Afternoon Sermon: How Does Christ Execute The Office Of A Priest?, Baptist Catechism 28, Hebrews 7:11–28

Baptist Catechism 28

Q. 28. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?

A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in His once offering up of Himself, a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us. (1 Peter 2:24; Heb. 9:28; Eph. 5:2; Heb. 2:17; 7:25; Rom. 8:34)

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 7:11–28

“Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’ ” This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.” (Hebrews 7:11–28, ESV)

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Introduction

“Christ executeth the office of a priest…”

“In His once offering up of Himself…”

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24, ESV).

“A sacrifice to satisfy divine justice…”

“So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28, ESV).

“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2, ESV).

“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17, ESV).

“And reconcile us to God…”

“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25, ESV).

“And in making continual intercession for us.”

“Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34, ESV)

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Conclusion

2LCF 8.10. This number and order of offices is necessary; for in respect of our ignorance, we stand in need of his prophetical office; and in respect of our alienation from God, and imperfection of the best of our services, we need his priestly office to reconcile us and present us acceptable unto God; and in respect to our averseness and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and security from our spiritual adversaries, we need his kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us to his heavenly kingdom.

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Afternoon Sermon: How Does Christ Execute The Office Of A Priest?, Baptist Catechism 28, Hebrews 7:11–28

Morning Sermon: All The LORD Has Spoken We Will Do, Exodus 24:1-8

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 24:1-8

“Then he said to Moses, ‘Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. Moses alone shall come near to the LORD, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.’ Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.’ And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.’ And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.’” (Exodus 24:1-8, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Hebrews 9:11–28

“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.’ And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:11–28, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction: Looking Forward To The New Covenant

I have said half-jokingly to some that the reason I decided to preach through the book of Exodus is so that I might prepare the congregation for a future sermon series through the book of Hebrews. Of course, that is not the full reason. There is tremendous value in studying the book of Exodus on its own. But there is some truth to this. There is a sense in which a good and proper understanding of the book Exodus (and the rest of the Old Testament for that matter) does help us to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and the New Testament scriptures that speak of him. In fact, I think it is safe to say, if we wish to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and the New Testament scriptures which speak of him, we must understand the Old Testament scriptures, for the two Testaments are intimately related.

I trust that you were able to see the connection between the Old Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant ratified in Christ’s blood as I read Exodus 24 and Hebrews 9 just a moment ago. Clearly, there is an intimate relationship between what God did with Israel through Moses and what God did for all of his elect, Jew and Gentile, through Jesus Christ. The two events, the two mediators, and the two covenants are related. Nevertheless, I trust that you were also able to see (even as I read quickly) that these two covenants – the Old and the New – are substantially different. The Old anticipated the New, and the New fulfills the Old. The Old Covenant provided for the purification of the flesh, but the New Covenant provides for the purification of the conscience. The Old Covenant was indeed good in that it accomplished God’s design, but the New Covenant is far superior in that it actually deals with the problem of sin and makes its partakers right before God in a heavenly, spiritual, and eternal way. If you are familiar with the book of Hebrews you know that that really is its main point. In the book of Hebrews, the Old Covenant is compared and contrasted with the New Covenant, and the author wishes to convince his audience of the superiority of the New Covenant which Christ mediates, over the Old Covenant which was mediated by Moses. But please note this: The writer to Hebrews does not pit the New Covenant against the Old, nor does he pit Christ against Moses. No, he, along with the rest of the New Testament scriptures, shows that the New is greater and Christ is superior because the New fulfills the Old. In other words, the Old and New Covenants, and the mediators of those covenants, Moses and Christ, are not enemies, but dear friends. If I may speak in this way, the Old Covenant was happy to give way to the New, for this was its intended purpose. Stated differently, Moses and Elijah were very, very happy to commune with Christ on the mountain (Matthew 17). They were dear friends, but they were not equals. Moses (and Elijah) were servants in God’s house – Christ is the Son (Hebrews 3). 

I mention all of this in the introduction to this sermon on Exodus 24 because, as we consider this text which describes to us the confirmation of the Old Mosaic Covenant, it is important for us to keep the New Covenant in mind. We must be mindful of the relationship between the two covenants. We must recognize the similarities and the differences if we hope to properly interpret this portion of Holy Scripture. In other words, we must interpret this Old Testament text in the light of Christ and the New Testament scriptures which speak concerning him.

Introduction: Looking Back To The Abrahamic Covenant

As I have said, Exodus chapter 24 describes the confirmation of the Old Mosaic Covenant. And, by way of introduction, I do also wish to remind you of the covenants that God had made with man before this. Yes, there is a vital connection between the Old Mosaic Covenant and the New, which would be ratified some 1,600 years later. But there is also a vital connection between the Old Mosaic Covenant and covenants previously made, particularly the covenant which God made with Abraham.  

As you probably know, the Bible teaches that God has always related to man through covenants. Through covenants, the terms of the relationship between God and man are established. Through the making of covenants God declares his “sovereign pleasure concerning the benefits he will bestow on [man], the communion they will have with him, and the way and means by which this will be enjoyed by them” (S. Renihan quoting N. Coxe, Mystery of Christ, 41).   

In these biblical covenants, it is God who takes the initiative; it is God who sets the terms. All are the outworking of God’s kindness in that they offered something to man better than what man previously possessed. 

Do you remember how God made a covenant with Adam in the garden? God established the terms of the relationship. Adam was called to obey God. The consequence for disobedience would be death; the reward for obedience would be life eternal. Adam broke that covenant of works, but God was gracious and promised to send a Savior. 

God entered into another covenant with Abraham. He called him out from the nations and promised to make him into a great nation, to give his descendants the land of Canaan, and to bless all the nations of the earth through him. All of that was the unconditional promise of God, and you may read about it in Genesis 12. But God did also expand upon this unconditional promise. For Abraham’s descendants to be blessed in the land that God would give to them, they were to “keep” the covenant. You may read about this expansion of the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 17. In Genesis 12, God made unconditional promises to Abraham concerning offspring, the land of Canaan, and the blessing of the nations through him. In Genesis 15 the unconditional promises concerning his offspring were reiterated and claitified – he would have an heir from his own loins through Sarah. But in Genesis 17, conditions are introduced. For Abraham’s descendants to be blessed in the land of Canaan and to remain there, they would need to “keep” the covenant. Their remaining in the land, and their being blessed in the land, were conditioned upon their keeping of the covenant. And there in Genesis 17 the terms of the Abrahamic covenant were concluded and sealed with the bloody (remember that word “bloody”) sign of circumcision. That bloody sign of circumcision signified many things. It marked the Hebrews off as God’s chosen people. It called for circumcision of the heart. But it also reminded the people that should they fail to keep the terms of the covenant – should they fail to obey God’s law – they would be cut off.  The sign of circumcision did also point forward to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who would be born from Abraham’s seed, and who would himself be cut off through the shedding of his own blood, not for his own failure to keep God’s law, but for the failures and sins of others. 

So then I ask you, would Abraham certainly have a son and through that son become as numerous as the sand of the seashore? Was that a guaranteed thing? Yes, certainly. Why? Because of God’s unconditional promise. 

Would Abraham’s descendants take possession of the land of Canaan and have it as their own – a land flowing with milk and honey? Yes, certainly. Why? Because of God’s unconditional promise. 

Would Abraham’s descendants become a great nation with kings to rule over them? Yes, certainly. Why? Because of God’s unconditional promise. 

And would all of the nations of the earth be blessed through Abraham, through the Messiah that would one day come into the world through him? Yes, certainly. Why? Because of the unconditional promise made to Abraham in the covenant that  God transacted with him. 

Now I ask you, based upon the terms of the Abrahamic Covenant, would this nation be blessed in the land that the Lord would give to them? Would they flourish there? Would they be fruitful and multiply there? Would they remain there? Or was it possible for them to be cut off (exiled)? According to the terms of the covenant that God made with Abraham, it was possible for them to be cut off individually, and cast out of the land as a nation. Why? Because of the conditional element introduced in Genesis 17. The covenant was to be “kept”, and the bloody sign of circumcision was a sign of this.

So then, you can see that this Old Mosaic Covenant which is confirmed here in Exodus 24 was organically connected to the covenants which preceded it – the Adamic and the Abrahamic. God entered into this conditional covenant of works with Israel through Moses after he graciously redeemed them from Egyptian bondage. This redemption was in fulfillment of the gracious and unconditional promises made to father Abraham hundreds of years earlier. This Mosaic Covenant was a kind of development of the Abrahamic, in other words. And it was also organically connected to the covenant which was ratified later in Christ’s blood, the New Covenant, which is the Covenant of Grace. 

Introduction: The Immediate Context

So far, I have attempted to set Exodus 24 in its biblical context. Now let me briefly remind you of the more immediate context. 

One, the Old Mosaic Covenant was made with Isarel after God redeemed them. That significant. Though it is right for us to call this a conditional covenant or works, it is also right to remember that this was all by the grace of God. Any and all interaction between God and man after the fall of man into sin other than full and final judgment must be regarded as gracious. True. This a covenant of works with conditions for man to keep. But the grace of God is certainly present. 

Two, we must remember that we have been considering the making of this Old Mosaic Covenant ever since Exodus 19. 

In Exodus 19 the covenant was proposed with these words from God to Israel: “‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant [think Genesis 17], you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:4–6, ESV). And how did Israel respond to this proposal? “All the people answered together and said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do.’” (Exodus 19:8, ESV)

Starting in Exodus 20, the laws and statutes of this covenant were presented to Israel. These were the words and rules that Isarel was to “keep” according to the terms of this covenant. First, the Ten Commandments, which contain a summary of God’s moral and abiding law, were spoken by God to Israel from Sinai. This is recorded for us in Exodus chapter 20. And after that, we find instruction for worship at alters. And finally, the LORD added positive civil laws to the moral and ceremonial. The civil and ceremonial laws were delivered to Israel, not directly, but through Moses the mediator.

