International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday June 3, 2012
Purpose: To show that by treating everyone justly, we are doing God's will
Scripture Text: Exodus 23:1-9
Exodus 23:1-9 (NRSV)
(1) You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness. (2) You shall not follow a majority in wrongdoing; when you bear witness in a lawsuit, you shall not side with the majority so as to pervert justice; (3) nor shall you be partial to the poor in a lawsuit. (4) When you come upon your enemy's ox or donkey going astray, you shall bring it back. (5) When you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden and you would hold back from setting it free, you must help to set it free. (6) You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in their lawsuits. (7) Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and those in the right, for I will not acquit the guilty. (8) You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the officials, and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.( 9) You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Today's lesson is one most of us can relate to, since we have seen or been involved with some of the problems discussed in today's text.
The spreading of rumors and gossip has exploded since social networking has evolved on the internet. Now a simple “tweet” can spread an untruth or malicious rumor around the world in nanoseconds. It should be pointed out that like the Ten Commandments, these societal laws do not have an expiration date. The creator God is trying to help his people survive in a communal situation that will be somewhat different than what they are experiencing as a wandering nomadic tribe. These laws will be important when they settle in the Promised Land.
The rule of the majority is a great thing when compared to a dictator, but a warning is issued by God that a majority that is wrong needs to be stopped. It is often just easier to side with the rich or more educated instead of doing the right thing. God warns against perverting justice, by just going along. Likewise, we can often get caught up with allowing the poor and the disenfranchised to hold more sway over us because of their circumstances, God says both of these practices is wrong. Being poor or uneducated is not an excuse, nor should we make it one.
Bad behavior is always wrong, and this applies to animals as well as people. When you see abuse whether to animals or people you should address it. And if your neighbor’s animals stray onto your property, you are obligated to return them to their rightful owner, even if you do not like each other.
God also warns against the wealthy getting everything they want without any regard for the poor. It often appears that those that can afford the best lawyers, private investigators, or professional or expert witness, have a better chance of persuading a jury or a political body. We are told to keep our distance from those that have no regard for what is right. Being right in man's sight is far different from being right in God's sight; the guilty will not be acquitted regardless if they are rich or poor. At the time of the Exodus, they did not have any means to house prisoners for long periods of time, so justice or judgment was often swift.
When it comes to bribes, God is very specific, it not only causes a perverting of justice it can cause great harm to those that are in the right. Again in today's world it is sometimes hard to distinguish a bribe from a zealous person seeking to have their agenda considered. It is hard sometimes to distinguish between bribes and political contributions.
God also addresses a problem we are facing in America today and that is the problem of alien residents. The commandment seems pretty clear, “you shall not,” Oppressing aliens because they have not conformed to your ways is wrong, God looks out for the aliens and we should too.
The warning at the beginning of our text is clear, “you should not follow a majority in wrongdoing.” God wanted a separated people, we should separate ourselves from those that do not care about justice whether rich or poor, and as Christians we are called to “do unto others, as we would have others do unto us.” Our lesson is from the Old Testament, but, God's theology is always the same.