The LORD had taught Israel to honor the Sabbath day before they came to Sinai and the giving of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments and the judgments of God which He is teaching Israel in these chapters, are not new to the earth. Scripture says of Abraham, that he obeyed the LORD’s voice and kept His charge, His commandments, His statutes, and His laws (torah, Gen 26:5).
One of the attributes of God, is His immutableness. He is unchanging. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8). If He is unchanging, then His ways are unchanging. His commandments are unchanging. The Sabbath was set apart as a hallowed day of rest from the first week of Creation (Gen 2:1-3). Resting on Sabbath is not something that sprang up heretofore unknown at Mount Sinai.
Exo 23, in explaining what ‘Honor the Sabbath day’ commandment means, teaches that there is also a Sabbath year. Every seventh year, the land shall rest, and the owners of the fields will not plant or harvest what grows, but the poor, widows, and strangers will harvest what grows. In like manner, we learn, that just as the Sabbath of the seventh year extends grace to the land, the Sabbath of the seventh day extends grace to the beasts of the field and the servants of the house.
So we find grace in the midst of law and commandment. Isn’t that what we would expect to find of the laws of the immutable God of grace?
“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it.” Exo 23:4-5
Show love to your enemy! Jesus put it this way:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Mat 5:43-45
That is not a new concept, springing up for the first time from the God of the New Testament and grace. The God of the Old Testament and Law put neon flashing lights around those two verses, to teach us that the purpose of His charge, His commandments, His statutes, and His laws, is to show us what love looks like – because love has always been, now is, and ever will be, the fulfilling of the Law, the way of the unchanging God of love.
Finding Messiah: Moses took the blood of the covenant, and sprinkled it on the people. Moses is a type of Messiah, and the blood of the covenant that has been sprinkled upon us, is the blood of Messiah which He shed for us. There are other references to Messiah in these chapters. Three is a sign of Messiah in Scripture, and three times per year, Israel was to present themselves before the LORD God. These three feasts are harvest festivals of thanksgiving to the Lord. At the feast of Unleavened Bread, the barley harvest was taken in. The feast of Harvest is also known as Shavuot, Weeks, or Pentecost, when the wheat harvest was taken in. The feast of Ingathering is also known as the feast of Tabernacles, when the fruit harvest was taken in. The firstfruits portion of barley, wheat, and fruits, was to be given to YHVH at these festivals. These festivals prophesy of Messiah in amazing ways – Batya Wootten’ s book recommended below is a wonderful resource to dig into this topic in detail.