Get the Notes Ahead of Time!

I know I’m going to receive a bunch of contrary emails/comments on this one and accusations of “ruining BSF” as I have gotten before, but I have prayed and am prepared.

BSF (at least where I’m at) is no longer requiring you to sign out for notes/lessons ahead of time. I discovered this quite by accident when I got a lesson ahead of time as I will be gone next week.

So I got the notes for next week and read them and to be honest it makes me sad I’m going to miss next week because it has only fueled my desire for more.  There were some things in the notes I had questions on and was curious what the teaching leader was going to say.  I did more investigating on my own.  I learned some things.  It has convicted me in many areas of my life–things I’ve been working on for a while but was ho-humming around about.

This isn’t the first time I have gotten the notes ahead of time.  Three years ago, I actually posted on this same topic. If you’re curious, the original post is HERE I went back and re-read this and it seems this was echoed to me again. I feel everything has a purpose.

I feel like when I go to class after having read the notes ahead of time, I am more enlightened, more curious, more open, more engaged, more ready to receive God’s word because my mind is more open to the passage.  When I read the notes afterwards, I don’t get this feeling.  I get a feeling of finality and “we’re moving on” so who cares?

Maybe I’m wrong and you all can disagree with me for it and chastise me, but from now on I plan to get the notes ahead of time so I can read them before class discussion and lecture.  It awakens something in me I cannot describe and I feel more ready to absorb God’s word and lessons.

My confession:  for the longest time I feel like I’m just “doing homework” here and not incorporating the Word into my life.  I’ve been praying, but it seems hokey for I never can put my emotions into words and I feel God must think me a complete nincompoop.

For me, it’s all about understanding God and His Word better and whatever helps, helps.  Many of you have commented how you wish the notes were online and I do hope that will be forthcoming as well.  I think more would read the notes if we had them ahead of time instead of putting it off until you no longer remember what the passage was about.  I personally wish the lectures were available for a week for everyone as well because who can make every class, right?  Flu, holidays, family matters, sick kids, vacations, emergencies come up.  It would be great to get more of God in any medium.

Bible Study Fellowship changed the lessons and the lecture so they correspond, why not the notes?  Why wait on this change as well?  I know some of you will say because then people will read the notes before answering the questions.  This is a valid point.  BSF would like you to do the questions and then hear the lecture and then read the notes.  That’s how it originated.  But what’s wrong with switching the lecture and the notes?  That’s how a lot of school is taught, especially college.  You’re given a reading assignment.  You read it.  You return to hear a lecture on it and an opportunity to ask questions.  I learn better this way.

One solution:  maybe make the notes available online 24 hours before the day of your class.  That gives everyone plenty of time to do their lesson but still read the notes before lecture and discussion.

[Suggestion:  I realize this is a stretch, but I will throw it out there.  Our BSF leader recently mentioned it costs BSF something like $84/person/year just in materials and staff.  Sometime in the future, I imagine BSF as going paperless.  Could you imagine?  We can get the notes and the questions all online and imagine the cost savings!  That would be more money to put toward other ministry areas BSF engages in or expand BSF further to reach more people.  At least in the developed world:  US, Australia, UK, Canada, etc. where most of us own printers and computers and have internet access.  I see this as a ways away but offering this as an option would be cost effective, save trees, and more environmentally friendly!  Just a thought for the future :) ].

After all, the group leaders and the teaching leaders all get the notes ahead of time at leaders’ meeting.  I can’t tell you the number of times over the years I’ve had a discussion leader say, “Read the notes because they clarify this further.”  Wouldn’t it be only fair that the rest of us be allowed access to the notes before lecture/discussion?

At some point you just have to trust people to do the right thing.  To do what is best for them.  To follow BSF how it was designed to be.  For personal responsibility is lacking in today’s world and learning about God is an individual choice just like doing your BSF questions is a choice.  God and Free Will at His/its best!  Thus, I see no harm in accessing the notes before discussion/lecture.  For those of us who learn better by reading, it’s an eye-opener for sure.  Bible study is all about growing with Jesus and each does this in his or her own way.