And finally, we come to Exodus 24 where the covenant is confirmed. All of this can be compared to the marriage covenant. Getting married is a process involving a proposal, a betrothal or engagement period, a ceremony wherein the meaning of marriage is explained, and finally, vows are taken, and, in our culture, rings are exchanged symbolizing the marriage bond. Well, in this analogy, Exodus 24 is the marriage ceremony for YHWH and Israel. Let us consider now the covenant ratification ceremony. 

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Moses, Aaron, Nadab, And Abihu, And Seventy Of The Elders Of Israel 

Verse 1: “Then he said to Moses, ‘Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. Moses alone shall come near to the LORD, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him’” (Exodus 24:1–2, ESV).

Three things should be noted.

One, Israel as a nation was invited to come before the LORD, but they were to worship from afar. 70 elders were invited to come up on the mountain to God as representatives of the people, but even they were to “worship from afar”. This theme will remain throughout the Old Covenant. Israel was invited to approach God under the terms of the Old Mosaic Covenant, but the way to God was not opened up for them by the terms of that covenant. If you wish to have an illustration of this, think of the veil in the temple that separated the holy place from the most holy place where the glory of God was manifest. Who was invited to go behind that veil? Only the high priest, once a year, and not without blood. The people were not invited in. But when Christ died, the veil was torn in two from top to bottom. The way to God was opened up, so that all who have faith in Christ may come boldly before the throne of grace. And this is the difference between the Old Covenant and the New, and between Moses and Christ. It is through Christ and his covenant, and not Moses and his, that we gain full access to our Father in heaven. Indeed, any who drew near to God in Old Covenant times to enjoy sweet communion with him with their sins really and truly washed away (as King David did, for example), did so, not through Moses and according to the terms of Old Covenant, but through faith in Christ and by virtue of the terms of the New Covenant. The Christ had not yet come, and the New Covenant had not yet been made, and yet, to quote 8.6 of our confession, “the virtue, efficacy, and benefit [of Christ’s life, death, burial, and ressurection] were communicated [or applied] to the elect in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the seed of the woman which should bruise the serpent’s head; and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, being the same yesterday, and today and for ever.”  What is my point? My point is that the Old Mosaic Covenant did many things. But one thing it could not do was to bring the worshipper immediately into the presence of God Almighty. Only faith in Christ can do that, and that had always been the case. 

Two, under the Old Covenant order, the people of Israel were invited to approach God from a distance and through the priesthood. Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu are named by name. All were priests from the same family. Moses and Aaron were brothers. Nadab and Abihu were Aaron’s sons. From them, the priesthood of the Old Covenant would descend. They would have the responsibility to represent the people of Israel, to intercede for them through sacrifice and prayer. But we know that they were sinful men too. So when they offered up animal sacrifices according to the command of God they would have to do so repeatedly, not for the sins of others only, but also for their own sins. 

Three, notice the special role that Moses played. He was a priest before God, but he was also a prophet, and the mediator, or middle man, in this Covenant which God made with Israel. As great as Moses was, it is important to remember that he was not perfect. No, he was a sinner who needed cleansing. He was not the Messiah. He was not the one who would crush the serpent’s head, or lead God’s people into the new heavens and earth. Indeed, soon we will see that he would not even lead Israel into Canaan! As great as Moses was, we must not make him into something he was never intended to be. He was the mediator of the Old Covenant, not the New. He was a servant in God’s house, not the Son. Neither Moses nor the Covenant he mediated could reconcile anyone to God, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5–6, ESV).

Look with me now at verse 3: “Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do’” (Exodus 24:3, ESV). These words should sound familiar to you. The people said the same thing when the covenant was first proposed in Exodus 19. By this time the Ten Commandments were spoken. In addition to this, ceremonial and civil laws were revealed to and through Moses. And the people responded in the same way. This is now the second time that they said, “with one voice and said, ‘All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.’”

Given that many of us were raised in dispensational churches, I should probably address the view that says that the people were foolish to enter into this covenant. Have you heard this view? The idea is this: the people should have known that they would fail, and so they should have rejected YHWH’s proposal. I’m must admit, I feel (what I hope is righteous) anger when I think about this view.  Are we to think that it would have been right for Israel to reject God’s proposal? Would that have been the right way to respond to the God of Glory having been redeemed by him, led by him, and fed by him? And what are to think of God in this view? Was God tempting Israel to do something foolish? Was he leading them astray as he proposed the Old Covenant to them? This view is truly preposterous. Only a deeply flawed system like the dispensational system could produce a view like this. No, instead, Israel is to be commended for their obedience here. God redeemed them. God initiated this covenantal arrangement. The Old Covenant, and the laws which governed it were good, provided that we correctly interpret them and understand their purpose and limitation. The law is good. It is the people who are sinful. But here Israel was right to respond to the Lord in this way. “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.” Indeed, all who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ should say the same: “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.” We are right to say this though we know that we will fall short. We are right to have this as our sincere resolve, knowing that the Lord has provided atonement for our sins. 

Verse 4: “And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD.” I take this to mean that he wrote down the laws that we now have in Exodus 20-23. Yes, the LORD himself would write the Ten Commandments on tables of stone, but here Moses is said to have written them down, along with the laws concerning worship, and the laws concerning a just society, in the Book of the Covenant, which will be mentioned again shortly.” 

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Five Things: Altar, Twelve Pillars, Burnt Offerings, Book Of The Covenant, Blood

Starting in verse 4b, five things are mentioned that are used in this covenant ratification ceremony. 

One, an alter. Verse 4b: “He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain…” God’s people had worshipped at altars from the days of Adam onward. They are prominent in the Genesis story. The patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob worshipped at altars. Theologically, these altars are to be seen as a testimony to the grace of God. When man fell into sin God withheld his full and final judgment so that he could provide a Savior – one who would crush the serpent’s head, but would be wounded in this process. The heal of the Savior would be struck. Altars were little access points between God and man. They were little Edens in miniature if you will. And soon we will see that these altars would be expanded to include a tabernacle and later a temple. And this is expansion was quite fitting given the advancements that were made in God’s program of redemption under the Old Covenant.

Two, twelve pillars were erected. Verse 4c:  “He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain… and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel” (Exodus 24:4, ESV). These pillars were likely pillars of stacked stone. They stood before the altar, and there they represented the whole nation of Israel, which was divided into twelve tribes, as you know.  

Three, burnt offerings. Verse 5: “And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD” (Exodus 24:5, ESV). These burn offerings were offerings of thanksgiving before the LORD. Some of the meat offered up on the altar would have been consumed by the fire, symbolizing the LORD’s eating, and as we will see, some of the meat would have been eaten by Israel through the representation of the 70 elders, along with Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu. 

Four, the Book of the Covenant. Verse 7: “Then[Moses] took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient’” (Exodus 24:7, ESV). The Book of the Covenant contained the laws of the covenant that Israel was obligated to “keep”. 

Let me ask you this. What was the blessing that would fall upon Israel if they kept the terms of this covenant? What blessing would they earn? What blessing would God bestow on them? Would they earn life eternal? Would they earn the forgiveness of their sins and a right-standing before God? Or to use the language of Hebrews 9, would their consciences be cleansed through the keeping of this covenant? No. No such thing was promised to Israel under the Old Covenant, and the New Testament makes this very clear.  This covenant was never intended to provide life eternal or salvation from the eternal wrath of God. What blessings would come upon Israel should they keep the terms, then? Answer: they would be blessed in the land that the Lord their God was giving to them. This principle was clearly communicated in Genesis 17 when the covenant of circumcision was made with Abraham, and this covenant here is an expansion of that one. This is one of the serious errors made by some dispensationalists. They assume that God transacted this covenant with Israel so that they would be saved, really and truly for all eternity, through the keeping of it. But no such thing was ever said to them. More than that, the New Testament scriptures are clear that this was not the case. The Old Covenant promised blessings in the land and provided for the purification of the flesh, but it had no power to bring the sinner into the presence of God in heaven or to cleanse the conscience from the guilt of sin. Only Christ the mediator of the New Covenant can do that. 

The fifth item used in this covenant ratification ceremony was animal blood. Some of the blood from the animals offered up as peace offerings was sprinkled on the alter. Verse 6 tells us about that. And in verse 8 we learn that after the reading of the Book of the Covenant, and after the people said (for the third time), “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient”, “Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words’” (Exodus 24:8, ESV). Some have suggested that Moses did not actually throw the blood on the people, but on the pillars of stone which stood before the alters and represented the people. Whatever the case, the symbolism is very powerful.  

What should we say regarding the sprinkling of the blood of these animals upon the altar and the people? Three words come to mind: purification, consecration, and inauguration. Allow me to explain.

One, the sprinkling of animal blood upon the people and the altar signified purification. The blood was a reminder of the guilt of sin and of the fact that the wages of sin is death. When blood is shed, things die. And these animals served as a substitute for the people. Now, it is clear that animals cannot substitute for humans to make the really and truly right before God. Animal blood cannot wash away human guilt or cleanse the conscience of sinners. But under the Old Mosaic Covenant, animal blood did purify the flesh as it pertained to the breaking of the terms of the Covenant. That is precisely what the writer to the Hebrews says when he compares and contrasts the Old Covenant and the New, saying, “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:13–14, ESV). So then, the blood of bulls provided a kind of purification for Israel – an earthly, fleshly, and temporary purification. More than this, the blood of the bulls did also point forward to the purification that Christ provides as the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. The purification he provides is real, spiritual, full, final, and eternal.

Two, the sprinkling of animal blood signified consecration. To consecrate is to set apart as sacred or holy. When the blood of the bulls was sprinkled on the people, it signified the fact that they were set apart as holy. A special obligation was set upon them to obey the LORD. And special threats were also set upon them should their fail. So then, the symbolism of the blood cut two ways. It signified purification, but also the special obligation that rested on the Hebrews to obey the Lord, with the curses of the covenant looming large over them. Circumcision also functioned this way.

Three,  the sprinkling of animal blood signified inauguration. And here I am referring to the inaguartion of the Old Mosaic Covenant. It was with the splattering of the blood that the Old Mosaic Covenant was put into force. Listen again to verse 8: “And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words” (Exodus 24:8, ESV). It was with the blood of animals that the Old Mosaic Covenant was put into force. 

