Exodus 19-21

Sunday Evening Bible Study

April 13, 1997


Four over four hundred years, the descendants of Israel have been brought out of the bondage in Egypt.

Now the process begins of bringing the nation into the Promised Land.

God doesnít just want His people free from their old bondage and slavery, He wants them in a new place, in a Promised Land.

And so begins the wilderness journey.

Weíve seen Godís provision with manna in the wilderness.

Weíve seen Godís provision through a Rock that produced water.

Exodus 19

:4 how I bare you on eagles' wings

An eagle teaches it's young to fly in a very different way.

Eagles' nests are located on very high, out of the way places.

When it's time for a flying lesson, the mother eagle will push the baby out of the nest.

The baby will start flailing at the air, trying to fly, but falling like a rock to the canyon floor.

At just the last moment, the mother will swoop down, and scoop up the baby on top of it's wings.

Then they try it all over again.

God never promises to keep us away from problems, but He always promises to rescue us in the nick of time.

In talking about how the Israelites gave us examples of how to live, and how not to live, Paul writes:

1CO 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

An interesting way of thinking of the Red Sea.


There may be another interesting tie-in:

In the tribulation period, Israel will find itself fleeing from the wrath of the anti-christ Ö

(Rev 12:14 KJV) And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.


:5 ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people

NIV - you will be my treasured possession

We sure seem "peculiar" sometimes, but we need to remember that we are Godís treasures!

:6 ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests

This phrase is quoted several times in the New Testament, and doesnít just apply to Israel, but also applies to us as well:

1Pe 2:9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Re 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him [be] glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

:9 that the people may hear when I speak with thee

The people were actually going to hear Godís voice give Moses the Ten Commandments (next chapter, Exodus 20).

:10 sanctify them to day and to morrow

They had a couple of days to get ready to meet God.

They had to meet God in their own righteousness, we get to meet God in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

:15 come not at your wives

NIV Ė "Abstain from sexual relations."

:17 they stood at the nether part of the mount

At the foot of the mountain

:19 Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice

This whole scene is intensely powerful with thunder, lightening, smoke, fire, earthquakes, a trumpet, and finally Godís voice.

(Heb 12:18-29 KJV) For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, {19} And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: {20} (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: {21} And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) {22} But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, {23} To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, {24} And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. {25} See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: {26} Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. {27} And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. {28} Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: {29} For our God is a consuming fire.

We are to have a sense of awe and fear as we come into Godís presence, just as the Israelites did coming to Mount Sinai.

:24 let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD

God is concerned for the safety of the people.

He can see that they are not really ready to come into His presence.

He knows that if they get too close, they will be consumed in the fire of His holiness.


Take worship seriously.

This isnít a joke.

God is holy. Youíre not (at least without Jesus youíre not).

Exodus 20

The Ten Commandments

Keep the purpose in mind, this isnít going to make salvation available, this is simply going to set Godís standards before the people.

Theyíre going to start realizing how different God is from them.

Sometimes we get to thinking that God is just like us, dresses like us, talks like us, thinks like us.

But Heís far different.

The purpose of the law was to demonstrate God's complete holiness, and man's total inability to measure up, thus pointing to man's need for a Savior.

GAL 3:21-25 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor {to lead us} to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me

This is the first commandment.

The Ten Commandments are broken into two groups, two "tables", or two "tablets".

The first four commandments all deal with manís relationship with God.

The last six commandments deal with manís relationship with man.

Jesus summarized it all in this way:

(Mat 22:34-40 KJV) But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. {35} Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, {36} Master, which is the great commandment in the law? {37} Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. {38} This is the first and great commandment. {39} And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. {40} On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image Ö

Commandment #2

Donít just think of this as having some kind of little statue sitting on your mantle at home.

The idea is trying to come up with a way of expressing God and saying, "This is my God".

The problem is that we will ALWAYS come far short of who God really is like.

God isnít something thatís made by man.

Man is something made by God.

Be careful of thinking you have God all figured out.

:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain

Commandment #3

I think weíve all grown up thinking this means that we arenít to be cussing.

And I think thatís certainly a part of it.

BKC - "The name of God should be honored and protected. The Israelites were not to use His name for any idle, frivolous, or insincere purpose (such as speaking His name when taking an oath with no intention of keeping it, Lev.19:12). People should not use His name for selfish or evil purposes, therefore seeking to usurp His authority."

