As is the case in the Bible there are things I cannot fully explain in a way that would fully appease the modern day mind. I think there are things in these 4 chapters of Exodus that would be appalling to our 21st Century Western conditioned minds. For instance, I don’t know that any jury would be willing to give a person the death penalty because their animal killed another person…even if they knew there was a potential it could happen. I am sure there are some that feel if a dog kills a child then the owners should die, but again no jury would enforce such a sentiment.
Yet this is what God commands,
“If, however, an ox was previously in the habit of goring and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death.” -Exodus 21:29
Also we read this,
“But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life,24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” -Exodus 21:24, 25
But it is contradicted by Jesus here,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” -Matthew 5:38, 39
One seems to teach just punishment is equal revenge and the other that equal retribution is to be avoided.
So did God suddenly become enlightened over the ages? Did Jesus and God the Father not agree on this principle in the first place and now that Jesus is on earth and has the captive attention of the people He’s going to get His two cents in? Was God just having a bad day when Exodus 21 was inspired and feeling much better about things by Matthew 5?
I don’t believe any of the above make sense. One common argument is that it is not about the specific laws but the principles. But then one could ask why would God order someone to be killed in order to teach a principle.
If someone were to say, “Well God wanted people to understand the importance of personal responsibility” say in regards to the law of the careless Ox owner, I would say I don’t think I like a God that is willing to take a life in one century to teach me a principle centuries later.
Could I say this…I don’t understand all of these laws…
But I know the God who saved me and loves me and is coming back for me and until He chooses to give me insight I will wonder, but I will not doubt. I will be confused, but I will not be dismayed. I will be curious but I will not search after other gods, because I know that I am not God, He is, and one day I will see…even if that day is not now, or maybe not ’till eternity.
Next Reading: 2 Samuel 10-14