Brothers and sisters, this storyline, and these themes should sound very, very familiar to you. 

“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom’” (Matthew 26:26–29, ESV).

This storyline and these themes will sound familiar to those well acquainted with the New Covenant even if they are poorly acquainted with the Old Covenant because the two covenants are intimately related to one another. There is a deep connection between the covenant that God made with the nation of Israel through Moses and the covenant made with God’s elect through Christ. There are many similarities. 

The question is this: what is the nature of that connection? Are the two covenants the same? No,  certainly they are not the same. Are they different but relatively equal, each providing a different but valid way for the salvation of sinners? No, that cannot be it either.  The writer of Hebrews is very eager for us to see that the Old Covenant anticipated the New. It prepared the way for it in many ways. And one way that the Old prepared for the New was by foreshadowing or prefiguring the New and the work that Christ the Mediator would do.

Listen again to Hebrews 9:24:  “Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:23–28, ESV).

 *****

Prayer

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Exodus 24:1-8, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: All The LORD Has Spoken We Will Do, Exodus 24:1-8

Morning Sermon: The Conquest Of Canaan Promised, Exodus 23:20-33

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 23:20-33

“Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces. You shall serve the LORD your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. And I will set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates, for I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.” (Exodus 23:20–33, ESV)

New Testament Reading: John 14:1-6

“‘Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:1–6, ESV)

*****

Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

As we come now to Exodus 23:20-33 it is important for us to remember what the LORD was doing with Israel when he spoke these words to them. He was making a covenant with them. The account of the making of the Old Mosaic Covenant began in Exodus 19:1, and the covenant will be ratified or confirmed in Exodus 24. So then, these instructions and promises concerning the eventual conquest of the land of Canaan that we are considering today must be interpreted in that context. These are instructions and promises concerning Israel’s eventual possession of the land of Canaan according to the terms of the Old Mosaic Covenant. 

In the introduction to this sermon today I think it would be beneficial for us to explore the question, why Canaan? Why the promised land? What was its purpose? What was its significance? 

So far in the story of Exodus, we have considered how God redeemed his people from Egypt. We have also considered the laws that he gave to them at Sinai. But here we find mention of the land that God would give to his people under the Old Covenant. Why Canaan? What was the purpose of this land? What was its significance? I think this is a very important question to answer. 

And to get to that answer, I will ask you another question: Where did this Old Mosaic Covenant come from? On the most basic level we can say that it came from God. He revealed the terms of the Old Covenant to Israel. And I suppose we might also say that the Old Mosaic Covenant came from the eternal decree of God. Both of those observations are true. But here I wish to remind you that the Old Mosaic Covenant did not spring up spontaneously and out of nowhere? No, this Old Mosaic Covenant was the outgrowth or development of previous promises and of covenants previously made. 

I hope you do not grow weary of me talking about these covenants, brothers and sisters. Understanding these covenants which God has made with man and their relationship to each other is crucial to a proper understanding of the scriptures and of the story of God’s dealings with man in the history of redemption. Stated differently, understanding these covenants which God has made with man and their relationship to each other is crucial to a proper understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and of our salvation in him.

I have asked the question, where did this Old Mosaic covenant come from?, because I do believe that answering this question will help us to understand the true importance and significance of this covenant in general (all of its terms and conditions), and of the land of Canaan (which our passage speaks of) in particular. Why the land of Canaan? Why was Israel to take possession of it? Why were they to drive the inhabitants out and destroy their idols? What was the significance of this land? If we hope to know, then we must consider Canaan in light of the covenants and promises of God previously made. 

Though it is true that God revealed the terms and conditions of the Old Covenant to Isarel, and though it is true that the Old Covenant did stand on its own two feet once it was ratified, here I am reminding you that it came in fulfillment of the promises of God previously made. It was a development of a covenant previously transacted. In other words, there is a backstory to Old Mosaic Covenant. The back story is found in Genesis 1 through Exodus 18. And that backstory is immensely important. 

As we seek an answer to the question, why Canaan?, and to understand the significance of that land, I want to remind you of the backstory. And in particular, I wish to hone in upon one specific theme. The theme is mentioned in our passage for today. In Exodus 23:20 we read,  “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.” The promised land of Canaan is here referred to as the place that God had prepared for Israel. There are many themes that run throughout the history of redemption that tie the story of scripture together. This morning I wish to especially draw your attention to the theme of, a place prepared by God for his people.

When we speak of God preparing a place for man, the very first thing that should come to our minds is God’s creation of the heavens and earth in general, and the garden which God made for man in particular. When God created the heavens and earth he did so in the span of six days. On day one, the heavens and earth were created out of nothing. And at first, they were without form, and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. In other words, when God first created the earthy realm, there was no place for man to dwell. God then formed and fashioned the world to make it into a place suitable for human habitation. And after this, “the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:8–9, ESV)

If we wish to answer the question, why Canaan?, then we cannot forget this theme. The story of man begins with this theme: God prepared a place for man to live. And what was that place for? Well, many things can be said regarding its purpose, but the thing that I wish to emphasize this morning is that it was a place for man to commune with God, enjoy him, and worship and serve him forever. I have said this before, and it is important that I remind you of this now: the garden of Eden was a kind of temple. When I say that it was a temple, I do not mean that there was a physical temple constructed within Eden, but that Eden itself was a natural temple. There in that garden paradise man walked with God, enjoyed sweet communion with him, worshipped and served him. That is what temples are for. And that’s what Eden was – a temple made by God himself wherein man could enjoy sweet communion with his maker. Adam’s job under the Covenant of Creation was to keep that place pure while expanding its borders to the furthest reaches of the earth. 

And what happened when man fell into sin? Well, as it pertains to the theme of a place prepared by God for his people, Adam, Eve, and their offspring, were cast out of Eden. They were banished from that place. Genesis 3:23-24 reads: “The LORD God sent [Adam] out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:23–24, ESV).

I trust that you are able to see why I have taken you back to Eden and to the story of Genesis 2 and 3 in the introduction to this sermon on Exodus 23. I want to be sure that we connect the dots. This place that the LORD prepared for Israel in Canaan had something to do with the place that the LORD prepared for Adam, Eve, and all their posterity in the beginning. You see, though it is true that Adam and Eve were banished from Eden from the presence of God and from access to the tree of life, it is also true that the LORD promised to send a Savior who would defeat the Evil One who tempted Adam and Eve. 

The promise concerning a Savior was uttered by God for the first time in the presence of Adam and Eve as God pronounced the curse upon the Serpent. The promise of the gospel that was declared on that day was very simple. Someday, someone would be born who would destroy Satan and his works. Adam and Eve, and all who received this good news after them, must have wondered when this Savior would be born, what he would be like, and what exactly he would do to defeat the Evil One and to free men and women from bondage to sin. There was so much that was mysterious about the gospel in those days. Nevertheless, those who heard it had enough of the good news to trust in God and in his promise. And they must have known that, whoever this Savior was, whenever he would be born, and whatever he would do to accomplish our redemption, he would do something to restore that which was lost through Adam’s sin and to lay hold of that which was offered to Adam in the Covenant of Creation. Eternal life was offered to Adam. He failed to reach it. The Savior would obtain it through his obedience. And what is eternal life except this: God’s holy people enjoying sweet communion with him forever and ever in the holy place which he has prepared for them. 

Brothers and sisters, when Adam fell into sin he did not only lose his personal righteousness, nor did he only lose the communion with God that he once enjoyed, he also lost the place wherein that sweet communion with God was at first enjoyed. When Adam fell into sin (and all of humanity with him) he was banished from the place the LORD had prepared for him, and the whole of the earthly realm was subjected to futility. Paul speaks of this in Romans 8:18-25. There he talks about how all of “creation was subjected to futility… in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” 

The point that I am making is this: Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Isarel, and Savior of the world, did not only defeat the Evil One, nor did he only redeem for himself a people, he did also redeem the created realm so that his holy people would have a holy place wherein they will enjoy sweet communion with the Holy God for all eternity. 

If you wish to know what this place will be like, you may go to the vision of Revelation chapter 21, where John says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God’” (Revelation 21:1–3, ESV).

This is the place that Adam was to enter into through his obedience and his eating of the tree of life. 

This is the place that Jesus Christ has earned, and it is the place of which he spoke when he said to his disciples, saying, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1–3, ESV)

This is the place that was promised to  Abraham which he looked forward to with eyes of faith. Hebrews 11:8-10 tells us so. There we read, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (see also Hebrews 12:22; 13:14). 

So now we return to the question, what was Canaan? What was the significance of the land that was promised and then given to Old Covenant Israel? What was this place all about?

If we are following along with the story, three things become apparent:

One, the land of Canaan had something to do with the garden of Eden. The place of Canaan had something to do with the place that God made in the beginning for man to dwell. Perhaps we can refer to Canaan as a replica of Eden. And as a replica of Eden, it would have served as a reminder of what man lost by his fall into sin, and of the gracious promise of God to send a Savior. The fact that God had prepared the place of Canaan for his redeemed people (earthly speaking)  was a demonstration that God was doing what he had promised to do.   

Two, it is also apparent that the land of Canaan was not Eden. I hardly need to elaborate on this point. It will suffice for me to say that sin, sickness, and death did still plague that land despite it uniqueness. 

Three, when all is considered we must also confess that the land of Canaan had something to do with the end goal of God’s redemptive purposes. Canaan was the place where the Hebrews would be preserved until the Messiah was brought into the world through them. And this place was filled with symbolism. In brief, there in that place the eternal Kingdom of God was typified or prefigured. The land of Canaan, its temple, its priesthood, its sacrifice, festivals, and succession of kings were shadows of Christ and of his everlasting kingdom cast backward in history. In other words, the land of Isarel did not only point back to Eden, it also pointed forward to the Christ and to the new heavens and earth which he would earn by his obedient life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection.

