Friday, September 09, 2022

2022.09.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 22:28–31

Read Exodus 22:28–31

Questions from the Scripture text: What must they not do to Whom (Exodus 22:28a)? Nor what to whom else (verse 28b)? What mustn’t they delay (Exodus 22:29)? Of what lesser things and what greater things? And with what two other things (Exodus 22:30)? When must it be given to God? And what must the people themselves be (Exodus 22:31)? What mustn’t they eat, as a symbol of this status? What shall they do with this meat instead?

What does having God’s Name upon a society require? Exodus 22:28–31 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that having God’s Name upon a society means that it honors its authorities, dedicates everything to the Lord, and keeps itself clean unto the Lord. 

Having God’s Name upon a society requires that it honors its authoritiesExodus 22:28. The beginning of verse 28 makes it plain that this verse is an application of the third commandment. God is due supreme reverence. He alone is Creator; everything else is creature. He alone is independent; everything else depends upon Him. He is infinitely, eternally, and unchangeably glorious in all of His attributes. So, verse 28 feels imbalanced by connecting the reviling (speaking/taking lightly) of God to the cursing (denouncing imprecations upon) of rulers. But that’s the connection of the fifth commandment to the third: authority comes from God.

Having God’s Name upon a society requires that it dedicate everything to the LordExodus 22:29-30. This isn’t something new in Israelite society. All the way back in Genesis 4, Abel was being commended for bringing the first and best to the Lord. The word translated “juices” in Exodus 22:29 is literally tricklings—referring to pressing grapes for wine and olives for oil. 

There’s grace all over these two verses. The people who are receiving it are in the wilderness and have no crops whatsoever, but God is making them a monument of His grace for all history to consider as He brings them into vineyards and olive groves that they did not plant. 

Furthermore, the inclusion of firstborn sons reminds us of when the woman was told she would have a seed (Genesis 3:15), and of the covenant promise in Abraham’s seed (Genesis 22:18), and for this nation particularly of the killing of Egypt’s firstborn and claiming of Israel’s firstborn (Exodus 11, 13). 

Even the command to offer all firstborn animals (clean ones as sacrifice, unclean via redemption), and the prohibition against eating scavenged animals, implies that the Lord will be giving them such abundance that they won’t need these. 

Having God’s Name upon a society requires that it keep itself clean unto the LordExodus 22:31. That’s the explanation for the no-scavenging law. It explains itself at the beginning of the verse. Dogs are unclean; they can have what’s unclean. But not God’s people. They are holy unto Him. And He will even set the menu for them. 

When later the Lord declares all foods clean, the principle yet continues that His people must be kept pure and clean from sin (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:6–8, etc.). Still, even in the new covenant under Christ, holiness unto the Lord goes all the way to the lunch table: whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:31). 

Israel as a society had been consecrated unto the Lord by God Himself, and they were not to take it lightly. Shall the church take it lightly, who bear the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and are baptized into the Name of the triune God?

How do you go about respecting the Name of the Lord in how you interact with authorities He has set over you? What does dedicating the first and best to the Lord look like in Your life, a household’s life, a nation’s life, or a church’s life? What efforts are you making to keep your life clean of sin? To keep your heart clean of sin?

Sample prayer: Lord, forgive us for how lightly we have taken Your Name upon us. Grant that honoring You as weighty would show forth in how we interact with authority, how we devote the first and best of what we have to You, and how we keep ourselves clean of sin. For, we ask this through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments

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