It could be things like claiming to be a Christian (the name of "Christ"), and yet not being a good representative.

Iíve heard some people say that this is why they donít put a Christian bumper sticker on their car, so they donít be a bad representative of Jesus.

Better yet, put a bumper sticker on your car, and be a GOOD representative of Jesus!

:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Commandment #4 (the last of the first table)

Keeping the Sabbath

The Jews had problems with Jesus, because He didnít follow their traditions concerning the Sabbath Day.

They legislated the thing to death, coming up with careful codes of what could and couldnít be done.

Keep in mind Ė

The Sabbath day is meant to be a day of rest.

God wants you to take a day off.

The Sabbath day is to be holy.

God wants you to take time to honor Him.

Paul wrote,

(Rom 14:5 KJV) One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

In other words, some people take a particular day and make it special, but others might make ALL days special to God. Thatís an idea!

:12 Honour thy father and thy mother

Commandment #5

Note Ė it doesnít say to honour your parents until youíre 18 years old.

That doesnít mean that your parents still have to make all your decisions for you just like you were 5 years old.

But you are still to honour them.

Paul calls this the first commandment with a promise, a promise of long life attached to it. (Eph. 6:2)

:13 Thou shalt not kill

Commandment #6

Kill Ė ratsach - to murder, slay, kill

Some people take this and say that we are not to have capitol punishment, because we are "killing" people.

But the word is better understood "murder" than simply "kill".

If people think that this is a reason against capitol punishment, they better read on in Exodus to see some of the prescribed punishments!

Jesus said,

(Mat 5:21-22 KJV) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: {22} But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Keep in mind that God is concerned about the spirit of the Law, the intent of the Law, and not just the strict legal implications of it.

:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Commandment #7

Of course, understanding the spirit of the Law, we know that this involves more than just having an affair with another man or woman.

Jesus said,

(Mat 5:27-28 KJV) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: {28} But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Feeling condemned and guilty?

You ought to, thatís the purpose of the Law, to show you how much you need Godís grace!

:15 Thou shalt not steal

Commandment #8

Be careful that you donít just think of bank robbers and jewel thieves here.

How about Ö

:16 bear false witness

Commandment #9

The idea is giving false testimony that leads to the conviction of an innocent person.

But it applies to the topic of lying.

:17 covet

Commandment #10

Wanting something that belongs to another person.

Paul wrote,

(Rom 7:7-9 NLT) Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is evil? Of course not! The law is not sinful, but it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, "Do not covet." {8} But sin took advantage of this law and aroused all kinds of forbidden desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power. {9} I felt fine when I did not understand what the law demanded. But when I learned the truth, I realized I had broken the law and was a sinner, doomed to die.

It has been said that if youíre witnessing to a person, and they seem to have no conviction of sin in their lives, just start showing them the Law.

Then theyíll have plenty of conviction!

:19 Speak thou with us

The people are so terrified with what theyíre seeing and hearing, that they decide theyíd be better off if just Moses hears God, and Moses can just pass on the messages from God.

:24 An altar of earth

God wanted the people to build their worship places very simply.

Just a mound of dirt, maybe rocks, nothing fancy.


Simple worship.

Later, with the building of the temple, there would be ornate carvings and such.

For now, they are to keep it simple.

God doesn't want people worshiping the altar. God wants people worshiping Him.

When our buildings become so fancy that people come just to see the buildings...when our music becomes so "good" that people come just to hear melody and harmonies, then we've gotten away from the simple altars that God desires.

:26 that thy nakedness be not discovered

Later we'll see that the priests are supposed to have linen underwear to cover their nakedness. (Ex.28:42)

God knows all things, God sees all things. He's not embarrassed if a man is naked.


Donít draw attention to yourselves.

I think there's a hint of modesty here.

God wants attention to be on the worship, not drawn away to the person leading the worship.

Exodus 21

We now move into a section where some of the various laws are detailed out, to bring order in the nation.

Household Principles - Lamentations of a mother from the book DeuteroMOMy

Laws of Forbidden Places

Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the living room. Of quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living room. Of the juices and other beverages, yes, even of those in sippy-cups, you may drink, but not in the living room, neither may you carry such therein. Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither may you drink. But if you are sick, and are lying down and watching something, then may you eat in the living room.