I would believe one qualm BSF is concerned about is this:  Well, if the notes are online, why would anyone come to class at all?  Answer:  For everything else that makes BSF work:  community, fellowship, lecture, discussion groups, prayer, worship, and a profound love of our Lord and Savior.

Please feel free to agree or disagree below for I am no expert nor am I a seasoned BSF’er, but merely one who sees an area for improvement and suggests it.  And I would ask before you post your nasty email to not personally attack me as many have done in the past, but to take my idea as it’s meant to be taken:  a suggestion to improve BSF, not dismantle the system.  Change is good as BSF is demonstrating, and I hope you die-harders out there can see that.  Change is a part of life whether we like it or not and if we don’t change, we don’t grow; and if we don’t grow, we don’t become more and more like Jesus.

In conclusion, I’d love to hear your thoughts especially if you’ve gotten the notes ahead of time for some reason or another and either liked it or didn’t like it.

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Prayer Requests for Weeks of October 26th and November 2nd, 2014

Hey all,

This is for two weeks as I will be out of town early next week.  Please leave all requests as comments or email them to me and I’ll post when able.  Email address:  atozmom.wordpress@gmail.com

Please pray for the US mid-term elections that Godly people will fill God’s roles in our government.

God bless!

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 10, Day 2: Exodus 25:1-22

Note:  This is posted early as I will be gone early next week.

Summary of passage:  Moses is alone with God on the top of Mt. Sinai in a cloud.  God tells Moses offerings the people are to bring to Him that include gold, silver, bronze, yard, linen, wood, olive oil, spices, and more.  Then the Israelites are to build God a tabernacle where He will dwell among them.  God tells Moses to build an ark of gold for a holding for the Testimony (laws) and how to build it.  Here, He will meet with Moses and give all of His commands for the Israelites.

Questions:

3a)  The people’s hearts should “prompt them to give.”

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Pray for a giving heart.  Give even if your heart is not quit there yet because just the act can lead to the heart change.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Well, the passages say to offer a sacrifice that costs you something.  To offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, as a spiritual act of worship.  Give as much as you are able and beyond.  Give yourself. Basically, God wants all of us and every aspect of our lives:  money, worship, work, talents, and a living testimony to the indwelt Holy Spirit, leading a Godly-life.  I believe God wants me to fulfill the purpose He has for my life–writing something that will convert others to Him.  That is my gift beyond the others mentioned here.

4a)  As a dwelling place for Him where men could come and meet with God.

b)  From Creation, God created man as a companion to Him and as one who was meant to be with Him always. Since the Fall, sin has separated us.  So God sends His son, Jesus, Immanuel, to be with us physically.  God’s Word was given to us to be closer to us.  When we accept Jesus as your Savior, we receive the indwelling Holy Spirit, which is God within.  Then finally at Jesus’ Second Coming, Jesus will inhabit the earth with us together at last both physically and spiritually.  God will live among us and we will be together as God has meant it to be.

c)  In order to be with God, we must be cleansed of our sins for God cannot be near sin.  Hence, the atonement cover was provided as a way for His people to be near Him.  God appeared in the cloud over the atonement cover in the Most Holy place; hence, you had to be clean in order to be in the presence of God.  This allowed us to be with God as He has always meant us to.

Conclusions:  I don’t know which is harder:  one long passage of many chapters or a relatively short passage to read but with a bunch of reference passages.  Both are time consuming and challenging in their own right.  I was thinking this would be an easy day, but it wasn’t with all the look-ups.

The emphasis here is the importance of worshipping God and being near Him as we were meant to be and this passage shows how God is doing this for the Israelites in their new land.

End Notes:  Note how the Israelites 400 years ago were unskilled nomads.  After being in Egypt, they became skilled laborers, capable of crafting a beautiful tabernacle for God and an ark to hold the Testimony and for Him to dwell in.

Note the offering is not out of need nor is it us asking God for anything.  The willing heart gives–here is what God wants.  Us to freely worship and give to Him out of love and desire and because He gave everything (Jesus) to us.

