Study from God’s Word… Deut. 5: 17; Exod. 21: 12-14; Lev. 24: 17, 24b; Num. 35: 20-21, 16-19, 29-34; Exod. 22: 2-3; Num. 35: 22-25; Deut. 19: 4-6; Num. 35: 9-15; Deut. 19: 1-3, 7-10; Num. 35: 26-28; Deut. 19: 11-13; Num. 35: 32; Exod. 21: 25; Exod. 21: 16; Deut. 24: 7; Lev. 24: 19-20; Exod. 21: 26-27; Deut. 22: 25-29; Exod. 21: 15-21; Deut. 25: 11-12; Deut. 5: 19; Exod. 22: 1-4; Deut. 19: 14; … Passage for Reflection: Exodus 21: 20-21 … NIV 20 "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.
My Journal for Today: Today’s highlighted passage (oh, I wish Dr. Smith had not chosen this one) is a case where my human comprehension cries out for explanation from God; but from our so-called “modern day” concept of justice; God’s word, in this regard, is nothing but confusing to me.
For centuries, and even into the 19th century in this county, I can imagine that this passage was used to justify the horrible enslavement of other humans, especially the stench on our country which was our enslavement of our African-American brothers/sisters. I know that there were those, even into the 20th century, wearing KKK robes and calling themselves “christian,” who spouted out this very passage as justification for their beatings of our darker-skinned brothers/sisters in Christ, whom they felt should have been retained as their “property.”
So, how do we explain many of the laws and rules of justice which I have studied today as the precursors for the system of law we have today? I’m afraid my heart, and especially my mind, is not astute enough to be able to do so with any great clarity. Dr. Smith feels that it may have been God moving His children through a cultural milieu which was much more cruel and punitive with regard to justice than those laws about which I was reading today which He imparted through Moses to His people. The pagan cultures surrounding the Israelites in Moses’ time were much harsher than would God’s Law be for the Hebrews as they were being prepared to go into the Promised Land. So, … maybe God had to give them laws which they could accept and use in their culture and their times; but by today’s standards, these laws, at times, seem bizarre at best and unusually vindictive at times.
Hence, here’s where I am forced, by my very limited ability to grasp these concepts of justice, to trust that God knew EXACTLY what He was giving His children for their just needs and cultural limitations in those days. I have to trust that God was moving His people toward the realization of justice which would come in the Person of The Messiah, Who would become the fulfillment of THE LAW. So, I’ll not try to speculate with “perhaps this” or “perhaps that” when it comes to understanding why God set His law in motion through Moses with laws like the one quoted as a study passage today.
As Dr. Smith closes, he asks a provocative question, ”If I am ever tempted to give up on God when I don’t understand how He acts (i.e., through His word and truth), what would be my alternative?” And to that I say, “Right on, brother!” When I don’t understand God’s word, I know that I’m being challenged to dig deeper into God’s full counsel (i.e., His entire Word) to get to know Him more deeply and intimately and to find His wisdom; and I know that every time I do that, I come out loving Him more, wanting to obey Him more diligently, and desiring to serve Him with more fervor. And that I know is a good and Godly pursuit, drawing me ever closer to my Savior.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, help me to understand; but even more, help me to trust You when I don’t. Amen