You know, it is troubling to me how so many Christians today obsess over the land of Isarel while failing to ask what its purpose was. So many seem to view the land that was given to Old Covenant Israel as if it was the end goal. They ignore what the New Testament says about the land of Israel, the people of Israel, and the Covenant which God made with with Isarel in the days of Moses. Israel functioned as a conduit through which the Messiah was brought into the world. And under the Old Covenant, they did also symbolize, typify, and foreshadow the everlasting kingdom that the Messiah would inaugurate at his first coming and consummate at his second coming when he brings his people safely home into the place he has prepared for them – the new heaven and earth in which righteousness dwells.  

All of that is an introduction to our text for today. But soon you will see that this prolonged introduction will make it much easier to properly understand and fully appreciate this passage. For in this passage we see the work of Christ to bring his redeemed ones home into the new heavens and earth typified.

 

 *****

The Angel Of The LORD Would Lead The Way

Look with me now at 23:20. There God says, “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.” I have already drawn your attention to the theme of a place prepared by God for his people. Now I wish to draw your attention to the angel that is mentioned. Who is this angel, or messenger?

Let us continue to read in verse 21: “Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.”

There are different theories regarding the identity of this angel. Some say it was Joshua, the one who would lead Isarel into the promised land after Moses’ death. Others think that this was an ordinary angel. In my opinion, when all is considered, this angel was the second person of the Triune God, the pre-incarnate Christ. The people of Israel were called to obey this angel. The text says he had the authority to pardon and to judge sin. The name of God is said to have been in him.  Above all, we should consider what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:9. When Israel sinned in the wilderness, Paul says that they “put Christ to the test…” It seems that Paul considered this angel of the LORD to be Christ. 

So then, I say that it was Christ whom the LORD sent before Israel to guard them on the way and to bring them into the place that he had prepared for them. That story should sound familiar to you. Is this not what Christ has done in a greater way in the incarnation? After redeeming his elect from bondage to Satan, from sin, and from the fear of death, he has gone before his people to guard them on the way and to bring them into the place he has prepared for them, that is to say, the new heavens and earth. 

The point is this: the experience of Old Covenant Israel was an earthly, temporal, and conditional foreshadowing of the heavenly, eternal, and unconditional salvation that is ours  in Christ Jesus.

 *****

All Idolatry Was To Cease

Look now at verse 23: “When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces.” 

Here it is promised that all idolaters would be blotted and commanded that all idolatry cease in the land of Canaan. Canaan was to be a place free from all idolatry. The new heavens and earth will be a place free from all idolatry. Canaan was a foretaste of the new creation. 

 *****

The LORD Alone Was To  Be Worshipped And Served

Verse 25 says, “You shall serve the LORD your God…” The LORD alone was to be worshipped and served in Canaan. In the new heaven and earth, the LORD will be worshipped and served alone. The former was a picture of the latter. 

Concerning the new heavens and earth, Revelation 21:22 says, “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:22–27, ESV)

 *****

The Blessing Of God World Be Upon His People

In verse 25 we continue reading, “You shall serve the LORD your God… and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.” 

Notice three things about these verses.

One, the Old Mosaic covenant was a conditional covenant or works. Israel would be blessed in the land if they were faithful to serve the Lord. This differs from the terms of the New Covenant, which is the Covenant of Grace. The blessings of this covenant are freely given for they were parched by Christ. 

Two, the blessings promised to Israel were earthly blessings. They pertained to bread and water, health, fruitfulness, and long life. The blessings of the New Covenant are spiritual and eternal. 

Three, the blessings promised for obedience under the Old Covenant were idealistic. Certainly, people experienced a lack of bread, sickness, miscarriage, and short lives under the Old Covenant. This was due to sin. But the idealistic promises here find their ultimate fulfillment in the new heaven and earth and were earned through the obedience of Jesus Christ, the true Israel of God.  

It will be in the new heavens and earth that “the dwelling place of God [will be] with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3–4, ESV).

 *****

All Of God’s Enemies Were To Be Defeated

Lastly, let us consider verses 27 – 33. Here we learn that in Canaan God would defeat all of his enemies. “I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. And I will set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates, for I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

Again I say, in Canaan and under the Old Covenant this was true in an earthly and temporal sense. In the new heavens and earth this will be true in a spiritual and eternal sense. “The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”” (Revelation 21:7–8, ESV)

 *****

Suggestions For Application

Let us learn to read the Bible in a Christian way. 

As we consider the Old Testament scriptures and the Old Covenant of which they speak, let us learn to see and savor Christ there. He is the fulfillment! 

As we sojourn now in this world as strangers and exiles, let us long and live for the Promise Land, the new heavens and earth.

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Afternoon Sermon: How Does Christ Execute The Office Of A Prophet?, Baptist Catechism 27, John 15:12-17

Baptist Catechism 27

Q. 27. How doth Christ execute the office of a prophet?

A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his Word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation. (John 1:18; 14:26; 15:15)

Scripture Reading: John 15:12-17

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” (John 15:12–17, ESV)

*****

Introduction

Christ executeth the office of a prophet, 

in revealing to us, 

by his Word and Spirit, 

the will of God 

for our salvation.

*****

Conclusion

2LCF 8.10. This number and order of offices is necessary; for in respect of our ignorance, we stand in need of his prophetical office; and in respect of our alienation from God, and imperfection of the best of our services, we need his priestly office to reconcile us and present us acceptable unto God; and in respect to our averseness and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and security from our spiritual adversaries, we need his kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us to his heavenly kingdom.

(John 1:18; Colossians 1:21; Galatians 5:17; John 16:8; Psalms 110:3; Luke 1:74, 75)

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Afternoon Sermon: What Offices Does Christ Execute As Our Redeemer?, Baptist Catechism 26, Psalm 2

Baptist Catechism 26

Q. 26. What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer?

A. Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in His state of humiliation and exaltation. (Acts 3:22; Heb. 5:6; Ps. 2:6)

Scripture Reading: Psalm 2

“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, ‘As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.’ I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 2, ESV)

*****

Introduction

Christ, 

as our Redeemer, 

executeth the offices 

of a prophet, 

of a priest, 

and of a king, 

both in His state of humiliation 

and exaltation. (Acts 3:22; Heb. 5:6; Ps. 2:6)

LCF 8.9-10

Paragraph 9. This office of mediator between God and man is proper only to Christ, who is the prophet, priest, and king of the church of God; and may not be either in whole, or any part thereof, transferred from him to any other.

(1 Timothy 2:5)

Paragraph 10. This number and order of offices is necessary; for in respect of our ignorance, we stand in need of his prophetical office; and in respect of our alienation from God, and imperfection of the best of our services, we need his priestly office to reconcile us and present us acceptable unto God; and in respect to our averseness and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and security from our spiritual adversaries, we need his kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us to his heavenly kingdom.

(John 1:18; Colossians 1:21; Galatians 5:17; John 16:8; Psalms 110:3; Luke 1:74, 75)

*****

Conclusion

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Morning Sermon: Laws For A Consecrated Nation, Exodus 22:28-23:19

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 22:28-23:19

“You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people. You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me. You shall be consecrated to me. Therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs. You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit. If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him. You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit. Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked. And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the beasts of the field may eat. You shall do likewise with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard. Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed. Pay attention to all that I have said to you, and make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips. Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed. You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord GOD. You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the fat of my feast remain until the morning. The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” (Exodus 22:28–23:19, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Romans 9:1–8

“I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” (Romans 9:1–8, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

Here in Exodus 22:28-23:19, we find more laws for Old Covenant Israel. This set of laws is a little bit different from the previous set. In Exodus 21:1-22:27 we encountered civil laws in the form of case laws. There Israel was told what to do in certain cases. If this happens, then do this… was the predominant pattern. Here in this section, we find imperatival laws. Here the law is presented in the form of a command. The language used here in this section is “you shall…”, and “you shall not…”

I have pointed out to you in previous sermons that this section is also structured chiasticly, meaning that the first part mirrors the last part, the second mirrors the second to last part, and so on. As you know, the previous section which contained case laws was a 10-part chiasm with the emphasis placed at the beginning and the end. This section is a 7-part chiasm, and I think it is right to see that the stress is placed at the center, where it is commanded that even personal enemies be treated in a just way. 

Consider now the structure:

a Responsibilities to God (22:28-30)
(tribute from crops and herds; no other gods)

b Do not eat meat torn by wild animals (22:31)
(do not scrounge for food; God will provide for you as his holy people) 

c Justice upheld (favoritism not to be shown to the poor in a lawsuit) (23:1-3)

d CENTER: Kindness to personal enemies (23:4-5)

c’ Justice, especially for the poor (23:6-9)

b’ Do not eat sabbath year produce (23:10-12)

(leave it for animals; Sabbath rest; God will provide)

a’ Responsibilities to God 23:13-19)

(tribute from crops and herds; no other gods)

So then, you can see that both sections – the one containing case laws, and this one containing imperatival laws – stress that all men and women are to be treated justly, and that includes the weak and vulnerable in society (servants, orphans, widows, the alien and the poor), as well as those considered to be personal enemies. In other words, it did not matter who the person was, what they looked like, how much power or wealth they possessed, or if you liked them – all were to be treated in a way that was right and just. Both sections containing civil laws for Israel have this as their emphasis. 

Furthermore, it seems to me that this second collection of laws that we are considering today effectively sent this message to Old Covenant Israel: you are to do all things in light of God’s existence and of your special covenantal relationship with him. Here I am drawing your attention to the way in which these laws demanded that Israel’s as a society be ever mindful of YHWH and of his special sovereignty over them. 

Allow me to explain by making three brief observations. 

One, this collection of imperatival laws begins and ends with laws pertaining to Israel’s responsibilities towards God. Israel was to honor YHWH in their eating, with the firstfruits of their children, livestock, and produce, with their time, and in worship. They were to appear before God at set times to pay tribute to him. They were to keep the weekly Sabbath day holy. We will look more closely at these laws in a moment. For now, I’m observing that laws pertaining to Israel’s responsibilities to God are addressed first and last in this collection. These laws set the tone for the others. They frame the other civil laws. This is significant, for it is clear that Israel was to uphold justice being ever mindful of God’s sovereignty over them. Later I will argue that this is true for all nations. If a society hopes to understand what is just, to enact just laws, and to uphold justice, it must be mindful of God and of his moral law, the only true and steadfast standard for morality and justice. Israel was to be mindful of God in all things. They were called to honor him in their eating, with their time, and in worship. 

