Exodus Chapter Twenty Three

A Different Nation

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In our study of Exodus chapter twenty three, we see that Israel is called to be a different nation than the rest of the world. This nation is to represent the character of God to the pagan world.

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Exodus 23:1 & 2

"You are not to repeat false rumors; do not join hands with the wicked by offering perjured testimony. Do not follow the crowd when it does what is wrong; and don't allow the popular view to sway you into offering testimony for any cause if the effect will be to pervert justice.

God's will is for justice to reign and this passage speaks of the perversion of justice will lies to afflict others. As God's people, we are to be different than the crowd and to stand up for what is right no matter how many or few stand with us.

Exodus 23:3

On the other hand, don't favor a person's lawsuit simply because he is poor.

This verse reminds us that truth and justice do not depend on what you have we are not to pervert justice just to help those that are less fortunate.

Exodus 23:4 & 5

"If you come upon your enemy's ox or donkey straying, you must return it to him If you see the donkey which belongs to someone who hates you lying down helpless under its load, you are not to pass him by but to go and help him free it.

Justice does not change based on whether we like someone or whether that person likes us. We do the right thing to everyone and that sets us apart from the world.

Exodus 23:6

"Do not deny anyone justice in his lawsuit simply because he is poor.

Just as we are not to favor the poor in the administration of justice, we are also not to deny justice to the poor and favor those that have more possessions.

Exodus 23:7-9

Keep away from fraud, and do not cause the death of the innocent and righteous; for I will not justify the wicked. You are not to receive a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clearsighted and subverts the cause of the righteous. "You are not to oppress a foreigner, for you know how a foreigner feels, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

We need to stay far away from any form of lie and perversion of the truth and we must realize that lies cause death and destruction as the are from the father of lies who is the devil. We are to be incorruptible as far as accepting anything to influence our view of justice and justice is to be applied to anyone that we come into contact with no matter where they are from.

Exodus 23:10 & 11

"For six years, you are to sow your land with seed and gather in its harvest. But the seventh year, you are to let it rest and lie fallow, so that the poor among your people can eat; and what they leave, the wild animals in the countryside can eat. Do the same with your vineyard and olive grove.

This passage introduces us to the shmita or year of release where the farmer does not work the field or vineyard but, in fact, abandons it to let the poor and the animals have what the land produces.

Exodus 23:12

"For six days, you are to work. But on the seventh day, you are to rest, so that your ox and donkey can rest, and your slave-girl's son and the foreigner be renewed.

Here, we see the truth of Shabbat and the fact that keeping the Sabbath produces a physical as well as spiritual outcome.

Exodus 23:13

"Pay attention to everything I have said to you; do not invoke the names of other gods or even let them be heard crossing your lips.

We are not to even mention the names of the false gods associated with the religions of the world. We are not to work with them or even speak their name as they worship false gods.

Exodus 23:14-17

"Three times a year, you are to observe a festival for me Keep the festival of matzah: for seven days, as I ordered you, you are to eat matzah at the time determined in the month of Aviv; for it was in that month that you left Egypt. No one is to appear before me empty-handed. Next, the festival of harvest, the firstfruits of your efforts sowing in the field; and last, the festival of ingathering, at the end of the year, when you gather in from the fields the results of your efforts. Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Lord, ADONAI.

Next, we see that there are three festivals that are to be celebrated and, in the Hebrew text, it says that they are to be celebrated for God. This is worship and the festivals are Pesach or Unleavened Bread, Shavuot or feast of weeks, and Sukkot or feast of tabernacles or ingathering.

Exodus 23:18 & 19

"You are not to offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread, nor is the fat of my festival to remain all night until morning. "You are to bring the best firstfruits of your land into the house of ADONAI your God. "You are not to boil a young animal in its mother's milk

Now, we see reminders that yeast is not to be a part of any sacrifice, the fat of the offerings must be completely burned up as they belong to God, God is to receive the first part of everything that the land produces, and a young animal is not to be cooked in its mother's milk. This prohibition of boiling a young goat or sheep in its mother's milk is often minimized but it appears three times in the Torah and it speaks of the spirit of anti-christ. A mother's milk is God's provision for life and even the pagans realized this and, in defiance of God, they would take a live young goat or sheep and boil it in its mother's milk to kill it which was the exact opposite of God's provision.

Exodus 23:20-24

"I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him, listen to what he says and do not rebel against him; because he will not forgive any wrongdoing of yours, since my name resides in him. But if you listen to what he says and do everything I tell you, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes. When my angel goes ahead of you and brings you to the Emori, Hitti, P'rizi, Kena'ani, Hivi and Y'vusi, I will make an end of them. You are not to worship their gods, serve them or follow their practices; rather, you are to demolish them completely and smash their standing-stones to pieces.

The Hebrew word malach is translated here as angel but it speaks of a messenger and, in this case, it is speaking of Messiah who is not and never was an angel. We see that this messenger is going to keep them on the way and the way relates to Messiah as Yeshua said that He is the way the truth and the life. We also see that Israel was ordered to obey and told that their rebellion would not be forgiven and that speaks of the fact that forgiveness was not available until Yeshua died on the cross and was resurrected. Finally, we see that they are going to be taken to the promised land and, when they get there, they are to avoid the ways and practices of the pagans and tear down their places of worship.

Exodus 23:25 & 26

"You are to serve ADONAI your God; and he will bless your food and water. I will take sickness away from among you. In your land your women will not miscarry or be barren, and you will live out the full span of your lives.

Here, we see that God promises to bless those who serve him and avoid the pagan practices. We also see that God will remove sickness and premature death from the lives of His people but we must remember that these promises are for those who obey the messenger (Messiah) that God has provided.

Exodus 23:27-30

I will send terror of me ahead of you, throwing into confusion all the people to whom you come; and I will make all your enemies turn their backs on you. I will send hornets ahead of you to drive out the Hivi, Kena'ani and Hitti from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, which would cause the land to become desolate and the wild animals too many for you. I will drive them out from before you gradually, until you have grown in number and can take possession of the land.

Now, we see that God will actively engage the enemies of His people and we are reminded that an enemy is one that stands in the way of us following the will of God. We see that God will gradually drive out the enemies and the purpose for doing it gradually is to give time for the number of the people of Israel to grow. That also applies to us today as God could at any time end the rebellion and bring on His kingdom but He is waiting for the number of His people to grow to what He has determined.

Exodus 23:31-33

I will set your boundaries from the Sea of Suf to the sea of the P'lishtim and from the desert to the River, for I will hand the inhabitants of the land over to you, and you will drive them out from before you. You are not to make a covenant with them or with their gods. They are not to live in your land; otherwise they will make you sin against me by ensnaring you to serve their gods."

Finally, we see that God sets the boundaries for the land of Israel and it does not matter what anyone else says; these are the biblical borders of Israel without compromise. Then, we see that the land of Israel is only for God's people and there can be no agreement between His people and the pagans of the world. All of this is a reminder that Israel is called to be different than the rest of the world and to be a beacon of light, truth, and justice to the rest of the world.

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