Exodus 23

* Laws against falsehood and injustice. (1-9) The year of rest,

The sabbath, The three festivals. (10-19) God promises to

conduct the Israelites to Canaan. (20-33)

1-9 In the law of Moses are very plain marks of sound moral

feeling, and of true political wisdom. Every thing in it is

suited to the desired and avowed object, the worship of one only

God, and the separation of Israel from the pagan world. Neither

parties, friends, witnesses, nor common opinions, must move us

to lessen great faults, to aggravate small ones, excuse

offenders, accuse the innocent, or misrepresent any thing.
10-19 Every seventh year the land was to rest. They must not

plough or sow it; what the earth produced of itself, should be

eaten, and not laid up. This law seems to have been intended to

teach dependence on Providence, and God's faithfulness in

sending the larger increase while they kept his appointments. It

was also typical of the heavenly rest, when all earthly labours,

cares, and interests shall cease for ever. All respect to the

gods of the heathen is strictly forbidden. Since idolatry was a

sin to which the Israelites leaned, they must blot out the

remembrance of the gods of the heathen. Solemn religious

attendance on God, in the place which he should choose, is

strictly required. They must come together before the Lord. What

a good Master do we serve, who has made it our duty to rejoice

before him! Let us devote with pleasure to the service of God

that portion of our time which he requires, and count his

sabbaths and ordinances to be a feast unto our souls. They were

not to come empty-handed; so now, we must not come to worship

God empty-hearted; our souls must be filled with holy desires

toward him, and dedications of ourselves to him; for with such

sacrifices God is well pleased.
20-33 It is here promised that they should be guided and kept

in their way through the wilderness to the land of promise,

Behold, I send an angel before thee, mine angel. The precept

joined with this promise is, that they be obedient to this angel

whom God would send before them. Christ is the Angel of Jehovah;

this is plainly taught by St. Paul, #1Co 10:9|. They should have

a comfortable settlement in the land of Canaan. How reasonable

are the conditions of this promise; that they should serve the

only true God; not the gods of the nations, which are no gods at

all. How rich are the particulars of this promise! The comfort

of their food, the continuance of their health, the increase of

their wealth, the prolonging their lives to old age. Thus hath

godliness the promise of the life that now is. It is promised

that they should subdue their enemies. Hosts of hornets made way

for the hosts of Israel; such mean creatures can God use for

chastising his people's enemies. In real kindness to the church,

its enemies are subdued by little and little; thus we are kept

on our guard, and in continual dependence on God. Corruptions

are driven out of the hearts of God's people, not all at once,

but by little and little. The precept with this promise is, that

they should not make friendship with idolaters. Those that would

keep from bad courses, must keep from bad company. It is

dangerous to live in a bad neighbourhood; others' sins will be

our snares. Our greatest danger is from those who would make us

sin against God.
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