The offerings listed were all of the finest and most expensive materials around–the hardest to procure and make.

The ark, or Ark of the Covenant, was described first as it was the most important offering in the tabernacle.  Scholars say it is modeled after God’s own throne.

Note the ark had wooden poles to carry it by.  The ark was too sacred to be touched by man and as Uzzah found out (2 Samuel 6:6-7) if you disobeyed this command, the penalty was death.

Note how God wants the the ark built before all the laws are even given.

The atonement cover is the lid of the ark.  Presumably, God must have made some provision for the priests to touch the lid in order to put the items inside of it.  I’m assuming we will read this later in our study.

If you picture God looking down from heaven, then the atonement cover and the passages given will make sense.  So God is looking down on the ark, which contains His laws.  The ark is then covered with sacrificial blood, atoning for and covering up man’s sins and our breaking of the law.  Hence, God could now forgive our sins and come down to be with us.

Even before the law was given, God knew we’d break it so He made appropriate provisions for us.  What a loving God!

Our mercy seat/atonement cover is now Jesus.  God is great!

Reading this passage got me confused exactly when did Moses receive the written commandments from God.  Not yet.  Exodus 24:12 has God calling Moses up to receive them but he stays for 47 days and nights so is about to receive them.  The next chapters in Exodus covers all that God told Moses (at least what Moses recorded cause I’m sure in that amount of time there would be a ton to talk about) and then he will receive the commandments to carry down off the mountain (Exodus 32:15-16).  Great website with timeline of the tablets summarized and a cool link to listen to the Ten Commandments read in Hebrew:

http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Torah/Ten_Cmds/ten_cmds.html

Fun Fact:  The word “tabernacle” appears for the first time here and it is mentioned 139 times in the Old Testament.  It means ‘tent’ and just like a tent was moveable.  God does not permanently dwell in the tabernacle but comes when man does.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 9, Day 5: Exodus 24

Summary of passage:  God summons Moses to come to the top of Mt Sinai.  The others must not approach God.  Moses told the people what God had said and wrote it all down in the Book of the Covenant.  Then he built an altar to God and offered sacrifices to Him.  Then he sprinkled the blood of the covenant over God’s people.  Moses and others went up and saw God and ate and drank.

The Lord called Moses up to receive the laws and commands on stone.  Moses went up further with Aaron.  Then Moses went alone and the cloud covered him and the glory of the Lord settled on the mountain.  Then Moses entered the cloud and remained for 40 days and nights.

Questions:

11a)  Jesus because he gave himself as a ransom for all men (1 Timothy 2:6) through his blood and Jesus’ covenant is superior to the Old Covenant with better promises

b)  Before

c)  It is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

d)  Trusting that Jesus’ death has freed us from all sins committed and cleansed our consciousnesses from acts that lead to death we should be able to serve the living God better without worry that we may not be offered forgiveness for our sins.  We are free; thus, we are free to obey.

12a)  They were allowed to worship God at a distance (closer than the rest of the Israelites) verse 1 and they saw the God of Israel (verse 9 & 11).

b)  Cloud, glory of the Lord or consuming fire, the smoke, and the stone tablets

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God is tangible and personal.  He is light.  He is compassionate on His people.  He is awesome.

Conclusions:  Lots of cross references to Jesus here.  Too many in my opinion.  Wished we would have focused more on what this Old Covenant to us (but a new covenant to the Israelites back then) meant for them as this single act in Exodus 24 is/was one of the most important acts in the Bible.  This chapter is the basis for God’s people to live for hundreds of years.  The profundity of this chapter should not be ignored nor glossed over.

I just don’t understand how having seen the glory of the Lord you could then turn around and worship a golden calf.  I just don’t get it.  I say this because I fear I’d be just as stupid and do the same thing.

