Exodus, Chapter 23

Monday, June 29


Exodus, Chapter 23


The conversation may be as old as parenting itself. “But mom!  Everybody’s doing it!” To which the mom replies, “If everyone were jumping off a cliff would you?” Honest kids (and adults) will respond with a resounding, “If it was trending, maybe!” Exodus 23 points to the type of people the Hebrews are called to be. God’s people practice justice for all: not just when it’s convenient, not just when it’s advantageous, not just for the people who look, act, and believe the way they do, not just when its popular, but justice for all always. This impartial justice will set apart the people of God from the people of the world.  Think about where we are as a nation and world today. The governments and powers of the world have not been able to provide justice for all no matter how lofty their ideals and founding documents. Look no further than recent and current news to see that justice for all and always has yet to take place. Better yet, flip back and forth between news outlets to see opposing sides, stories, and accounts of who justice is for and what it is. What’s striking about this chapter is the description of justice is right alongside the description of Sabbath practice. If nothing else, the practice of sabbath will shape and form the people of God in a different way than the nations of the world. Remember they have just been slaves in Egypt. Slavery and PTO don’t go together. The sabbath is not only for the Hebrews but also for the non-Jews (slaves and aliens) who live in their midst. The sabbath protects vulnerable groups from oppression and exploitation. The sabbath, like God’s justice, is for all.  Not only the sabbath but the sabbatical year. If you told any business that once every week and once every 7 years they had to focus on resting and not producing . . . the CEO would probably disagree with your business model.  Justice, time, and rest are for all people and God has just given the Hebrew people systems to help the Hebrews practice it. Can you imagine Chic-fil-a being closed for a year?  The Hebrews are going into the promised land. This is territory that is currently occupied by others.  “Little by little”(v.30) as the Hebrew people grow God plans to give them this land. God plans to replace the unjust systems of the world with God’s justice through the Hebrew people. God invites us to do the same.  God invites us to practice, support, and live out this justice for all always.  Sometimes, the price of practicing God’s justice is inconvenient, unpopular, uncomfortable, lonely, and may even involve a cross. The Good news is that Christ has paid that price, shown us the way, and invited us to take up our cross and follow as disciples, apostles, ambassadors of God’s just mercy and grace.


Reread verses 1 through 9. Where do you see yourself, your family, your school, your business, our nation, and maybe even our church succeeding or failing to practice God’s justice? What could the Holy Spirit be calling you to do about it? If someone was to look at your life, would they notice anything different about the way you live because of the God you love? Is there something you have resisted doing or saying because you’re afraid of how it will look to the majority of those around you?


God of just mercy and amazing grace, teach me to look not only to my own interests but also to the interests of others. Make me mindful of ways I may have crucified your justice for my comfort, and little by little may the same mind be in me that was in Christ Jesus. May I be your willing instrument of justice and mercy in my home, community, and world. Amen.


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