You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?
Is there something here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.
Welcome to More Than Ink. Hey, we've been talking about the Ten Commandments. Let's say that someone borrows my car and goes out and crashes it and it's a total loss. Is that covered in the Ten Commandments? Oh, what a good question.
Does God care if I loan my stuff to somebody and it gets abused or lost or broken? Well, in working out the Ten Commandments, I think we'll find out He does care today on More Than Ink. Well, good morning and welcome to More Than Ink. I'm Dorothy. And I'm Jim. And we're sitting here at our dining room table. We are working our way through that section in Exodus where the law is kind of amplified and applied specifically to the circumstances of community living.
Practical application. Right. And we've been talking, last week we were talking specifically about slavery and slaves and how to treat your slaves if you are the people of God. And just to remind you that a slave is one who has no will of his own, but his will is completely subjected to the will of his master. And slavery is an idea that runs all the way through the Scriptures.
It's a very powerful and a useful idea. So slavery is not forbidden, but this is a particular kind of slavery that's very highly and carefully regulated by God according to God's justice. Yes. In fact, we pointed out in going that our classic American idea of slavery, the African slave thing where they stole people and stole them, that's actually forbidden here in this section on slavery.
Right. To be punished with capital punishment if you steal a man's life and sell him. So if you think that this section on slavery is about endorsing that kind of slavery, it actually is a capital crime to do that.
So go back and listen to last week's if you're not sure exactly what we're talking about, but that's where we are. We're in Exodus 20 and we finished with the last little segment about if a pregnant woman is hit and it causes a miscarriage, or the ESV says it causes the baby to come out, what happens? And it says there shall be a fine imposed by the husband, right? And the judges will determine the rightness of it. But if there's harm in verse 23 of chapter 20, then you shall pay life for life. And so if the woman or the child dies, you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. Isn't it fascinating that that very detailed list of the regulation, the limitation of vengeance appears here in this little part about striking a pregnant woman?
The value of women comes through very clearly in this statement, not just here, but in the whole statement about slavery and how you shall treat your female slaves. Yeah, with great respect. And we also mentioned at that point that eye for eye thing, that's a radical innovation in justice because at the time in the ancient world, if someone did something against you and you had a loss, many times they said, well, then you can overreact and you can hit them. There was an escalation. Right.
Like if someone accidentally kills your goat, you can go over and wipe out their village. Well, that's not a measured response. And so eye for eye means measured response.
You can only respond in retribution to the degree to which you've lost. And we're going to get into that a little bit more in a few minutes, but we need to pick it up now in verse 26 of chapter 20. And we're still in this section where we're talking about the treatment of slaves.
So I'll just start reading verse 26. When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth.
Can you imagine what kind of reserve that put on the masters? No kidding. Like if they lose a tooth from what you do, you're going to lose your slave. That's right. And you've got an investment in this slave.
Exactly. Again, that's why this is not like American African trade slaves, because that would never be the case there. You bust someone's tooth or knock a tooth out, you got to let them go. Yeah, it wasn't part of American slavery, but here it was. Remember, we had read earlier in chapter 20 that if you buy a Hebrew slave, you're buying him for six years, and the seventh year he goes out free. His debt is paid. But here, if you smack him and damage his eye or his tooth, he goes free early. You set him free.
It's such a great caution for masters to treat people well. Well, let's move on. 28. I'll read that. Okay. When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner of the ox shall not be liable. But if the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not kept it in, and it kills a man or a woman, well, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death.
Wow. Yeah. And if a ransom is imposed on him, like you owe us money because of this, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is imposed on him. If it gores a man's son or daughter, he shall be dealt with according to this same rule. And if the ox gores a slave, male or female, the owner shall give to the master 30 shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.
Yeah. So what do you make of this ox goring other people? Your ox, your property, causes damage to your ox. Well, yeah.
So you have been neglecting your responsibility to keep your violent animal under control. But what strikes me here is the constant repetition of man or woman. Man or woman, man or woman. Slave, man or woman, or children. So we know that in other cultures at this same time, women were not valued as equal to men.
