September 5

Exodus 21:1-11 / Read

As we read previously, God’s commandments are a gift to his people. He did not leave them to wander through life with no definition of truth or put on them the weight of defining right and wrong for themselves. God’s commands make clear the way of life and he has given them freely to his people.

It is easy for us to misinterpret today’s passage and miss what God is saying to us because of the ways in which slaves and women have been abused and dehumanized throughout history. In truth, the commands in the text show us God’s intention to protect vulnerable members of society and ensure for them opportunities to flourish.

In the ancient world, slavery and servanthood often served as alternatives to facing the difficulties of life alone. Food, shelter, clothing and even family were not guaranteed. Each had to be worked hard for and provided by oneself or the family unit of which a person was part. A family business could go under after a year or two of poor harvests. What, then, would you do for yourself or your children with no bank to take out a loan? Slavery and servanthood became the answer for those seeking stability and protection in challenging circumstances.

God knew the hearts of men and women, though, and he knew that those who willfully offered themselves as slaves were entrusting themselves to others who would be tempted to take advantage of them. We see in today’s passage how God’s commands were a preemptive guard against such behavior.

  • What about this passage most grabs your attention? Why?

  • To what degree do you believe that God’s commands are intended for your good? If you have trouble believing that, why?

  • Which of God’s commands are most difficult for you to trust in and live out? Why? What do you sense God saying to you as you reflect on your answers to those questions?

  • In what specific way do you sense God leading you to respond to his word to you today?