We are seeing over and over again (and it only goes downhill from here) how even God’s presence does not make people believe in Him.  This is human nature (which makes me wonder why God created us with this dilemma).  However, the consistent failure of the human race to obey God (as Paul argues in Galatians) was the reason we needed a New Covenant.  And aren’t we all glad of that?  As always, God’s ways are not our own and we only have limited understanding of His.

“So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24

God called to Moses “Come near!”  Can you imagine?  What a pleasure that must be!  Still, this is a promise to us all.  God calls us.  How do you respond?

End Notes:  The Old Covenant here in this chapter is Israel’s constitution, birth certificate, and marriage certificate all wrapped up in some stone tablets and Moses’ writings.  Here is recorded 613 commands on how to live your life as God’s chosen people, as His nation, and as a relationship to Him like a marriage full of love between God and His people.

God spoke to Moses alone Exodus 20:22-23. Then God speaks to others here in Exodus 24.

There is Four Steps to the Covenant:

1) The word of God must be written

2)  There must be a blood (life) sacrifice to be cleansed of sin

3)  There must be a response to the covenant

4)  The blood must be received and accepted to be binding and sealed.

These are true for both the Old and the New Covenant.

It is impossible to say what exactly the elders saw.  Some scholars say they merely saw the footstool of God, which is said to be made of sapphire (Revelation 4:6 & Ezekiel 1:26).  Some say it wasn’t God but a form of God.

The shared meal was a common way of sealing a deal in ancient times.  Hence, the face they ate and drank in God’s presence was normal and gave them renewed strength to trust Moses.

This is the same Joshua as the Book of Joshua.

So on Mt. Sinai, you have the 70 elders and Aaron and his brothers half-way up the mountain. Then Moses and Joshua went further up and there Joshua was left up by himself and only Moses continued on to the top to meet with God to receive the Ten Commandments.  Aaron and his brothers were supposed to be supervising the people.  We find out later how that turned out.

Though the people could not see God nor Moses they could not doubt His presence in the physical signs God left. How stupid are we?

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 9, Day 4: Exodus 23

Summary of passage:  Laws pertaining to justice and mercy:  Do not gossip falsely.  Do not follow the crowd.  Do what is right.  Do unto your enemies as you would unto yourself.  Don’t put innocent people to death.  Treat the poor fairly.  Do not accept bribes.  Do not oppress foreigners.

Laws pertaining to Sabbath:  Sow the land for six years and leave it fallow the seventh year and allow the poor to glean from it.  So work six days and rest on the seventh day.  Do not worship false gods.

Three Annual Festivals:  Feast of Unleavened Bread where you eat bread for seven days made without yeast.  The Feast of the Harvest where you bring your firstfruits to me.  Feast of Ingathering at the end of Harvest season.  At these times you will offer sacrifices to God.

God’s Angel:  God is sending an angel ahead of His people to guard them and protect them and be an enemy to those who oppose His people as long as they do not rebel.  Do not bow down before other gods.  Worship God and He will bless His people.  God will drive out the other peoples of the Promised Land little by little to allow their numbers to increase enough to fill the land.  I will give you all the land between the Red Sea to the Mediterranean to the Euphrates.  Do not allow foreigners to live in your land for they will cause you to sin.

Questions:

7a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Be nicer to my “enemies” or people I don’t really care for.  Help them instead of being indifferent.

b)  Worshipping and honoring God

c)  God will do everything for His people as long as they obey Him and revere Him.  He also wants His people to set the moral standard and do what is good and right towards others.  He wants the best for us, which includes telling us to rest, work, and honor Him.

8 )  Jesus.  In Exodus 14:19, Jesus is the angel of God here so Jesus has been with the Israelites all along.  In Exodus 3:2, Jesus is the angel of the Lord in the Burning Bush.  Hence, this must be the same angel of the Lord.

[See End Notes for thought-provoking article on the angel in this passage.]

