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ch. 22:1-15   ch. 22:16-31

Protection Of Property (ch. 22:1 - 15)


This chapter is often sited for the purpose to prove private ownership of material goods, including land for people.  You might wonder why someone needs to defend the idea that it is alright to own things.  This discussion hasn't been heard much of late, but a few decades ago with the rise of communism in the world, it was an important debate.  Of course, communism and private ownership of property didn't mix.  In some parts of the church during those years, communism was influencing the church.  I'm not speaking of communes where hippies lived.  I'm speaking of a philosophy that promoted the ideals of communism in the church. 


This philosophy began in the 1950's in Catholic Central America.  It is called Liberation Theology.  In Central America there are, and were many poor people.  Certain Catholic priests influenced by Marxism felt equality among people was important.  These priest, and later some Protestant scholars taught that Jesus preached equality.  There is some hints of this kind of thinking in Paul's writings, but the question is, "how is this equality brought about?"   Liberation Theologian saw a socialism, a forced equality as the answer. 


I see no such thinking in the New Testament.  Equality is a Biblical issue, but it comes from the heart and can't be forced.  When the early church shared all they had, this sharing was not a church doctrine.  Neither was it forced.  It was simply a product of the believers love for his brother in Christ.


Thus this chapter is important in this discussion because it assumes people have the right to own their own property.    


Verse 1 addresses the issue of someone steeling sheep and ox, someone steeling one's private property.  Again, the principle of restitution is applied to the theft. 


Verse 2 speaks to the rights of a property owner.  If someone breaks in a steels from the property owner, and if the property owner defends himself and his property, but kills the thief, he is not guilty if this takes place at night in the dark.  But, if this takes place in the day time, then the property owner is guilty.  The implication is that the property owner should not kill the thief.  At night he may not be able to see what he is doing, so the property owner has an excuse, but in the day time, when there is light, he has no excuse.


Verse 3 speaks to the issue of the thief who breaks into steel the property.  He is to pay back all that he took.  If he no longer has it, and if he is too poor to pay it back, he must pay with his life and be sold as a slave.  God views steeling as a serious offense.  Verse 4 states the penalty of the stolen animal is found in the thief's possession.  He is to pay double.


Verses 5 and 6 continue the theme of restitution.  These verses speak to the issue of one man destroying another mans field of crops or cattle. 


In verses 7 through 9 we see a bit of a departure in the penalty.  These verses concern the safekeeping of another man's property.  If the property is stolen, and if the thief is caught, then the thief pays back double.  If the thief isn't caught, then the two parties go to a judge and he determines what should be done.  The point here is that the one who is suppose to keep the property safe, may have actually stolen the property.  We see judges being involved in the issuing of the penalty. 


Verses 10 to 16 carry on in the same vain concerning two men and their possessions.  I will not comment on this passage. It is pretty self evident.


Social Responsibility (ch. 22:16 - 31)


In verses 16 and 17 we see what should happen when a man seduces a virgin.  Note the word "seduce".  This does not seem to be consensual sex.  In such cases, the man must marry the virgin, pay the father what is owed for the daughter.  In these cultures men paid money to the father in order to marry his daughter.  This was not seen as buying the girl.  It was more of an insurance policy.  The father would keep the money in case the girl was returned to him for any reason. 


Verse 17 states that if the father did not want to give the daughter away, the man would still have to pay the money as if he were marrying the girl.  There is a good chance that the father would not want to give his daughter away to such a man.  At least he would receive some money for the offense.


We see in verse 18 how God feels about sorceresses. The KJV uses the word "witch".  She must die.  Again, these are severe penalties, but we must realize that God is just, and He is just to the one hundredth degree so to speak.  This is why Jesus came to save us from God's wrath.  We all deserve to die, just as it says here about the witch.  What God hates, He really hates.  What He loves, He really loves.


Verses 19 and 20 continue in the same vain.  Those who have sex with animals and those who serve other gods must die.  Concerning sex with animals, that sounds repulsive but many cultures practiced such activity back then.  God was simply speaking to the issues of the day.  If these commands and laws were written today, we would probably see other things added to the list.


Verses 21 to 24 tells Israel how to treat aliens and widows.  They are to be treated with respect.  Notice verse 24, and how God feels about the mistreatment of aliens and widows.  He says that such treatment causes His anger to rise and He will kill Israel with the sword.  The mention of the sword tells me that God will use other nations to attack Israel.  With their swords they will kill the men of Israel.  Even though Israel is God's people, He cannot compromise His sense of justice. 


Even though Christ is the end of the law as seen in Romans 10:4, in these civil laws we do get a clear picture of how God views certain things.  I would think that if any nation today mistreats aliens and widows, God would feel the same way towards them as He did towards Israel.  For that reason, such actions by countries today might have helped led to their demise, or, will possibly lead to their demise.  There are many things that a nation can do that will bring that nation down.


The church today would do well to learn some things from the Law of Moses, not to institute it, but to understand how God feels about certain things as is demonstrated in these laws.  The church should be involved in reaching out and helping the poor, the widows, and those in need, because this is what God wants, and is easily seen in these laws.   


Verse 25 speaks of the poor.  O how this verse could be used today, but isn't. God says to lend money to the poor, and don't charge him interest.  Can you believe that,  In North America as I type, there are many little store front money lenders who lend money to the poor at an extreme amount of interest, way higher than credit cards.  Obviously this verse means nothing to them.


All these laws that we see here show both the Jew and the Christian how to live.  And really, if you show real love, as the New Testament says, you will obey all these laws.  The laws also show us how God thinks about certain things.  We are not under the law any more, but we are still under God's authority, and how He thinks still applies to us.  


I wish more people would follow verses 26 and 27.  It says that if you borrow your neighbor's coat, give it back to him by evening.  I personally think that we should be very prompt in returning things we borrow, but many people aren't. 


Note the word "pledge" in verse 26.  What is happening in this verse is that a poor person will pledge, or, use his coat for collateral.  The one who lends this poor person money should give that coat back to him at the end of the day because that is probably the only coat he has and he uses it as a blanket or a covering to sleep in.  Once again, God is acting as an advocate for the poor.


Verse 28 has two parts.  The first is "don't blaspheme God."  I think this can be taken many ways.  Just using the name of God in swearing is one way we can blaspheme God.  I think we blaspheme God by misrepresenting Him to the world.  We do that by promoting ourselves instead of Him.  Disobedience is blaspheming God.  We blaspheme God in many ways.


The next phrase is really interesting in light of today's world.  It says not to curse your leaders.  How often do we do that?  How often do we speak evil of our leaders?  One thing we need to note, that many of the leaders back then, even in Israel, except not for Moses, weren't all that nice.  We are not to curse a leader, even if he is evil.  We can stand up to him like John the Baptist did, but cursing is another thing altogether.  John the Baptist, and Paul as well, along with all the early apostles, respectfully stood up to their leaders, showed them their sin and preached repentance and faith in the name of Jesus.  This is the example for us to follow.  


Verses 29 and 30 speak of not holding back offerings or your first born.  Some of these offerings have not yet been instituted, or even commanded by God as yet. 


In verse 31 God tells Israel that they are to be His holy people.  They are to represent Him to the world.  They are to be an example.  Therefore they are not to eat meat from a wild animal. 

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