Two, Israel was reminded in these laws of their special position before God amongst all of the nations of the earth. Notice what is said in 22:31: “You shall be consecrated to me. Therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts…”, etc. A consecrated thing is a thing that is set apart as holy or sacred. And here the LORD spoke to Isarel saying,  “You shall be consecrated to me…”, and then particular laws were given. The point is this: Israel was to live being ever mindful of the LORD and of their unique and special relationship with him under the Old Covenant. Some of the laws which God gave to Old Covenant Israel helped them to remember their uniqueness and the uniqueness of their covenantal relationship with YHWH, the one true God, and Creator of heaven and earth. 

Three, in this section the LORD reminds Israel of his sovereignty over them and of their accountability to him. Look at 23:7: “Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked.” This theme of sovereignty and accountability is also present in 23:14-15 where the LORD says, “Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me.” And after naming the Feast of Unleavened Bread he warns, “None shall appear before me empty-handed.” The LORD was sovereign over Israel in a special way, and they were accountable to him in a special way under the Old Covenant. This is true of all nations and all people generally, but it was especially true of Old Covenant Israel. 

Now that I have made the general observation that this collection of civil laws served to remind Israel of the LORD, of his supremacy over them, and of their special responsibility to him as his consecrated people, let us now consider the laws themselves and ask, what did these laws require of Old Covenant Israel? 

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What Did These Civil Laws Require Of Israel?

Firstly, we will consider the first and last set of laws that have to do with Israel’s responsibilities to honor God and to pay him tribute. They are found in Exodus 22:28-30 and then again in 23:13-19.

22:28: “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.” 

The Hebrew word translated as “revile” means to slight, or to treat in a light or trivial way. Israel was to honor God. They were to revere the LORD, see him as weighty and glorious, and live in light of this reality. As I have said, this whole collection of laws does seem to communicate that Israel was to do everything as a  society being mindful of God and his supremacy over them.  

Next, the text says, “nor curse a ruler of your people.” What do these two things – “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people” –  have to do with each other? What is the connection? Well, as I have said, this collection of laws does first require that honor be shown to God, and then that justice be upheld among men. This first verse functions as a heading over this entire section. You will notice that this first verse does also correspond to the two sections of the Ten Commandments. What does the first commandment and the first table of the law require? That God be honored as God. And what does the fifth commandment and the second table of the law require? That man be honored as man. And so you can see that the first commandment of this collection of civil sets the stage for what follows. Israel was to honor God as a society, and they were to honor one another. These two concepts are summarized with the words, “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.” 

The fifth of the Ten Commandments says, “you shall honor your father and mother.” We have learned that this requires us to “​[​preserve] the honor, and [perform] the duties, belonging to everyone in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals.” This includes showing honor to those who rule or govern. Israel was to show honor to the poor and vulnerable in their midst. We have just considered this. And now Israel is exhorted to have reverence for God, and in doing so to have respect for those who rule. 

The Apostle Peter may have had this passage in mind when wrote, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17, ESV). The words “fear God” and “honor the emperor” do seem to correspond to Exodus 22:28: “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.” 

You know, brothers and sisters, it can be very easy for Christians to fall into the trap of thinking that because a ruler or governor does not act in an honorable way that we are then justified in dishonoring them with our words. It is possible to disagree with an authority figure while still showing honor to them. It is even possible to resist an authority figure (when justified) while still showing them honor. When Peter commanded that the Emporer be honored, he was not referring to an honorable man, but to a man who held a position of honor. 

There is a passage in Acts 23 that is also instructive. There we read of “the high priest Ananias [commandeding] those who stood by him to strike [Paul] on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, ‘God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?’ Those who stood by said, ‘Would you revile God’s high priest?’ And Paul said, ‘I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people’” (Acts 23:1–5, ESV). That is a direct citation of Exodus 22:28. You will notice that Ananias was not acting in an honorable way as he commanded that Paul be struck. In fact, he was strongly opposing The Way. But he held a position of authority in Israel, and so Paul did publicly repent of speaking to him in a dishonorable way. 

Brothers and sisters, we may disagree strongly with our president, governor, and with others who have authority over us. We may even consider them to be wicked men, filled with corruption, and given to injustice. And perhaps we have come to the conclusion that such men (and women) out to be opposed and resisted. As Christians, it is imperative that we show them honor and refrain from cursing them, lest we ourselves be guilty of sin. 

As we continue on now in our text we see that the focus remains on Israel’s obligations to God before turning its attention to Israel’s obligation to uphold justice at the heart of this chiasm. 

22:29-30: “You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me.”

Here is stated that Israel was to offer the firstborn of their sons and their herds to the Lord. The animals were to be sacrificed to the Lord. Their firstborn sons were to be substituted with an animal and represented through the service of the Levitical priests. Israel was also to give the first fruit of their orchards and fields to the Lord. In this way, they were to honor the Lord. In this way, they were to demonstrate their dependence upon the Lord. It was no small thing for an Israelite to offer up an animal as a sacrifice to the Lord, or to give the first of their produce. And yet this is what they were called to do. The animals and the produce were used in the worship of God, and to sustain the priesthood. And the same principle is present under the New Covenant. Christians are to give willingly and chearfully as an act of worship to the Lord for the maintenance of the worship of God, for the support of ministers, and for the relief of the poor in our midst.  

Let us look now at 23:13: “Pay attention to all that I have said to you, and make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips.” Here idolatry is forbidden, and this corresponds to the second commandment.

23:14-17: “Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed. You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord GOD.” Here the main feasts of the Lord are mentioned. These feast days were added to the weekly Sabbath under the Old Covenant. They were special days for rest, for assembling together, and for worship. 

In 23:18-19 we find preliminary instructions concerning the sacrifice. “You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the fat of my feast remain until the morning. The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” The sacrifices offered to the Lord were to be kept pure and they were to be treated as holy. Israel was not to offer the leftovers or the scraps to the Lord, but the first and the best. And never were they to allow the worship of God to be corrupted by the worship practices of the pagan nations around them. That, I think, is the meaning of the command, “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” The pagan nations would do this in their worship of false gods believing that it would lead to blessings of fertility. 

So then, you can see that the first and last parts of this passage have to do with Israel’s responsibilities to God in worship. And by the way, you can see in this passage how the moral, civil, and ceremonial laws which were given to Israel under the Old Covenant do overlap somewhat. We may distinguish between them, but not in an absolute way. God’s moral law undergirds the civil and ceremonial. And in Old Covenant Israel, ceremonial laws (laws having to do with the worship of God) were also civil (in a sense), for in Old Covenant Israel church and state were deeply intertwined.  

Secondly, let us consider the second and sixth set of laws that have to do with Israel’s obligation to honor God in their work and in their eating. These laws are found in 22:31 and 23:10-12.

22:31: “You shall be consecrated to me. Therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.” As you know, many dietary restrictions were placed upon Israel under the Old Covenant. Here they are told not to eat the meat of animals killed by another animal. The Israelites were not to scrounge for their food. The reason? They had been consecrated, or set apart as holy, unto the Lord. The Israelites were to trust God for provision.  

23:10-11: “For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the beasts of the field may eat. You shall do likewise with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard.” So then, Israel was to store up food from the harvest of six years and then harvest nothing in seventh. This was to be a year of rest. This was to be a year of trustful dependence upon the Lord. This was to be a year of special care for the poor. 

This pattern of six and one was rooted in the weekly Sabbath, of course, and so 23:12 we read, “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.”

Israel was to honor God in their eating, in their working, and in their rest. Can you see how these laws that we have so far considered – laws pertaining to worship, eating, work, and rest –  functioned to keep the LORD, and the honor of the LORD, on the forefront of the minds of the people of Israel? Every day, every week, every year, and every seven years, were filled with regulations that served to communicate to Israel that they belonged to the LORD, and the LORD belonged to them in a special way through the covenant that God had transacted with them, first in the days of Abraham, and then in the days of Moses. 

Under the New Covenant, we have something similar, though much more simple. Each week we are reminded of our relationship to the LORD, and of his relationship to us in the Covenant of Grace as we observe the Lord’s Day Sabbath, are partake of the means of grace that God has given us, particularly the Lord’s Supper, wherein wen are reminded of the broken body and shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Thirdly, we find laws demanding justice for all within in society. These are found in 23:1-3 and 23:6-9.

As I have said, the first and last two sections correspond to the remark in 22:28.  “You shall not revile God”, that is to say, take God lightly. And now we come to the heart of this section which requires that honor be shown to men. And that was summarized with the words, “nor curse a ruler of your people” in 22:28. 

Look now at 23:1: “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.” 

23:2:  You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice…”

23:3: “…nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit.” 

23:6: “You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit.” 

23:7: “Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked.” 

23:8: “And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.” 

23:9: “You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”

What is the thing being required in this series of laws? Is it not justice for all within society

These laws are clearly an elaboration of the ninth commandment, which is, “you shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). If a wicked man decides to be a malicious witness, do not join in with him. If a large group of people decided to do evil by perverting justice, do not join them, even if it requires you to stand alone. Do not show favoritism to the poor man in a lawsuit. And neither are you to show favoritism to the rich against the poor. The Lord sees all. If false charges are made and the innocent and righteous are killed, the Lord will hold the guilty accountable.  Bribes are forbidden, for a bribe “blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.” Justice was to be upheld even in the case of a foreigner within Israel. 

Fourthly, and lastly, we have a law requiring that personal enemies be treated justly. 

This law is found at the very heart of this collection of laws. 23:4-5 reads, “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.”

