We are in the Nation Stream today reading from the Easy-to-Read Version this week.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
Dear God – Thank you for your guiding Law. So many across the earth fall into trouble and sit in the ashes of a ruined life and moan, “how come no one told me?” Well, you tell us God. You guide and warn and remind and teach and do this to save us heartache and loss, and we thank you. Amen.
19 – The awe-inspiring pre-show to the Law being given happens in this chapter. These 10 Commandments would prove to be the pillars of civil society. And the Israelites are looking up at all the fireworks and smoke and lightning as we read it in ch.19 and it had to be a heart-stopper! The events of this “preView” to the Ten Commandments and their arrival and delivery to the people were of grave importance. The future of society would hinge upon these coming laws. God had to get their attention prior to the Law. To read the TenCom’s and to shrug and walk away would have been a travesty. Thus the fire and earthquake and trumpet blast that must have been Gabriel or Michael cutting loose has them at attention! God also wanted the Israelites to hear God talking to Moses so that they would take Moses seriously throughout his life. The impressions were made and – here comes the Law.
One note that is of merit: historically, we know that the Israelites were not capable of keeping the Law as no one is. Interesting that we see Elijah right here in this same place centuries later when he is on the run from Ahab/Jezebel. It wasn’t the thunder and lightning and fire that got Elijah’s heart. It was God’s whisper. See I Kings 19 to review that at your leisure.
20 – The Contract with God required keeping these Ten Commandments. They are not 10 SUGGESTIONS that God hopes they hear and adhere to. They are not DEMANDs (is DEMANDMENTS a word? 🙂 as if God would burn them and throw them in hell the instant anyone falters. They were commands. You shall not do this. It could be worded in English today, “you won’t be killing or stealing or swearing/cursing by Me, got it?! …” This is the way it was going to be. The first 4 pertained to treatment of God. The last 6 pertained to the treatment of eachother. Very important to reverence eachother too! ‘Ever been around someone who claims they love God and yet they treat their neighbors like rodents? ‘pretty nauseating isn’t it?
There’s a whole new code and God offered endless support/provision/protection for those who followed His Law. Those who wouldn’t, well, you made your choice and you’re to get out of my sight.” Don’t anyone get mad because of their disobedience. All this is delivered in a setting that shook them to the core. The Israelites had been dwellers in the delta for 400+ years. and they’d never really seen a mountain. And here they were getting a new “life code”, the scenery is colossal and terrifying, trumpets (that they can’t see!) are blasting, the earth is shaking, the mountain is on fire. WOW. Get this memo people and obey this Law.
21 – 22 – The first aspect of augmented civil law was that of slavery and how to handle the matter. This is a topic of must passion today, so much so, that a sensible discussion regarding slavery is often thwarted by ignorance, anger, and resentment. The truth is that 80% of the slaves that resided in North America from 1619 to 1865 (at the end of the Civil War) were treated rather kindly as America was a biblically founded government and biblical laws commanding the fair treatment of slaves were abided by. Granted 20% of slave owners (who dominate the discussion) were cruel and a notable amount of these brutal slave holders were of African descent themselves (which is usually ignored and very carefully so). The argument won’t be put to rest here and we don’t intend to but . . . Be that as it may, the issue of slaves [a worldwide phenomenon] and their treatment had to be dealt with and God needed to step in and lay out rules. These slaves were humans made in God’s image too. They were not animals that could be kept however or slaughtered and discarded whenever. The people of God who possessed slaves must treat them honorably; better than the rest of the world did. God commanded it. The truth is that there are slaves today being held and driven by masters who are not Believers – and they will not read our Bible. One report gives a conservative estimate that there are in excess of 200Million slaves on earth today. The majority of them brutalized Christians being treated so by Muslims, Communists, Atheists, and Pagans (and the worldwide secular media couldn’t care less). Other aspects explained pertained to violence, deviant behavior, theft, rape, pets-gone-wild, and negligence resulting in harm, The details involving disputes arising around animals is pertinent for animals were pets, food, income, tools for labor, etc. The Hebrews must remember that they were to be upstanding people as a testimony to the world. They were to treat orphans and widows and foreigners/travelers well. They were not engage in pagan behavior of any kind, and be amenable regarding loan$. These were the beginning laws that would be the mark of a civil and godly society. A country’s atmosphere, even today, reflects on whether they adhere to, or disobey, or are ignorant of these laws that are spelled out starting here and running through to the end of Deuteronomy.