Chapter-a-Day Exodus 21

Books_of_law"These are the laws that you are to place before them:" Exodus 21:17 (TM)

For 400 hundred years, the Hebrews had been slaves in Egypt. They had been ruled over and governed by Pharaoh. Now the entire nation is on a sojourn to the promised land and they have no official system of government or rules by which to govern themselves. Imagine the chaos of millions of people on a 40 year trek.

A few chapters ago, in Exodus 18, we read about Moses spending day and night with people lining up to have him judge matters between them. The first step in organizing the nation was to have a group of leaders organized to help judge disputes between people. But how are you going to make sure all these judges rule consistenty?

God is helping Moses set up a system, a "rule of law," by which this fledgling Hebrew nation can be organized and governed. We have a system of rules, too. The federal government has a set of rules, or laws, called the "U.S. Code" which helps judges rule. Each state has their own set of rules, or laws. Iowa’s is called the "Iowa Code." The cool thing is that God’s "rule of law" organizational structure is still in effect today – even though the rules have changed.

When reading the Old Testament laws, it’s easy to get mired in the minutiae of rules that were made for a different time and culture. The laws are often confusing to us thousands of years later. It’s important to keep sight of the big picture of what God was doing and the principles of law that still govern us today – even if the culture and civilization have changed radically in the thousands of years since.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and liltree

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