Responsibility for Property & Some Moral Principles (Part 2)
Let us continue where we left off in our prior lesson. Exodus 22:21 reads - "You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." In other words, remember your past and treat others as you would like to be treated if the roles were reversed (cf. 23:9; Matt. 7:12).

"If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest. If you ever take your neighbor's garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious" (22:25-27). Do not charge interest against those who are poor and be very considerate of their basic needs. There is room for grace even when someone owes you a debt. Because of tremendous wealth in our country, it is difficult for many to even imagine the poverty of someone who has no other covering but his outer garment (i.e., no bed, no covers, no blanket, etc.).

"You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people" (22:28). Slandering the rulers God has appointed is still a sin today (cf. Titus 3:1,2; Rom. 13:1ff).

"You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. Likewise you shall do with your oxen and your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me. And you shall be holy men to Me; you shall not eat meat torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs" (22:29-31). God would elaborate later regarding the process for redeeming the firstborn human males. Obviously, children were not to be slain like an animal sacrifice but would be offered to God symbolically.

"You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice. You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute" (23:1-3). God expected His people to be honest people of integrity. It is easy but foolish to follow a crowd if the crowd is committing acts of wickedness. Committing evil in a large group does not make it approved in God's eyes. Truth is truth regardless of all those who may stand against it in word or in deed. The wording in 23:3 is significant. Partiality was not to be shown to a poor man! In other words, Israelite justice was to be blind to financial standing (as well as to skin color, tribal descent, education level, etc.). There would be a temptation for some compassionate judges to bend the rules of justice for the poor at the expense of the wealthy, but God does not advocate such a practice.

The remainder of this section expounds upon the need to help others who are in need, even if you consider them an enemy or they hate you (cf. Matt. 7:12).