remember God's benefits in times past, that they may be comforted in their troubles."
V. 8, "For I did chose them to be mine, that they should be holy, and not denie my expectation."
V. 9, "He beareth their afflictions and griefs as though they had been his own." "Which was a witness of God's presence, and this may be referred to Christ, to whom belongeth the office of Salvation."
V. 11, "That is, the people of Israel, being afflicted, called to remembrance God's benefits, which he had bestowed upon their fathers in times past." where is he.. "That is, in Moses that he might well govern the people:.."
V. 15, "Having declared God's benefits showed to their forefathers, he turned himself to God by prayer, desiring him to continue the same graces toward them." where is thy zeal.. "Thy great affection, which thou barest toward us." from me.. "Meaning, from the whole body of the Church."
V. 16, though Abraham.. "Though Abraham would refuse us to be his children, yet thou wilt not refuse to be our father."
V. 17, thou hast made us to error.. "By taking away the holy Spirit from us, by whom we were governed, and so for our ingratitude didest deliver us up to our own conspucience, and didest punish sin by sin according to thy just judgment." for thy.. "Meaning, for the Covenant's sake made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob his servants."
V. 18, but a little while.. "That is, in respect of the promise, which is perpetual: albeit they had now possessed the land of Canaan, a thousand and foure hundred years: and thus they lament, to move God rather to remember his Covenant, then to punish their sins."
In other words, their desire is to get God to remember the Covenant of old made to their fathers, not to repent of their sin of rebellion, v. 10. They totally avoid the reason that the Lord has delivered them to their enemies, and they want the Lord to give them victory over their enemies for the covenant's sake without their having to renew the covenant by confession of sin and holy living.
V. 19, appears to be Israel claiming the land and the mercy of God based on the fact that they are the "chosen people" of God. They are pleading with the Lord to judge the enemies and cast them out of the land based upon a promise and not upon their faithfulness. They want the Lord to keep His side of the covenant, but they do not want to have to keep their side. And this is the heart of sinful man: the desire for the Lord follow through with His promised blessings, while man does not have to keep his part in obedience.
Isaiah 64:1, "The Prophet continueth his prayer, desiring God to declare his love toward his Church by miracles, and mighty power, as he did in mount Sinai."
V. 2, as the fire caused.. "Meaning, the rain, hail, fire, thunder, and lightening."
V. 4, .. they have not heard.. "S. Paul hath the same kind of admiration, 1 Cor 2:9. marveling at God's great benefit showed to his Church, by the preaching of the Gospel."
V. 5, "Thou showed favour toward our fathers, when they trusted in thee, and walked after thy Commandments." thee in thy ways.. "They considered thy great mercies." yet in them.. ""That is, in thy mercies, which he calleth the ways of the Lord." and we shall be saved.. "Thou wilt have pity upon us."
V. 6, "We are justly punished and brought into captivity, because we have provoked thee to anger, and though we would excuse our failures, yet our righteousness, and best virtues are before thee as vile cloth.."
V. 8, "Albeit, O Lord, by thy just judgment thou mayest utterly destroy us as the potter may his pot, yet we appeal to thy mercies, whereby it hath pleased thee to adopt us to be thy children."
V. 9, O Lord, above measure.. "For so the flesh judgeth when God doeth not immediately send succour."
V. 10, "Which were dedicated to thy service, and to call upon thy Name."
V. 11, "Wherein we rejoiced and worshipped thee."
V. 12, "That is, at the contempt of thine own glory? though our sinns have deserved this, yet thou wilt not suffer thy glory thus to be diminished."
65:1, The title of this chapter is given as, "1, The conversion of the Gentiles, and the rejection of Israel. 13 Theing? of the elect, and the punishment of the wicked."
V. 1, "Meaning, the Gentiles which knew not God, should seek after him, when he had moved their heart with his holy Spirit, Rom 10:20."
V. 2, "He sheweth the cause of the rejection of the Jews, because they would not obey him for any admonition of his Prophets, by whom he called them continually and streached out his hand to draw them." own imaginations.. "He sheweth that to delight in our own fantacies, is the declining from God and the beginning of all superstition and Idolatry."
