The Third Sunday in Lent

Exodus 22:20-23:9

A Matter of Justice

Here, we have what appear to be sundry rules for living.  Actually, they’re much more.  Just as we discussed yesterday, these laws reflect God’s nature, God’s heart.  And at the heart of this God we serve is justice – the source of right, and right relations between people.

Besides the fact that these laws express God’s righteous nature, what else might they express?  The clue lies in verse thirty-one: “You shall be consecrated to me.”  “Consecrated” means to set someone or something apart unto God’s service.  God desires that since He is righteous and holy, His people be righteous and holy before Him.  They are set apart unto Him and are His very own peculiar people” (Exodus 19:5-6; Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:16; 2:9-10).  Therefore, we may say that one of the purposes of God’s Law is that His people may be consecrated unto Him through obedience.  As we walk with the Lord in obedience, we are drawn ever closer to Him.  As we are drawn closer to Him, we grow in our desire to obey Him.  It is a beautiful upward spiral as we grow in grace – the very grace He provides that we may walk with Him in obedience in the first place.

Now let us note the subject of these laws: In a word, justice.  And as we see here, justice is not devoid of mercy.  Indeed, mercy seems to be at the heart of justice.  We see a concern for the poor and outcast, and that in no way is justice to be denied anyone through deceitfulness, lying, or hatred.  Indeed, even here in God’s Law, we see love not only of neighbor but of one’s enemy even as that concerns his property and well-being.  We think of loving one’s enemy as a New Testament theme, but God’s heart has always been love and justice and mercy.

Christ revealed the heart of the God which is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  Christ fulfilled the Law where we could not.  This was no after-thought of God; He knew we would fail and that He would send His Son as the remedy for fallen man.  No one was ever saved by keeping the Law, for no one ever did.  God’s people have always been saved by Christ, whether they looked forward to the promise under the old covenant, or, like us, received the promise under the new.  The One on the cross was the Son of the God of the old covenant who made a new covenant with us through His Son’s atonement.  The covenant changed; the God remains the same.  And now we keep the Law and act with justice, not that we may be saved, but because we have been consecrated to the God of justice.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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