Sunday, December 28, 2014

Eye For Eye, Tooth For Tooth -- Exodus 21:22-25

“And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide.  But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”
 
Here is that famous passage, the words of which we have often heard quoted when we talk about “getting revenge” – wanting equal value compensation for what was taken from us.  From this stems the idea of a ‘victim’ being made ‘whole’ at the expense of the ‘offender’ or ‘criminal’.
Again what we notice is that God knew men would be fighting each other and that often such a fight would involve a woman, one way or another.  Thus we have these verses dealing with just that, and in particular, what is to happen when the woman is pregnant and she loses the child as a result of being injured during the fight between the men.
If the woman miscarries a fetus after being involved in a physical struggle but she herself does not suffer other injury, then only a fine is to be levied.  The ‘life for life, eye for eye’ principle does not go into effect unless the woman herself is further injured.  But we may well ask “What about the baby? Was that not a life? Should not the principle of life for life have applied in this case?”  Good questions.
I do not believe God was ignoring the fetus at all.  Elsewhere in scripture God shows His true feelings about the miracle He creates in a woman’s womb.  Here are some of them:
·      Did not He who made me in the womb make him, And the same one fashion us in the womb? (Job 31:15)
·      Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother's breasts. Upon Thee I was cast from birth; Thou hast been my God from my mother's womb. (Psalm 22:9-10)
·      For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)
·      Thus says the LORD who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you, `Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen. (Isaiah 44:2)
·      Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, "I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself, And spreading out the earth all alone, (Isaiah 44:24)
And if that is not enough to convince you He does not ignore the fetus, the Scriptures also speak of at least five key figures of history who were called from the womb:
Samson:
Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, "A man of God came to me and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. And I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name. "But he said to me, `Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.'" (Judges 13:6-7, see also Judges 16:17)
Jesus (prophecy):
  • Listen to Me, O islands, And pay attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called Me from the womb; From the body of My mother He named Me. (Isaiah 49:1)
  • And now says the LORD, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, in order that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of the LORD, And My God is My strength), (Isaiah 49:5)
  • Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother's breasts. Upon Thee I was cast from birth; Thou hast been my God from my mother's womb. (Psalm 22:9-10)
Jeremiah:
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5)
John the Baptist:
"For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother's womb." (Luke 1:15)
Paul:
But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased (Galatians 1:15)

Scripture answers scripture.  Where there appears to be a conflicting idea or thought, we look to the whole of the Bible and see what the overwhelming position on the issue is.  So, in our current passage, the focus is not the fetus but on punishing those who do harm to others.  It is not that there is no punishment for causing a miscarriage, but it is left up to the husband of the woman and the courts to determine what it is.
However, damage caused in the case of men struggling with each other and a woman is injured further, then the punishment reverts to the ‘eye for eye, tooth for tooth’ principle.
I was wondering about the point, or points, of the passage.  They didn’t seem to come out as clearly as they do in some of the other passages.  However, on some further reflection and study, I did come up with three:
1.     God again indicates how He comes to the defense of the weak and vulnerable.
2.     God does not support punishment that exceeds the crime.
3.     The victim and the victim’s family matter, but they also have to be reasonable as determined by the courts.
We would do well to examine our current justice systems to see how we are doing in these areas.  A comparative study between countries or cultures would yield some interesting results.



[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

WHEN CALLS THE HEART – SECOND SEASON COMING IN 2015

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The Hallmark Channel has announced, to the glee of many, a “second season” in 2015 for the well-received When Calls the Heart, with no given start date.  To find out what the excitement was all about I viewed on DVD the 11th (out of 12) season one episode entitled Rules of Engagement.  In fact, I sat down recently with my wife, my daughter, (none of us are big TV fans), my son-in-law who prefers action movies, and three of my seven grandchildren (13 and 11 year old girls, and a 9 year old boy) to watch it.  We were all thoroughly engaged throughout it and found it a pleasure to watch and discuss.