Laws When at Table

And if you are seated in your high chair, or in a chair such as a greater person might use, keep your legs and feet below you as they were. Neither raise up your knees, nor place your feet upon the table, for that is an abomination to me. Yes, even when you have an interesting bandage to show, your feet upon the table are an abomination, and worthy of rebuke. Drink your milk as it is given you, neither use on it any utensils, nor fork, nor knife, nor spoon, for that is not what they are for; if you will dip your blocks in the milk, and lick it off, you will be sent away. When you have drunk, let the empty cup then remain upon the table, and do not bite it upon its edge and by your teeth hold it to your face in order to make noises in it sounding like a duck: for you will be sent away. When you chew your food, keep your mouth closed until you have swallowed, and do not open it to show your brother or your sister what is within; I say to you, do not so, even if your brother or your sister has done the same to you. Eat your food only; do not eat that which is not food; neither seize the table between your jaws, nor use the raiment of the table to wipe your lips. I say again to you, do not touch it, but leave it as it is. And though your stick of carrot does indeed resemble a marker, draw not with it upon the table, even in pretend, for we do not do that, that is why. And though the pieces of broccoli are very like small trees, do not stand them upright to make a forest, because we do not do that, that is why. Sit just as I have told you, and do not lean to one side or the other, nor slide down until you are nearly slid away. Heed me; for if you sit like that, your hair will go into the syrup. And now behold, even as I have said, it has come to pass.

Laws Pertaining to Dessert

For we judge between the plate that is unclean and the plate that is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean, then you shall have dessert. But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If you have eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your peas with each bite consisting of not less than three peas each, or in total six peas, eaten where I can see, and you have also eaten enough of your potatoes to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then you shall have dessert. But if you eat a lesser number of peas, and yet you eat the potatoes, still you shall not have dessert; and if you eat the peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten, you shall not have dessert, no, not even a small portion thereof. And if you try to deceive by moving the potatoes or peas around with a fork, that it may appear you have eaten what you have not, you will fall into iniquity. And I will know, and you shall have no dessert.

On Screaming

Do not scream; for it is as if you scream all the time. If you are given a plate on which two foods you do not wish to touch each other are touching each other, your voice rises up even to the ceiling, while you point to the offense with the finger of your right hand; but I say to you, scream not, only remonstrate gently with the server, that the server may correct the fault. Likewise if you receive a portion of fish from which every piece of herbal seasoning has not been scraped off, and the herbal seasoning is loathsome to you and steeped in vileness, again I say, refrain from screaming. Though the vileness overwhelm you, and cause you a faint unto death, make not that sound from within your throat, neither cover your face, nor press your fingers to you nose. For even not I have made the fish as it should be; behold, I eat it myself, yet do not die.

Concerning Face and Hands

Cast your countenance upward to the light, and lift your eyes to the hills, that I may more easily wash you off. For the stains are upon you; even to the very back of your head, there is rice thereon. And in the breast pocket of your garment, and upon the tie of your shoe, rice and other fragments are distributed in a manner wonderful to see. Only hold yourself still; hold still, I say. Give each finger in its turn for my examination thereof, and also each thumb. Lo, how iniquitous they appear. What I do is as it must be; and you shall not go hence until I have done.

Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances

Bite not, lest you be cast into quiet time. Neither drink of your own bath water, nor of the bath water of any kind; nor rub your feet on bread, even if it be in the package; nor rub yourself against cars, not against any building; nor eat sand. Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that you should so afflict it with tape? And hum not the humming in your nose as I read, nor stand between the light and the book. Indeed, you will drive me to madness. Nor forget what I said about the tape.

Complaints and Lamentations

O my children, you are disobedient. For when I tell you what you must do, you argue and dispute hotly even to the littlest detail; and when I do not accede, you cry out, and hit and kick. Yes, and even sometime do you spit, and shout "stupid-head" and other blasphemies, and hit and kick the wall and the molding thereof when you are sent to the corner. And though the law teaches that no one shall be sent to the corner for more minutes than he has years of age, yet I would leave you there all day, so mighty am I in anger. But upon being sent to the corner you ask straight-away, "Can I come out?" and I reply, "No, you may not come out." And again you ask, and again I give the same reply. But when you ask again a third time, then you may come out. Hear me, O my children, for the bills they kill me. I pay and pay again, even to the twelfth time in a year, and yet again they mount higher than before. For our health, that we may be covered, I give six hundred and twenty talents twelve times in a year; but even this covers not the fifteen hundred deductible for each member of the family within a calendar year. And yet for ordinary visits we still are not covered, nor for many medicines, nor for the teeth within our mouths. Guess not at what rage is in my mind, for surely you cannot know. For I will come to you at the first of the month and at the fifteenth of the month with the bills and a great whining and moan. And when the month of taxes comes, I will decry the wrong and unfairness of it, and mourn with wine and ashtrays, and rend my receipts. And you shall remember that I am that I am: before, after, and until you are twenty-one. Hear me then, and avoid me in my wrath, O children of me.

