Rev. Ronald C. Purkey, an ordained Baptist minister, claims no originality for this Bible study outline.
However, every Bible study posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.
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January 16, 2022
SCRIPTURE: Exodus 23:1-12
KEY VERSES: “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment: 3 Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause.” (Exodus 23:2-3)
INSIGHT: This section of Exodus is NOT talking about the forgiveness of sins and salvation. It is talking about basic laws that deal especially with the protection of human life and property. By accepting “The Book of the Covenant” (Exodus 24:3-8), the people entered into a special relationship with Jehovah God and obligated themselves to obey Him. These laws were not arbitrary; they are based on the character of God and the unchanging moral principles expressed in the Ten Commandments.
Law is powerless to change human nature; it can only protect life and property by regulating human behavior. One of the most dangerous and disastrous periods in Jewish history was the time of the judges when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). The enforcing of good laws does NOT guarantee a perfect society, but it DOES promote order and prevent anarchy.
INTRODUCTION: Today there are people who raise the question, “What is right and what is wrong?”
· Some say that what is right and wrong is “relative.” A college professor, who claims to be an atheist, was discussing this with a minister. The professor maintained that right and wrong are “relative,” that what he would think is right, and what the minister would think is right could be poles apart.
· Then he asked the minister, “On what do you base your dogmatic conclusions?” The minister said, “I base them on the Bible (the Word of God).” The man of God went on to tell him that his nature was just like the professor’s nature, and that he would like to give in in certain places, and he would like to let the bars down here and there, BUT GOD has given him a standard to follow. The interesting thing is that God’s standard has produced a society in which there has been a measure of law and justice.
· The laws presented in Exodus chapters 21 to 24 deal with everyday nitty-gritty living. In some ways it is boring reading and like reading a law book. However, most of our laws are based upon these precepts. I am glad that the Word of God says, “Thou shalt not kill.” It protects my family and me. I am happy the Bible says, “Thou shalt not steal.” It protects what little property I have. These and the other laws are basic to having an orderly society.
I. ORDER IN THE COURT. (Exodus 23:1-3)
INSIGHT: These Scripture give a “code of conduct” for God’s people in Moses’ day and in our day.
A. Don’t Give A False Testimony. (Exodus 23:1)
(Exodus 23:1) “Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.”
INSIGHT: You must not pass along false rumors. You must not cooperate with evil people by lying on the witness stand.
Be careful what you say; this is God’s rule of conduct. A gossiper is as bad as a murderer, a thief, or an adulterer in your midst, yet in our society a gossiper gets by easily.
B. Don’t Follow The Crowd To Do Wrong. (Exodus 23:2)
(Exodus 23:2) “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment.”
INSIGHT: You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice.
If we were to follow God’s precept, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil,” it would put us out of the marching, protesting and rioting business. Also it would rid our society of the growing menace of gangs.
Freedom is not Conformity
I talked with a very attractive young fellow in this category. He said he dressed as he did because he wanted liberty and freedom. I noticed there were several thousand dressed just like him.
So I asked him, “Would you dare dress differently? Would they accept you?” He said, “No.” Then I said, “When they protest, you have to get in line and protest, don’t you?” He said, “Yes, I do.”
“Well,” I replied, “then you really do not have much freedom, do you? You have to do certain things. When they protest, you have to protest. When they dress a certain way, you have to dress a certain way. This is not freedom.” My friend, freedom is not following a multitude to do evil! – From Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee
C. Don’t Show Favoritism To The Rich Or To The Poor. (Exodus 23:3)
(Exodus 23:3) “Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause.”
INSIGHT: Do not slant your testimony in favor of a person just because that person is poor.
Judgment should not be swayed toward the rich or toward the poor. Judgment and justice should be applied fairly. The Romans depicted justice as a woman, tender but also blindfolded. She was no respecter of persons and held a sword in one hand and scales in the other. The sword meant that when the judgment was handed down, there would be the execution of the penalty. The scales meant that justice would be fair. Judgment should be exercised without respect of persons.