It all takes place in sleepy Coal Valley, in the Canadian West, where a young Miss Elizabeth Thatcher (played by Erin Krakow) teaches school in a saloon because the local church has burned down.  At the same time a mining company whose owner runs the town is being investigated for an explosion that took the lives of 46 of the Coal Valley miners a while back.

Besides her father, there are two other men in Elizabeth’s life – Jack Thornton (played by Daniel Lissing), the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable overseeing Coal Valley with whom she is deeply in love, and 16-year old Wyatt Weaver (played by Ty Wood) who although brilliant cannot to go to school since he has to work in the mines to help feed his fatherless family (his dad having died in the mine explosion).

Miss Thatcher also has some competition for Jack in the person of Rosemary LeVeaux (played by Pascale Hutton), a woman who had been engaged to Jack but dropped him and now has come to claim him.  There’s also a forensic investigator (Bill), who takes an interest in Abigail.  She runs the local and suffered the loss of her husband and a son in the mine accident.  The ‘bad guy’ that every good film needs is the mine owner and big shot in town.

The script is rich with great lines and dialogue time and time again.  Clearly not an extremely big-budget production as one could see some aspects that could have benefitted from additional research and/or some shooting expertise.  For example, I question the plausible existent of a female church leader back in the 1800’s and the scene where Rosemary jumps on a horse is just a tad phony visually.

But let me take you back to the incredible script.  Thomas Edison is quoted as having said, “We will make electricity so cheap, that only the rich will burn candles.”  That makes the 21st century viewer stop and think.  As did much more in the film.

There’s a wonderful scene where Jack the Mountie is drawing a comet in the classroom, improving on the dismal attempt that Elizabeth had made.  It is a special moment indeed.

From a theological perspective, the movie is more than acceptable, and the only questionable thinking I found in the 85 minute episode was some teaching regarding lost loved ones, which may be comforting to hear, but also deceiving in many cases.

Ah, but back to the script.  When the café owner (Abigail) is challenged by her friend (Elizabeth) regarding the obvious amour that is developing between herself and the forensic investigator (Bill), Elizabeth says, “Maybe you’re not just mourning the past, [a reference to the death of her husband and her son], but looking towards the future as well [a reference to what might be between Abigail and the investigator].”  Is that not what life is all about for many of us who have suffered loss?

At one point the mine owner accuses Abigail’s husband himself of killing the people in the mine, pushing them to take risks because he was paid bonuses based on production rates.  And Abigail’s husband allegedly had personal debts that many didn’t know about.  When Bill asked Abigail about how she was feeling with what had just happened, she replied with a classic, “I’ve been better and I’ve been worse.”  Again, that is life.

The problem with these ‘series’ productions is that they (intentionally and for good commercial reasons) leave you hanging about what happens next.  What did the Judge Jedidiah Black (played by James Brolin) really decide, if anything, about who was really at fault with respect to the mine accident?  Did Wyatt Weaver ever get out of the mine and become famous?  Did Bill and Abigail marry?  You get the idea.

The productions are inspired by Janette Oke’s bestselling book series about the Canadian West.  Neal Dobrofsky and Tippi Dobrofsky are the writers, and the Executive Producer and Director, is Michael Landon, Jr., known to many of us for his memorable roles in the Bonanza and Little House on the Prairies series.

Will I watch it again once it starts in 2015?  You bet.  Either that, or I might as well cancel my cable services for, besides enjoyment of FoxNews (and that even during major political or major news events only), there’s very little for a family of three generations to watch together.


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[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

More Laws Regarding Slavery -- Exodus 21:20-21

--> “And if a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished.  If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.”
 