So then, you can see that every excuse to treat a fellow human being poorly or in an unjust way is removed. Some may reason, saying, well, I am powerful and they are weak, so I am permitted to take advantage of them. Or, I am poor and they are rich, so I am permitted to take advantage of them. Or, they are a foreigner in this land, so they have no right to just treatment. Or, they are an enemy of mine, so I have no obligation to do unto them as I wish to be done to me. All of these excuses were done away with in the civil laws which God gave to Israel at Sinai in the days of Moses. 

And what framed these laws? What necessitated and motivated the keeping of these laws concerning justice within Israel? God’s existence, his special relationship with Israel, and Israel’s special relationship with him, required them to treat one another justly, for God himself is perfectly holy, righteous, and just. In other words, Israel was called to be holy as the Lord is holy.  

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What Do These Civil Laws Require Of Us?

I’d like to steer this sermon towards a conclusion now by asking the question, what do these civil laws require of us?

I’ve stated this clarification many times now, and I will state it once more. We must remember the uniqueness of Old Covenant Israel, and as we do, we will be reminded that there is a sense in which these laws were for them, and are not for us. This is especially clear in the laws about worship. Israel was obligated to keep certain festival days and to offer up the firstborn of the flocks, etc. in a way that we are not. There is application to be drawn from these laws, but these laws do not apply to us in the way they applied to them. These laws have fulfilled their purpose and have been taken away with the arrival of the Christ and the passing away of the Old Covenant and the inauguration of the new. We must remember that Old Covenant Israel entered into a special covenantal relationship with YHWH in the days of Moses, and these civil laws were given to them as a consecrated people. 

As I thought again about Israel’s unique position before God under the Old Covenant, King David’s prayer to God as recorded in 2 Samuel 7 came to mind. There he says, “you are great, O LORD God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O LORD, became their God” (2 Samuel 7:22–24, ESV). 

So, let us acknowledge yet again that there are some things in this collection of laws that were clearly unique to Old Covenant Israel. But at the same time, we should not forget that all people and all nations are in a common covenantal relationship with God and are therefore accountable to him. 

What covenantal relationship am I referring to? Well, of course, we are all born into Adam and into that broken covenant of works that God made with Adam in the beginning. That covenant no longer offers life, but it curses are upon all humanity because of Adam’s rebellion. But here I am referring to the covenant which God made with all of creation in the days of Noah. 

When we think of the covenant that God made with Noah after the flood we typically remember the rainbow and the promise of God to never again flood the whole earth. But we should remember that God also commanded the descendants of Noah, namely, all of humanity, to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, to exercise dominion over the earth, and to uphold justice on the earth. This commission was not given to any particular nation, but to all who descended from Noah, namly all people, and all nations. 

When I say that Israel was to be mindful of their relationship to God, his sovereignty over them, and their accountability to them, as they sought to uphold justice in society, I do not mean to suggest that they were utterly unique in this. Yes, they were special. Yes, they were consecrated. Yes, they were unique in this sense – God entered into a special covenant with them alone. But it is not as if YHWH was Israel’s God only, that he was sovereign over them alone, and that they alone were accountable to him. No, the LORD is Lord of all creation. All men and all nations come from him and will return to him. All are under his sovereign authority. All will give an account to him. All of this is made explicitly clear in Genesis 1-11, and especially in that covenant that God transacted with humanity in the days of Noah. And what did God command humanity to do under the Noahic Covenant? Humanity would deserve into societies and nations, and those nations were to be concerned with filling the earth through marriage and the family, exercising careful dominion over the earth, and upholding justice within society.  Here I am saying that all nations must be mindful of God, of their obligations before him, and their accountability to him. 

You know, I do wish that all men and women would come to know the one true God – the God of creation, and the God of Holy Scripture – through faith in Jesus the Messiah. Indeed, this ought to be our leading concern and highest aim. Indeed, this is the mission of the church –  to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, to baptize and teach. But as it pertains to our society and to our life here in this world, I do also pray that men and women would be mindful of the God of all creation and the standard of his moral law as revealed in nature, and ever more clearly in Holy Scripture. Justice for all  in our nation requires. Apart from God and his moral law, there will be no justice, only survival of the fittest, where those who are strong oppress those who are weak. 

Do you remember the pledge of allegiance, brothers and sisters? “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Do you wish to know why there is such injustice, oppression, and division in this land? This nation has forgotten that we live and move and have our being “under God”. A nation that is mindful of the creator God and of his moral law will have an opportunity to enjoy unity, liberty, and justice. But where God and his moral law is disregarded by society, all manner of corruption, vileness, division, oppression, and injustice will ensue. 

I hope that I have been clear in these last few sermons that we have no desire to impose the Old Covenant civil law code upon this nation… We do not wish to have a Christian nation in the sense that the Christian faith is actively promoted through the government or that conversions are coerced by the threat of violence from the state. Church and state have been united in that way from time to time in the history of the world, and we do not wish to see a return to that. It is right that church and state be kept separate.  

But this does not mean that the state (or the secular realm) is to operate as if independent from God. It is impossible for men and women, or the societies in which we live, to operate independently from God. God is our creator, our sustainer, and our end. Denying or ignoring his existence changes nothing. And all who live with a disregard for God and his moral law will surely come to ruin. You can see this playing out all around you in the lives of individuals, families, and within society broadly speaking. Where God is denied, dysfunction, division, death, and destruction are present. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good” (Psalm 53:1, ESV). But the “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10, ESV)

So I have been reminded of Israel’s uniqueness. I have also clarified that although Israel as a nation was in a special covenantal relationship with God, all people and all nations are in covenant with God, are under his sovereign authority, and accountable to him. Lastly, I wish to remind you, church, that it is you who are in a special covenantal relationship with God today. The Old Covenant has passed away. The New Covenant has come. And who are the members of this New Covenant? Who are the citizens of the Kingdom of Christ, which the New Covenant administers? It is all who are united to Christ by faith. 

Under the New Covenant, there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. The middle wall of hostility has been broken down. It is those who have faith who are the true children of Abraham, and the true Israel of God. Do not forget this, church. While all people and all nations are in a common covenant with YHWH, are under his sovereignty, and are accountable to him, it is the church, consisting of all who believe, from amongst the Jews and the Gentiles, who are in a special covenantal relationship with God today. YHWH is Lord over all creation, but he is Lord over us in a special way. 

“…you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:9–12, ESV)

All men and all nations are obligated to honor God, but we are obligated to honor him in a special way, for he has redeemed us from bondage, freed us from sin, and rescued us from death by the blood of Christ, the Messiah. As we pray and work for peace and for justice in this land, may we never lose sight of our special identity, and of our particular calling in this world as God’s consecrated people.

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Exodus 22:28-23:19, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Laws For A Consecrated Nation, Exodus 22:28-23:19

Afternoon Sermon: How Did Christ, Being The Son Of God, Become Man?, Baptist Catechism 25, Hebrews 2:10–18

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Baptist Catechism 25

Q. 25. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?

A. Christ, the Son of God became man by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul; being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary and born of her, yet without sin. (Heb. 2:14; Matt. 26:38; Luke 2:52; John 12:27; Luke 1:31,35; Heb. 4:15; 7:26)

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 2:10-18

“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, ‘I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.’ And again, ‘I will put my trust in him.’ And again, ‘Behold, I and the children God has given me.’ Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:10–18, ESV)

*****

Christ, 

the Son of God 

became man 

by taking to himself a true body 

and a reasonable soul; 

being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary and born of her, 

yet without sin.

*****

Conclusion

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Afternoon Sermon: How Did Christ, Being The Son Of God, Become Man?, Baptist Catechism 25, Hebrews 2:10–18

Morning Sermon: Life For Life, Eye For Eye, Tooth For Tooth, Exodus 21:12–22:20

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 21:12–22:20

“Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which he may flee. But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die. Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death. Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death. Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death. When men quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist and the man does not die but takes to his bed, then if the man rises again and walks outdoors with his staff, he who struck him shall be clear; only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall have him thoroughly healed. When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money. When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth. When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner of the ox shall not be liable. But if the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not kept it in, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death. If a ransom is imposed on him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is imposed on him. If it gores a man’s son or daughter, he shall be dealt with according to this same rule. If the ox gores a slave, male or female, the owner shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned. When a man opens a pit, or when a man digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit shall make restoration. He shall give money to its owner, and the dead beast shall be his. When one man’s ox butts another’s, so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and share its price, and the dead beast also they shall share. Or if it is known that the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has not kept it in, he shall repay ox for ox, and the dead beast shall be his. If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If the stolen beast is found alive in his possession, whether it is an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double. If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets his beast loose and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best in his own field and in his own vineyard. If fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, he who started the fire shall make full restitution. If a man gives to his neighbor money or goods to keep safe, and it is stolen from the man’s house, then, if the thief is found, he shall pay double. If the thief is not found, the owner of the house shall come near to God to show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property. For every breach of trust, whether it is for an ox, for a donkey, for a sheep, for a cloak, or for any kind of lost thing, of which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before God. The one whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor. If a man gives to his neighbor a donkey or an ox or a sheep or any beast to keep safe, and it dies or is injured or is driven away, without anyone seeing it, an oath by the LORD shall be between them both to see whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property. The owner shall accept the oath, and he shall not make restitution. But if it is stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner. If it is torn by beasts, let him bring it as evidence. He shall not make restitution for what has been torn. If a man borrows anything of his neighbor, and it is injured or dies, the owner not being with it, he shall make full restitution. If the owner was with it, he shall not make restitution; if it was hired, it came for its hiring fee. If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins. You shall not permit a sorceress to live. Whoever lies with an animal shall be put to death. Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the LORD alone, shall be devoted to destruction.” (Exodus 21:12–22:20, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Matthew 5:38–42

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38–42, ESV)

*****

Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

Perhaps you will remember this from previous sermons. In Exodus 21:1 through 22:27 we find civil laws for the Old Covenant nation of Israel. God gave these civil (or judicial) laws to Israel through Moses as he entered into a covenant with them at Sinai. These civil laws were added to the moral law. And they were needed because God did not merely redeem individual persons from Egypt, but a people whom he had promised to make into a great nation. Nations need civil (or judicial) laws if they are to function. And here in Exodus 21:1-22:27, we find the first collection of civil laws which God gave to Israel. These are case laws, remember? Case laws prove examples of what is to be done in certain cases. Wise judges were then expected to rule on particular cases with wisdom and in light of the cases provided. It is true that more civil laws for Israel are found in the rest of the writings of Moses, but these are the first. The civil laws that come later will build upon and clarify these.