II. YOUR ENEMY’S PROPERTY. (Exodus 23:4-7)
A. Show Compassion. (Exodus 23:4-5)
(Exodus 23:4-5) “If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.”
INSIGHT: If you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey that has strayed away, take it back to its owner. If you see that the donkey of someone who hates you has collapsed under its load, do not walk by. Instead, stop and help.
1. We are to save our enemy’s property.
Teachings about coming across our adversary’s animal are an expansion of the 10th commandment against coveting, and are similar to the instructions Moses gives in Deuteronomy 2:1-3. In both of these cases, Moses forbids a sin of omission along these lines: if we see something injurious is about to happen, and we do nothing, it is a sin. Of course, in this verse, Moses is talking about any adversary's animal. In such a case should we just sit on our hands and let things take its course? No. We are to save our adversary's property, if it is in peril.
2. We are to overcome evil with good.
God’s command to love our enemies was developed by Solomon in Proverbs 25:21-22. If our enemy is thirsty or hungry, we are to give him what he needs. In doing so, we pile burning coals on his head, and God will reward us. Of course, the Apostle Paul quoted these verses in Romans 12:20, and stated that this is the way to overcome evil with good.
B. Practice Justice. (Exodus 23:6-7)
(Exodus 23:6-7) “Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause. Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.”
INSIGHT: In a lawsuit, you must not deny justice to the poor. Be sure never to charge anyone falsely with evil. Never sentence an innocent or blameless person to death, for God never declares a guilty person to be innocent.
1. No respecter of persons.
Moses reverses the situation again, and warns people to not deny justice to the poor, simply because of their place on the economic scale. Each case must be decided on its merits and on its facts.
2. No false accusations.
Also, Moses commanded God’s people, Israel, to separate themselves from any accusation or charge that they know to be untrue, especially when innocent lives are at stake. Probably the worst scriptural example of this happening is Jezebel's actions in the acquisition of Naboth's vineyard (see1 Kings 21). Everybody will be held accountable by the Lord for his or her thoughts, actions, and words. No exemptions!
III. TREAT FOREIGNERS KINDLY. (Exodus 23:8-9)
A. Judge Others Honestly. (Exodus 23:8)
(Exodus 23:8) “And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.”
INSIGHT: Take no bribes, for a bribe makes you ignore something that you clearly see. A bribe makes even a righteous person twist the truth.
1. No bribe accepted.
Exodus 23:8 is nearly quoted verbatim in Deuteronomy 16:19. In the Deuteronomy passage, the context is one of partiality and perverted justice. Evidently bribery was a common problem because there are so many warnings against it in an assortment of settings. Bribery displays partiality; love displays justice.
INSIGHT: The taking of a gift (as a bribe), and the oppression of a stranger are forbidden. Though these are common moral precepts, they have been readily violated from generation to generation. God help those who transgress them!
2. No spin zone.
In this verse, Moses also highlights the “spin” required to justify using it. Some accusers deliberately misrepresent the words of innocent people. Almost any quote may be used against a person if it is taken out of context and placed in a made-up context. Don’t do it!
B. Treat Others Kindly. (Exodus 23:9)
(Exodus 23:9) “Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
INSIGHT: You must not oppress foreigners. You know what it’s like to be a foreigner, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.
1. Do show compassion.
The wording of the warning about “strangers” in Exodus 23:9 was given earlier in Exodus 22:21. Here Moses appeals to the sympathy of the Jews, a compassionate trait that should be there because of their cruel experience in Egypt. Actually, Moses was reminding the people of God to "Remember how hard it was for you to be a foreigner in Egypt? Do you really want to repeat that experience to the stranger among you?"
2. Do not seek revenge.
Unfortunately, some people (even today) want others to suffer in the ways they have suffered, either as a projected act of revenge against a now-untouchable oppressor or for a distorted need for sympathy. Moses urges us to defeat that temptation, and show kindness to others instead.