Here are two verses that are hard for us to identify with if we live in the western hemisphere today. They talk of slavery and ‘striking one’s slave’. For us slavery was indeed abolished, or at least made illegal, many, many years ago.  This is a text therefore where we have to consider two aspects of meaning. First, there is the historical contextual connotation and then the modern-day implication. There is a need for such an approach often in Scripture. The difficulty is in discerning where exactly one has to do that and where not.  Being human, we will not always be right and thus our interpretations sometimes turn into significant theological differences that not only cause great disagreement among believers but also tarnish the name of Christ.
As a layperson I have often followed four steps in determining if I am dealing with one of these passages.  First, it is talking about something that does not exist today in its simplest form? In this case, it is talking about slavery, which has, for all intent and purposes, being abolished.  Secondly, if it is talking about something thing that does not exist today as described, is there something that has taken its place, that is, has evolved as a modern day version of what it is talking about?  If so, we then apply the teaching to that.  Third, if nothing can readily be identified as a modern-day version of the original as written in the text, then is there an application that can be applied that is in keeping with the rest of Scripture? And finally, if the answer is ‘yes’ to this last question – what is it?
So, we turn now to the historical context of these two verses.  Clearly, the Israelites had servants or slaves.  And God had specific rules as to how they were to be treated.  Mistreatment by slave owners was to be punished, but with the understanding that the servant was indeed owned to a point by his/her master.  It is in this context that God reiterated the punishment for taking another person’s life in the context of slavery as well.  That is, God’s esteem for life itself transcended one’s right to do with a slave as he/she wished.
That itself is an important concept for us to keep in mind.  I have often maintained that the world would get along just fine if each of us agreed to and adopted a “hierarchy of principles”.  The chances of that happening are zero for the world, but it is something that I have found useful in my own life and how I view what the world does or does not do.
But what exactly is the modern-day purpose for these two verses?  Well, we can easily move to the arena of today’s “employer-employee” relationship.  And while there are laws in many jurisdictions, there are still places where workers are taken advantage of and misused or mal-treated.  These verses would say to us, “be careful that you are not depriving your workers or servants of the very joy of life and the opportunity for improvement” by what you are paying them, your awareness of their family needs, etc.
Whereas the assumed punishment for historical slave masters killing their slaves is death, in our modern application of this verse, we can only hope for the labor laws to bring judgment upon an employer who mistreats employees.  And this goes on all the time.  As Christians we are to assist those that are in essence slaves in their places of work however we can – be it through improving legislation, representing them, being sensitive to what may be happening that we know is not right, and being brave enough to speak up against it.  Child labor comes to mind, as does poor working conditions, unacceptably low wages, and not enough time off to rest physically, be healed, or be with one’s loved ones.  Many employees turn to unions, if they can, to help them because we have not done the job.
[Note: I am not for a moment suggesting that we all support all labor unions.  On the contrary, I find most labor unions to be self-serving and holding their own members’ as hostages to their goals.  What I am suggesting is that we not close a blind eye to workplace evils.]
Returning to the historical context, we see that if his/her master hits the slave and the slave survives, there is no vengeance or punishment imposed on the master.  The rationale being that sometimes a master has to take strong physical corrective action if a slave is not doing his/her job properly or disobeying.  And if the master had to make a payment, to whom would he/she pay it, as he/she is the owner of the slave?  He/she would end up paying him-/herself.
In a society and time where slavery had been the practice, God is pushing the envelope of change in the Old Testament.  In the New Testament, the more appropriate and loving/caring master-servant relationship is commanded of employers.  (For more on this, read Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Culture Analysis by William J. Webb, Intervarsity Press, 2001.)
Why did God say if the slave survives “a day or two”, then no vengeance is to be taken?  Why such a short range?  What if the slave died three days, or a week, or a month, after being hit?  Does the master get off without punishment?
These are tough questions for which I have no easy answers.  The closest explanations I can find are the following:  First, we can assume that the master did not strike the slave with the intention of killing him or her for that would have meant a great loss of a slave he/she had paid good money for.  Second, if the slave did die after a day or two, the master would indeed have suffered a financial loss that would be significant.  Both are plausible, especially when considered together.
We do not always have the answers to the questions that arise in Scripture.  But if we dig hard enough and ask for understanding, God gives it to us either through others parts of the Bible or through our own thinking that is not contrary to the rest of His Holy Word. 
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[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

