The start of this chapter is a continuation of God defining appropriate judgments for crimes committed within the Israelite community. We can’t really relate to a lot of them, but having grown up in rural Oklahoma, I can see how establishing laws for livestock, property and crops was vital to the community. What caught my eye first, though, was the subheading in my NLT version before verse 16. It is titled “Social Responsibility.” Now, I know some of these aren’t exactly instances with which we can relate. We don’t set a value on our daughters before marrying them off, and I haven’t met any sorcerers lately (or anyone who’s been intimate with an animal – I hope!), but we definitely can start relating to the rules further on down the list.
⁃ Don’t mistreat foreigners, for you once were a foreigner.
⁃ Be kind to widows and orphans, for your family members may become one or the other.
⁃ Don’t be a jerk when you lend money to your good friends. If they’re good friends, they’ll pay you back – or at least explain to you honestly why they can’t. If they ghost you, they probably weren’t your good friend in the first place. Can I get an amen?
⁃ Don’t dishonor God or your rulers. (At this time, the rulers were the Israelites, established in Chapter 18, who governed the groups of 1,000, 100, 50 and 10. No reason to disrespect them!)
⁃ Dedicate your first-born sons. (We learned in a previous chapter that the Israelites could buy back their first-born sons for the appropriate offering to God.)
⁃ Be God’s people. Honor His laws.
Just like we talked about in Chapter 21, these rules should be easy to follow because most of them are just common sense, but we know from experience, of course, that is not always the case. Things happen, and emotions get the best of us, especially when our favorite ox dies under the neighbor’s care while we were on vacation. Life stinks super bad sometimes. How we respond when it does, though, brings what’s in our own hearts to light.
Writing prompt: lay down the law
As I wrote in yesterday’s post, I LOVE reading through old laws and court cases. Many of them have just enough detail that you can kind of picture how the case came about in the first place. Some of them – like the ones in Chapters 21 and 22 – require a little more imagination. Pick an example from either chapter, and expand on it. Just for fun, write a fictitious account of how the case got to the point of needing to go before a judge at the local “court house”.