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Chinese2/13/2019English
經文:出埃及記廿一至廿二章
鑰節:「你們要在我面前為聖潔的人」(22:31)
提要

         上帝頒佈道德律之後,又用一系列的民法加以詳細解釋,使那些道德律能被應用在以色列人每天的生活中,俾能產生一個和平、運作良好、和聖潔的社會。上帝賜的原始法令使以色列民有嚴格的方針可遵循,如此便能在他們的社會媞持高水準的道德(促進在上帝面前的公義),向周圍鄰邦見證,他們是上帝的子民。

         奴隸制在當時是普世不可或缺的制度,然而,奴隸在以色列國中卻有顯著的差別;以色列人的奴隸有他們的權利,這點和他國不同。女性也有權利,這些條例使她們有較高的地位。 窮人有時可能被迫將女兒賣給人作僕婢,但以色列的律法保證,他的女兒會得到照顧,其權利也極被尊重。

         概括的說,這些條例強調的是人生命的尊嚴和神聖,在大部分情況堙A殺人的就要被處以死刑,如果是誤殺,上帝為肇事者預備了避難所,保護他不遭報(21:13;參民35:6)。上帝也給未出生的嬰兒權利和保護。如果一個人傷了懷孕的婦人使她流產,那人就必須「以命償命」(21:22、23)。由此可知,墮胎實在是對生命嚴重的侵犯!

        那些刑罰看起來似乎過於嚴厲,但在當時的文化堙A並沒有執行法律的官員或監獄制度,也沒有上帝最完全、最充分、最後的啟示──耶穌基督──作榜樣。為了讓人民瞭解犯罪的嚴重性,所施的懲罰就必須同樣的嚴重。嚴厲的懲罰是唯一能矯正錯誤行為的方法。在他們的文化處境堙A這些律法可說非常周延、公平、及公正。遵守這些律法就是在上帝面前有公義的行為。不過,上帝知道人的心,祂當然也知道人的行為是否出於純正的動機──那才是真正的公義。

         律法表達出人對人應有的責任和尊敬。如果任何人的權利被侵犯,就必須予以賠償。因粗心大意犯罪傷人,即使是動物造成的錯,他的主人也要受罰。向鄰舍行為不當就是得罪上帝。十六節對引誘婦女的處治,著眼點在聘禮的賠償,申命記廿二章廿二至廿九節則述及道德方面的罪。以色列民中若有人行邪術必要被治死,與獸行淫的也要治死,任何人祭祀別神而不單單祭祀耶和華的必被滅絕。這三種罪行都是他們周圍國家異教徒的行為,以色列人一點也不可在這些事上與他們同流合污。

        人道主義也是律法的要點。整本聖經不斷提到上帝看顧、保護以色列人中寄居的、有需要的孤兒和寡婦(參雅1:27)。祂聽窮乏人的呼求,如果他們被苦待,上帝的怒氣必為他們而發(22:21~24;參申10:18~19)。為了照顧和保護窮人,以色列中借錢給他們的人也不得向窮人取利息增加他們的負擔,而要以恩慈相待,並在日落前將作為抵押品的外衣還給他們,因為那是他們在寒冷的夜晚唯一的遮蓋。所有的人都必須被待之以尊嚴和尊敬。

         初熟的莊稼和牲畜中頭生的都要歸上帝,長子也要獻給上帝為祭司(22:29;參出13:2)。約的所有條例都強調以色列民對上帝應有的責任和尊敬,他們不只要做該做的事,也要禁戒上帝所不許的事。
 

         律法多在解決不道德的事,這說明了以色列人當時罪惡的光景。使徒保羅說,律法因人的罪而行不通(羅8:3),但藉著上帝的長子,「使律法的義成就在我們這不隨從肉體,只隨從聖靈的人身上」(羅8:4),我們便得著生命平安(羅8:6),並能在上帝面前過公義、聖潔的生活。

禱告

         聖潔的上帝,您不只為我們預備赦罪之恩,還將您的律法寫在我們的心版上。幫助我們天天順服您。奉主耶穌基督聖名,阿們!

English

Scriptures:Read Exodus 21 &22
Key Verse:“And you shall be holy men to Me.”(Exodus 22:31a )
Overview

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         After the Lord had given the moral law it was expounded upon by the civil law to make it applicable to the Israelites’ everyday life. This was intended to produce a peaceful, well-working, and holy society. The God-given original law code was for Israel to have strict guidelines to follow and thereby maintain a high level of morality (to promote righteousness before God) within their society; a witness to the surrounding nations that they were the people of God.

         Slavery was an integral institution throughout the whole world at that time. However, slavery among the Israelites showed a marked distinction; unlike the other nations, they gave their rights to their slaves. Women also were given rights and lifted up to a higher standing by these rulings. A man in poverty might be forced to sell his daughter into servant hood, but the laws assured him that she would be taken care of and her rights were strictly regarded.In general, the rulings stressed the sanctify of human life. In most cases, capital punishment was carried out on whoever took a life. If one caused an accidental death, God provided a place of refuge so no revenge could be taken (21:13; cf. Numbers 35:6). God also provided rights and protection for unborn babies. If one caused injury to a pregnant woman and she miscarried, then that person must pay the penalty of death, “life for life” (21:22, 23). This teaches that abortion was rightly a capital offense!

         The penalties may seem harsh to us, but in that ancient culture there were no law enforcement officers or prisons, nor the fuller, final and complete revelation of God in Jesus Christ, our example. For them to understand the seriousness of a crime, the punishment served as the only way to curb wrong behavior. In this cultural context the laws were very thorough, fair and just. If the laws were followed, this expressed righteous behavior before God. He, however, knows the hearts, and knows if acts are done out of a pure motive which is real righteousness.

         The laws express man’s responsibility toward his fellowman to whom he must show respect. If anyone’s rights were violated there must be restitution and recompense. Guilt by carelessness which causes harm to another, even if it be his animal, is still punishable. To do wrong to a neighbor is to sin against God. The seduction we read of here is concerning the loss of value because of the dowry (the moral crime is dealt with in Deuteronomy 22:22-29). The sin of witchcraft within the covenant people was punishable by death, as was the unspeakable sin of bestiality. Anyone found sacrificing unto any other god but the Lord was also condemned; these three sins were practiced in the heathen religions of surrounding nations, and Israel was to take no part in them.

         Humanitarian laws were also enforced. God’s care and protection of the foreigner, needy widow and ophan among Israel are consistently expressed throughout Scripture (cf. James 1:27). He hears the cry of those in need, and if they are mistreated, His wrath is stirred up (22:21-24; cf. Deut. 10:28, 19). Also, in care and protection of the poor among the covenant people, those who lent money to them were warned against making their burdens heavier by charging interest, but were instead instructed to do it out of the goodness of their heart; as well as returning a pledge of their cloak which they would use as a covering on the cold nights. All people must be treated with dignity and respect.

         The first fruits and livestock were to be the Lord’s, and the first-born males were to be dedicated to Him as priests (22:29; cf. Exodus 13:2). All the terms of the covenant stressed the Israelites’ responsibility and reverence to the Lord, not only in what they did, but in abstaining from what He forbade.

         The fact that these laws deal with matters of immorality indicate the sinful condition of the Israelites, which the Apostle Paul says the Law could not overcome (Romans 8:3). But through God’s own first-born Son, “the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”. (Romans 8:4) This then leads to “life and peace” (Romans 8:6) and a holy and righteous walk before God

Prayer

         O Holy God, You’ve not only made provision for our forgiveness, You’ve written Your laws upon our hearts. Help us to surrender daily in obedience to You.


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