V. 3, "Which were dedicated to idols." "Meaning, their altars, which he thus named by contempt."
V. 4, "To consult with spirits, and to conjure devils, which was forbidden, Deut 18:11." swines flesh.. "Which was contrary to God's commandments, Le 11:7, Deut 14:8."
V. 5, "He showeth that hypocrit is ever joined with pride and contempt of others." "Their punishment shall never have end."
V. 6, "So that the remembrance thereof cannot be forgotten."
V. 7, "Shall be both punished together: and this declareth how the children are punished for their fathers faults, to wit, when the same faults or like are found in them." Meaning that when the children pick up and do the same sins which their parents do, both shall be punished together.
V. 8, "That is, it is profitable: meaning, that God will not destroy the faithful branches of his vineyard, when he destoryeth the rotten stocks, that is, the hypocrites."
V. 9, my note: I do not see how this could be anything except the seed in Christ: the church.
V. 10, "Which was a plentiful place in Judea to feed sheep, as Achor was for cattle." This is an obvious reference to Ps 100:3 and John 10. It must be talking about the elect and their place in Christ. He is the fold; He is the resting place; He is the pasture for His sheep.
V. 11, "By the multitude and number he meaneth their innumerable idols of whom they thought they could never have enough."
V. 12, "Seeing you can not number your gods, I will number you with the sword." I spake.. "By the Prophets, whom ye would not obey."
V. 13, "By these words, Eat and drink, he meaneth, the blessed life of the faithful, which have always consolation and full contentment of all things in their God, though sometimes they lack these corporal things."
V. 15, "Meaning, that he would call the Gentiles, who should abhore even the very name of the Jews for their infidelities sake." another name.. "Than by the name of the Jews."
My note: How much more clear would the Lord have to speak? Paul talks about this in Rom 11, where the natural branches are broken off and new ones grafted in. Clearly here, the old Jewish nation is going to be cut off and destroyed for their hardness in sin. Their name that they are destroyed under (Jew) will become a curse, and the Lord will call His servants by a new name, Christian or Church. Now, the natural Hebrew may still be saved, but he must come like every other person, through Christ.
V. 16, "By blessing, and by swearing is meant the praising of God for his benefits, and the true worshipping of him, which shall not be only in Judea, but through all the world." for the former.. "I will no more suffer my Church to be desolate as in times past."
V. 17, "I will so altar and change the state of my church, that it shall seem to dwell in a new world." My World Bible marg ref, 2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1-5.
V. 20, "Meaning, in this wonderful restoration of the Church there should be no weakness of youth, nor infirmities of age, but all should be fresh and flourishing: and this is accomplished in the heavenly Jerusalem, when all sins shall cease, and the tears shall be wiped away." the sinner.. "Whereby he showeth that the infidels and unrepentant sinners have no part of this benediction."
V. 21, "He prophecieth to the faithful the blessings which are contained in the Law, and so under temporal things comprehended the spiritual promises."
V. 25, "Read chap 11:6."
Barns' sums up this passage well:
No one can doubt that the prevalence of the gospel everywhere would greatly lengthen out the life of man. Let any one reflect on the great number that are now cut off in childhood in heathen lands by their parents..."
Thus, Isaiah is describing in figurative language the kind of world which will exist when the gospel is obeyed. Isaiah describes in terms which we can easily understand the results of Mat 28:19, 20: results brought about by the work of the Spirit of God through the preaching of the gospel. Did not Paul tell us that the preached gospel was the very power of God?
The joy in serving God can be experienced now to a limited extent by His individual faithful servants, but the prospect is of much greater joy as the gospel, under the power of the Spirit, overflows the world, which Isaiah 66 describes.
The key, I think, is 65:15 where the Lord clearly tells us what He is going to do (already has done). How can we argue with it?
Left out to here.
Back to Ex 23:
4) V. 27, another sign of God's blessing is that the enemy fears God's people. The generation which came out of Egypt refused to obey God; therefore, their enemies were bold and Israel fled. The next generation obeyed; they went in boldness and the enemies fled. The difference? Obedience to the word of God.
I think that we see this fear evident today even though the enemies openly attack God's people with the intention of destroying them. A dozen committed Christians scare the living daylights out of the enemy. Now, the enemy doesn't necessarily back down; instead, they use hook and crook, they do whatever is necessary to get the Christians who are trying to stand for right. I think that Sileven is an example: the enemies feared this one man so they set the whole "legal system" in motion to get him. They accomplished their goal!