God Knew We Would Be Fighting Physically -- Exodus 21:18-19


“And if men have a quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and he does not die but remains in bed; if he gets up and walks around outside on his staff, then he who struck him shall go unpunished; he shall only pay for his loss of time, and shall take care of him until he is completely healed.”
 
I find it interesting that God knew His creation so well.  He knew we would fight physically as well as in many other ways.  It is a result of our sinful natures.  We could be filled with His Holy Spirit or we could allow our sinful nature to rule us through the influence of Satan, God’s enemy.  When my own nature and the Devil are in control, my natural inclination is to fight, or to fight back.  Fortunately, in my own life, it has only escalated to physical combat just a handful of times, and thankfully almost every one of them while I was still becoming an adult.  I have, however, witnessed, the physical fighting of other adults and it is not a pretty picture.  We do not have to watch too much of the evening news or read too many pages of our newspapers to see that men (and women) are fighting physically and hard enough that people get seriously hurt, or even die.
Our text refers to “men” but as we have indicated previously, often the message is intended for both genders.  And while verse 18 refers to striking someone with a stone or a fist, we would be foolish not to apply it to any form of undesirable physical contact or impact.  Two modern-day areas of law to consider in relation with this text come to my mind.  One is the area of automobile accidents.  The other is the area of non-consensual sexual activity.  But hold those thoughts for the moment.
The next thing we notice here is that the text seems to suggest a distinction between punishment and payment for one’s violation of the laws under consideration. We read that if the victim survives, the attacker shall go “unpunished” but shall still have to pay for certain things.  Clearly, God’s preference is that we do not fight one another.  Laws are put in place to deal with those individuals that contravene what is that preferred or desired behavior of He Who created us.  Neither God nor man creates laws for things that we do for actions or behavior preferred or desired by the maker of the law.  For example, we do not have a law that says, “Be it decreed that a person who loves his/her wife or parents or children, must . . .” and then describe the remedy for such action.
So clearly laws almost always are put in place for doing something that is in contravention of the desired or preferred action in the eyes and mind of the lawmaker.  And in this case, God is saying, “Do not strike another person.  But if you do, here is how you must be dealt with.”  Then He explains that if the victim dies, the striker is to be put to death (see references earlier in Exodus chapter 21).  But here God is saying, “If the victim survives, you will not be punished (assumedly by death) but you will have to compensate the victim for a number of things.”  Thus the difference between what you may otherwise have deserved (since striking may well lead to death) and what you are allowed to get away with since God did not allow the one you struck to die.
And what is the nature of the compensation that one is to pay if the victim survives?  Well, for starters, God says the aggressor will pay for the “victim’s loss of time”.  This is the idea we have today in our legal system of damages for loss of alternative opportunities.  If you lame me to the point where I cannot work, then the courts help us come to a settlement of what opportunity for me to earn wages you deprived me off and then assign you the responsibility to pay me for the equivalent amount.
God also says here that the aggressor is to pay for the victim’s costs of living until he is completely healed.  Here we get the idea of rehabilitation costs, or damages, which in our justice system have been broaden to include the legal costs the victims incurred in going after the aggressor in the courts.
And before we return to our two areas mentioned above – that of automobile accidents and non-consensual sex – allow me to comment on one other area of broadening of this whole principle that God outlines in these verses.  Our society has taken “striking” and given it many more meanings today.  While God spoke of physical striking here, our society has taken this much further, and perhaps rightly so.  We now include defamation of character, slander, mental anguish, wrongful dismissal in employment, and so much more.
Finally, we can see now how what God outlined to be the course of action for one who strikes another person (keeping in mind all the modern day equivalents of that) if he were to survive, formed the foundational principles for what our justice system often requires today.  That is, compensation of the aggressors in terms of making the victim as “whole” as possible.  Understanding that while one can never get back what they lost – a leg, their reputation, the mental health, etc. – the aggressor is required to compensate them in a way that allows them to have as much of a life as possible.
As we study this book of Exodus, we cannot but marvel at how much our entire legal system and society depend on God’s original thoughts on both punishment and compensation.
I can also see threads of similarity here between how God wants violators of His laws dealt with and how God Himself applies these same ideas to our sin against Him.  We have sinned and deserve to die.  But He wants us to live.  The penalty or compensation for our sin, however, still needs to be paid and He arranges for that payment to be made by His own Son dying on the cross in our place.  The wholeness of God’s Holy nature as far as His willingness to call us sons and daughters because of His love for us has been kept in tact, and we can have a relationship with Him for eternity.
________________________________________________________________________

