“House Rule’s part 2”
II.) Vs. 1-17 Responsibility and restitution
III.) Vs. 18-20 Three things God hates
IV.) Vs. 21-31 Compassion conservative
Last week we saw God ordering the social life of the nation by what I’ve called “house rules.” It is amazing how simple yet specific these laws were. Laws are there for our benefit; the only time we don’t see it that way is when they interfere with what we want to do. Occasionally laws become obsolete do to a change in technology but for the most part they establish order and the lack of them creates chaos. Rules are to guide social behavior for the betterment of all and they correct bad behavior that we may not be aware of.
II.) Vs. 1-17 Responsibility and restitution
This section deals with things lost and responsibility making whole or complete that which was lost. Six times in 12 verses the words restore or restitution appears and the word literally means to make whole or complete. We are talking about negligence on the part of some which resulted in the property loss of others, but that is not the case in verses 16-17 when that which was lost was a girl’s innocence and the need to pay restitution to her and her family.
Vs. 1 The law made the distinction between stolen animals that were still alive in the possession of the thief and those that were killed or sold for a profit. If the thief still had the animal, he had to return it and pay a fine. But the thief who had stole animals for profit had to pay four sheep or five oxen for everyone taken. Clearly the person who stole for profit was doing so out of greed. If the person could not pay the fine, then they would be sold as indentured servants with the price of their sale going to the victim. Why the difference between oxen and sheep? It was kind of like grand theft verses that of petty theft. Trained oxen were far more valuable them sheep.
The thief was made to pay restitution. You have heard the old adage, “crime does not pay”, well here it did pay, up too 5 times to every thing they took. It was not profitable to steal from others to get ahead.
Vs. 2-4 The victim was given the right to protect his family with reasonable force. The victim could only defend himself with lethal force at night against a thief but not during the day. At night the victim would not know if the thief had a weapon or not, neither would he be able to determine whether the intruder’s intent was to steal or kill. During the day the victim could see the person and that their intent was to steal thus there would be no need for deadly force unless it was for revenge and if so then they would be guilty themselves. If the person was caught during the day, then the regular laws pertaining to stealing applied which according to verse 4 which was if the animal was alive they had to pay double. So it would be better for the thief just to go buy the animal then to steal it because if he stole it then it was going to cost him double.
This show us that victims were given certain rights and the laws were geared for the victim instead of the criminal. Today it seems our laws are geared more for the criminal then they are for the victim. It would be good for judges and lawyers to go back and read these chapters, as they are the source of most of our laws today.
Vs. 5-6 Restitution was to be paid in the case of damage to property not just possessions. The owner of an animal was responsible to make sure his animals stayed on their property. It did not matter the intent only that damage was done, negligence did not excuse responsibility. Further more the restitution had to be given in the form of the “best” of the perpetrators land.
Fire control was also the responsibility of each person and again it did not matter if it was vandalism or negligence. The reference to thorns is an interesting one for it is what they used for fences at that time, in fact today when you go to Israel you can still see boundaries made of thorns or cactus. So restitution was to be paid if it burned the fence, destroyed the barn or silo, the crops in the field or just grazing land. It was only fair that the person responsible for the loss of another’s property compensates the person who had the loss. Again the word restitution means to “make whole or complete” it was not enough to say, were sorry they had to make it right.
A lot of folks don’t apply this to their lives, go out and look at your cars and notice the dings and pings from those that have hit your car and not paid restitution.
Vs. 7-15 These laws were to apply the principal of restitution to those items that were entrusted to you to keep for them. If you asked a person to take care of something for you while you were gone they were to treat it as if it was their own. So God establishes the “good neighbor” policy where honesty and integrity are applied. There were four ways a person would entrust their belongings to you:
- Safekeeping without payment.
- Safekeeping with payment.
- Hiring the property of another.
- Borrowing the property of another.
No matter what you were responsible as if it was your own. If the thief was caught, then the fine was paid to the owner not to you. If the thief was not found, then it was up to the judges to determine if the borrower had anything to do with its disappearance. If there was a dispute as to who the owner was of the damaged item, it was brought before the judges to determine who would have to pay the full value. Now if the loss came as a result of armed robbery or if a lion killed a cow the barrow would have to show this by bringing in a hoof or something showing the cause of death. If the guy rented the oxen and while using them they died he was not responsible to pay restitution, but if no one saw how they died they had to go in and swear that he did not mistreat the oxen.
In all of this the bottom line was “treat your neighbor as you would want to be treated if you were in the same situation.” All restitution was to be paid on pre-determined amounts and percentages and was never left up to the whims of judges.
Vs. 16-17 God who knows full well how he made men and women and how they react after the fall and puts in place laws to protect a girl’s innocence against seduction. This has nothing to do with adultery or rape, which were capital offences. I kind call these two verse to the “player laws”. Young guys today think they invented the picking up on girls but it’s been around since the fall and God clearly wants to set apart His people from other nations.
Guys will indicate love to a girl to get sex and a girl will give sex to get love. And God knows this so he set up protection for society kind of like the “you broke it you bought it law.” God’s not into to the “just sampling or taking her out for a test drive” idea that a lot of folks have today. God makes the distinction between being betrothed. To the Jew betrothal was marriage with out intimacy so if a guy hit on a girl that was engaged to another he was treated like an adulterer.
Now this law may have not prohibited pre-marital sex but it sure put a price tag on it. If a guy got a girl to sleep with him then the best he could hope for was that he would be permitted to marry her. God was saying here that there is no such thing as casual sex all sexual relations carry lasting consequences and virginity was to be highly prized, if a guy got a girl to give in to him it was going to cost him several ways:
- If she was willing and the father permitted it he has to marry her and he could never divorce her.
