Rules for Getting Along

Exodus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings

Last Week

Last week we started looking at some of the rules that God established in His law to preserve an orderly society. Rules to ultimately help people get along.


We started with rules on slavery because that’s where God started and as we discussed last week, we believe the primary reason God started there was because he wanted to make sure that the people he had just delivered from slavery had a set of guidelines that would reflect that they understood what oppression felt like and therefore would not follow in Egypt’s footsteps in developing an oppressive, inhumane, exploitative, and unjust system.
It is for this reason that we often hear God follow his instructions on how to treat the oppressed with something like He says in Deuteronomy 15:15:
“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.”
In other words, let your conduct reflect that we as a people understand what it means to brunt force end of oppression.


We also talked about the very nature of the law last week and we said in reading the law you learn just as much about the law as you doo the actual lawgiver. In studying the laws we learn about the one who gives those laws.
So this morning, I want to answer the question: What do we learn about God in the last 4 verses of chapter 21 and chapter 22.

God of Restoration

One thing that we learn is that our God is a God of Restoration.
Restoration is the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition.
God shows in his law that He is absolutely committed to that.
Read verses beginning in chapter 21, verse 33 through chapter 22, verse 6
Exodus 21:33–22:6 ESV
33 “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, 34 the owner of the pit shall make restoration. He shall give money to its owner, and the dead beast shall be his. 35 “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. 36 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. 1 “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. 2 If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, 3 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. 4 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. 5 “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. 6 “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.


Here’s what we learn from reading those verses:
God, according to His law, has determined that society functions best when people are committed to not just seeking forgiveness for wrongs but giving restitution for wrongs.
God’s law makes provision for our relationships to not just be filled with apologies but to also be filled with efforts to make amends.
If you’re the cause of a loss, then you should do whatever is necessary to restore that loss.
In many failings in relationships, whether they be church, marital, business, family, friends, or otherwise, when someone hurts or harms another, we often may get an apology but we get it without an actual commitment to actually repair what’s been broken.
HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED THAT IN YOUR LIFE? Someone may have hurt your deeply and later expressed regret with no commitment to make it right. How did it make you FEEL? Notice, I didn’t ask you how you should respond. Notice, I didn’t ask you how do you need to get victory over it. We’ll speak to that in just a moment. No, how did it make you feel. It wasn’t pleasant. It may have even left scars. Left friendships broken. Left careers in shambles. Left marriages shattered.
We probably all have at some point or another experienced the hurt that comes when someone wounds with no intent to repair.
To turn it around, I’m sure that many of us have not only been on the receiving end of such hurt, but we’ve been on the giving end of that kind of hurt. We have been no just the offended, but there have been times that we were the offender.
Maybe even we ourselves have sought the easy route to forgiveness in our relationships: Apologies without Repair. Regret without Restitution.
Why? Maybe the restitution was too costly. Required more than we were willing to give.
Maybe the restitution was too humiliating. It required me to swallow more of my pride than I was willing to.
What happens when we refuse to repair what’s broken? What happens when a car breaks down and we refuse to repair it. Functionality is hindered. Relationships can have a similar effect.
These type of efforts to mend relationships are incomplete at best and insincere at worst.
True regret comes with a desire to fix what we’ve broken.
This is the Lord’s message to us here in chapter 21 and 22.


Another very important point in this text about restitution is that the Bible seems to call for a punishment that fit the crimes committed. Let’s take a few steps back and look at a very important passage in chapter 21, verses 23-25
23 But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ex 21:23–25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
What is the Lord establishing here? He is establishing a principle of equitable justice. The punishment for the crime should fit the actual crime.
This gave value to the offended, but this also served as a deterrent for the offenders...
If I know that justice for me hurting someone deeply is a repayment to that person that will be painful, I’m not as easily tempted to offend.
Now here is a very important point: This standard of law was not always intended to be applied literally. This is not a call to take an eye of the offender if they get in a fight and punch the offended in the eye causing them to lose their sight.
Death was the only penalty that was consistently literal. LIFE FOR A LIFE. The other penalties were mainly intended to communicate that the punishment needed to fit the actual wrong committed.
You know they aren’t asking for literal eye in exchange for an eye in all cases because right there in the very next verse (ch 21, verse 26), we get this:

26 “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. 27 If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth.

