December 4, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins. Do not allow a sorceress to live. Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal is to be put to death. Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the Lord must be destroyed.”—Exodus 22:16–20 (NIV)
In today’s passage, we continue our examination of some of the laws the Lord gave to the Israelites for the building of their nation when they would enter the Promised Land. These were the laws that would govern their lives and practices and the consequences that would come from breaking those laws.
Every country, state, city, HOA, and family has their own set of rules. Laws are meant to protect us from ourselves and others. The Law of Moses is no different in this regard. Where it does differ is that unlike nations, HOAs, and families, whose laws are created by imperfect and sometimes corrupt individuals, “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul” (Psalm 19:7 NIV).
The laws in today’s passage existed because of our perversion of that which was created perfectly (Romans 1:21–32). Let’s look at them:
“If a man seduces a virgin . . .”
Today, with intense smugness and a deeply misplaced superiority of being more “evolved,” we look at a law like this as oppressive, “a tool of the patriarchy.” But the world was different then. Marriages were—as they still are in some places today—arranged. People didn’t date around.
So, this law was implemented to protect women and served to 1) demonstrate there’s no such thing as “casual” sex, 2) that our purity is valuable and should not be treated as cheap or free, and 3) to discourage premarital sex, a perversion of God’s perfect and beautiful design for marriage and human intimacy.
“Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal . . .”
Similar to the virginity law, this perverts natural intimacy and embraces a truly wicked, unnatural union. It’s unspeakably grotesque and unhealthy, but was practiced in the ancient world—often as part of worship and sacrifice.
Now, with moral principles around sexuality, they all go together. Premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, incest, necrophilia, and pedophilia is all depravity. We can’t pick and choose what to follow based on culture. If we reject God’s Word when it comes to one area of sexual morality, there’s no other place to draw the line. We can’t say that sex with animals, children, or the dead is wrong if premarital sex is normalized because the ethic is “if it feels good, do it.”
“Do not allow a sorceress to live…”
In the ancient world, sorcery was generally tied to occult practices and heavy drug use, and was often deadly. It invoked demonic entities, worshiped the devil (a perversion of the first two commandments), and was detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the people. It was spiritual terrorism!
“Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the Lord must be destroyed.”
This act traded drug use for killing an animal. It was a perverse form of worship in the name of false gods and demonic powers, and the spreading of this amongst the people would have dire consequences for the people (as we see all through the Old Testament).
I pray some light has been shed on why laws like this were given by God for His people, not to His people.
Pause: What is the importance of laws like these? How do they serve to protect not only the individual, but all people?
Practice: Are there any compromises in your life in any area related to these? Repent, pray, and seek help from a biblical counselor, pastor, or mentor!
Pray: Father, today I pray the words of Psalm 19:7–14 (NIV). I thank You that “the law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.” I praise You because “they are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” I declare before You, Lord, “who can discern their own errors?” and ask You to “forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.” I pray that “these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” 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.