9a)  11

b)  God promises to send an angel ahead of them to the place He has prepared for them (verse 20).  God will be an enemy to your enemies and oppose all who oppose you  and wipe them out (verse 22 & 23).  He promises to bless their food and water and take away sickness and barrenness and give them a full life span (verse 25 & 26).  He will send His terror ahead of them and throw into confusion  every nation and make them run (verse 27).  He will drive their enemies away (verse 28).  He will establish their borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean to the Euphrates (verse 31).

c)  Pay attention to him (angel) and listen to what he says and do not rebel (verse 21 & 22).  Do not bow down before their gods or follow their practices and break their sacred stones (verse 24).  Worship God (verse 25).  Do not make a covenant with them or their gods (verse 32).  Do not let them live in your land (verse 33).

10a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God makes it easy for His people to take their land back.  He gives them only as much as they can handle though by not giving them all the land at once which would cause them trouble.  He waits on His people.  He allows them to grow steadily and not all at once.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He has decreased my stress level enough so I can better deal.

Conclusions:  We basically copied out verses 22-33 for Question 9.  What I got out of it is God does much for us and asks so little in return.  We have an awesome God!

End Notes:  More laws for judges given by God to Israel.  The focus is on justice, truthfulness, and kindness.

Following the crowd has been around since the very beginning when Adam followed Eve into sin. This was important to remind the people to hear from God, not others.

Note how you feel about someone should not determine how you treat them.  You treat them like Jesus did.

Some interpreted the Sabbath law as only cultivating 6/7 ths of their land in any given year.  Failure to follow this directive by God extended the Israelites punishment in Babylon (Leviticus 26:32-35, 2 Chronicles 36:21).

Cooking a goat in its mother’s milk was a common pagan ritual at the time so God felt the need to specifically outlaw it. Pagans did just that–boil a young goat in its mother’s milk and sprinkle it all over their fields, hoping for a better harvest the next year.  Makes you wonder if God had to specifically outlaw this, then some or many of the Israelites themselves were doing this.

Jesus goes before us to prepare a place in heaven for us as well.

Note the stunning difference in the Old Testament Covenant and the New:  in the Old Testament you had to obey to be blessed.  Now, we are blessed through Jesus so although there are consequences to sin, we are still blessed.  I wonder if this is why others around us who are un-Godly, are richly blessed.

Just because God has given us things does not mean we will possess it.  Case in point in Israel’s boundaries.  Israel has never possessed all of God’s promised land.  When your faith is strong enough, you will have it.

The Israelites do make a covenant with others in their land (Joshua 9).  Note how no humans have ever kept God’s commands perfectly.

Fascinating article on the angel of the Lord, which here says that God never spoke to the people Himself but this is Jesus here who is communicating with Moses the entire time since no one has ever seen nor heard God.  See article HERE

This was an eye-opener for me.  I had always assumed this was God speaking and never thought it was God in the person of Jesus although I looked back at my answers and had put this previously.  It’s just now clicking for me!  I tend to think in terms of God and Jesus being separate and they are not.  This I think will be a grand theme for me this year.

Bible Scholars differ on the locations of the Promised Land from Genesis 15 to here in Exodus 23

One Interpretation:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promised_Land#mediaviewer/File:Map_Land_of_Israel.jpg

Another Interpretation:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promised_Land#mediaviewer/File:Greater_Israel_map.jpg

Modern Borders:  http://www.historicjesus.com/maps/israel.html

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 9, Day 3: Exodus 21:33-22:31

Summary of passage:  More laws on Animals and Property:  A man is responsible for digging pits and animals falling in.  He’s also responsible if his animal harms another animal and if it had harmed animals before, he is to pay compensation.

The rest of the laws govern restitution fitted to the crimes.

If a man steals another’s animal, he must pay back much more (five times for cattle and four times for oxen). If a thief is killed in your own home, the homeowner is not responsible for bloodshed unless it’s during the day.  The thief must pay for what he has taken.  Wandering livestock, fire, stealing silver or gold, lost property or livestock, or borrowed property or livestock all must be restituted.

If a man seduces a virgin, he must compensate her.  Death penalty for those who has sex with an animal.  Don’t mistreat aliens.  Don’t take advantage of others especially widows or children or others you lend money to.  Don’t curse God or hold back offerings.  Give up your firstborn to God and the firstborn livestock.

