Something that I have learned from studying the Bible is that God is continually trying to separate man’s idea of God from who God really is. One place that I see this is in the book of Exodus. In Exodus chapter 23 we can see that God has given the Israelites a set of rules to follow, but what may not be so easy to see is that God is not concerned with having the Jews follow a list of does and don’ts – He wants them to celebrate Him only as God.
In Exodus 23:1-9 we can see that God has commanded the Israelites to be honest in their testimonies and also to show mercy to their enemies. The contrast in this passage is between the rich and the poor. The term used of multitudes refers to the chief or important people and God commands the Jews not to take their side in a dispute but also not to take the side of the poor. In dealing with these disputes God tells Israel to remember how it felt for them when they were being oppressed in Egypt and begged for mercy. He commands them to show the same mercy that they hoped for to the foreigners and non-Jews among them.
In the next passage (Ex. 23:10-19) God continues with His instruction to Israel to be merciful. However, He quickly moves the focus to Himself. Here God gives instructions about the Sabbath year and Sabbath day rest. No work is to be done during these times so that the poor among them and the workers might have something to eat, but this is more than a socialism setup. God, in verse thirteen commands the Jews “now concerning everything that I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let them be heard from your mouth.” This verse seems a little out-of-place, until you put it together with verse fourteen, “Three days a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me.” God is saying in verse thirteen, not to give credit to other gods for how He alone has prospered the land and provided for every man’s needs. The reason that God commanded the Jews not to work on the seventh day and in the seventh year is so that the poor would be able to have something of their own to present to God as an offering during the three times a year that they would celebrate God as Supreme(see verse 15) – “And none shall appear before Me empty-handed.”
This day, make it your focus that as God deals good to you in providing for your needs that you will give Him the honor that He alone is due. It is easy for us to hang our hats on how well we can do a particular job and how successful we are, but remember that it is God who has made us able to prosper. remember to honor God. Celebrate Him today!