Many “nuggets” of the Torah can be found in Exo 20 through 24. We are going to discuss the “essence” or “spirit” of the Torah. We know about the Ten Commandments, but what else can be found in this section? In Exo 21.1 it says “Set before them” and this tells us that there is a dedication to teaching. The word “Chinuch” there means “education” and it comes from the same root as “Chanuch” meaning “dedication.” The festival of Chanukah comes from this. In Exo 21.1-14 we have the Law of the Bond Servant which is a picture of our relationship with the Lord. In Exo 21.5 we have what happens to a child if they strike a parent. It was the death penalty, but there seems to be no record of this ever being carried out. In Exo 21.16 we have the laws about kidnapping and 21.17 deals with the “cursing” of parents. Both had the death penalty.
How many people have told you that the Torah isn’t relevant and will point to these verses? Let’s understand one thing, nobody does this. Some parents won’t even raise their voice to a rebellious child let alone turn him over to the courts. This is the age when everybody gets a participation trophy and there is no such thing as a bad child. We don’t do this today because we don’t live in the land where Torah law is enforced and we don’t have the judicial system set up by the Lord, and this includes Israel today.
In Exo 21.20-21 we have the laws about treating servants different than a freeman. What is the essence of the Torah? What is the point? Many of these things are not being done today. We have civil laws, tort laws and compensation laws, but there is a key to the Torah. It is not the conditions in these cases posed here that is important, it is the results. These scenarios are relevant to the times they lived in, but the truth of the commandment (the essence/spirit) of the law still remains. We should try to restore balance and fairness in all our dealings.
For instance, a sin against one’s parents is greater that a sin against another person. A premeditated theft pays double because restitution is added to the theft. A widow or orphan who can’t take care of themselves is taken into consideration as opposed to a man who can take care of himself. There are many, many more things like this in the Torah.
Now, what was Yeshua’s view of the Torah? He believed every letter had meaning and will remain exactly as it has been written. Many people today believe that this isn’t true and the Torah is irrelevant (Matt 5.17-48). Is Yeshua teaching something contrary to what Moses taught? No, he clearly said he did not come to replace the Torah, but he came to give it meaning (fulfill).
Our own misunderstanding of these commandments is based on our own ignorance, it is not the commandments themselves. Matthew Chapters 5-7 explain what Moses meant, and they also show us that we cannot live like this. If you tried to keep everything Yeshua is saying there it would destroy us. The Torah guides us to conviction once we know that we sin. Yeshua is destroying the self-righteousness of his listeners here. This is done in order for them to listen about true righteousness by faith through grace. They will realize they can’t possibly walk in all that Yeshua is saying in their own strength and righteousness because they sin. They will realize they need a redeemer and he is letting them know what it would be like to stand before the Lord in their own works righteousness, a system that existed in their time (Rom 9.30-33).
So, the verses in Exo 21 about bond servants and slaves are a picture of us. We should do things in this manner so that we can be servants (sons) of our Father in heaven. We should not look to others for our reward, but to our Master. Don’t look for others to confirm you, look to our master. Don’t be concerned whether something is fair to you, be concerned about what the Master decides. If our brother is a servant also, then things should go well proving ourselves as a son/servant,too. We will get our reward from the Master, not the world. That is why there is a difference between freemen and servants in the Torah. A servant gets his due from his master, nobody else.
What are we supposed to be learning in the Torah? We are to love the Lord and do good to one another, don’t do damage. A civilization works when the people agree to obey the law. When we don’t, the place goes into chaos. Law enforcement comes to take these people out of society so it can work. Likewise, we must all agree to obey the Lord. If we don’t agree, we don’t complete one another. We must “cling” to the Lord (Exo 21.5). We come to the point where we cling to our master for the reason of love. We don’t want to leave so we choose to stay and be a servant.
Our spiritual debt has been paid and we are free to go with no more penalty. What will we do with our freedom? We choose to be a servant of God, not because of debt (that has been paid), but for love. We serve the Lord by walking in his Torah/commandments. Now, when a servant chooses to stay with his Master, a few things happen. They bring the servant to the doorpost and they pierce his ear with an awl. Likewise, we go to the doorpost of a congregation to hear the Word of the Lord, which should include the Torah. Where was the blood of the lamb placed at the first Passover? On the doorpost. Our spiritual “hearing” is related to the blood of the lamb.
We do not look to men for our reward. We don’t need to make other truth systems and justice systems ours. Yeshua told us about what Moses taught. We need to love, obey and cling to the Lord and we can do that by walking in the commandments as they apply to us. Our choice is we can be freemen, walking in our own righteousness and get our reward now, or we can be bond servants and get our reward when he returns (Isa 62.11; Rev 22.12). It is “Here now, but not yet” and we know it to be true, even though we don’t see it now.
Yeshua tells us to be a good servant and he is alluding to these verses in Exodus. He tells us we need to be just in our dealings and listen to other views and bend our hearts towards others. This is what servants do. In the Kingdom of God, not everyone is equal (horizontal). The kingdom is “vertical.” There will be those who are called “great” and those who will be called “least” (Matt 5.19).
Now, here is the lesson and we should be encouraged. There are times we are all servants, bending over backwards. We shouldn’t say “Nobody sees me” or “I never get any pats on the back” or tells us “Good job.” Just go and serve, do what God has called you to do. The Lord sees us and we will get our reward, be assured of that. We all take the extra time and effort for our families, friends and congregation. Keep going when nobody is looking. Be encouraged and don’t get weary. The real essence of what the commandments are about are still valid today. We may not have oxen running into oxen, but we have cars running into cars. We don’t have rooftops where people sleep and eat to stay cool, but we have cracked sidewalks. Fix them so nobody gets hurt. So, if necessary, pay the damages.
If the Torah is “no more” then the principles are “no more.” Then man needs to make other laws, and now we have a separation of the spiritual with the civil. But, if the Torah is our guide, then there is no separation between the spiritual and the civil because everything we do comes from the essence of the Torah. It doesn’t matter if the civil law doesn’t “see us do something, or “let’s us off the hook.” We must give an account to the Lord, we are not freemen. All of this is about the maturing process.
In Part 78 we will pick up here.