Christ on Injuring others (Exodus 21:12-36)

In this section we find many of the ten commandments repeated.  The prohibition against murder, stealing are both recited in various ways as is the command to honor one’s parents.  In fact, we will find that many of the 10 commandments are repeated in the rest of Exodus as these commandments are applied to daily situations one encounters in life.  This is where Christ can first be glanced in the passage.  Christ is practical and his commandments as God almighty are not just lofty ideals, they are practical ways and means for living life in a way that honors others and protects their sanctity of life.  In fact, these are elaborations on the second great commandment,

Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39)

And we see this displayed in the first of the practical applications of the sixth commandment.  Here God declares,

If he does not do it [kill a person] intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate. (Exodus 21:13)

God makes provision in the practical outworking of the commands for the truly accidental death.  This God understands and he declares that the accident is different than the overt offense.  And amazingly enough, Christ rescues us from all our sin, the accidental, unintentional and deliberate, though the last category of sin should be continually shrinking in the Christian as his or her character is conformed more and more to that of Christ’s.

In verses 18-27 God is teaching humanity about the need to control their  tempers and act self-controlled, even in the heat of an argument, such is the reason for a penalty even if one of the participants is bed-ridden but not killed.  The loss of work from the uncontrolled anger of another is unacceptable for the people of God.  Christ declares a similar truth when he says,

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. (Matthew 5:22)

And James echoes this teaching in his epistle declaring,

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19)

Finally, God declares that as people we are responsible for the actions of our property and animals as they relate to the welfare of others.  When we are aware of dangers that exist and do not take sufficient precautions to mitigate those perils, then we are guilty for any damage or injury that results.  While the specific applications of goring bulls and uncovered pits may not be relevant to the typical city dweller today the same principles apply to aggressive pets, unmaintained residences, slum lords and construction sites.  God was seeking to establish a people who protected the life of one another.  And Christ continues that teaching when he calls us brothers and sisters.

He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” (Luke 8:21)

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)

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About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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