Exodus 23 - Didactic
Overview of Text
Here the Lord continues with further instructions in justice. Multiple warnings are given about ensuring that judges render a fair verdict regardless of wealth. It then continues with the Sabbath year regulation where the fields are to lie fallow. The Lord then reminds Israel of the 3 feasts that are to be kept throughout the year. The remaining part of the chapter concerns how the Lord is sending His angel before Israel so that all the occupants will be driven from the land. Israel is cautioned that all the enemies will not be driven out at once but it will be done gradually. This is done so that Israel can grown into the size of the land and it not be overrun by wild animals. Included in this is yet another reminder to utterly overthrow the false worship in Canaan and not to imitate or duplicate the practices of Canaanite worship. Above all, Israel is warned not to wander after false gods.
- Exodus 23:1-9
Here is warnings - Not to allow justice to be perverted by mob sentiment. The number of people should not determine the outcome of the judgment. Neither should the person's status. A poor man is deserving of righteousness as any other. Again, Israel is reminded that they were strangers and, knowing what that is like, to avoid behaving as the Egyptians did to them. We have less of an excuse than normal for our actions when we have been the victim of another.
- Exodus 23:10-13
Here the Lord institutes a Sabbath year. It is not good for man to work continously for we forget where our interests should truly lie. Already Israel had a Sabbath day for rest. This day should remind us all that we are not slaves, forced to work constantly for a cruel taskmaster. No, we are free servants of the Righteous and Holy Lord who is as concerned for our welfare as He is for our holiness (or lack thereof). Now He gives a Sabbath year so that Israel should not be cruel taskmasters to their servants or to their land. Here is an aspect of the golden rule enforced - Do unto others as you would be done. Israel is not to drive their slaves nor their soil to exhaustion. Also, it will help the poor among them to be able to glean the wild grown food. And here, God demonstrates His sufficiency. Israel was to care for the poor. But, every 7 years, the poor could gather from fields that bring forth produce as the Lord wills, unworked by human hands. Man can and should care for his brothers, especially those not as well off, but the Lord provides for all and is the source of all.
Here are the 3 feasts of Israel - The Feast of Unleavened Bread (or Passover), The Feast of Harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering. Here is freedom, promise, and prosperity. It is good to remember God in what He has already done for us, what is being done, and what will be done. God's blessings are sure whether they are past, present or future.
The thing that jumps out at me from this section is one verse - v21 - Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions for My name is in Him. How awesome and austere is the Holiness of the Lord. The Guardian of the Lord's honor is fearsome and mighty. We, through Christ, may approach the throne boldly. For, because of Christ and His sacrifice, we are acceptable. But we should never, never, approach lightly or light-heartedly. Never let us be afraid of our Father in Heaven. But let us never behave as if He was senile! Remember - The Lord will NOT be mocked.