No, no. Children were not valued as human beings. A different worth. Right. So they were, I mean, they were a deposit on the heritage, right? They were the next generation coming up, but they really were not regarded until they were old enough to earn their way or keep their, show their worth. Yeah.
They were not regarded as valuable. So... But in this case, if the owner of the ox is negligent and he kills someone, he can't get away with saying, well, come on, that was just your little child. His life is forfeit. Or it was one of your slaves. Hey, come on, it's just one of your slaves. That says he shall give for the redemption of his life, whatever's imposed on him. Yeah, he's in big trouble.
He's in big trouble. So this is really a wonderful statement on the value of mankind even. Yes.
And if this thing happens, you need to take it seriously, not just if a male householder dies, but if anybody in that household dies, including the slave. So, you know, what strikes me here is that this is an emphasis on responsibility. Yeah.
Right? That you can't just say, well, you know, he's not important to me or I didn't know the animal was going to do that. That you are responsible for not just your own actions, but the actions of your property. This is really a move into an area that we call negligence in law. And, you know, many times you say if someone does something malicious, deliberately, premeditated, that's one thing. But what if it's just negligence?
I mean, should the penalty be as great? And here it is, actually. And it's just negligence. It is because this is descriptive of the way of people who claim to be people of a holy God, creator and author of everything, the God who is just and loves. Do justice, as we said last week. What has God made known to you from Micah 6-8? He's told you what's good. Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.
Right? So even the way you care for your animals or keep track of your responsibilities is before God. It's not just an issue of absence of malice. It's an absence of caring for your neighbors by being negligent.
And that's a big deal. And that's why Jesus answered, right, what's the greatest commandment? Love the Lord your God and the second commandment, love your neighbor as yourself. Sums up all of these community righteous standards. Is it loving for you as the owner of an ox that you know is dangerous to be negligent and allow him to kill someone? Is that loving your neighbor?
Not even close. And that's what we're talking about here. Exactly this. Well you know this sort of transitions us into a whole discussion about restitution which is a part of justice in our system that's really overlooked quite a bit. Yeah so what is restitution? Right?
What's it about? To basically equalize someone else's loss that was at your hand. That's right. And tied up in this Hebrew word is the idea of peace. Of making it right, re-establishing peace by paying the cost of someone else's loss.
Yep, yep. So you know our criminal system emphasizes locking people up when they cause loss in other people's lives. The Israel system that God institutes here, really the backbone of it is restitution. You've got to make things right. Make it right. Yeah, make things right. So that puts us into chapter 21.
Let me read, let's see am I in the right place here? Verse 33. Verse 33, yeah verse 33. So for instance, when a man opens a pit or when a man digs a pit and does not cover it and an ox or a donkey falls into it, well the owner of the pit shall make restoration. He shall give money to its owner and the dead beast shall be his. Yeah so you dig a hole like for storage of grain or for water and a donkey falls into it. But you haven't marked it responsibly and somebody else's property falls into it. It's a negligence issue.
Then you've got to make it right. That's the restitution. Or how about verse 35, when one man's ox butts another so that it dies. So one ox butts another butts another. Well then they shall sell the live ox and share its price and the dead beast they shall also share. Or if it's known, if it's known that the ox has been accustomed to goring in the past and its owner has not kept it in, negligence, he shall repay ox for ox and the dead beast shall be his. Restitution.
And not you give me everything you own, just an ox for the ox that he caused the loss of. Restitution. Just to make it right. Just to make it right. Chapter 22, verse 1, we continue on restitution. So if a man steals an ox.
Okay wait a minute. Oxen are really valuable property in an agrarian society. That's the way you plow your field? It's your livelihood.
Yes. It's your livelihood. So it's a big deal. You're not just stealing a piece of property. You're stealing someone's ability to feed themselves. Okay, back to the ox. Okay, so if a man steals an ox or a sheep and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox or four sheep for a sheep. So that's big. That's big. That's not just ox for ox. If you've stolen it, you've broken that eighth commandment, you shall not steal. Yeah, and so you pay back fivefold or fourfold.
