"And I will delight myself in Your commandments, which I love." Psalm 119:47
Text: Exodus 23 : 10-11
NOT ALL LAWS WERE TIED TO THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM
A careful study of the Biblical text would reveal that not all the laws God gave to Moses were tied to the judicial system. However, the words that God spoke to Moses were nevertheless to be regarded as His commandments, even if they did not have punitive element or two!
LAWS OF KINDNESS
Some of the commandments God gave to Moses may indeed be described as “laws of kindness”. The following instruction is a good example of a law of kindness.
“Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce,
but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow,
that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave,
the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with
your vineyard and your olive grove.”
1. The concept of allowing the land to lie fallow
This must have been a very “strange” teaching to the children of Israel! How should this law be understood?
a) Preventing of the land from being overworked
Perhaps ancient Israel did not know the danger of over-tilling the land! He who made the earth knew that the richness of the soil would become depleted if it were tilled continuously! Lying fallow would be one of the best ways for the soil to become rich and fertile again.
b) Benefiting the poor (both people and animals)
A land that lies fallow does not mean that it is neglected. The fallow ground often sprouts plants of its own. The rich may not eat the things that grow on fallow ground, but the poor know how to make use of every herb of the field. Their survival instincts, having to live off the land would enable them to know how to utilize the plants, herbs or wild fruit that may grow on fallow grounds! Animals also survive by instincts. Their search for food will cause them to look at untilled ground. (These animals would feed off the land and the excreta they leave behind would serve the purpose of bringing enrichment to the fallow ground)
2. Trusting the Lord to provide
Hidden within the law of allowing the land to lie fallow is the providential hand of the Lord! Could the children of Israel learn to trust that the Lord would give them such a large bumper harvest on the sixth year so that their livelihood would not be jeopardized in any way in the seventh year? The children of Israel had seen the Lord providing them with food and water every single day of their journey through the wilderness! They had also seen the Lord giving them fantastic protection day and night, (Pillar of cloud and Pillar of fire). Could they trust the Lord to provide if they complied with this Law?