By Rev. Ron Purkey
Read Exodus 23:1-12
“You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice.” (Exodus 23:2)
Today there are people who raise the question, “What is right and what is wrong?” Some say that what is right and wrong is “relative.” A college professor, who claims to be an atheist, was discussing this with a minister. The professor maintained that right and wrong are “relative,” that what he would think is right, and what the minister would think is right could be poles apart.
Then he asked the minister, “On what do you base your dogmatic conclusions?” The minister said, “I base them on the Bible (the Word of God).” The man of God went on to tell him that his nature was just like the professor’s nature, and that he would like to give in in certain places, and he would like to let the bars down here and there, BUT GOD has given him a standard to follow. The interesting thing is that God’s standard has produced a society in which there has been a measure of law and justice.
The laws presented in Exodus chapters 21 to 24 deal with everyday nitty-gritty living. In some ways it is boring reading and like reading a law book. However, most of our laws are based upon these precepts. I am glad that the Word of God says, “Thou shalt not kill.” It protects my family and me. I am happy the Bible says, “Thou shalt not steal.” It protects what little property I have. These and the other laws are basic to having an orderly society.
Remember, this section of Exodus is NOT talking about the forgiveness of sins and salvation. It is talking about basic laws that deal especially with the protection of human life and property. By accepting “The Book of the Covenant” (Exodus 24:3-8), the people entered into a special relationship with Jehovah God and obligated themselves to obey Him. These laws were not arbitrary; they are based on the character of God and the unchanging moral principles expressed in the Ten Commandments.
Law is powerless to change human nature; it can only protect life and property by regulating human behavior. One of the most dangerous and disastrous periods in Jewish history was the time of the judges when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). The enforcing of good laws does NOT guarantee a perfect society, but it DOES promote order and prevent anarchy.
Treating others justly would seem to be an easy thing to do, but the human heart is sinful and can lead us astray with wealth, crowds, false witnesses, or rumors (2 Corinthians 13:1). The fact that a person is rich or poor, a friend or an enemy, must not blind us to the truth. Drawing near to God requires caring for others!
Read Ron Purkey’s Bible study outlines at www.rtcol.com/purkey free on the website. Purkey has been an ordained Baptist minister for 50 years.