Vs. 1, “Whoever steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.” As Moses continues with these specific laws (Book of the Covenant), we come to the protection of property (vs. 1-15). There is this overarching idea of restitution (returning something lost or stolen) for the penalty of stealing. It’s interesting to note that restitution was sought out above just throwing someone in prison or slavery (vs. 3). We are reminded that there are consequences for our actions. In the latter half our chapter, we see the topic of social responsibilities (vs. 16-31). The LORD means serious business when cultish practices are done by His people (vs. 18-20). There is a social obligation not take advantage of the foreigner, widow, fatherless, and poor. (vs. 21-27). And in the last section, we are reminded to respect and put God first in our lives (vs. 28-31).
Regarding application…Set Apart. Vs. 31, “You are to be my holy people. So do not eat the meat of an animal torn by wild beasts; throw it to the dogs.” These laws were created to set God’s people apart from the laws of this world. We are to be holy not just in word and knowledge, but also in deeds. It wasn’t enough to just know God’s word and worship; the Israelites were to show it in their daily life. I find it refreshing that there is so much detail and circumstances that the LORD cares about. The righteous need not fret about these laws for they had already set apart their lives to be holy. Question: Are you setting apart your life? For 1 ½ years, I set apart a portion of money each week to put into a savings account. That money was set apart because it was going towards the engagement ring I bought to present my proposal to my then girlfriend (now wife). It was not a burden at all and I did it because I loved her. Likewise, let us set apart our lives because the law is not burdensome, but we obey out of love!
Vs. 5, “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” What a great rallying call! Question: Who are Christians? We are Disciples of Christ! We are people who love & obey God’s commands (Vs. 1-5). Most people in this world do not know who Christians are. As Christians, we know who we are, because the Spirit testifies to it (vs. 6-13). We have that very testimony in our hearts (Vs. 10). How much more than should we testify who Jesus is to the world? We can pray to God and approach Him with confidence (Vs. 14-17). When we know God’s testimony, we can pray with boldness! We know how Christians should live (vs. 18) and we cannot ever deny that we don’t know the truth (Vs. 20)…for God has given it to us. We are without excuse for God has given us this wonderful knowledge!
Regarding application…Burdensome. Vs. 3, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” Question: Why? From the world’s point of view…it can be a very burdensome thing to be a Christian. As Christians we shouldn’t do that and we shouldn’t do this (a big book of rules). No one likes rules. But ask a parent if working hard so their children can have a good education and wonderful opportunties…and there job is never burdensome…Why? Because they love them. God’s laws and commands should never be burdensome. Yet many Christians fall into the trap that Adam & Eve fell into from the very beginning. Satan challenges us to think that God’s laws are burdensome and too hard to handle. Therefore, we break them and not follow them because life is easier. But a Christian who looks to God’s commands as burdensome is a person who does not know the meaning of love. Love is not selfish, but it is selfless. Re-read I Cor. 13 or remember that when we follow Jesus, He gives us rest from this weary world (Matthew 11:28-30). We follow & obey God because we love Him. That is why this world is not a burdensome place to live in.