Exodus 21 … Consider His Rule of Rectitude

Rectitude: “morally correct behavior or thinking; righteousness; the quality or state of being correct in judgment or procedure; the quality of being honest and morally correct; the quality or state of being straight.”

“Now these are the ordinances which you are to set before them…” [21:1]

Ordinances: (from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance): 4941. מִשְׁפָּט mišpāṭ: A masculine noun meaning a judgment, a legal decision, a legal case, a claim, proper, rectitude.

The Hebrew word translated “ordinances” in the New American Standard Bible, may also be translated as: laws, regulations, rules, judgments and legal decisions. These ordinances would establish the new society to emerge within the Promised Land. This Hebrew word conveys the ordinances and judgments as righteous, proper, straight and good; His Rule of Rectitude.

Many of the ordinances do not make sense in light of today’s western world. The societal rule inaugurated by His Ten Commandments, is immediately followed with ordinances on slavery. It is difficult to comprehend why any provision for slavery was made. Hadn’t the LORD just set His people free from the cruel slavery endured in the land Egypt? Slavery in Biblical times was often a result of financial failings and inability to pay debt. But whatever the cause, God’s people were not to be enslaved permanently. Whether the debt was paid in full or not, His Rule of Rectitude provided freedom in the seventh year.

Many answers about His ordinances may not be fully explained, but His Rule of Rectitude is never in question. God had miraculously delivered His people out of bondage. He was now leading them to the Promised Land amidst the pagan nations. The LORD was setting up His rule in a society that was to be separate and distinct from surrounding nations; a people led by Holy God.

Consider His Rule of Rectitude

Whether we comprehend fully or not, His ordinances and judgments originate from His Holy character ensuring they are righteous, proper, straight and good. The LORD was establishing a society to be governed in a manner to set them apart by His Rule of Rectitude.

His Rule of Rectitude confirms His ordinances as reasonable.

His Rule of Rectitude validates humanity’s dignity and worth.

His Rule of Rectitude assures the punishment will not exceed the crime.

His Rule of Rectitude demands personal responsibility.

How do we respond to His Rule of Rectitude?

  • When we have questions, let us seek His instruction and trust in His Rule of Rectitude as reasonable, good and upright.
    • Good and upright is the Lord;
      Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.
      He leads the humble in justice,
      And He teaches the humble His way.

      10 All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth
      To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
      [Psalm 25:8-10]
  • We are created in His image and set apart for His purpose and glory. We discover and display our God-given dignity as we serve Him according to His Rule of Rectitude.
    • When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
      The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
      What is man that You take thought of him,
      And the son of man that You care for him?
      Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
      And You crown him with glory and majesty!
      You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
      You have put all things under his feet,
      [Psalm 8:3-6]
  • His Rule of Rectitude assures the punishment will not exceed the crime. The gavel has dropped, the verdict is announced. Every human born is convicted of the crime of sin against holy God,  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, [Romans 3:23]. None are innocent and the rightful punishment fitting the crime is death: For the wages of sin is death…[Romans 6:23]. In His Rule of Rectitude, a state of being straight with no bending the rules, the LORD is obliged to bring justice. Thanks be to God that in His justice He has chosen to reveal His great grace and mercy. Justice was served as Jesus Christ Himself endured our punishment so fitting of our crimes. Let us receive His gift of grace by faith.
    • But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. [Isaiah 53:5]
    • For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 6:23]
  • Because He is just in all His judgments, His Rule of Rectitude demands personal responsibility. Our sin was judged at the cross, but one day we will give an account of how we spent His gift of life on earth. Receiving His gift of grace in salvation should motivate us to honor Him with our lives. Let us be serious about our personal responsibility as we serve Him in His Rule of Rectitude.
    • What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? [Romans 6:1]
    • So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. [Romans 14:12]
    • For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. [2 Corinthians 5:10]

Let’s Grow Together!

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