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

God Warns Us Against “Cursing” our Parents -- Exodus 21:17

“And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”
 
On the list of actions for which God called for ‘capital punishment’, we come to the “cursing of one’s mother or father” in verse 17.  We remember that “striking one’s parents” was, according to verse 15, also part of this list.  After that, in verse 16, came the law on kidnapping in general (also punishable by ‘death’).  I find it interesting though that the two verses concerning how children treat their parents are interrupted with the reference to kidnapping.  I do not have a good explanation for that.
According to David Guzik, punishing the cursing of one’s father or mother by death preserves a critical foundation for civilized society, namely respect between generations by discouraging conflict between them.  God knew that as people age they are more at the mercy of the young, especially their own children who supposedly become responsible for them.  Thus He cannot stand to see open warfare between them, as that would harm society and ultimately possibly destroy it.
Today, as nation after nation, deals with modernizing its laws on euthanasia, which in essence is a legal means of the younger in the world facilitating the killing of those who are old, we seem, despite God’s laws, to be inching more and more towards civilization’s end.
Matthew Henry gives us some insight into the prohibition on cursing one’s parents.  He suggests it has more to do with “profaning any name of God” in a child’s expression of their ill feelings or anger towards their parents.  He also suggests that the “undutiful behavior” of children towards their parents provokes God greatly and if it is not punished by society, it will be dealt with by God Himself.  Henry warns sons and daughters against any such thoughts, feelings, or actions towards their parents, for as he says, “God searches the heart”.
So what does it all mean for us?  As I look back at the life of my own parents (my mom died when I was 35 and my dad when I was 59), I realize know how much of a gift they were to me from God.  I do not know what I would have been like without their direct and indirect influence.  I do not know what kind of husband or father or grandfather I would have been if it were not for how they shaped me.  I do not know how I would have handled the challenges and difficulties of life without following their instruction to rely on God Almighty.  It is possible that much of the good that I may have done towards another person would not have had the chance of ever happening had it not been for my parents and their role models in my life.
And as tough as one or both of our parents might have been towards us, the Bible simply asks us not “to curse them”.  That does not mean we condone or accept what they have done or are doing as parents, especially where they have or are causing harm to themselves, us, our family, or to others. But it does mean we do not wish them harm or death.
[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Kidnapping Is Nothing New To The Bible -- Exodus 21:16


“And he who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.”
 
