Exodus 22:16 through 23:9

Daybreak for Students

Exodus 22:16 through 23:9

OVERVIEW
DAYBREAK
Exodus 22
Exodus 23
Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment. — Exodus 23:2

“Attention!” A strident order shrilled above the anxious murmuring of the crowd of students and teachers. Moments before, fear had gripped Ahn Ei Sook’s heart, but suddenly a sense of peace that could only come from God settled over her. “Our profoundest bow to Amaterasu Omikami [the sun-goddess]!” As though they were one, the long line of people obeyed the shouted order and bent solemnly and deeply toward the ground. Everyone bowed — everyone but Ahn Ei Sook. Remaining erect, she looked straight at the sky. She knew the fate that could be hers for defying the order of the conquerors, but her heart was at peace.

Ahn Ei Sook survived that day, although she was prepared to be martyred. However, it was not the last time she had to take a stand for truth while her country, Korea, was under the control of the Japanese armies. For six years during World War II she was in prison, where she lived in squalor. Yet her courage and faithfulness to God brought Gospel light to many other prisoners.(1)

Integrity comes with a price tag. Moses wrote, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil,” which means godly principles are unchanging regardless of the setting. No matter if those around you choose the easy way. No matter if it makes sense to follow the crowd. No matter if it appears that everyone else is doing it. It does not even matter if other professing Christians seem to have no problem with the behavior in question! We must not be drawn into disobedience by doing what others do. 

We are a few thousand years past the time of the Exodus and God’s revelation of His requirements to the Children of Israel, but the moral principles outlined on Mount Sinai remain unchanged. And God’s promises and the strength He provides in times of need are as unchanging as His character.

Are you facing a situation today where clinging to your integrity is going to cost something? Hold on! God will provide strength and grace to meet the challenge when you stay true to Him. 

BACKGROUND

This portion of text continues to expound God’s Law regarding right conduct in various situations.

In the ancient societies, daughters were considered property and a payment, or dowry, was paid before a young woman married. Exodus 22:16-17 outlines the procedure that was to be followed if a young man seduced a girl. 

The three laws in Exodus 22:18-20 were instituted to keep the worship of the Israelites pure. Sorcery and witchcraft were common in the nations that surrounded the Children of Israel. This is the first time it was referred to in the Law. God indicated that all witches were to be destroyed because they appealed to a power other than God Himself. Pagan religions of that time, especially in Egypt, practiced corrupt sexual acts and sacrificed to many gods. God wanted Israel to worship Him in purity and truth, and therefore these transgressions were punished by death.

In Exodus 22:21-27, God addressed how those who were poor, helpless, or otherwise disadvantaged were to be treated. Strangers were to be shown fairness. Widows and orphans were not to be oppressed. In some cultures at that time, these groups of people had no rights or way to defend themselves, but God was making it clear that He was concerned about their welfare. When Israelites loaned money to the poor, they were to show mercy and not take advantage of the borrower’s difficulty. The “raiment” mentioned in verses 26-27 was probably a cloak. This was an outer garment or wrap that was used for a bed and a blanket, as well as to carry items. 

Verses 28-31 prompted the Israelites to honor their leaders and to be faithful to give their offerings to God. They were called upon to be holy. 

The verses in Exodus 23:1-9 give instructions about integrity. God commanded the people to act justly, not giving a false report or allowing partiality toward the poor to result in a wrong judgment (verses 1-3). They were to be helpful to their enemies (verses 4-5) and to carry out justice in legal matters (verses 6-9). God wanted His people to do right, even when the circumstances were difficult.

AMPLIFIED OUTLINE

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV.   The revelation of the Law to Israel
     C.   The ordinances
           4.   Concerning personal conduct (22:16 — 23:9)
                 a.   Sexual abnormalities (22:16-19)
                 b.   Idolatry (22:20)
                 c.   Oppression (22:21-24)
                 d.   Lending of money (22:25-27)
                 e.   Use of the tongue (22:28)
                 f.    Offerings to God (22:29-31)
                 g.   Unrighteous dealings of various kinds (23:1-9)

A CLOSER LOOK

  1. Why were the people instructed to “take no gift”?

  2. How would you define the word “stranger” as used in Exodus 23:9? What might be a present-day application of this verse?

  3. What are the long-term benefits of doing right regardless of circumstances?

CONCLUSION

There is no substitute for following God’s laws. Let us purpose to adhere to moral and ethical principles, no matter what!


1.    For the rest of Ahn Ei Sook’s courageous story, see the book If I Perish by Esther Ahn Kim.