Here’s what one commentator says about this principle:
Exodus Excursus: Talion Law (Lex Talionis or Ius Talionis)

The goal of laws that use the wording “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth,” is that the penalty imposed for causing physical injury must be appropriate to the nature of the injury. In other words, a mere monetary penalty (a fine) cannot be considered adequate justice when someone has been permanently maimed by a person in a manner that clearly demands a punishment. This kind of law represents an advance on the non-Israelite biblical-era laws, which routinely provided for fines as satisfying the legal requirement of justice in the case of a superior person’s permanently injuring an inferior person.139 By contrast to the laws of pagan nations, the law governing God’s chosen people Israel required real equity at law and forbade people with money being able to buy their way out of criminal penalties.

Talion laws are easily misunderstood if taken literalistically. They usually do not mean what they sound like they are saying to the modern ear. No evidence exists that any judges in the ancient world ever actually required a literal application of talion law beyond the first of its terms, “life for life.” In cases of murder, the murderer was put to death as a “life for life” satisfaction of the law. But beyond that, there was no actual taking of someone’s eye in exchange for his having ruined the eye of another person, nor was a tooth knocked out of a person in exchange for a tooth knocked out of someone else by that person and so on through the “bruise for bruise” penalty. Instead, expressions like “eye for eye” were understood idiomatically to mean “a penalty that hurts the person who ruined someone else’s eye as much as he would be hurt if his own eye were actually ruined also.”

So, the point wasn’t mutilation. The point was repairing a wrong done by meeting the force of that wrong with an equal force.
If you put someone’s eye out, that is a LIFE ALTERING act and so it should be met with LIFE-ALTERING force.
Hence in the case of the slave. They are set free entirely.
APPLICATION: As Christians, we should be the kind of people that look to meet our wrongs done to one another with an equal force of restoration. Now, believe me I’m not saying we should live in perpetual guilt. AND BY THE WAY, I’m not through with the sermon yet. So, stick around so you can hear EVERYTHING that I say on this subject because if you stop here than you’re left with an incomplete picture. NEVERTHELESS, Christians should not be seeking to escape opportunities to right wrongs but instead should be looking to meet those wrongs with a force of restoration equal to the force of the wrong.
Too many professing Christians are way too comfortable with saying and/or doing DEEPLY OFFENSIVE things to others and following it up with an empty “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”
Rather than asking the Lord for grace and discernment to learn what radical steps can the Lord do in me to transform my behavior and to repair what I’ve broken, we put all of the ownership on the offended. I said I’m sorry and since you’re a Christian, you should now accept my apology and get over it. That is not the approach that the offender should have in restoration. The offender should carry a desire to make it right…Now, like I said a moment ago. There is still more to say on this SO, DON’T LEAVE YET!


Here is another very important point about restitution.
The harm done doesn’t have to be intentional in order to require repair...

33 “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, 34 the owner of the pit shall make restoration. He shall give money to its owner, and the dead beast shall be his.

Here’s a man digging a pit and for whatever reason whether its an honest mistake or outright negligence…another man’s animal falls into it.
And who has to pay for it? The man who dug the hole.
Did he intend on killing his neighbor’s donkey or ox? No, but intent doesn’t remove the harm done.
APPLICATION: Sometimes we allow our carelessness in our relationships with others to be an excuse for the pain that we cause others.
“Well I know they’re hurt but I didn’t mean anything by it.
Brothers and sisters, we need to be sure we are weighing our actions rightly and not giving cover to careless hands that hurt people irresponsibly or careless tongues that wound people with words.
NOW, this is something that can be exploited so we have to be careful right. It requires good judges of character to hear matters like these to ensure responsible people aren’t being taken advantage of.
So…what do we do with Jesus?
Matthew 5:38–42 ESV
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 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. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
Now we tend to think that when Jesus comes along he kind of blows all of this up. We see him as destroying the principle of eye for eye, tooth for tooth...

Therefore, when Jesus asks us to do what seems impossible—namely, giving up our right to make people pay for what they’ve done to us—he is only asking us to do what he did. And when he asks us to show mercy, he is only asking us to give what he has given to us! Rather than exacting strict justice down to the last tooth, God has shown us his mercy. He has forgiven our sins and granted us the free gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

So, the Christian who offends should fight to repair and restore what they have broken. This is keeping in step with the law of God.
Love repairs, Love mends, Love restores
However, the Christian who has been offended should fight to extend grace and mercy as one who has deeply offended God and yet has received grace and mercy in return for his/her offense.
They should extend grace and mercy as one who too has sinned against another and didn’t receive the just payment that their offense probably earned.
Love is patient, Love is merciful, Love makes restoration easier than it should be.
And HOW does this happen? When both the offended and the offender have their eyes FIXED ON JESUS!
Like Zaccheus when his eyes were fixed on Jesus, he desired to right the wrongs he committed when he cheated and exploited people in their taxes.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more