Way back in Genesis (chapters 37), we read about Joseph’s older brothers pulling off the first recorded kidnapping when they plotted against him and then sold him to a group of  Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver, supposedly for him to become a slave.
And now many years later, God is telling the Israelites that kidnapping is punishable by death. We note that God does not differentiate between “stealing someone” (kidnapping) or “stealing them with another end in mind” (selling, sex trade, other forms of slavery, terrorist training, etc.).  We are not to have any control over another person’s life save and except the control God ordains as godly parents over our children, as godly spouses over each other, or as godly employers over our employees.  Any other control over and above that against an individual’s will is not God-ordained.
Some readers may wonder whether I missed one more type of control allowed by God and that is through church leadership.  I did not.  Contrary to what a good number of church or other religious leaders do, there is no room for control over others in a faith-based organization in God’s economy.  If you are being controlled by your religious leader against your free will, against your better judgment, and/or against what you believe the Scriptures say about something, then my strong advice to you is to pray for wisdom, discretion, and courage to rely fully on God and get out of that church as quickly as possible.  If you do not, consider yourself kidnapped – and you now know from the verses we are studying here that God is against that.  I encourage you to move on.  More on that below.
As I reflected on the story of Joseph and his brothers and tried to relate it to our verses here, another question came to mind.  “Who is to do the punishing and when?”  Clearly at the time of Joseph’s kidnapping, God had not yet given the people of Israel His ordinance against kidnapping as He did here in Exodus 21.  So we could not expect some other relatives of Joseph’s father Jacob to have implemented the punishment even when they found out who was responsible many years later.  But now that we have this ‘law’, what are we to do in the case of kidnapping?
The best place to look for answers to difficult questions is in Scripture itself.  When the plan of God for mankind is taken in its entirety, we can come closer to answering the question, “How then shall we live?”  With that in mind, first, we have to realize that in the New Testament Jesus Christ introduces a new variable that must be considered.  When true repentance is made, when forgiveness is sought sincerely, and when behavior is changed, then grace must be extended, even with respect to kidnapping.  Second, the legal penalty (the consequences assigned by the law of the land) must still be met.
Another issue that often arises with respect to kidnapping is whether or not a family should pay any ransom demanded by the kidnappers, or whether a nation should pay the ransom demanded by terrorist or other enemy kidnappers?  As you know countries around the world differ on that matter.  You can read more about that here: Meeting Ransom Demands.
Let us take this to the personal level in two ways.  First, would you or I pay ransom money to get our loved one back, or expect our government to do so if one of our loved ones had been kidnapped?  Personally, I cannot answer the question unequivocally.  I suppose that much depends on the circumstances.  The Bible talks about the punishment of kidnapping, it does not make comment on negotiating with kidnappers.  So, there is no morally correct answer here to my way of thinking.  In the adult courses that I teach, I advise participants to simply say, “it depends” whenever they are stumped by one of my questions.  Also, it often does indeed “depend”.  In the issue at hand here, I believe I would weigh whether paying ransom would simply encourage more kidnapping of the loved ones of others who may not be able to pay and thus result in the deaths of those kidnapped or whether this is a one-off situation where the kidnappers simply were after my specific loved one, in which case I would push for the paying of the ransom.
The second way I would take this matter to the personal level is by asking whether or not you or I actually “kidnap” anyone in one form or another?
Dictionary.com commences its definition of the verb ‘kidnap’ as follows: “to steal, carry off, or abduct by force or fraud.”  I thought of how some of us may have done or are doing that in our lives right now.  Here are some examples:
1.     In our cosmopolitan cities or world that we live in, there are more and more cases of “child brides/grooms” or “arranged marriages” for very young individuals.  If our spouse is with us still, but not out of his/her own volition but because our culture or one’s parents forced him/her on us, then it is possible for him/her to be a victim of kidnapping.
2.     If we enticed our spouse to marry us with lies of what we were or owned, etc., and once told, she/he could well feel kidnapped by the world’s definition as fraud was involved.
3.     And then there is the issue of how we deal with children of divorce with respect to visitation.  Are we forcing them to join one parent or another, be it permanently or periodically, against their will because of our own ‘right to do so’?  If so, could this be a form of ‘kidnapping’?  The age of the child is a major factor here.  You cannot allow a toddler to say, “No, I won’t visit with . . .”.  [Clearly there are laws and practices that have been established in our society to address this, but are they right?]
4.     And finally, any abduction or kidnapping either by force or enticement or lies for the purposes of any type of sex trade is indeed atrocious, an action for which there is absolutely no excuse.
I am not in any way promoting divorce as being the remedy in the case of the first two examples above -- far from it.  I am however suggesting that the forced marriage, the enticing lies, etc., need to be admitted to and the couple involved need to move towards a godly relationship that has dealt with the action or words that caused the problem and becomes one where grace abounds, making room for the relationship to grow in love and understanding.
In our third example involving visitation rights, what is best for the child should always be the priority concern of both parents.  In addition, a child’s own preference can sometimes be altered by an honest change in behavior of the parent they would otherwise prefer to avoid.  And a loving parent would make those adjustments in his/her life for the sake of their child. When all that is in place, the parents can be united in how the visiting is to be undertaken and encouraged.
We cannot leave this passage without returning to the “kidnapping” that often occurs by Christian leaders, be they pastors or leaders of a religious organization.  This kind of ‘kidnapping’ can come in many forms.  Some examples are:
1.     Ideological kidnapping where a pastor or leader insists all members of his/her following prescribe to a specific way of thinking or behaving that is “extra-scriptural” – that is, while perhaps not detrimental to one’s life (although it often is – be it psychologically or emotionally or physically), it is certainly not a requirement made by the Word of God.  And if one does not go along with his/her request, he/she is ex-communicated from the body (reverse kidnapping) or held prisoner (in one form or another).  Some examples that come to mind include: what constitutes true repentance and forgiveness from God (demanding a person go through a man-ordained process vs. dealing with God); not trusting in medicine or science for medical treatment; or not breaking bread or having fellowship with certain people/groups/etc.
2.     Financial kidnapping where a pastor or leader convinces all of his/her flock to become sacrificially committed (to the point of living in poverty or not being able to provide for their families) to one of his/her projects and actually causing people to feel guilty if they are not “all in”.  All the time, this same leader may be living comfortably and even extravagantly.  Another example here may be demanding that a person tithe strictly to the leader’s church and nowhere else.
3.     Influential kidnapping where one Christian leader who is a superior in a church or an organization goes on a campaign against others and in the process influences younger leaders or workers under their care to join him/her when in reality the problem is not between the younger workers and those whom the more senior worker is fighting.
In all of these examples, people get hurt, the name of Jesus is tarnished, and the work of the church or the organization is set back or completely destroyed some times.  In all cases, the Enemy sneers and rubs his hands with glee.
Woe to those Christian pastors and leaders who kidnap their sheep.  Woe to a husband or wife who kidnaps their spouse.  Woe to a parent who kidnaps his/her children.  Any form of kidnapping is something God hates or He never would have established this ordinance.
We can and must extend forgiveness to another person.  But only God can and does extend forgiveness to both the person and the sin.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.
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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Striking Our Parents -- Exodus 21:15