Perhaps you will also remember that these case laws are presented to us in a highly structured way. The case laws are divided into ten parts (matching the Ten Commandments of the moral law) , and these ten parts are presented to us in a chiastic structure, meaning that the first part mirrors the last, the second part mirrors the second to last, and so on. The literary structure brings both order and emphasis.  

Last Sunday I preached a sermon on the first and the last portion of this section, both of which contain laws pertaining to the just treatment of the weak and vulnerable within society. Salves (or indentured servants) were to be treated justly, and so too aliens, orphans, widows, and the poor. 

Today we will consider the middle portion of the chiasm. Here in sections 2 through 9 (or b through b’) it becomes very that Moses presented the most serious (or weighty) matters in the first and last place.  The order is this. First, Moses deals with crimes deserving the death penalty. Next. he addresses bodily assaults that require restitution. After that, he describes what should be done in cases where a person is killed by an animal belonging to another. Finally, in section 5 (or “e”) we find law pertaining to the loss of property due to an accident. Section 6 (or e’) corresponds to this and addresses the loss of property due to theft. And then everything descends down the backside of the chiasm (the backside corresponding to the front side) making its way back to crimes deserving the death penalty in Israel. 

a Kindness to servants (21:2-11)

b Capital offenses: “he shall be put to death” (21:12-17)

c Noncapital bodily assaults requiring restitution (21:18-27)

d Death or injury of a person by an animal (21:28-32)

e Loss of property due to an accident (21:33-36)
e’ Loss of property due to theft (22:1-9)

d’ Death, injury, or loss of animal by a person (22:10-15)

c’ Noncapital bodily offense: the seduction of a virgin (22:16-17)

b’ Capital offenses: “shall be put to death” (22:18-20)

a’ Kindness to aliens, widows, orphans, poor (22:21-27)

As you know, in the previous two sermons I made much of the movement in this chiastic structure from the more serious (or weighty) matters to the less serious matters, and then back down again. I made much of this movement in an attempt to convince you that this collection of civil laws stresses the importance of treating the weak and vulnerable in society in a way that is just. Laws pertaining to the just and kind treatment of servants, aliens, orphans, widows, and the poor were placed first and last in this section where the weightiest matters are clearly addressed at the beginning and end. We considered the first and last portion of this section last Sunday. Today we will consider everything in between.  

I’ve divided this sermon into two parts. First, we will ask the question, what did these civil laws require of Old Covenant Israel? After that, we will ask, what do these civil laws require of us?  

 *****

What Did These Civil Laws Require Of Israel?

So let us begin with the question, what did these laws require of Old Covenant Israel?

Firstly, notice that some crimes in Old Covenant Israel were to be punished with death. 

The death penalty was not to be administered by individual persons, mind you, but through the established judicial system. Old Covenant Israel would have to establish a judicial system, and as you probably know, the system would change with the passing of time. First, Moses would judge them alone. After that, the elders of the tribes of Israel would help with judgments. Later, judges would rule over Israel. And finally, Israel would be given a King. I find it interesting that Israel did not have one particular form of government, nor did she have one particular system of justice. These would change with the passing of time and with the development of the nation. But Israel was given particular civil laws, and they were to see to it that these laws were enforced justly. This required the development of judicial systems so that justice was upheld, not by individuals acting as individuals, but by society in a collective way, with elders, judges, and eventually kings in the lead. 

I’ll return now to the first observation about the civil law code of Israel: some crimes were punishable by death. Let us now consider these. They are found in 21:12-17 and again in 22:18-20. 

In 21:12-14 we read, “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which he may flee. But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die. Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death. Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death. Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.” Look now at 22:18-20: “You shall not permit a sorceress to live. Whoever lies with an animal shall be put to death. Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the LORD alone, shall be devoted to destruction.” 

So there are seven things mentioned here that were punishable by death. This list is not exhaustive, mind you. The law of Moses mentions other crimes deserving of capital punishment. These are case laws, remember. These are examples of crimes deserving the death penalty in Old Covenant Israel.  

One, those who murder willfully and with premeditation were to be put to death. You should notice the little remark in verse 13 about what the Lord would do for Israel once they took possession of the land. He would establish cities of refuge for Israel where those who killed accidentally could run to be protected from those who wished to avenge the life of their friend or family member. In these cities of refuge, the accused were to receive a fair trial. If it was proven that the person killed willfully or with premeditation, they were to be put to death. But if by accident, their life was to be spared. 

Two, those who strike their father or mother were to be put to death. The Hebrew word translated as “strike” here is a strong word. It means to “beat” or to “wound”. And I think that is the meaning. Those who assault their father and mother were to be put to death in Old Covenant Israel.  

Three, manstealers (or kidnappers) and those in possession of those who have been stolen were to be put to death. 

Four, those who curse their parents were to be put to death. Some have argued that a better translation would be “treat with contempt” or “treat disgracefully.” Whoever treats his father or mother with contempt or disgracefully shall be put to death. 

In 22:18 we learn that sorcerers were to be put to death. 

In 22:19 we learn that those who committed bestiality were to be put to death.

And lastly, in 22:20 we learn that idolaters were to be put to death.

I have warned you in previous sermons that these civil laws were in some ways unique to Old Covenant Israel and are not binding on us today. We may learn about matters of morality and justice from these laws, but they are not meant to be taken up by any other nation and enforced without alteration. Here you can see why. 

In the Noahic Covenant is was established that murders are to receive the death pentalty. That was true, not for Israel only, but for all nations. And that did also establish this standard for justice: life for a life, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. But there in the civil laws which God gave to Israel, it is not only premeditated murder that is punishable by death, but other heinous violations of God’s moral law. Israel was set apart as a holy people, remember? This does not mean they were pure, but that they were unique, for God dwelt in the midst of them, his kingdom was prefigured amongst them, and he was working his redemptive purposes through them to bring the Messiah into the world. For this reason, heinous violations of the moral law were also punishable by death.

Those who practiced sorcery and sacrificed to other god’s undermined the whole of the first table of the moral law in an extreme and blatant way. These were to be put to death in OC Israel lest they undermine the fabric of their holy society.

Premeditated murder was a violation of the sixth commandment as was to be punished by death. That is not surprising, given that this is God’s standard for all societies.

To assault one’s parents, to curse them, or treat them with contempt, is an extreme violation of the fifth commandment, which is “you shall honor your father and mother.”

Manstealing (kidnapping and forced slavery) is an extreme violation of the eighth commandment and was punishable by death.

And bestiality is an extreme violation of the seventh commandment, which is, “you shall not commit adultery.” This requires sexual purity according to God’s design. Bestiality, along with homosexuality, are perversions of God’s design and were punishable by death in Old Covenant Israel. 

So you can see that it was not only the murderer who was to be but to death in Isarel but also those who were immoral in an extremely perverse way. Why? Because Israel was set apart as a holy nation. There in that nation, sin was magnified. There in that nation, the promises of God were preserved and the glory of God was manifest. Through them, the Messiah would be brought into the world. Not every sin was a crime in OC Israel, but heinous sins were considered crimes, and some were even punishable by death. It would be a mistake to pick up this law code as if it were for our common nation. But it would also be a great mistake to ignore this law and to fail to learn from it.        

So then, some things were punishable by death. Secondly, some bodily assaults were not punishable by death but required that restitution be paid. These laws requiring restitution (or compensation) in the case of bodily assault are found in Exodus 21:18-27 and 22:16-17. 

Look at 21:18: “When men quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist and the man does not die but takes to his bed, then if the man rises again and walks outdoors with his staff, he who struck him shall be clear; only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall have him thoroughly healed.” So here we have a situation where one man injures another man so that the man must lay in bed. In other words, he does not die, but he is injured so that he cannot work. In that situation, the one who injured him was to pay restitution. He was to compensate for the loss of time. He is also to compensate for the person’s medical expenses. 

In verses 20-21 the assault of a slave by a master is considered. Verse 20: “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged.” This means that if a master struck their slave and killed them, they were to be punished according to the same laws which governed free men. It made no difference if the servant was male or female. Here we see yet again that slaves, or servants, were to be honored as human beings with Israel. Masters were not free to do to their slaves as they pleased. These slaves had rights, in other words (if you missed last Sunday’s sermon, you should go back and listen to it. There I dealt with the laws regulating slavery in Israel).

Verse 21 probably sounded strange to you upon first reading (it sounded strange to me). I think it will become clear upon closer examination. Hear it now: “But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.”  I actually prefer the NIV’s translation of this verse. I think it more clearly communicates the meaning. The NIV renders the Hebrew in this way: “but he [the master] is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.” Though it does not say this, the ESV gives the impression that the slave survives a day or two after being struck by their master and then dies. And then we read that the master “is not to be avenged…” That seems unjust, does it not? Again, the ESV does not explicitly say this, but neither does it answer the question, what happens (in this case) to the slave after a day or two in bed? Does he die, or does he recover. It seems clear from the context that this law is envisioning a situation where a slave is struck, is injured, is bound to his bed for a time, and then recovers. The NIV captures that meaning nicely. Again, it says, “but he [the master] is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.” 