Questions:

5a)  Harm to personal property or loss of personal property

b)  Restitution means “an act of restoring or a condition of being restored as a restoration of something to its rightful owner or making good of or giving an equivalent for some injury”

c)  Exodus 21:33-36:  Dog bites or deaths

Exodus 22:1-4:  Stealing any thing will fall under this.

Exodus 22:5-6:  Wildfires today

Exodus 22:7-15:  Watching someone’s pets and they die.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Any in this passage.  If you harm other’s property, you pay for it.  From a broken toy to a pet to a wildfire.

6a) Pre-marital sex (verses 16-17).  Sorcery (verse 18).  Sex with an animal (verse 19).  Sacrifice to other gods (verse 20).  Mistreat a foreigner (verse 21).  Mistreat an orphan or widow (verses 22-4).  Money-lending (verse 25-7).  Cursing God (verse 28).  Not offering to God (verse 29).  Give firstborn (verse 29-30).  Not eating dead meat (verse 31).

b)  “You are to be my holy people.”

Conclusions:  Did not like this lesson like I did last lesson especially question 5.  All of the examples and laws listed here are current examples that do happen today and to any of us from livestock to stealing property to looking after others’ property.  Question 6a was merely a listing of the passage.  No depth here, in my opinion.

End Notes:  Rest of Exodus 21 is negligence and restitution.  Personal responsibility for your actions.  Period.

We must remember that the unlikely death of an oxen or a cow may result in poverty and death for a poor farmer. Hence, the gravity of these laws God institutes.

For us, it’s not a cow or sheep but our words or actions which we must restitute.  Do we do this enough?

We can harm others by what we fail to do as exhibited by the livestock grazing on others property and by carelessness or indifference on our part.

No law of “finders keepers” here.  If found, property must be returned.  If you claim it’s yours and it’s not, then you pay double.  Wish we instituted that nowadays.

One must swear by the Lord in the dispute and one must accept the other’s version of the story if there were no witnesses.  Proof must be given of guilt.

If you had pre-marital sex, you were to marry her and/or pay a bride-price.  Period.  This made many men think before taking advantage of girls.

God has no toleration of anything of the devil and of the spirit world.  Hence, death for sorceresses.

Bestiality was common in the ancient world and is legal in some areas of the world today.

The least (widows, orphans, foreigners, poor) must be treated compassionately and taken care of.

Money could also be substituted for the firstborn.

These laws were meant for living in Canaan.  Little did the Israelites know it was a long wait.

We must act differently than animals.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 9, Day 2: Exodus 21:1-32

Note to Readers:  We are now entering the second half of Exodus.  Here, we will shift from the flight from Egypt (the first 20 chapters) to mainly laws and regulations given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai to govern the life of this new nation.  These are laws given specifically to the judges for the Israelites.

Summary of passage:  Laws regarding Hebrew servants:  A Hebrew slave may serve you for six years but then go free in the seventh year.  A wife may go with him.  However, if the wife has children, then they must stay behind as they belong to the master.  If the man wants to stay, he must pierce his ear with an awl and be a servant for life.  If a man sells his daughter as a slave, he gets her back if her master is displeased with her.

Laws regarding Personal Injury:  If a man strikes or kills another, he is to be killed.  If a man attacks his father or mother or curses them, he is to be put to death.  If he kidnaps others, he is to be killed.  If a man hurts another, he must be compensated monetarily.  If a man beats his slave, he is to be punished if the slave dies.  If a man beats a pregnant woman and she loses the baby, he is to be fined.  If she dies, then he is to die.  If a master hits a slave and blinds him or knocks a tooth out, the slave can go free.  If a bull kills someone, the bull is to be stoned.  If the bull has done this before, both the bull and its owner is to be stoned.  But if it’s a slave, the bull dies and the slave’s owner is to be compensated.