“And he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”

Let me paint the picture for you.  God is giving the Children of Israel ordinances that He wants them to follow.  These are no ‘try to comply’ directions.  These are regulations that if not obeyed, have serious consequences that others can enforce.
And now we come to the edict regarding one’s parents.  Striking one’s father or mother will result in death.
Best we take a look at the word ‘strike’ itself.  When I did so on the dictionary built into my Word software, I was surprised to see thirty-six (36) definitions for the word as a verb.  Not all of them are relevant to our study here but the following ones need attention:
1.     Hit somebody (or something)
2.     Deliver blow
3.     Attack somebody (or something)
4.     Stop working as protest
5.     Affect somebody suddenly
6.     Affect with emotion
7.     Damage something or somebody
8.     Bite or sting suddenly

In my own life, I can say I have never exhibited any physical kind of striking behavior towards my parents.  On the contrary, it was the other way around. I remember my father striking me on several occasions as I was growing up.  There came a time when he tried to do so when I was eighteen years old and a little stronger than him at the time. In his rage over something I had said causing him embarrassment in front of his older brother who was visiting us from the family’s homeland, he attempted to strike me (perhaps with a belt in his hand).  I immediately grabbed his arm and pinned him against a nearby wall.  “Dad” I said, “please don’t do this and don’t cause me to hurt you.”  He retracted.  Not so much, I think, because he thought I could defeat him if necessary, but because he may have been struck himself with the guilt of hitting a son who otherwise loved him so much.  My dad and I went on to have a strong relationship many years afterward.  But many others are not so fortunate; they do carry out their impulse to strike their parents.
What about the non-physical striking of one’s parents?  Have any of us ever just quit on our parents, wanting nothing more to do with them?  Given up on trying to help them or understand them?  The last five of the eight definitions above may well apply.  I think when you combine Exodus 21:15 with the definitions of the word ‘strike’, the message is clear – godly men and women do not strike their parents physically, mentally, emotionally, economically, or socially.  Just as we are a gift to them, our parents, rightly or wrongly because of sin, are gifts to us.  You might say, “Well, you just don’t know my parents.  That’s one gift God could have kept for Himself.”  I understand, but remember this.  Just as many of us as children have, with our behavior and choices, hurt our parents to no end, so to, because of sin many parents have hurt their children to an extent that is even unbearable.  Yet, the ‘gift’ part comes to both parents and children in that we have an opportunity to belong to someone or to take care of someone, to have an identity that uniquely identifies us among billions of other people on earth and over history.  And God also gives us as children, through the opportunity of loving our parents to model for our own children not only what God wants but also what it means to be a loving and caring person beyond all adversity.
In his book, Night, by Elie Wiesel, the author is haunted by the fact that he stood by idly watching the guards in a concentration camp during the Holocaust while they beat and killed his father, the only relation he had left after several years of being prisoners.  Understandably he was too weak physically and mentally to attack them, and too afraid as well.  It would have done no good and both would have been dead. Wiesel survived, but the memory of that inability to do what God had commanded at that time stayed with him to this day.  Not being able to do so was just one of the things that contributed to his turning against God in his own life.  Yet, it was not God that prevented him from trying to stop Hitler’s regime from killing his father, it was the evil of man that made it next to impossible.
Fortunately, not too many of us are placed in those kind of circumstances.  Often there are real opportunities not to strike our parents, yet so many of us fail in this regard.  I do not know about you, but in the big cosmopolitan city that I live in, stories break out about this very thing.  We have read accounts of children arranging for the murder of their parents in order to inherit their wealth or cash in on their life insurance policies. We have seen children arranging for the death of their father in order to gain social freedom.  (This is a problem our western society faces more and more as newcomers from very strict family traditions about entertainment, friends, dating, and sex clash with teenagers and older children seeking their total independence in the North American culture.) There was one story of what appeared to be a wealthy couple, living in a very large and expensive home, yet keeping their aged parents in the closed off garage without heat or other critical facilities. While they got their just desserts in all these cases (not death mind you, as society seems to think it knows better than God), we are certainly observing signs of a society gone amuck.
Finally one of the thoughts that hit me as I was studying this verse was the fact that God, the giver of these dictums is indeed a parent Himself.  And it occurred to me that He Himself as our Father is not to be ‘struck’ in any way.  It is important that we stop at this point in our study of Exodus and consider two things:
1.     Have we ever ‘struck’ our parents in the past and not asked for forgiveness?  If so, and they are still alive, the best thing we can do is ask them for it now and then change our ways if we have not done so already.  If we are striking them now in any shape or form (physical, social, mental, economical, or emotional), we must stop it and also ask for forgiveness.  There is no alternative here in the eyes of God.
  1. Have we ever ‘struck’ our Father in Heaven?  Doing so does indeed result in death.  Repentance and a change of behavior is the only solution.


    [Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

    Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.