Leonardo Da Vinci, just before he commenced work on his "Last Supper" had a violent argument with a fellow painter. Leonardo was so bitter that he determined to paint the face of his enemy, the other artist, into the face of Judas, and thus take his revenge by handing the man down in infamy and scorn to succeeding generations. The face of Judas was, therefore, one of the first he finished. And everyone could easily recognize it as the face of the painter with whom he had quarreled.
But when he came to paint the face of Christ, he could make no progress. Something seemed to be baffling him, holding him back, frustrating his best efforts. Finally he came to the conclusion that the thing that was frustrating him was that he had painted the face of his enemy onto the face of Judas. He painted out the face of Judas and was then able to resume his work on the face of Jesus and this time did it with the success that the ages have acclaimed.
When Da Vinci moved past his right to take revenge and made the right response instead, he broke the power of hatred and allowed the love of Christ to have the last word. – Jeeva Sam, SermonCentral.com
IV. REMEMBER THE SABBATH. (Exodus 23:10-12)
(Exodus 23:10-12) “And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: 11 But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard. 12 Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.”
INSIGHT: Plant and harvest your crops for six years, but let the land be renewed and lie uncultivated during the seventh year. Then let the poor among you harvest whatever grows on its own. Leave the rest for wild animals to eat. The same applies to your vineyards and olive groves. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but on the seventh day you must stop working. This gives your ox and your donkey a chance to rest. It also allows your workers and the foreigners living among you to be refreshed.
A. The Sabbath Was The Lord’s Special Gift To Israel.
It marked the nation as His holy people (Exodus 31:13-17). It was also God’s gift to mankind and animals to provide needed rest. The Sabbatical Year showed God’s concern for the poor and the land.
B. Israel Was To Observe A Variety Of Sabbaths And Festivals.
The law regarding a weekly Sabbath of rest for people and animals (Exodus 23:12; see Exodus 20:8-11) was expanded to Sabbatical years to provide rest for the land and food for the poor (Exodus 23:10-11). It was a reminder that God owned the land; they were stewards on his behalf.
CONCLUSION: Notice the teaching of Exodus Chapter 23.
First, We Must Show Respect To Others (Exodus 23:1-9).
Treating others justly would seem to be an easy thing to do, but the human heart is sinful and can lead us astray with wealth, crowds, false witnesses, or rumors (2 Corinthians 13:1). The fact that a person is rich or poor, a friend or an enemy, must not blind us to the truth. Integrity must not be for sale.
Second, We Must Rest And Worship Our God (Exodus 23:10-13).
The Sabbath was the Lord’s special gift to ISRAEL to mark the nation as His holy people (Exodus 31:13-17). It was also God’s gift to mankind and animals to provide needed rest. The Sabbatical Year showed God’s concern for the poor and the land. It is sad that people today have forgotten these lessons and are destroying God’s great creation by their exploitation of resources.
Third, We Must Rejoice In The Lord’s Goodness (Exodus 23:14-19).
The Lord wants His people to rejoice and celebrate in His goodness. If our celebration ignores the God of the Bible, we are guilty of idolatry. (See 1 Timothy 6:17.)
Fourth, We Must Reflect God’s Greatness (Exodus 23:20-33).
The nation of Israel would be entering enemy territory and would be tempted to compromise with the evil people of the land. God’s people must not even speak about the false gods (Exodus 23:13) lest they would be led to bow down and serve those gods (Exodus 23:24) and make agreements with them (Exodus 23:32). Do not talk yourself into disobeying Jehovah God! May God’s greatness be seen in you and me.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “Drawing near to God requires caring for others.”
REFERENCES: References used in these Bible studies are the Moody Bible Commentary, J. Vernon McGee’s Thru the Bible Commentary: (www.ttb.org), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: (http://www.intouch.org/), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, Dr. Tony Evans (https://tonyevans.org/), KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: (http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Dr. Robert Jeffress’ Pathway to Victory (https://ptv.org/), Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, Dr. Alan Carr’s The Sermon Notebook (www.sermonnotebook.org), With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, Radio Bible Class Ministries (http://rbc.org/), selected illustrations and other references.
REV. RONALD PURKEY’S OFFICE
E-mail: Ronald Purkey