5) V. 28, God will go before them and use natural means to drive out their enemies. This would have been interesting to see: the mean hornets attacking a city! How could they defend themselves? (I wonder about the supper bee which is making its way north?) God used grasshoppers to overthrow Egypt; here He used hornets to clear out a land. God can use any means which pleases Him to work His plan. And who can say, "What doest thou?" Rom. 9. As we have mentioned several times, all of nature is against those who are against the God of nature.
(He used fish to prove Christ's message when He told the fishermen to let down their nets. He used a big fish to deal with Jonah. He used animals of all descriptions to preach to Job. He uses the sparrow to make a point that He cares for His own. He used an ass to preach to a covetous prophet. He used animal sacrifices to cover sin until Christ came.)
Keil's observation is worth noting:
"the sending of the hornets before the Israelites" is hardly to be taken literally, not only because there is not a word in the book of Joshua about the Canaanites being overcome and exterminated in any such way, but chiefly on account of Josh. xxiv.12, where Hoshua says that God sent the hornet before them, and drove out the two kings of the Amorites, referring thereby to their defeat and destruction by the Israelites through the miraculous interposition of God, and thus placing the figurative use of the term hornet beyond the possibility of doubt.
I am inclined to believe that the Lord did indeed send the hornet before Israel, just as He said He would. But, of course, the lack of record of such events does pose a problem. I like what Parker says:
The Lord God is a sun and shield, he is a spear and buckler, he is a pavilion and a sanctuary. The lightnings gather themselves around him, and say, "here we are"; his ministers are the grog and the fly, the hornet and the locust; the fiery flying serpent and the hidden viper, the child, the angel, poverty, are his servants; yea, all things praise the Lord by their sympathy and help, so much so that if we were to hold our tongues, the universe would not be silent. "I tell you that if these were to hold their peace, the very stones would cry out, for God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." He shall never want a minister to stand before his face. If so be thou art a minister, boast not thyself of thy ministry, for a hornet may take thy place, a frog may dispossess thee, and there may be none to find out thy footsteps. Be thankful, hopeful, energetic, glad; but boast not, for boasting hastens death.
The one thought that is to inspire us is that God has many ways of helping his people, likely and unlikely, but they are ways of his own choosing, and therefore they will end in success. (Parker, vol II, pg. 193. Below points are condensed from his message on this subject.)
A) The Lord's ministers are everywhere. Every atom of nature is His creation and servant.
B) The Lord uses nature for His sovereign purpose and own will.
C) Obviously, those who are at war with God and His law are at war with nature. And nature will win the war.
D) God's ministers are both seen (nature) and unseen (angels, the Angel).
E) Only the Lord knows (and directs) how they work for or against us, but we can be assured that both seen and unseen forces are at work according to His plan.
F) The hornet is not a gentle creature, but he is God's servant, doing the will of God. He may strike suddenly with no warning; he may strike after much warning; regardless, he strikes as God's command. He was sent to punish the Canaanites and to prepare the way for God's covenant-people. The hornet operated according to the condition of faithfulness to the law of God.
Unlike the Angel who works in the hidden spiritual realm, the hornet is the reality which opens the way for the faithful people of God when the way appears hopeless; he is the reality of pain which drives us from our sin or sin from our lives. "That hornet is not a mere insect; it means judgment, penalty, retribution, death."
G) Men may outrun the hornet for a moment of time, but the hornet will not quit until he obtains his goal. One may hide from the hornet, but there is no hiding from the Angel. The only answer is peace with the God of the hornet and of the Angel, for the angels of Lord encamp round about them that fear Him. His angels are ministering spirits unto the heirs of salvation.
H) The hornet, as is the Angel, is either a fried or foe. To the people of God moving in obedience to their God, he goes before them to prepare the way against the enemies of God. To the people of God who are forgetful of their God, he moves against them to sting them back to their God (prayer, Scriptures &c.). The hornet, as are other flying bugs, is an honored member of the armies of heaven moving at the Lord's command.
I) The origin of the hornet is of the earth; the origin of the Angel is from above. But both are doing the will of the God of heaven and earth. Sadly, the work of the hornet is more readily recognized than is the gentle leading of the Angel. And the Angel is the one who commands the hornet.