It's a big deal here, yeah. And if a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no blood guilt for him. But if the son has risen on him, there shall be blood guilt on him and he shall surely pay.
Okay, stop. Yeah, it's a tricky thing. The blood guilt has risen on the one who found the thief came in and stole from. Right. And he waits a day and then goes and hunts him down and kills him. Then he's guilty.
Yeah. Or he can make a case for the thief was killed in the dark, and if he's killed during the daylight, then the measured response wasn't there. You don't have to kill a thief.
You can restrain him in some way. So there's a lot of ways of looking at this. There's blood guilt on the person who's protecting his property when a thief comes in. It's actually a measured response thing that's placed on top of the property owner. It is because if you've just apprehended the thief, he is going to be legally required to make restitution.
You're going to get your property back. Right. Right. But if you've killed him, then a different law applies. Yeah, and that's in our laws today, too. If you own a gun and someone breaks into your house and you see them just carrying your TV out, you can't just shoot them because you're not in physical danger.
So it's a measured response issue is what this is. So he shall surely pay, but if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. So there he is going into indentured servitude to pay his debt.
You economically pay back what you take by hours of being in slavery. So if the stolen beast is found alive in his possession, whether it's an ox or donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double. So if the property is recovered, he pays double.
Because it's evident that he took it. Exactly right. And he has to pay not only return the sheep, but pay for what he has done. Exactly.
And here in verse five, we move into the kind of the careless issues in life, the negligence we talked about before. If a man causes a field or a vineyard to be grazed over or lets his beast loose and it feeds in another man's field, he shall make restitution from the best in his own field and in his own vineyard. So if someone lets their beast go eat someone else's stuff, well, then you need to let them eat your stuff.
That's just the way it is. I'm thinking this has practical application today. Like if some stray, some animal in the neighborhood, somebody lets their dog out, which should be leashed, and it comes over and eats all your dog's food.
It's exactly what this is. The right thing to do would be for them to bring you a bag of dog food. Restitution. Restitution. Not that this has ever happened to us.
We don't have a dog. But I'm just thinking of people I know who have had similar experiences. I'm like, this is just practical. And again, we get to this careless thing again in verse six. So if a fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, well, he who started the fire shall make full restitution. Ooh, that's a lot.
That's a lot. And this usually comes around to when he mentions this whole thing about the catches and thorns. Many times they would control weeds and thorns on the edge of the growing area by lighting them on fire. Well, what if you do it so carelessly that you light the guy's wheat field on fire and he loses his entire crop for the year? What are you supposed to do? You've got to make restitution. Make full restitution. A whole field of grain you have to pay back. Well, I didn't mean to torch all of his grain, yet you're being careless and you're still going to have to pay. All of these kind of touch on that commandment not to steal and not to covet, right? It's a matter of respecting your neighbor's property and property rights as much as your own.
Yeah, in a proactive way. Even if there's absence of malice and you cause him a loss, you've got to pay restitution. That's just the right thing to do. Why don't you pick us up on verse 7? Okay, verse 7. If a man gives to his neighbor money or goods to keep safe and is stolen from the man's house, then if the thief is found, he shall pay double. Okay, so there we are dealing with stealing.
Pay double, yeah. If the thief is not found, the owner of the house shall come near to God and show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor's property. Okay, right. So the suspicion exists. I entrusted this to you and it went missing while it was at your house. Did you steal it yourself? And a thief took it.
Somebody came and took it, right? So it says it shall come near to God and show whether or not, right? God knows. God sees. Verse 9, for every breach of trust, whether it's for an ox or a donkey, for a sheep or a cloak, or any kind of lost thing, of which one says, well, this is it. The case of both parties shall come before God.
The one whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor. Yeah, this part where it says this is it, that's applying to this thing of something lost. So what if you lost something and it's just gone and then you wait a couple months and you see it's in your neighbor's backyard. Right. And you go up to the point and say, this is it, this is mine. Right. Well, then you come before God. And by the way, when it says come before God here, he's really talking about coming to judges who represent God's justice.
