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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 22

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 23

SUNDRY LAWS FOR ISRAEL

‘If thou … Thou shalt not … Ye shall.’

Exodus 22:23; Exodus 22:28; Exodus 22:31

I. Restitution is one of the prime thoughts in this Lesson.—Alas that this is far from being recognised by us Christians as it should be! But it is the first sign of a genuine work of grace. It is not enough to confess to God: we must also confess and make restitution to man. Men are very often kept from peace and trust, by their memory of some wrong, which they have not made right. But no amount of religious observance will compensate for the failure to adjust, so far as possible, the wrong-doing of the past. We must, of course, avoid becoming morbidly and nervously scrupulous. All this is unhealthy. There must be definite dealing with definite acts of wrong.

II. Mercy also shines in many of these enactments.—God says, ‘For I am gracious’: that was a reason and a motive why they should be tender and gentle in their dealings with strangers; the defenceless; and the poor. Infraction of these commands was severely alluded to in after-days ( Amos 2:6-8). We must not forget that God now demands of us that similar mercy be shown towards the weak and poor; as is enjoined in this chapter: and in this matter faithfulness greatly commends His children to Him.

III. God’s nearness is taught.—He hears any cry that is raised, and He comes nigh to avenge the cause of the poor. He was the invisible King of Israel, who beheld each of His subjects with searching and minute inspection, judging the evil and the good, and interposing on the behalf of those who could not help themselves. This is the meaning of a Theocracy.

IV. Holiness was God’s prime requirement.—Here first is the demand, ‘Ye shall be holy men,’ which was destined to ring throughout the remaining books of Moses, and is the appeal of all Scripture. Holiness means separation from and to. When we yield ourselves only to God, we are weaned from, and lose our taste for, the things which once fascinated us.

The whole Lesson is full of sweet and profitable reading. Many of the laws breathe the spirit of the New Testament. Do we not sometimes raise and receive false reports, and circulate them? Are we not all influenced by the opinions and actions of the multitude? Do we exert ourselves to help those whom we hate, in their conflict with difficulties? Are we always careful to keep our hands free of anything false, or bribes? Do we never take advantage of those who may not be as well acquainted with our methods or language? Sometimes professing Christians take undue advantage of foreigners. Do we think enough of the poor, and of the rest required by our servants and animals?

Illustration

(1) ‘Let us watch our speech, so that we take away no man’s character by false accusation. Let us dare to stand for truth, though we stand alone. Let us make ourselves act charitably and generously, though it be toward the man who hates us, our rival and opponent. God will avenge us if we are wronged. We need not fret ourselves in any wise to do evil. Let us hold the balance evenly, giving to men their dues, irrespective of fear or favour. Side by side with this we must cultivate the spirit of mercy and of rest.’

(2) ‘It is most interesting to read these regulations which teach so clearly the lines on which we must proceed. Professing Christians do not always live up to them. Side by side with this stringency against sin, what tenderness is there toward the stranger, the widow, the fatherless, the poor! These enactments are still in force, and full often calamities of a literal and temporal kind overtake those who are oblivious to them. If any such oppressed ones read these words, let them be comforted by the assurance that when they cry God will hear, because He is gracious. This mercifulness extended to the relationship between the animals and their young. Maternal tenderness was to have some response from its young. Oh to be holy men, feeding on the Lamb and the Manna, and turning from all unclean food!’

Verse 28

SUNDRY LAWS FOR ISRAEL

‘If thou … Thou shalt not … Ye shall.’

Exodus 22:23; Exodus 22:28; Exodus 22:31

I. Restitution is one of the prime thoughts in this Lesson.—Alas that this is far from being recognised by us Christians as it should be! But it is the first sign of a genuine work of grace. It is not enough to confess to God: we must also confess and make restitution to man. Men are very often kept from peace and trust, by their memory of some wrong, which they have not made right. But no amount of religious observance will compensate for the failure to adjust, so far as possible, the wrong-doing of the past. We must, of course, avoid becoming morbidly and nervously scrupulous. All this is unhealthy. There must be definite dealing with definite acts of wrong.

II. Mercy also shines in many of these enactments.—God says, ‘For I am gracious’: that was a reason and a motive why they should be tender and gentle in their dealings with strangers; the defenceless; and the poor. Infraction of these commands was severely alluded to in after-days ( Amos 2:6-8). We must not forget that God now demands of us that similar mercy be shown towards the weak and poor; as is enjoined in this chapter: and in this matter faithfulness greatly commends His children to Him.

III. God’s nearness is taught.—He hears any cry that is raised, and He comes nigh to avenge the cause of the poor. He was the invisible King of Israel, who beheld each of His subjects with searching and minute inspection, judging the evil and the good, and interposing on the behalf of those who could not help themselves. This is the meaning of a Theocracy.

IV. Holiness was God’s prime requirement.—Here first is the demand, ‘Ye shall be holy men,’ which was destined to ring throughout the remaining books of Moses, and is the appeal of all Scripture. Holiness means separation from and to. When we yield ourselves only to God, we are weaned from, and lose our taste for, the things which once fascinated us.

