Each week we LIVESTREAM the Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, Lord's Day morning public worship at 11a, and Lord's Day p.m. singing (3p) and sermon (3:45), and the Midweek Sermon and Prayer Meeting at 6:30p on Wednesday

Friday, June 24, 2022

2022.06.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:15

Read Exodus 20:15

Question from the Scripture text: What does this verse prohibit?

What is the proper relationship of God’s provisions to the obtaining of those provisions?  Exodus 20:15 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In this verse of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the God Who put His image in us has appointed to us our possessions and the right means of acquiring them. 

Possessions are a good thing. As creation and creation mandates have been behind the first seven commandments, we would do well to see that connection in the eighth. God created everything else before He created man—an entire world to be possessed and enjoyed. And He created man needy of food and gave man duty of taking subduing the earth. Benefitting from what God created to benefit us, enjoying what God created to be enjoyed, and managing what God commands us to manage… this is good.

But there are right and wrong ways of possessing. We tend to think of work as the primary way of possessing. And Scripture does address giving good labor and paying a fair wage. And Scripture teaches us that one of the ways that God provides for us is good stewardship: not just hoarding what God gives us, but putting what He gives us to work in ways that make it even more productive.

And Scripture actually spends quite a few words on inheritance and trade. Two significant ways of stealing included moving boundary markers to take from someone’s inheritance and using unequal weights and measures to take more than was actually agreed upon in trade.

Other righteous ways of obtaining include spoils from just war, God giving His people favor in the eyes of kings and others in high position, and especially generosity of others. This generosity includes both allowing the needy to gather leftovers, as in the gleaning laws, and direct contributions (whether through the church via Levites and later deacons, or immediately to the recipient).

To possess in the wrong way is to deny God as Provider. It’s most important in spiritual things to remember that although God provides all, He does through so appointed means. Trying to be counted righteous or grow in righteousness in a way other than He has appointed is to deny Him as Savior. The eighth commandment gives us an analogy in the area of material provision. He is our Provider. We pray to Him for our daily bread. He feeds the birds and clothes the flowers. He knows what we need before we ask, and tells us that we are of much more value than birds or flowers.

So if we steal, we do something even worse than infringing upon what God gave others. Stealing says that we don’t trust God to give us what we need in His ways. It says that we must be our own provider because He is unable or unwilling or both. The dishonesty offends against God’s truth and justice. The distrust offends against God’s goodness and power.

On the other hand, when the thief no longer steals, his goal is not only to provide for himself, but to have enough to become a means of God’s generosity to others (cf. Ephesians 4:28). Our goal in all material dealings—whether giving or receiving—is to glorify God as the provider of all good gifts.

What means do you have? How are you stewarding them? How are you enjoying and using them? How are you blessing others with them? What more means could you have? What is your goal in all of this?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for loving us and providing for us. Thank you for employing us and enabling us to do good to others. Forgive us for all of our doubtings of your provision and attempts to get things by wrong means. Forgive us our lack of generosity toward others. And make us both more grateful to you and more generous with others we ask, in Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent, Who Will Abide” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

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