"Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD - Your salvation according to Your word." Psalm 119:41
Text: Exodus 23 : 4-5
LOOKING BEYOND THE LIMITS OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM
There were laws that had punitive elements. There were also commands from the Lord that must be regarded as “laws” even if there weren’t punitive elements attached. One of these laws had to do with rendering help to an enemy!
The courts of law could not actually enforce some of these laws which call for a person to go “the second mile” for an enemy! The fulfillment of this type of laws would redound to the personal honour of the individual!
ATTITUDE TOWARDS AN ENEMY
It would be great if we could like everyone. In real life, this is unfortunately, not possible. Sometimes, we even end up with having “enemies”. God wanted the children of Israel, His people, to be able to go beyond their negative feelings towards their “enemies”.
“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray,
you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the donkey
of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would
refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it.”
1. Don’t let personal feelings get in the way
Animals can go astray! It would be quite normal to lead these animals back to their rightful owners! Anyone would do that for a friend! But what happens if the owner is an “enemy”? God insists that every help is offered to the animals that had gone astray! The animals are innocent! They deserve help! Personal feelings should never get in the way of helping animals in danger or in distress!
2. Fighting “negative feelings”
How easy it is not to help animals that belong to an enemy- especially one
“who hates you”. How easy it is to yield to the temptation of refraining from giving help to an animal in distress. Sometimes, wicked owners can overload their animals with loads that are so heavy, the poor creatures buckle under the weight of their burdens!
The challenge, indeed, the command from God is to “help him with it”. The owner may not be grateful. He may continue to be an enemy after the help has been given, nevertheless, the helping hand must be extended to the animal in distress!
KEEPING OF NON-PUNITIVE COMMANDMENTS
God did not want Israel to just have a set of rules and regulations! He wanted Israel to understand what the laws represented! The judgments and laws reflected God Himself! But surely, the whole Being of God was not fully reflected in the mere keeping of the letter of the law! An understanding of who God really is should result in how one treats the animals (property) of an enemy! A great reflection of how one truly understands God and His laws is in the way one keeps non-punitive commandments!