Rendering to Our God
Introduction: The Lord Jesus was constantly facing danger throughout His earthly ministry. The religious leaders made it their mission to find contradictions and errors in His teaching. They also went out of their way to ruin His reputation. The only thing that really kept them at bay for awhile was their fear of the multitude.
One day, the Pharisees and Herodians came to Jesus to catch Him in His words. They feigned respect for the Lord: “Teacher we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You d not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?” (Mark 12.13-15)
Jesus knew how hypocritical these men were. He said, “Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it.” (12.15) They brought it to Him and He asked about the inscription on the coin. They affirmed that it was Caesar’s image.
Jesus caused an astonished response from His would-be debaters when He said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (12.17).
This passage sheds light on our text at the end of Exodus 22 this evening. After moving through the chapter carefully, we’ve learned about our responsibility in loving others. Here, at the end of chapter 22 the first table of the Ten Commandments is emphasized: Rendering to God the things that are His! The question that occurs to me is how one does this.
Transition: Exodus 22.28-31 supplies three directives for those seeking to render to God the things which are His…
1. Respectful in Submitting (28)
Explanation: The first directive is found clearly in verse 28: “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.” Revile means to make small or of little account; to demean. Curse carries the idea of abhorring or detesting someone or something. The object of revile is God and the object of curse is a ruler.
Demeaning God or taking Him lightly is prohibited in the third commandment: You shall not take the name of the Lord Your God in vain. Abhorring or detesting authority is emphasized in the fifth commandment: Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you. Again, in Exo 22.17 it states, “He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”
A ruler of your people refers Moses, Aaron, the judges, and all of Israel’s kings and spiritual authorities yet to come. God makes it clear in this verse that reviling Him and cursing authority are part and parcel of the same thing. As a whole, Scripture fortifies this concept:
· Saul took 3,000 men from all of Israel to hunt down David like a dog. Saul found a cave to attend to his needs. It just so happened that David was in that cave; he retreated back to the recesses of the cave. David’s men thought it very opportune: “This is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’” (1 Sam 24.4) David simply cut a corner of Saul’s robe off, and immediately fell under conviction. Why? He confessed to his men: “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.” (1 Sam 24.6)
· Solomon wrote: “Do not curse the king, even in your thought…” (Ecc 10.20a)
· Paul contended earnestly with a Jewish council in Acts 23. The high priest positioned himself close to Paul in order to hit him in the mouth - which he did. Paul lashed out with his tongue not knowing it was the high priest: “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!” (Acts 23.3) Those who stood by said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” Paul confessed that he did not know that the man who struck him was God’s high priest. He then quoted the principle in Exodus 22.8: “You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.” (Acts 23.5)
· Unclean, fleshly people despise authority (2 Peter 2.10). Jude states that “dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries” (Jude 8).
The rejection of God and human authorities are closely connected in Romans 13:
2Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
4For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
5Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
6For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.
7Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Application: We revile God and curse authority just as Israel did. Take our leaders - while we do not always agree with them, we must still honor them. We must be respectful in submitting.
· Respectful in submitting to the political leaders of our government - they are God’s representatives according to Scripture. Since they are, we must be respectful in our submitting. Not doing so means that we will bring judgment upon ourselves.
· It’s not uncommon for Christians to show how much they despise the politicians that represent them. Sometimes, they even have what has been deemed ‘roast preacher’ for lunch. They arrange their families under the authority of a pastor only to tear him down in the so-called privacy of their own homes. In so doing, they embitter their children because of the hypocrisy they evidence.
· We give honor to God by being respectful in submitting.
Transition: Respectful in submitting is the first directive for rendering to God the things which are God’s. Secondly, this evening, we must be…
2. Responsive in Giving (29-30)
Explanation: This directive is found in the key word of v. 29: Delay. Israel should not delay to offer what God had commanded. In other words, nothing should hinder the fulfilling of this directive in a speedy manner.