The whole Lesson is full of sweet and profitable reading. Many of the laws breathe the spirit of the New Testament. Do we not sometimes raise and receive false reports, and circulate them? Are we not all influenced by the opinions and actions of the multitude? Do we exert ourselves to help those whom we hate, in their conflict with difficulties? Are we always careful to keep our hands free of anything false, or bribes? Do we never take advantage of those who may not be as well acquainted with our methods or language? Sometimes professing Christians take undue advantage of foreigners. Do we think enough of the poor, and of the rest required by our servants and animals?

Illustration

(1) ‘Let us watch our speech, so that we take away no man’s character by false accusation. Let us dare to stand for truth, though we stand alone. Let us make ourselves act charitably and generously, though it be toward the man who hates us, our rival and opponent. God will avenge us if we are wronged. We need not fret ourselves in any wise to do evil. Let us hold the balance evenly, giving to men their dues, irrespective of fear or favour. Side by side with this we must cultivate the spirit of mercy and of rest.’

(2) ‘It is most interesting to read these regulations which teach so clearly the lines on which we must proceed. Professing Christians do not always live up to them. Side by side with this stringency against sin, what tenderness is there toward the stranger, the widow, the fatherless, the poor! These enactments are still in force, and full often calamities of a literal and temporal kind overtake those who are oblivious to them. If any such oppressed ones read these words, let them be comforted by the assurance that when they cry God will hear, because He is gracious. This mercifulness extended to the relationship between the animals and their young. Maternal tenderness was to have some response from its young. Oh to be holy men, feeding on the Lamb and the Manna, and turning from all unclean food!’

Verse 31

SUNDRY LAWS FOR ISRAEL

‘If thou … Thou shalt not … Ye shall.’

Exodus 22:23; Exodus 22:28; Exodus 22:31

I. Restitution is one of the prime thoughts in this Lesson.—Alas that this is far from being recognised by us Christians as it should be! But it is the first sign of a genuine work of grace. It is not enough to confess to God: we must also confess and make restitution to man. Men are very often kept from peace and trust, by their memory of some wrong, which they have not made right. But no amount of religious observance will compensate for the failure to adjust, so far as possible, the wrong-doing of the past. We must, of course, avoid becoming morbidly and nervously scrupulous. All this is unhealthy. There must be definite dealing with definite acts of wrong.

II. Mercy also shines in many of these enactments.—God says, ‘For I am gracious’: that was a reason and a motive why they should be tender and gentle in their dealings with strangers; the defenceless; and the poor. Infraction of these commands was severely alluded to in after-days ( Amos 2:6-8). We must not forget that God now demands of us that similar mercy be shown towards the weak and poor; as is enjoined in this chapter: and in this matter faithfulness greatly commends His children to Him.

III. God’s nearness is taught.—He hears any cry that is raised, and He comes nigh to avenge the cause of the poor. He was the invisible King of Israel, who beheld each of His subjects with searching and minute inspection, judging the evil and the good, and interposing on the behalf of those who could not help themselves. This is the meaning of a Theocracy.

IV. Holiness was God’s prime requirement.—Here first is the demand, ‘Ye shall be holy men,’ which was destined to ring throughout the remaining books of Moses, and is the appeal of all Scripture. Holiness means separation from and to. When we yield ourselves only to God, we are weaned from, and lose our taste for, the things which once fascinated us.

The whole Lesson is full of sweet and profitable reading. Many of the laws breathe the spirit of the New Testament. Do we not sometimes raise and receive false reports, and circulate them? Are we not all influenced by the opinions and actions of the multitude? Do we exert ourselves to help those whom we hate, in their conflict with difficulties? Are we always careful to keep our hands free of anything false, or bribes? Do we never take advantage of those who may not be as well acquainted with our methods or language? Sometimes professing Christians take undue advantage of foreigners. Do we think enough of the poor, and of the rest required by our servants and animals?

Illustration

(1) ‘Let us watch our speech, so that we take away no man’s character by false accusation. Let us dare to stand for truth, though we stand alone. Let us make ourselves act charitably and generously, though it be toward the man who hates us, our rival and opponent. God will avenge us if we are wronged. We need not fret ourselves in any wise to do evil. Let us hold the balance evenly, giving to men their dues, irrespective of fear or favour. Side by side with this we must cultivate the spirit of mercy and of rest.’

(2) ‘It is most interesting to read these regulations which teach so clearly the lines on which we must proceed. Professing Christians do not always live up to them. Side by side with this stringency against sin, what tenderness is there toward the stranger, the widow, the fatherless, the poor! These enactments are still in force, and full often calamities of a literal and temporal kind overtake those who are oblivious to them. If any such oppressed ones read these words, let them be comforted by the assurance that when they cry God will hear, because He is gracious. This mercifulness extended to the relationship between the animals and their young. Maternal tenderness was to have some response from its young. Oh to be holy men, feeding on the Lamb and the Manna, and turning from all unclean food!’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Exodus 22". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/exodus-22.html. 1876.
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