EXODUS 23:1-9: “Do not spread reports that are false. Do not help an evil person by telling lies in court. “Do not follow the crowd when they do what is wrong. When you are a witness in court, do not turn what is right into wrong. Do not go along with the crowd. Do not show favor to a poor person in court. “Suppose you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering away. Then be sure to take it back to him. “Suppose you see that the donkey of someone who hates you has fallen down under its load. Then do not leave it there. Be sure you help him with it. “Be fair to your poor people in their court cases. Do not have anything to do with a charge that is false. Do not put to death those who are not guilty of doing anything wrong. I will not let those who are guilty go free. “Do not take money from people who want special favors. It makes you blind to the truth. It twists the words of godly people. “Do not beat an outsider down. You yourselves know how it feels to be outsiders. Remember, you were outsiders in Egypt.” (NIRV)
OBSERVATION: Give me that “Old Time Religion”! I am using religion here in its purest sense, not in the sense of man made rules and practices. The word “religion” is defined in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language as:
- “Religion, in its most comprehensive sense, includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man’s obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man’s accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties. It therefore comprehends theology, as a system of doctrines or principles, as well as practical piety; for the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion.” (Webster, 1828)
Webster makes this important point – “…for the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion.” This brings me back to my original thought – Give me that “Old Time Religion!”
Deuteronomy 23:1-9 is not dealing with ceremonial or dietary laws of the Old Testament. Rather, it is dealing with moral guidelines that are timeless. And as I read these, I can’t help but think they are common sense guidelines that we need to hear today. Here they are in a bullet point summary.
- Don’t spread false reports (fake news).
- Don’t tell lies, or help someone else tell lies in court.
- Don’t follow the crowd when they are doing something wrong.
- Don’t call what is right – wrong, and what is wrong – right.
- Don’t show favor to the poor in court (just because he is poor).
- Be fair to poor people in court (don’t mistreat them because they are poor).
- Treat your enemies with respect, and help them in time of need.
- Don’t execute justice quickly, thereby possibly punishing someone who is innocent.
- Don’t take a bribe from people who want special favors, it will cloud your judgment.
- Don’t twist the words of godly people.
- Treat outsiders (immigrants) well, because you were also an outsider (immigrant).
These timely truths are as relevant today, as they were when Moses wrote them down, as the Lord spoke them to him. And they are words that are truly needed today!
In fact, they could also make a mighty fine handbook for Facebook.
Lord, thank You for your timeless Word! Thank you for Your wisdom and truth! Help me to walk in the pathway of truth today, as I humble myself before You. Lord – give me that “Old Time Religion!”
In Jesus Name!