During his tumultuous presidency, Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” In today’s reading, Moses encountered a situation where he was not sure what to do. Instead of making a quick decision, he waited, “until the will of the LORD should be made clear to them” (v. 12).
This is a good reminder that the law in Israel was not given by Moses, but God. Moses knew he needed to wait for God’s guidance and leading. The specific situation had to do with a man who had an Egyptian father and Israelite mother (v. 10). This man got into a fight with an Israelite, during which he blasphemed and cursed the name of the Lord (v. 11). This was a serious offense. The Lord commanded that the man be put to death (v. 14). This specific situation led to a series of laws that have become famous, “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (v. 19).
While this may seem harsh, it put a limit on how much retribution was allowed. Often this command was not applied literally. For example, if a slave lost an eye, he was given his freedom (Ex. 21:26). The point was that the punishment should be in proportion to the crime. The New Testament required that punishment be carried out by civil authorities (Acts 25:11; Rom. 13:4).
In addition, Jesus called His followers to a higher standard. Instead of an “eye for an eye,” He declared, “do not resist an evil person…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:39, 44). >> If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is always good to spend time in prayer. Ask God for His guidance in your life. Ask Him to use the truth of His Word to speak into your situation.