vs.1-11 - rights of slaves. (summarize)

This is kind of difficult, why doesn't God just abolish slavery outright?

I'm not too sure, but I would imagine it had something to do with the economy of the world at the time. Much of the world's population up through the time of Christ was slaves.

A civil war was fought over this issue.

But Jesus changed all that:

GAL 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Though slavery isn't outright done away with, it is given specific guidelines to insure the welfare of the slaves.

1. Hebrew men were only to be enslaved for six years. Free on the seventh.

2. A slave goes out the way he comes in - single or married.

    1. There was a way of permanent indenture - piercing the ear.

Some Christians pierce their ears as a way of showing that they are a permanent servant of Jesus Christ.

David wrote Ė

(Psa 40:6-8 KJV) Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. {7} Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, {8} I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

Opened ears speaks of ears being pierced for a ring.

4. Rights of female slaves (the lowest of the low...)

a. a Hebrew female slave could not be sold to a foreigner.

b. a displeasing female slave could be sold, but not trashed.

c. she could become a daughter-in-law by marrying the son.

d. a man could not reduce her rights by taking another woman.

e. if she was not provided for properly, she could go out for free.

:14 if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay

A person who accidentally kills another person could run to the altar of God and cling to it, pleading for mercy.

There were laws against killing a person guilty only of involuntary manslaughter.

But a man who is planning on murdering another person canít come to Godís altar and beg for mercy.

:16 he that stealeth a man

Kidnapping was worthy of the death penalty.

:17 he that curseth his father, or his mother


I wonder how many of us should be put to death?

I think we need to be careful to teach our kids to respect their parents.

Iím very concerned when I see children back-talk their parents, and the parents just allow it to happen.

I know the feeling, you donít want to have to stick up for yourself.

But the problem is that your kids arenít learning to respect others.

If God says itís worthy of death, I think we ought to at least consider the paddle when our kids get that angry, rebellious tone in their voice, but be very careful and make sure you donít do it for revenge sake, but that you are training them to be respectful.

Ideally it would be neat if Dads would spank the kids when they talk back to Mom, and vice-versa, but you arenít always both around.

:19 he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay

If two guys are fighting, and one gets seriously hurt, but later recovers, the one with the tough fists ought to pay for the guyís lost wages and his medical expenses.

:20 if a man smite his servant Ö

A slave owner was punished if the slave died, but not punished if the slave recovered.

Keep in mind, as tough as this sounds to us, in other cultures of that day, a slave owner could put his slave to death without any punishment.

:22 hurt a woman with child Ö

The gal gets caught between two fighting men, and she goes into premature labor.

The case given in verse 23 is when a woman gives birth prematurely, but baby and mother are okay.

In that case, the guilty man only has to pay whatever the father of the child decides.

:23 if any mischief follow

In other words, if the baby dies, or the mother diesÖ

Then there is capital punishment, life for life.

:24 eye for eye

How does a Christian look at this in light of Jesus' words about an eye for an eye?

(Mat 5:38-39 KJV) Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: {39} But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Answer: We need to make a difference between personal and governmental responsibility.

What we read in Exodus are the standards of governmental responsibility. Those by which a government should make it's judgments. It's what our judicial system should be based upon. (Rom. 13:3-4)

But as individuals, we should not be out for our own revenge.

I wonder what would happen to our justice system if some of these killers, rapists, and attackers were given what they gave out?

:29 if the ox were wont to push with his hornIf the ox had a reputation for being dangerous, and the owner didnít do anything to stop the ox or protect others, then not only would the ox be killed, but the owner as well.

I wonder about people who have vicious dogs, but donít do anything to keep them under control.:30 ransom of his lifeIn other words, the owner could pay a penalty instead of dying, but just in this case.