J) The hornet and the Angel, neither can be influenced, controlled or stopped by man. We may call the hornet misfortune and the Angel fortune, but there is no such thing as misfortune and fortune in God's universe. All things move according to the predestinating providence of the Divine Ruler and Creator of all things.
K) The Lord says of both the Angel and the hornet, I will send, vs. 20, 28; therefore, let us not fret. Both vergence and blessings belong to the Lord. He will send when His time is right; our responsibility is to not grow weary in well doing and leave the details in His hands.
L) Parker's point is well taken: ministers, and Christians in general, we had best be humble servants of the most high God, for He can easily replace us with a bug. No person in indispensable.
Our assurance of the Lord's love and care for His own is found in the ministry of the hornet and the Angel.
Let the hornet do its work; let the angel fulfil his ministry. God's people cannot be permanently injured; and as for God's Church, it shall be set up on foundations broad and immovable, and all its glowing pinnacles shall pierce the clouds, and God's will shall be done on earth as it is done in heaven.
6) Vs. 29, 30, little by little.. As they would move in unconditional obedience, the Lord would give them the land a little at a time. He gave them the first portion, then as they increased in numbers, the Lord would give them increased area to populate until they reached the borders established by the Lord, v. 31. But the land had to be taken by hard work and warfare. When the tribes grew tired of the hard work and made covenants with the Canaanites, they were snared into sin and ended up in bondage to them.
I suppose we could call this the law of little by little. And this law is one of the most consistent laws in the Word of God. It holds that as God's people are faithful over the little they have been given by the Lord, He will give them more to be faithful over. Our Lord gave several parables on this law (Lk 19, the Pounds; Mt 25, The Ten Talents; Lk 17, The Unprofitable Servants; Lk 12, The Wise Steward).
Human nature wants everything; it wants every promise of the Scriptures delivered to them right now, but the Lord only promises little by little, then as His people increase in strength and faithfulness in the little they have, He will give them more. (My pastor used to tell me, "Use it or lose it." Use the little opportunity, use the little knowledge or we will lose what little we have.)
We are told in Hebrews that Canaan was only a type of Christ and the Christian life in Him.
7) v. 31, the boundaries. The promised blessing of God was literally fulfilled when they went into Canaan. Joshua (21:43-45) and Solomon (1 Kgs 8:56) both make a point that EVERYTHING which was promised to the children of Israel through Moses was fulfilled. This destroys the modern notion about Israel that says that Israel must still possess the land because it never did according to the promise (Scofieldism).
8) vs. 31-33, the inhabitants.. The Lord promised to deliver the pagans into the hands of His obedient people, but they were not delivered to them to do with according to their own will. He gave explicit instructions as to what was to be done with them.
I think that the pagans of our day will be delivered into the hands of the faithful people of God; faithful to Mat 28:19, 28. As they are delivered, we must be careful to do with them as the word of God commands: teach them all things according as He has commanded us.
9) no covenant with them, nor with their gods..
Making a covenant with them and their gods would imply the recognition and toleration of them, and, with the sinful tendencies of Israel, would be inevitably followed by the worship of idols. Keil.
This cannot be restricted to the sinful tendencies of Israel, but must include every person who names the name of Christ. Covenants with the pagans and their gods recognize the legitimacy of their gods and will lead to the worship of their gods 99 times out of 100. 2 Cor. 6:14, Paul clearly warns of this tendency when he forbids being unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
10 ) God's instructions to Moses at this point conclude with the warning that the pagans dwelling in the land will be a snare to the people of God. And they were. Note, for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee. This hints of service other than open idolatry. We hear a hint of serving the Lord God in the manner which the pagans serve their false gods as we already mentioned.
Twice here is just a few words the Lord says "Drive them out! Do not let them dwell in the same land. (vs. 31, 33)" There would be many reasons for this firm command, summed up in the words, it will surely be a snare unto thee. How? The people would see the wicked prosper and fall into the trap of thinking that their false gods were more powerful than the Lord God, they would think there was another way of prosperity other than serving the Lord God.
The conclusion is that the farther away from pagan's gods the people of God can stay, the better off they will be.