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February 18, Day #49 – What Angered Jesus?

In Exodus 21-22, we find God’s general regulations for living, as given specifically to the Israelites – although the principles found in this section are useful for us all – both Jew and Gentile alike. In chapter 21, we see the regulations that governed relationships between masters and servants (also slaves) and the processes for their redemption. In Scripture, redemption is always a picture and a reminder of what God has done for us regarding His provision for dealing with our own slavery to sin. In verses 12-36, Moses writes about the laws that address personal injuries – including intentional attacks, kidnapping, quarreling (i.e., fights), mistreatment of slaves, and loss of animal control. Here, any disrespect toward parents imposed the death penalty on the perpetrator. These laws applied for both passive and active violations. Chapter 22 makes provisions for the protection of personal property – especially the theft thereof. People have a right to property, and property rights are to be respected. In verses 16-31, the law concerns man’s social responsibilities – relationships between people, classes of people (i.e., aliens, widows, orphans, and neighbors), and things offered to God. The chapter closes with the special injunction, “You are to be my holy people” (verse 31). When I read through these various rules for living, I think of all the issues and conflicts that Moses and the other judges must have faced. It is no wonder that God created very clear guidelines for them – in the absence of which – chaos would have prevailed.

In my younger teenage years, I sometimes tried to impress my peers by engaging in unacceptable behaviors, that – in the end - only led me into serious trouble (cf., Proverbs 5:14). From those experiences, I was amazed to learn how easily, quickly, and exponentially the practices of foolishness, sin, and evil can complicate, entangle, and sabotage one’s life. Later, I remember reading in this chapter how the steps of the “adulterous woman lead straight to the grave” (verse 5), and how - through contempt for this wisdom and by yielding to the temptations of such evil influences - one’s whole life can be completely shipwrecked. Here, the “adulterous woman” is not restricted to the feminine gender; she can be anything that seduces and distracts a person from his right and proper relationship with God. I remember – after reading this text – specifically asking God to keep me pure and to help me avoid coming to the end of my life with nothing but waste, sorrow, and regret for “hating discipline, spurning correction, and not obeying my teachers” (verses 12-13). How many times I have witnessed firsthand - people who have ended up like this! Trying consciously to live a sanctified life apart from evil is hard enough - we don’t need to add stupid decisions and foolish sins to make it worse. I thank God for His wisdom, and I heartily recommend that young people today pay close attention to the Scriptures.

In Mark 2:18 – 3:30, we see how “some people” came to question Jesus about fasting. The “guests of the bridegroom cannot fast,” Jesus says, “as long as the bridegroom is with them” (verse 19). He also illustrated this principle in his explanation of the wineskins: “New wine goes into new wineskins” (verse 22). Jesus’ answers to their questions reveal that He came to bring in an entirely new system – the age of grace. The former system of law was obsolete. These two systems cannot coexist. This is why the Pharisees and the teachers of the law so strenuously opposed Jesus – He was saying that the legal system was being replaced. Thus, essentially, their jobs were no longer necessary. In this section, we also see that Jesus demonstrates His authority over the Sabbath, which “was made for man” (verse 27) – not the other way around. This shows how much the Pharisees twisted the law to their own ends, and then, in chapter 3, when they refuse to respond to Christ’s question about healing on the Sabbath, Jesus displayed righteous anger against them because of the “stubbornness of their hearts” (verse 5). As a result, the Pharisees and the Herodians – two opposing parties in Israel - began to plot together to “kill Jesus” (verse 6). This alliance, along with the Beelzebub account that follows in verses 20-30, shows how the forces of darkness, sin, and evil can unite otherwise enemy agents and agencies together in opposition to the cause of righteousness – when ordinarily – they would fight bitterly against each other. We must understand that this is satanic, and it truly illustrates "a house divided against itself" (verse 25). Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! These divided fractions are completely willing to accuse Jesus of many things, but they won’t admit their own self-righteousness or their lack of compassion toward others. Their stubborn minds and hearts were fixed on unrighteousness, and they refuse to change. This is what angered Jesus.

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