Let’s Get Biblical: The Wisdom of Exodus 22

This past Sunday we had a guest speaker at church, a pastor with a children’s home ministry.  The ministry began with a home in southwestern Virginia, and has expanded to an orphanage in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico.  Both children’s homes are in poor, mountainous communities—the former the region where my late great-grandmother lived.  Both orphanages do amazing work with the kids, combining work (like gardening, feeding donkeys, and the like) with play—even a band!

In giving his talk about the ministry, the guest pastor referenced a few passages of Scripture.  Aside from the famous passage from Matthew 19:14 in which Jesus told the disciples to “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven,” the pastor also referenced Exodus 22:22-24, which deals with how widows and orphans are to be treated:

22You must not mistreat any widow or orphan. 23If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to Me in distress, I will surely hear their cry. 24My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword; then your wives will become widows and your children will be fatherless.

It’s a pretty powerful passage, and a reminder that God doesn’t mess around with sin, especially against the weakest and most defenseless.  We like to think that God has “mellowed out” since sending Jesus to die for our sins, but that’s dangerously wishful thinking.  God doesn’t change, and His Wrath is still mighty.

Of course Jesus freed us from many of the particulars of Old Testament law (we can eat scallops now—hurray!), but many of the principles of the old Law remain True, or at least contain valuable wisdom.  The law here—a prohibition against mistreating widows and orphans—and the punishment—death—are entirely fitting.

The idea on the surface isn’t unconventional:  it takes a real low-life to take advantage of some of society’s least-advantaged members.  Yet horror stories of physical, mental, and sexual abuse of minors abound within the foster systems of various States.  The trope of the wicked stepmother in fairy tales doubtless has roots, tragically, in reality:  aside from the difficulty of bounding with non-biological children, and wanting the most resources and honors to go to one’s biological children, there’s also the unfortunately high incidences of sexual mistreatment of fostered orphans.

Predators have an easy target in orphaned children:  the children are young, confused, and afraid.  They are unlikely to report what has happened to them, or to to even know what has happened to them.

Such an extreme wickedness deserves an equally extreme punishment.  The wisdom of Exodus 22:24 is clear:  death is the penalty for such sinfulness.

Naturally, due process, etc., should be observed—and even more strictly than usual—in such cases.  There are too many examples of wrongful imprisonment over hyped-up sexual abuse charges to toss around such a penalty haphazardly.

But the ultimate price for buggering children is the ultimate deterrent to such deviant behavior:  if Greasy George knows he could face the electric chair for violating an innocent, he might try harder to contain his unnatural urges.

I’m loathe to give the state even more power over our lives, but protecting the weak and innocent is one of the few things government is supposed to do.  In this area, then, we should welcome more vehement prosecution of and punishment for these crimes.

Pray for the sweet innocents.  They need our prayers now desperately.

11 thoughts on “Let’s Get Biblical: The Wisdom of Exodus 22

  1. I have always maintained that the God of the Old Testament is still God in the New Testament.

    My first husband and I did foster care for a few years when our kids were in high school. It takes its toll on foster parents, mentally and emotionally. They tug at your heart coming in and they drag your heart with them when they leave. We had babies that had to go through drug detox before they could be released to foster care and we learned how best to help the little souls when they would get ‘rigid’ when sleeping (it takes awhile for all the drugs to leave their little bodies and rigidity is a side effect of the withdrawal – and we had the ‘good ones’; God bless the medical foster homes that handle the most affected of the infants); we had little kids up to age seven. At one time, we had three boys under the age of four, lol – black, white, Hispanic – they were ‘brothers’. One of the most touching things I ever saw was the three boys sitting on the floor watching a children’s program and one little guy had his arm around the shoulder of another little guy. Brothers – but not brothers. We wanted to adopt Rance, a little black boy who just lassoed the hearts of my family; we all loved him. Just before we started the proceeding, the social worker came and said they were taking Rance; they had found a foster home that was caring for three of his siblings and that foster home agreed to take Rance so the (real) brothers could be together. You can’t argue with that. Turns out, Rance’s mother had 12 (!) children in foster care. Sigh.

