February 5, Exodus 19-21

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19 In the third month from the very day the Israelites left the land of Egypt, they came to the Sinai Wilderness. They traveled from Rephidim, came to the Sinai Wilderness, and camped in the wilderness. Israel camped there in front of the mountain.Moses went up the mountain to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain: “This is what you must say to the house of Jacob and explain to the Israelites: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possessionout of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, and you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”After Moses came back, he summoned the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. Then all the people responded together, “We will do all that the Lord has spoken.” So Moses brought the people’s words back to the Lord.The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear when I speak with you and will always believe you.” Moses reported the people’s words to the Lord, 10 and the Lord told Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. They must wash their clothes11 and be prepared by the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 Put boundaries for the people all around the mountain and say: Be careful that you don’t go up on the mountain or touch its base. Anyone who touches the mountain must be put to death. 13 No hand may touch him;[a] instead he will be stoned or shot with arrows and not live, whether animal or human. When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they may go up the mountain.”14 Then Moses came down from the mountain to the people and consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. 15 He said to the people, “Be prepared by the third day. Do not have sexual relations with women.”16 On the third day, when morning came, there was thunder and lightning, a thick cloud on the mountain, and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people in the camp shuddered. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was completely enveloped in smoke because the Lord came down on it in fire. Its smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain shook violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him in the thunder.20 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai at the top of the mountain. Then the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and he went up. 21 The Lord directed Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to break through to see the Lord; otherwise many of them will die.22 Even the priests who come near the Lordmust consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out in anger against them.”23 Moses responded to the Lord, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, since you warned us: Put a boundary around the mountain and consecrate it.” 24 And the Lordreplied to him, “Go down and come back with Aaron. But the priests and the people must not break through to come up to the Lord, or he will break out in anger against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.20 Then God spoke all these words:I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.Do not have other gods besides me.Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. Do not bow in worship to them, and do not serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,punishing the children for the fathers’ iniquity, to the third and fourth generationsof those who hate me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commands.Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God, because the Lord will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses his name.Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: You are to labor six days and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female servant, your livestock, or the resident alien who is within your city gates. 11 For the Lordmade the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.12 Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.13 Do not murder.14 Do not commit adultery.15 Do not steal.16 Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.17 Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

The People’s Reaction

18 All the people witnessed[a] the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain surrounded by smoke. When the people saw it[b] they trembled and stood at a distance. 19 “You speak to us, and we will listen,” they said to Moses, “but don’t let God speak to us, or we will die.”20 Moses responded to the people, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, so that you will fear him and will not[c] sin.” 21 And the people remained standing at a distance as Moses approached the total darkness where God was.

Moses Receives Additional Laws

22 Then the Lord told Moses, “This is what you are to say to the Israelites: You have seen that I have spoken to you from heaven. 23 Do not make gods of silver to rival me; do not make gods of gold for yourselves.24 “Make an earthen altar for me, and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your flocks and herds. I will come to you and bless you in every place where I cause my name to be remembered. 25 If you make a stone altar for me, do not build it out of cut stones. If you use your chisel on it, you will defile it. 26 Do not go up to my altar on steps, so that your nakedness is not exposed on it.21 “These are the ordinances that you are to set before them:

Laws about Slaves

“When you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for six years; then in the seventh he is to leave as a free man[a] without paying anything. If he arrives alone, he is to leave alone; if he arrives with[b] a wife, his wife is to leave with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children belong to her master, and the man must leave alone.“But if the slave declares, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I do not want to leave as a free man,’ his master is to bring him to the judges[c] and then bring him to the door or doorpost. His master will pierce his ear with an awl, and he will serve his master for life.“When a man sells his daughter as a concubine,[d] she is not to leave as the male slaves do. If she is displeasing to her master, who chose her for himself, then he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners because he has acted treacherously toward her. Or if he chooses her for his son, he must deal with her according to the customary treatment of daughters. 10 If he takes an additional wife, he must not reduce the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife. 11 And if he does not do these three things for her, she may leave free of charge, without any payment.[e]

Laws about Personal Injury

12 “Whoever strikes a person so that he dies must be put to death. 13 But if he did not intend any harm,[f] and yet God allowed it to happen, I will appoint a place for you where he may flee.14 If a person schemes and willfully[g] acts against his neighbor to murder him, you must take him from my altar to be put to death.15 “Whoever strikes his father or his mother must be put to death.16 “Whoever kidnaps a person must be put to death, whether he sells him or the person is found in his possession.17 “Whoever curses his father or his mother must be put to death.18 “When men quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or his fist, and the injured man does not die but is confined to bed, 19 if he can later get up and walk around outside leaning on his staff, then the one who struck him will be exempt from punishment. Nevertheless, he must pay for his lost work time[h] and provide for his complete recovery.20 “When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod, and the slave dies under his abuse,[i] the owner must be punished.[j]21 However, if the slave can stand up after a day or two, the owner should not be punished[k] because he is his owner’s property.[l]22 “When men get in a fight and hit a pregnant woman so that her children are born prematurely but there is no injury, the one who hit her must be fined as the woman’s husband demands from him, and he must pay according to judicial assessment. 23 If there is an injury, then you must give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, bruise for bruise, wound for wound.26 “When a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave and destroys it, he must let the slave go free in compensation for his eye. 27 If he knocks out the tooth of his male or female slave, he must let the slave go free in compensation for his tooth.28 “When an ox[m] gores a man or a woman to death, the ox must be stoned, and its meat may not be eaten, but the ox’s owner is innocent. 29 However, if the ox was in the habit of goring, and its owner has been warned yet does not restrain it, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox must be stoned, and its owner must also be put to death. 30 If instead a ransom is demanded of him, he can pay a redemption price for his life in the full amount demanded from him. 31 If it gores a son or a daughter, he is to be dealt with according to this same law. 32 If the ox gores a male or female slave, he must give thirty shekels of silver[n] to the slave’s master, and the ox must be stoned.33 “When a man uncovers a pit or digs a pit, and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 34 the owner of the pit must give compensation; he must pay to its owner, but the dead animal will become his.35 “When a man’s ox injures his neighbor’s ox and it dies, they must sell the live ox and divide its proceeds; they must also divide the dead animal. 36 If, however, it is known that the ox was in the habit of goring, yet its owner has not restrained it, he must compensate fully, ox for ox; the dead animal will become his.

There is a story from an old pastor who had a family in his church that was very faithful until they got a boat. Then they started missing a sunday here and there and becoming less involved throughout the week at church until they would only attend about one Sunday morning a month and nothing else. The story goes that the marriage came upon hard times and they called up the pastor out of the blue one day desperately needing him to come to the house for Godly counsel. When the pastor arrived he immediately instructed them to worship and pray to the boat and see how it would help them.

The point was that they had made the boat their god. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having a boat. I love boats! However, their time, money, effort, resources, etc… went towards the boat. They loved it and clung to it with all they had. It was their god. 

The first of the 10 commandments instructs us to have no gods before the one true God. This should cause us to pause and examine what captures our thoughts, resources, time, effort, lives. 

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