Exodus 23

The Lord is a just and holy God. And he expects his people to act justly. Jesus said: “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48) The ninth commandment: You shall not testify falsely against your neighbor is a commandment about justice. The Lord expects individuals to act justly no matter what the masses are doing. He expects his people to act justly towards both friend and foe. Some people are partial to the poor and others are partial to the rich. Justice should be blind to all partiality, nor should it be bribed. (vv. 1-9)

Why the Sabbath rest? The Sabbath was a test to see if the sons of Israel would obey the Lord but it also was given to them for their good. Men do best when they work hard followed by a period of rest. I know that I work best after resting and I rest best after working. Men were made for work but must have rest. This rest was not for the land owner only but was required of him to rest his animals and the slaves that worked for him. The land was to have a rest also. For six years the sons of Israel could farm the land and on the seventh year the land was to have a rest. This was to provide food for the poor and food for the animals of the land. The principle is to not always be taking but to let others have a share. (vv.10-13)

The sons of Israel were to come together three times a year and enjoy a feast as one congregation before the Lord: The Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of their labors.  The Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year. They gathered to remember how the Lord took them out of Egypt. The Harvest feast and the Ingathering feast help them to remember that the Lord is the One who provides. The Feasts also kept them as one people. (vv14-19)

The Lord promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. The Lord promised the sons of Israel that he would completely destroy them but not in a single year. The nation needed to grow before they could fully inhabit the land. They were to make no covenant with the people of the land because the Lord did not want them to be influenced to sin and worship their gods. (vv. 20-33)