So you need to come before him and then they'll decide with God's justice about what's really going on. Right. Yeah. And it's interesting, you know, we have this stupid law when you're in elementary school, finders, keepers, losers, weepers. This is not finders, keepers. That's not a law, that's just elementary school justice. Well, yeah, that's what I mean, it's elementary law.
That's not enforced here. We're saying if someone claims and their word is that's mine. Right. Then the judge will kind of decide and say, yeah, you're right, it's yours. Especially if some time has passed and you discover you're missing property in the possession of another one and there's a strong suspicion that he just did away with it. Yeah.
Or kept it from you. Right. Right. And that takes a little discernment by the judges who rely on God's information, know what's going on here. And it'll go on here that we'll establish judges to decide these matters.
And all through the Old Testament you see judges and this is exactly what they're doing, they're deciding civil matters. I hope you're seeing how incredibly practical this is. Yeah, it's very practical. This is not just a chapter full of don't do this, don't do that. Yes.
This is a very practical way of restoring your relationship with your neighbor when a wrong or a loss has happened. Yeah. And if you're seeing these things as kind of obvious, like, well, sure, that's what you would do. What you don't understand is that in Western civilization so much of our legal system is based on these very things right here. And they were radical at the time.
They're the backbone. So if you say, well, of course that's what you should do. That's only because you're used to them because in Western civilization this is how we've done things and it came from the Bible. And in the absence of law that is based on some external source of justice, not just like the book of Judges, every man did what's right in his own eyes. Right, right. This is what's right in God's eyes.
In God's eyes. That you put it right. Yeah. And, you know, if you're the victim, and we need to finish these, but if you're the victim in these things, you've suffered loss, you're cheering as you're hearing these things. That's right. That's what you're saying. Yes, absolutely.
That finally some justice for my loss that I didn't cause and someone else caused. Well, let's go into verse 10. Okay. Verse 10. If a man gives to his neighbor a donkey or an ox or a sheep or any beast to keep safe and it dies or is injured or is driven away without anyone seeing it, an oath by the Lord shall be between them both to see whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor's property. So, again, this is the case of the suspicion.
I entrusted him, my animal, to him and it's disappeared. Yeah. Right. I'm going on vacation.
Can you watch my ox for me? Right. And, oh, it's gone when you get back. So, this is the second half of the verse. The owner shall accept the oath and he shall not make restitution. But if it's stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner. If it's torn by beasts, let him bring it as evidence. He shall not make restitution for what has been torn. Yeah.
So, this is actually pretty fascinating. If the owner shall accept the oath, and the oath being, I swear, I did everything I could but still it's gone. Right. So, if the owner accepts the oath, then he shall not make restitution. If he accepts his word.
This is an interesting thing. If he accepts the word of the person who's caring for his stuff. Like, okay, you entrusted your ox to me but, hey, we had a tornado and what can I say? Right. Or if it's injured. Right.
It got hurt. Yeah. Or if it's injured with one of his sheep and the sheep got attacked by a wolf. Right.
You'd say, well, I did everything I could to kind of do that. And that particular case, it kind of explains 12 and 13 here, is, okay, if that's the case, did you find the carcass of the sheep? Show me the carcass.
Yeah. Because if it's actually just wounded enough to kill it but it's not fully eaten, then he actually did do some due diligence and protection. But if the thing is completely eaten, then it looks like maybe he's just become negligent. You know, so actually the state of the final carcass torn by beasts is an important clue to the judges about really how protective this neighbor was when you gave him his stuff. That's what we're talking about.
Okay, verse 14. Yeah. If a man borrows anything of his neighbor and it's injured or dies, the owner not being with it, he shall make full restitution. If the owner was with it, he shall not make restitution.
If it was hired, it came for its hiring fee. Yeah, that's a good distinction. It's very practical.
It's a good distinction, yeah. So you borrow something from somebody. You borrow something from a neighbor, like I borrow a chainsaw so I can cut down a tree. And then my neighbor who I borrowed it from says, well, here, here's the chainsaw you can borrow.