    I can’t comment on the rest of your article. There are some things so horrendous I can’t wrap my brain around them and hurting a child – in any way – is one of them.

    I often wonder about ‘our boys’ – George, Rance, Timmy … we’re not allowed information after they leave our care.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for the work you did as a foster parent, Audre. That can’t be easy. I mean, I’m fostering a mere dog, and the thought of giving her up after the foster period is pretty much unthinkable (although adopting her will be much easier than adopting a human child). The story of Rance is particularly heartbreaking, and it’s terrible that you can’t know the whereabouts of the boys (though I understand why that might be the case).

      I’m with you—I struggle to comprehend some of the horrendous things that people do to children. That’s a pretty good sign that the unthinkable should be meted out as punishment to those who commit the unthinkable.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh yes! I personally doubt that Yahweh ever mellowed… beyond begetting a son for the sole purpose of having him be murdered for Man’s redemption. IF that can even be called mellowing.

    As for His words on widows and orphans and the issues therein: You need only look to Genesis 38. Onan refused to give his brother’s widow – Onan’s levirate wife – a child and heir to her late husband’s property… and got blasted to chunky salsa for his sin.

    But…

    I wouldn’t, were I a Christian, put too much stock in the writings of the vision of Peter. Matthew, writing the words of Jesus contradicts the indication therein that the dietary laws are null and void.

    Matthew 5:18-20

    18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

    19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    Nor would I be too eager to discount the Augustine magisterium, which held that the Law Verses applied to Christians as well as Jews.

    But Hey! That’s just my opinion and what would I, as a Pagan, know?
    — jonolan ThD, DD

    Liked by 3 people

    • Great points, my Pagan friend. : D Seriously, I had not considered the Matthew 5:18-20 passage. My understanding has been that Christ WAS the fulfilment of the Law. Chronologically, Peter’s vision in Acts occurred after the events of the Gospel; more importantly, God in that vision to Peter tells him He has made what was unclean clean.

      Still, good there, one I will need to explore further.

      Thanks for the food (unclean? clean?) for thought, jonolan.

      —TPP

      Liked by 2 people

      • Good! ROFLMAO Making peoples of the various faiths think about the details of the Laws set forth for them is part of my ministry… sort of.

        And, BTW, that thought of the things being fulfilled by Jesus is ironically Matthew 5:17!

        Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

        But Heaven and Earth have not yet passed, nor have all the visions of the Prophets done so.

        And, I focused upon tangential parts of your post because those diseased vermin your referenced are another, larger, more fundamental part of my calling, and I don’t need to get riled up right now and I certainly don’t need to vent here.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Does the statement “nor have all the visions of the Prophets done so” refer only to the prophecies of the OT prophets, or does it imply that there will be future prophets and revelations? The meat-sheet might fall under the later.

        Yes, don’t want to get too riled up, but it’s understandable when facing such evil.

        Like

      • I would say, as these are the words of Jesus during the time of his life, and in context of speaking to Talmudic scholars of his day, that it does NOT imply any future prophets.

        But, that is just one passage as has been passed down through several languages…

        As for facing such evil – been there, done that, paid a version of secular law’s price for it. Will likely do it again.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a theonomist/reconstructionist of the Bahnsen vein, and this article rings true with me. What is strange to me are the offenders that sit in penitentiaries across the US who have and more than likely will offend again. While reconstructionists may differ on this topic, it’s worth pointing out that biblically, the law and its penalties don’t require prisons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the great comment, Megan! I have to research what “a theonomist/reconstructionist of the Bahnsen vein” is, but it sounds like my interpretation gels with that label.

      Yes, incarceration of repeat violent offenders is expensive and often fails to reform. I believe in second chances, but some crimes are so heinous, worldly redemption becomes extremely unlikely. We’re wasting taxpayer dollars and prison space on cases that will never be reformed.

      Like

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