Israel was to be responsive in her giving of the first of her ripe produce and juices. She was also to give of her firstborn sons, her oxen, and her sheep. A firstborn of oxen and sheep stayed with the mothers for the first seven days of their lives. Perhaps God allowed this so that the animals might develop safely or to provide natural relief for the mother who needed to suckle her offspring.
Giving the firstborn son as an offering had nothing to do with human sacrifice. An animal was used in order to serve as a substitute in the place of the child. The service of the Levites also served as a way to dedicate the firstborn in Israelite families.
12“Now behold, I Myself have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the children of Israel. Therefore the Levites shall be Mine,
13because all the firstborn are Mine. On the day that I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast. They shall be Mine: I am the Lord.”
Application: People labor over passages like these in their application to our lives today. Really, all we have belongs to God. That is the NT principle. The best way to acknowledge our fidelity to God is give back the very best of our lives to Him. This giving is done in gratitude for the giving of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The key is to give God the best of what we have and are - and to give it without delay. That is, we should be responsive in our giving and not allow anyone or anything to deter this. How much should we give? We should give all we can and increase it as the years go by. We should jettison the things that hinder our giving - like selfishness and discontentment or rampant materialism.
We should also give God our children and families. They should grow to serve Him; to leave us and be useful the world over. We cannot even hoard our children or grandchildren. We must be responsive in our giving!
Transition: Respectful in submitting, responsive in giving, and finally, this evening, we must be…
3. Righteous in Living (31)
Explanation: The third directive is also quite clear: “You shall be holy men to Me.” The people of Israel could not eat meat torn by beasts in the field. Why? Because, for them, God had deemed some animals clean and others unclean. A dead animal in the field had been torn by predators which were unclean animals. God wanted His people to be holy even in the small day-to-day things.
God hasn’t changed when it comes to the church purchased with the blood of His Son.
15But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:15-16
Application: A life of holiness is not segmented. All of us at all times - that is what God demands. He wants our lives set apart for His service. We are to be like Him - to glorify Him; to reflect His character.
9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10
· The fact that we have been set apart from sin to God signifies that we are free from moral fault in His eyes - righteous in living. We are in harmony with His will. How is this possible? Only through reliance upon the finished work of His Son.
Righteous in living as a church…
· Paul wrote that Christ loved the church and died for it “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (Eph 5.26). Sanctify and cleanse are words that communicate that Christ did this one time for all the church. “Christ suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3.18).
· The righteousness of Christ has been imputed to the church on the basis of His death and resurrection. “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor 6.11)
· Righteous in living because of Christ; a holy nation of believers!
Righteous in living as an individual…
· We are saints (holy ones; set apart ones). Since God has justified us, made us right, through faith, then He alone has the authority to pronounce us holy. And He does so. Despite the problems in the Corinthian church, they were called saints in Christ.
· As individuals, our daily lives must show forth the reality of personal holiness. We must progress in holiness of life.
19I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
14Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
24and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
4by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
2 Peter 1:4
These passages all teach the importance of making righteous living a daily reality since we have been set apart by God as a special people.
Conclusion: Respectful in submitting, responsive in giving, and righteous in living - God demands from His people that which is impossible apart from the work of Christ. As we look back on the demands placed upon Israel, we find that great fiery mountain that hindered Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress:
“So Christian departed from his present course so as to head toward Mr. Legality’s house for help. But notice that when he had drawn very close to the Hill, it seemed so high that it appeared to almost hang over him and threaten to crush him. Being paralyzed with fear, he stopped rather than go any further. As a result he did not know what to do. Also his burden now seemed much heavier than when he was formerly in the way. There also came flashes of fire erupting out of the Hill that made Christian fear that he would be burned. For this reason he was terrified and began to sweat and tremble in his body. Now he repented that he had taken Mr. Worldly-Wiseman’s advice.”
Fear, death, condemnation, and captivity await all who try to live out these directives in a moralistic way. But the work of Christ relieves us of the burden of guilt and the endless, frenetic striving of religious activity to curry favor with God. The only way we can render to God the things which are God’s is receiving the grace He offers through the work of His Son!
Hymn: 377 - Take Time to Be Holy