Let me just help you do that. So the owner of the chainsaw is with you while you're cutting the tree. And then you bust the chainsaw. Does the guy who owns the chainsaw say, hey, I let you borrow this and you just destroyed it? Well, the guy who borrowed it would say, well, but wait, you were standing right there while we were doing it.
You still had... You should have stopped. Yeah, exactly. You could have protected your property, but you didn't.
Well, that's the distinction he's making right here. Or if you rented it, if you hired it, then you don't have to, presumably the risk is assumed by the one who rented it to you. That's right. So if it was hired, it came for the hiring fee. That's right.
So there you go. Unless you signed a contract, it's as if it's damaged in your possession. Yeah, this is a great case where, you know, when you go to small claims court, sometimes it comes down to, you know, sometimes loss is suffered and no one is to blame. I mean, not really, but it's just loss is loss. But, you know, if the person who owns the thing is there, well, you know, it's your own dumb fault. You were there to protect it and it never happened.
So, yeah, that's actually very practical, very practical. Well, we're at the end of the list in this particular chapter. Well, and we should probably just sort of wrap this up. Thinking about God's justice and God is concerned about the rights of the victim, the one who has been wrong, and God is concerned that what is true come to light. And so that set me thinking about what the Apostle John wrote in 1 John 1. He says, if we say we have fellowship with him, but we walk in the dark, we lie. We lie. And we don't practice the truth. So in essence, we're taking God's name in vain, making it, we're representing God slanderously.
You're misrepresenting who God is by acting poorly. When we act unjustly because God is a God of justice. Justice is very important to him. And for people who are victims, like I said before, justice is a wonderful thing.
You know, when you look about people who come from third world countries and they come to America, for instance, they say, you know, I can find justice here, but I couldn't in my country I came from. Justice is something that everyone yearns for. Okay, but sometimes when we say we want justice, what we really want is vengeance.
Yeah, and I'm not going there. I'm just saying, you know, just this protective idea of justice is a wonderful thing that worldwide people respect and say this is great. I want to live in a place where there's justice. What is just and right. And I might point out too that in this particular chapter in 21, when we're talking about restitution, we're looking at God saying you have the right to own things and to own stuff. And when you suffer loss at other people's hands, my law says we need to reverse that.
We need to do something about that. You have a right to have your stuff restored. It's a fascinating endorsement of property rights when you look at this whole emphasis on restoration. You know, you have the right to own stuff and when someone does stuff to take it from you, we need to make that right.
That's just not right. So again, these are the details, the fine points of working out what God meant when he said now, don't steal because you're my people, don't lie because you are my people, don't murder because you're my people, right? And my people live in a way that's consistent with my character and they do what's right.
Yeah, and it reflects on who God is by living like that. And I think the contrast to other peoples in the ancient world at the time as they saw Israel function like this, they'd say, wow, that's just fascinating. Look how they treat their slaves. Right. And in fact, they let them go after six years. Who does that?
Who does that? So the contrast to what's going on in the world at the time is the testimony of the nation of Israel to who their God is. It's this actual nation inaction, injustice that's communicating through what they do who their God is.
That's a really important thing. Yeah, so that actually just brought to mind what Moses says in Deuteronomy 4.6 when he's talking to the people about keeping God's law. He says, so keep them and do them for that's your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what great nation is there that has a God so new to it as the Lord our God?
That's a great quote. So there it is drawing that straight line from the way God's people live to the observation of the other people saying, wow, these people have these kinds of laws. What is their God like?
Yeah, have you ever thought about the fact that the way you conduct yourself from day to day actually testifies to who your God is? Love the Lord your God. Love the Lord your God. Your heart, your soul, your mind, your strength.
And you can reflect that by loving your neighbors yourself. Well, next week we get into more moral issues on the law and that will be another eye opener as well. So come back with us next week on More Than Ink. More Than Ink is a production of Main Street Church of Brigham City and is solely responsible for its content.
To contact us with your questions or comments, just go to our website, morethanink.org. That might be good enough. It might. Want to listen to it? No, let's just try it again and we'll see.
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