So here is the real question. Must a master pay restitution to a servant whom he strikes and injures to the point of him being unable to work. Answer: no. No restitution is required as would be the case among free men (as stated in verse 19) because the slave or servant is the master’s money or property. This is bound to be misunderstood. Some will object saying, see! Slaves were dehumanized and reduced to property in Israel! Well, you can only think that if you have not been paying attention to the other laws regulating slavery in Israel! The meaning of the verse is really quite simple and reasonable. If a free man strikes a free man so that he is injured and cannot work, the one who struck him must compensate for his loss. But if a master strikes a servant (whom he is contracted with to work for him for a set period of time, and has paid the man upfront, or will pay him in disbursements, or at the end of the contract) then it is not the injured servant who suffers a monetary loss, but the master. And that is what this civil law is addressing – just compensation for the loss of time and income as the result of an injury caused by another. This law is not addressing the question of whether or not it is right for a master to strike his servant so that he or she is injured (indeed, we may say that is morally wrong). Rather, the law is concerned with questions of financial restitution. In this case, the master has already lost something as the result of his harshness, and so no further restitution is required.   

By the way, perhaps you are noticing the lack of any mention of “prison” as a pentalty for crimes committed. We have heard about the pentalty of death, and we have heard about restitution, but no mention is made of imprisonment as a punishment for a crime. Now, I am not saying that prison has no place in a judicial system. Indeed, we must ask the question, what is to be done with those who owe restitution but refuse to pay it? It is interesting that Christ spoke of prison in one of his parables as the place where someone is sent “until he should pay the debt” (Matthew 18:30, ESV). So I am not saying that prison has no place. But it is curious that nothing is said about it in Israel’s judicial laws. Why is this? 

Well, here is the principle at the core of Israel’s judicial system (verse 23): “But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Exodus 21:23–25, ESV). This principle of retributive justice was not unique to Israel, but is for all nations, for it was first established, not in the Old Mosaic Covenant, but in the Noahic Covenant which God entered into with all of creation. It was then that God said, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6, ESV). This is the standard of retributive justice that all of the nations of the earth are called to uphold. Premeditated murder is to be punished by death. And where an injury is done to another’s perosn or property, restitution is to be made. And please understand this: it is the standard of an “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe”, which makes it possible to calculate what the proper amount of restitution is in the case where one man does injury to another. If one person was negligent and brought about an accident that took the eye or the hand of another, restitution would need to be paid by the negligent party. But how does one determine the value of an eye or a hand? Well, if the law says an eye for an eye, hand for a hand, then there is a way to determine the value. The victim may say to the guilty party, you owe me your eye. Or you owe me your hand. What is your hand or eye worth to you? And from there the negotiation may begin.  

I asked the question, why no mention of prison? And I think the answer is this: in most cases, justice is really not served in prison unless it is for the purpose of paying restitution. Have you heard it said of a person who goes to prison, they are paying their debt to society? Sometimes we say things and do not even think about what they mean. What debt to society? I mean, I can see it if a man is a menace to society. Perhaps a man drinks and drives or does some other thing to put society at risk, but does not harm anyone. Perhaps then there is a kind of debt to pay to society. But in these cases where a man steals from another man, or assaults another man, or does some other injury to them, the debt is not owed to society, but to the victim. And time in jail does not pay that debt. Some form of monetary compensation must be determined so that restitution can be paid. The principle at the core of our judicial system should be this: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6, ESV). And stated even more specifically: “if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Exodus 21:23–25, ESV). 

You will notice that this protection was applied to all human beings in OC Israel, even to those who were still in their mother’s womb. Verse 22: “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand…”, etc. 

In verse 26 we find that these protections were also applied to slaves. “When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth” (Exodus 21:26–27, ESV). Earlier, the law addressed the question, what should the master owe if he strikes his slave so that he cannot work for a day or two. Answer: nothing, for it is the master who has lost out on his investment. But here the question is, what should the penalty be if the mater strikes his slave and does permanent harm to him or to her. Answer: the slave shall be set free, that is to say, released from his or her contract early, as payment for the injury. Surely this would deter masters from treating their servants in a harsh way.

I am quickly running out of space, so I will briefly draw your attention to the backside of the chiasm and the corresponding laws pertaining to bodily assault. Look at 22:16-17: “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins” (Exodus 22:16–17, ESV). In the ancient world, a bride price would be paid by the family of the groom to the family of the bride before marriage. This would function as a kind of insurance. If the man was unfaithful, the woman would have something to fall back on. She would not be trapped in the marriage or left destitute if she left. In the case where a man seduced a virgin not betrothed (engaged) into premarital sex, the couple was either to enter into marriage, or the bride price was to be paid without marriage. This was not rape, mind you. But it was still considered to be a kind of assault upon the woman by the man. Again I say, restitution was to be paid. 

Thirdly, as we draw nearer now to the center of this chiasm, we find case laws addressing situations involving animals. In 21:28-32 situations where a person is injured or killed by an animal are addressed. And in 22:10-15 situations involving the death or loss of an animal are addressed. I will not spend much time on this section. I’ll say only a little about the first section wherein we find cases where a person is injured or killed by an animal belonging to another. If the animal has not be accustomed to attack or gore in the past, the owner was to be considered innocent and the animal was to be killed. But if the animal was accustomed to gore or attack in the past, and the owner failed to fence it in, the owner was to be considered guilty and liable to death, though in this case, unlike in the case of premeditated murder, the owner may have been allowed to pay a ransom for his life, if it was agreed upon.    

Fourthly, in the center portion of this chiasm, we find case laws pertaining to the loss of personal property. Exodus 21:33-36 deals with the loss of property due to accident or negligence, and Exodus 22:1-9 addresses the loss of property due to theft. In brief, restitution was to be made. In the case of the loss of property due to an accident, the restitution was to be equal to the value. In the case of negligence, the restitution was to be greater than the value. And in the case of theft, the amount of restitution was in some instances to be four or five times greater than the value. 

Here in this section we also find laws about the right to protect one’s property. 22:2: “If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him…” (Exodus 22:2, ESV). Seeking vengeance was forbidden, though. 22:3: “but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him.” The thief was not to pay for his theft with his life. Rather, he was to make appropriate restitution. And, if “he [had] nothing, then he [was to] be sold for his theft” (Exodus 22:3, ESV).

 *****

What Do These Civil Laws Require Of Us?

I have provided you with an overview of what these civil case laws required of Old Covenant Israel. Now I wish to ask, what do they require of us? I’ll answer in two parts: first politically, then personally. 

Politically 

Politically, I must warn you not to forget about the uniqueness of OC Israel and to remember what our confession rightly says: These “judicial laws… expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue of that institution; their general equity only being of moral use.” 

Secondly, I urge you, brothers and sisters, to have a strong and deeply biblical political theology. I think this is only going to become more important in the future. We must understand God’s purpose for common civil governments like ours. God is sovereign over those who govern, and he has given them certain responsibilities and powers. But those responsibilities and powers are limited. To help you understand God’s design for civil governments, I would refer you back to that Sunday School class called Politics After Christendom. 

Three, I would exhort you to love our nation and to seek its well-being while also desiring to see other nations flourish too. If you love people, you will love nations. For it is in and through nations and their citizens that justice is able to be upheld. There are bad kinds of nationalism, brothers, and sisters. National pride that is centered upon ethnicity, military might, or economic prosperity is to be rejected. But national pride centered upon matters of morality, freedom, and justice for all is to be celebrated. And it is quite possible for us to love our nation and to seek its flourishing in this way while also seeking the prosperity of other nations too because we love people and wish to see peace in the world. 

Four, if we agree that justice will only be upheld within nations, then we ought to also appreciate citizenship. It is not difficult to see that without citizenship, chaos will ensue. 

Five, let us pray for and work towards (so long as we are able) the implementation of just laws and a just judicial system. I’m afraid we have some very big problems in our nation and in our state, brothers and sisters. How do I state the matter succinctly? Leaving the issue of corruption aside, it seems to me that our government (State and Federal) is big where it should be small and small where it should be big. Stated differently, our government does seem to be negligent in the few things that it has been called by God to do, and ambitious to do many things that it has no business doing.

I’m not sure what the solution is. But I know we must pray. We must be transformed by the renewal of our minds. We must be responsible where we are able to act. And we can deal with what is right in front of us.  All the while we must trust that the Lord is sovereign. 

Personally, Morally

Now, for a few suggestions for personal application. 

One, see what your sins deserve. Not every sin was a crime in OC Israel, but the civil laws of OC Israel did magnify sin by showing what violations of God’s moral law deserve. Prefigurement of the final judgment. 

Two, Consider the death that Christ died. Though he was without sin, he died the death of a sinner.

Three, long for the new heavens and earth in which righteousness dwells.  

Four, until then, be willing to suffer in this world. Turn the other cheek. Go the way of the cross.

You know, at the beginning of this sermon I read from Matthew 5:38 which is a portion of Jesus’ sermon on the mount. This portion of scripture is often misunderstood because people fail to notice who it was that Jesus was preaching to.

 Who was Jesus preaching to when he said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38–42, ESV)

Was he preaching to the world?

Was he preaching to civil governments as if they are no longer called to be concerned with matters of retributive justice (some actually believe this)?

No, he called his disciples to himself and said these things.

Brothers and sisters, in the kingdom of Israel and under the Old Covenant which governed it, the citizens of that kingdom along with their magistrates were to be concerned with matters of retributive justice – an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, life for a life. But in the kingdom of Christ and under the New Covenant which governs this kingdom, there is no such union of church and state. The church is to concern herself with spiritual things under this New Covenant. She is to advance a spiritual kingdom and fight a spiritual war, while matters of retributive justice are to be left to the civil magistrate. And this is why Christ spoke to his disciples, saying, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Christians may serve in the civil realm, this is true. But the church as an institution is not to concern herself with these matters. Instead, the church is called to endure suffering for the sake of Christ. 

While I am happy to have you think about matters of social justice, brothers and sisters. And while I am happy to encourage you to pray and to work for justice in our society. I must also ask you, are you willing to suffer in this world for the sake of Christ as we keep our eyes fixed upon the mission of the church, which is to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that  [Christ has] commanded…” with the confidence that he is with us “always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20, ESV)?  It seems to me that we are called to do both, brothers and sisters, for we have a dual citizenship. We are citizens here of this nation, but this world is not our home. We are citizens of the kingdom of Christ too, and his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. 

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Exodus 21:12–22:20, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Life For Life, Eye For Eye, Tooth For Tooth, Exodus 21:12–22:20


"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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