Back in chapter 19, Moses went up Mount Sinai to meet with God. The Bible gives almost 11 chapters of Exodus to this interaction in which Moses receives the Law. It’s clear that these instructions are important to God. While chapter 21 does seem like it was meant for a time long ago, it is not void for us today. Isolated in these verses we find some detailed legislation that God laid out for His chosen people. God wanted His people to live differently than those that surrounded them, because He wanted them for His own possession.
“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
God set guidelines in place for several arenas of life, some broad stipulations and other specific instructions, all for the good of His people. Ultimately, these reveal God’s character, God is so much more than just dos and don’ts. Too often we can see lists like the one we find in today’s text and see God as some sort of cosmic-killjoy, but that’s simply not the case. God is a good God who loves His people so much He eventually sent His son, Jesus to pay the price for their sin. Jesus even referenced this chapter in some of His earthly ministry in Matthew 5:38-42:
“You have heard it said that, an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, do not resist the one that is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
Today, believers don’t live under this law; rules about slaves or oxen may seem unnecessary to us, but we must remember that Christ didn’t come to abolish the law, He fulfilled it. Initially these guideline were meant to prevent inappropriate punishment, now Christ redeems these words from the law of Moses from obligation to opportunity. Jesus was a perfect human, and His willing sacrifice covers and atones for our sins in a way that we could not. He is the physical embodiment of God’s grace to us, and as such, He challenges us to live a life like His.
By: Alex Boswell