February 25, 2024 | Doug Sauder
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“You must not dishonor God or curse any of your rulers. You must not hold anything back when you give me offerings from your crops and your wine. You must give me your firstborn sons. You must also give me the firstborn of your cattle, sheep, and goats. But leave the newborn animal with its mother for seven days; then give it to me on the eighth day. You must be my holy people. Therefore, do not eat any animal that has been torn up and killed by wild animals. Throw it to the dogs.”—Exodus 22:28–31 (NLT)
In today’s passage, we read about laws regarding holiness unto God. Essentially, these laws were ways that God’s people were to be set apart from the rest of the world. You may be wondering, “How do these laws set them apart from other nations?” Let’s see!
Note: We covered God’s command to give our firstborn sons in the article, The Cost of Consecration.
“You must not hold anything back when you give me offerings . . .”
In other cultures, the people didn’t give their first and best to their gods. They kept their best livestock, wine, and crops for themselves and offered whatever was left. It’s the same today, even for believers. For the most part, we tend to tithe and give from whatever’s left instead of doing it first. But this isn’t supposed to be the way for God’s people. We’re supposed to be different from the world. God deserves more than our spare change in every area.
We’re all called to realign our priorities and mindset, to remember that everything we have is a gift and blessing from God and that He is worthy of our very best. And as we walk in obedience in this area, we’ll also learn to trust in His provision.
“You must not dishonor God or curse any of your rulers.”
Hear me clearly when I say that the most basic arena for holiness is the tongue (Proverbs 10:19, Ephesians 4:29; 1 Peter 3:10). God cares how we talk about Him and those He calls us to submit to.
To be honest, these things are not easy and definitely not the norm. We don’t want to be told what to do with our money and most of us seem to have a problem with respecting the authorities above us.
Take our political leaders for example. This is an extremely divisive topic today and, for many, a very difficult thing God directs us to do. Does God know what we’re dealing with today? Does He know what our political climate is like? Yes, He does. He knows each ruler in the world, sees their hearts and true intentions, and yet both here and throughout the New Testament, we’re told things like, “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities” (Titus 3:1 ESV).
“Do not eat any animal that has been torn up and killed by wild animals.”
We’re commanded to act differently than animals; we’re not scavengers. These laws were also protective, because these torn animals often carried diseases.
I want to point out that with all of these laws, the norm in other cultures (including the one they had known their whole lives in Egypt) and kingdoms was the literal opposite. But we’re not meant to be like everyone else. Instead, these laws, as well as the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, show us that our lives must “in every way . . . make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (Titus 2:10 NIV). In this way, we “let [our] light shine before others, that they may see [our] good deeds and glorify [our] Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV).
Pause: What does it mean to be holy and set apart? How do these laws help accomplish this?
Practice: Are there any areas in your life where you more closely resemble the world than Jesus—areas you’re not living set apart in? Surrender those today. Pray and ask the Lord to help you by His Spirit to walk in holiness.
Pray: Father, today I pray this old hymn and ask that You . . . “Help me to be holy, oh Father of light. Guilt-burdened and lowly, I bow in Thy sight. How shall a stained conscience dare gaze on Thy face? Even though in Thy presence Thou grant me a place? Help me to be holy, oh Savior divine. Why conquer so slowly this nature of mine? Stamp deeply Thy likeness where Satan hath been. Expel with Thy brightness my darkness and sin! Help me to be holy, oh Spirit divine. Come, sanctify wholly this temple of Thine. Now cast out each idol, here set up Thy throne. Reign, reign without rival, supreme and alone!” Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.