Questions:

3a)  The Book of the Covenant

b)  Israel is God’s treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation set apart from others.  God holds higher standards for His people and thus all these laws that set a moral precedent.

c)  James 3:1:  “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

Luke 12:48:  “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

We have been given everything; thus, we are expected to be more and give more.  Teachers of God’s Word are also called to be more as they impart God to others.  Plus, we are doing God’s bidding, not our own, when He gives us a task.  It is His will and as He is the Lord of all we must obey whole-heartedly.  If we fail, we fail God and whatever purpose He had for us.  It has greater implications than just failing our own will.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It makes me strive for more, do more, and have a higher moral standard than others. Do the right thing always not just when “I feel like it”.  I do things I don’t want to do and am the better for it.  I go to church when I don’t feel like it.  I help others when I’d rather be home reading a book.  I give more and am enriched by God because of it.  I hope my kids see this example and I try to impart this knowledge to do more than what is expected.

4)  God talks a lot about slaves and women and their rights.  By beginning with laws protecting the lowest on the social scale (slave and women), God was teaching the value of every human being.  Every one matters is what God is saying here.  To Him.  Thus, they should matter to His people.

Conclusions:  We are about to embark on a bunch of boring and tedious regulations that is hard for us to grasp since most do not apply to us anymore (for example slavery but also because of the New Covenant).  However, there is much to be gleaned here as BSF did a fabulous job here flushing out what we can get out of laws regarding slaves and women and hurting one another:

To God, everyone matters.  You and I.  Our neighbors.  The beggar on the street corner.  The adulterer and murderer.  I love how God addresses pregnant women here, giving unborn babies value.  Thankfully, we (at least those of us in the West) don’t live in a society where it is common to hit women although it does happen.  But here God values even the unborn.  If He values them, then what does that say about our value?

End Notes:  Many of these forthcoming laws set a new standard of morality for God’s people to live by, giving value to slaves and women, the poor and the aliens.  Israelites were the first to give slaves rights and say what is right and what is wrong.

Note how God addresses slavery first–to a people whom He just rescued from slavery!  Slavery was a fact of life in the ancient world and here God is working to tame it.  He knows in time it will die out.  He is setting the first precedence for that.

Most of slavery with the Israelites was of an indentured servant type.  None was meant to be life-long and only was used to get out of debt or some other extreme life circumstances.  It was limited in other words.  Note how the life-long servitude was chosen–not mandated–by anyone else.

The piercing of the ear reflects Jesus as he was pierced for our sins and chose to die and be a servant to us all (Philippians 2:7).

The selling of the daughter in this passage was when a father sold his daughter as she was engaged to be married to a son in the family.  This may have been done ahead of time in order for her to work off her bride-price.  Hence, she was to be returned if the marriage did not take place.  She was to be treated and cared for and never harmed.

Our laws for murder and capital punishment originate here–the Bible.  Since Genesis 9:6, God has laid down what is just in this respect.  Furthermore, God says there is to be no mercy nor protection at the altar (in ancient times, people could find sanctuary at an altar).  God is clear on His desires here.  In Numbers, we learn unpunished murders defile the land.

God establishes sanctuary cities later on for those accused of murder to flee in order to await trial and to be protected from avenging relatives since in the ancient world if you murdered someone, their relatives then had the right to kill you.

Kidnapping for the purpose of enslavement is what God is aiming to punish here, something very common in the ancient world.

The cursing of your father and mother was to protect the older generations and establish respect.

Personal injury laws began here.  If you hurt someone, you were responsible, especially if they couldn’t work.

Slaves in ancient cultures were not human so could be killed at any time.  Here, God tells the Israelites this is not okay.

We are either slaves to Satan or to Jesus.  Which are you?

Laws of retribution establish limits.  If injured, you are rightfully due compensation.  But limited to what was taken.  If an eye, compensation for an eye, not with a life.  Numbers 35:31 tells us money could be substituted instead of a life.

Caution when dealing with your slaves; least you hurt them they could be set free.

Interesting precedent here with animals as we can/should learn from this.  If the animal has no previous history, then the animal only dies.  If there is a previous history, then the owner dies as well.  This is the difference between intent and neglect.