- He had to pay the father a sum of money for the disgrace of his actions had upon his family, plus the bride price.
- If he was not allowed to marry her then he had to pay the bride price, 50 shekels of silver. A shekel of silver is about $128.00 so that means he would have to pay $6,400 for her virginity plus an additional amount for the shame and disgrace suffered by the girl and if there was a physical injury more would have to be paid.
The guy would not have been called a “player” he would have been called a “payer”. This was a powerful law against living together and seduction because the guy knew that it was going by a lot more then a one-night stand.
III.) Vs. 18-20 Three things God hates
We come now to three things that God hated. The interesting thing is that they all involved the worship of false gods and the practice of worshiping these gods contaminated society. Many folks believe that God is just some insecure being who can’t stand us looking at other gods or something. We equate God with fallen human qualities but the truth is God does not want us worshiping other gods. He knows it is not a god and that the practices of worshiping it will give you know benefit but it will lead you into destructive behavior.
Vs. 18 The death penalty was to be given to those that practiced sorcery. The word sorceress means “to whisper a spell, to enchant or practice magic”. It was almost always associated with “medicinal arts” or the taking of drugs. There has always been a connection between taking drugs and occult practices. In fact, in Gal. 5:19-20 Paul says that part of the work of the flesh is “..adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery,” Now the word sorcery there is “pharmakeia” which is the Greek word for medication, where we get our word pharmacy from. Notice that Paul places idolatry right before sorcery, I believe that is because that is what taking drugs is really all about. Our society is saturated with taking drugs and the reason why folks do it is to escape reality. More often then not those who are taking drugs are the ones that are openly worshiping satan, many of them have opened themselves up to demonic possession. God says for the betterment of society those that do drugs and alter their state of consciousness are to be put to death. How many times do we read in the paper or hear on the news that a person committed some grisly murder while they were on drugs?
These laws were given a nation that was to be set apart to be a light to a fallen world, so they were not intended for a non-believing world. As Christians these things Paul says in Eph 5 that such things ought not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; for those that habitually practice such things has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. I do think that the entertainment industry better quit glorifying wickedness as certainly many people think it is cool to go get high.
Vs. 19 Bestiality was a practice by some of the Egyptian cults as they worshiped nature. It was also a perversion of God’s gift of sex. The truth is that since our so-called sexual revolution all sorts of deviant behaviors have cropped up in our society including this one. We have gone to the phrase “If it feels good do it!” as the standard to our behavior then nothing should surprise us. We Christians have our own saying, “What ever His word says do it!”
Vs. 20 Lastly God says that any practice associated with worshiping false gods was not to be tolerated. Some of these folks worshiped their gods buy killing or sacrificing their children to them or other horrible practices. The fact is, what you worship is what you will become like and that is seen in the practices of worship.
IV.) Vs. 21-31 Compassion conservative
We have just seen what God hates here we turn to see that He has a soft spot towards three things, the stranger, the widow and the orphan. The world has a “survival of the fittest” mentality but with God He wants us all to be more than conquerors through Him who loved us, so He sets certain groups aside to make sure they are taken care of and not trampled on by the rest of society. If God was producing the show all would be winners and none would be kicked off the island, He would hold accountable those that would miss treat the weakest.
Vs. 21-24 There was to be no law of the jungle in Gods society, He did not permit the rich and powerful to exploit the poor and week. God reminds them that they were at one time oppressed as a people themselves. The Israelite was not even permitted to call a stranger by the word “stranger” for it was a derogatory term, let alone oppress them financially. You can always tell something about a person on how they treat a stranger. In God’s society racism had no place, you were to treat all as if they were from your own family. But they were not to adopt the bad habits of other cultures instead they were to loving influence them towards the worship of the true God.
Widows and orphans were equally on God’s heart those that often get over looked today. In fact, God promises to protect them personally. Those that have so offended them have not to deal with society but He says they are going to deal with Him. How sad it is that Israel did not take Him seriously as in the first chapter of Isaiah we are told that God was going to make them orphans and widows because they had not defended the fatherless and plead for the widow. Hey, God hears their cries so should we! Cain asked God, “Am I my brothers keeper?” and the answer according to God’s word is yes!
Vs. 25-27 God extends the treatment of the needy as the apostle John put it not only in word but in deed as well. They were to extend a financial hand to those that had a need. In the above verses as well as they God is dealing with our self-centeredness.
The law granted an interest-free loan to the poor instead of an out right hand out. To give them a hand with out giving them a handout. The word for interest is the word that means to bite or cut with the teeth, so they were not to gouge each other on loans.
Our welfare system in this state is a mess because we give folks the opportunity to get money for nothing. The lender could not embarrass the person under any circumstances by asking them to pay back the loan when they were not able to do so. However, if it was found that the person had squandered the money, was not destitute, or was able to repay the interest-free loans then they would have to pay it back up to their ability. Taking of collateral had to be reasonable on loans that were not for the relief of the poor and the collateral could never be items that were necessary for daily living. God promises to go after the person who accumulated interest on a person profiting on their lack!
Vs. 28-31 They were to show their separation to God in two distinct ways: The civil and the religious. There was not separation of church and state, if they loved God they would love the nation and the leaders He had appointed to keep order. Further more if they loved their nation they would be faithful in supporting the faith by giving.
- 28 They were not to speak bad about God nor were they to speak bad about the person or persons God had placed over them. They could not degrade a governmental official. This is the most basic battle we face our tongue, God cares how we talk about Him and others.
- 29-30 They were responsible to give faithful to God. It was to be in a timely manor not just when they felt like it.
- 31 They were to show their holiness in how they conducted their search for meat.