By Sandy Shaw
This section in Exodus Chapters 21 through to 24 has been called, "The Book of the Covenant" - God's Word for God's people - and it reminds us of the importance of God's Word. We need to be reminded of that in a day when this Book is relegated to being regarded as just one book among other religious books.
In Exodus Chapters 21 to 24, we see how our loving God is so concerned about the little details of our life - of our every day living. God has always been concerned about our welfare and our well-being, from the day he visited Adam and Eve in the Garden after they had sinned and fallen.
"Where are you?" What a question! God wants to know where we are - and not just physically but spiritually. You will find that in Genesis Chapter 3 verse 9.
Exodus Chapter 21 verse 12 - For deliberate wilful murder, the death penalty must be pronounced. I know of nowhere in the Word of God where this has been changed or modified.
We hear today of some awful murder in society, and there is an outcry for Capital Punishment to be restored - but that is dangerous indeed. That can be an over-emotional reaction. Good laws are based upon God's holy Word, and that is where we must turn to rediscover whether Capital Punishment is right or wrong.
From my reading of the Word of God, I see it so clearly, and society gets into a real mess when we alter what God has said, and on this subject there is so much false reasoning behind the debate and sometimes too much emotion - and much woolly confused thinking.
Verse 16 - anyone who kidnaps - or hijacks - someone else - should face the death penalty.
This is not revenge. This is God's Punishment commensurate with the intent.
If a man murders another man that is serious, and this is how serious our God regards it.
Let's turn forward to Chapter 23. "Do not spread false reports."
No false stories, and try not to be around those who get up to these things. That is not always possible. But - why? Why? Because - as a Christian - as disciples of Jesus Christ, the words which proceed and flow from our mouths must be true and honest and reliable - just as were the words which proceeded from the mouth of Jesus when He walked on the earth - and we are called to follow and obey Him - seeking to become like Him.
One real question which is troubling men today is - Is there any absolute? Where does the ultimate authority lie? What is truth? And if there is such a thing as truth, where can I find it and discover it and embrace it for my own life?
Do we have an objective absolute to which we can relate?
What is the position of the Christian, and do we have a basis for the big claims we make?
We are committed to the God of the Bible - and to the Jesus Christ of the Bible.
That anchors you - that ties you down - that limits you - but it is perfect freedom!
The Bible is the authoritative absolute which God has given us - by which we are to test all our experiences - and determine our fundamental viewpoints - that are to be foundational for our living.
This verse commands us not be involved with a malicious witness.
So then - what is a good witness - and how can we become good reliable truthful witnesses? What are the facts to which we are to be true witnesses?
John Chapter 8 verses 31 and 32. The Bible - the Gospel - speaks of truth that sets you free. When you are tied down to the Scriptures and anchored in the Word of God, that is perfect freedom!
Our freedom depends upon knowing the truth, and when we turn on to John Chapter 14 verse 6 we see not only what is the truth, but WHO is the truth.
There is an enemy who will do anything to destroy the meaning of words - so that communication breaks down.
It is wise never to fall out with anyone particularly as a result of something that was said - because it is likely that what you think was said was probably never said - or the person perhaps did not mean to say that - or even it might be possible that you heard wrongly.
The enemy seeks to confuse our lines of communication.
Take time and make time to study the text and understand clearly and precisely what our loving God is saying to us on these vital issues
Sandy Shaw is Pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship, Chaplain at Inverness Prison, and Nairn Academy, and serves on The Children's Panel in Scotland, and has travelled extensively over these past years teaching, speaking, in America, Canada, South Africa, Australia, making 12 visits to Israel conducting Tours and Pilgrimages, and most recently in Uganda and Kenya, ministering at Pastors and Leaders Seminars, in the poor areas surrounding Kampala, Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
He broadcasts regularly on WSHO radio out of New Orleans, and writes a weekly commentary at http://www.studylight.org entitled "Word from Scotland" on various biblical themes, as well as a weekly newspaper column.
His M.A. and B.D. degrees are from The University of Edinburgh, and he continues to run and exercise regularly to maintain a level of physical fitness.