Exodus 22:1: “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep.”May 24th, 2016 by Pastor Ed in devotional
The law given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai was for a brand new nation that His hand had brought into existence just a few weeks earlier. Jacob’s family of 70 people had gone to Egypt during a drought and 400 years later had grown into 600,000 males (some estimate more that 2 million men, women, and children). They struggled to become free, and then suddenly, by God’s power, they found themselves traveling as a new nation across the desert without any form of government. They had no laws, no judges, no police, no constitution. Nothing. They had left a country where they had been slaves for centuries and now the only social pattern they knew was what they had observed in Egypt, which wasn’t what God wanted. So into this vacuum God spoke His law from heaven’s throne room to His leader Moses.
Laws are necessary for humans to live at peace with each other. And God’s laws have forever marked Israel as unique, establishing laws that have for the last 3000 years affected one of the most productive civilizations on earth. For example, this law of God found in verse 22 makes good sense. It deals with a problem that is still present in cattle raising parts of the United States. Even as recently as the early 1900s, cattle thieves were being hung in the old West. In contrast to that, God’s law concerning personal property requires restitution by the thief. Recently, experts in criminal justice recommended that America change its laws to require the same thing. Requiring a convicted criminal to pay restitution creates a roadblock to future sin. It does this by making the long-term consequences of stealing much more expensive. If God’s law concerning stealing makes good sense, then no doubt other areas of His law would be helpful if applied to our lives as well. What does God the Son say is the summary requirement of God’s law? His answer is for us to love God supremely and love others as ourselves.
“Help us, LORD, to walk in the law of love this day. You first, others second, and ourselves last.”