Chapter twenty-two looks like a hodge-podge of property laws. These aren’t our laws today. How can they apply to us?
We should not just consider them “property laws,” or even “various laws.” They all have to do with one thing: the responsibility of the individual in the community.
To steal something is one thing – but not without consequence. To profit from your theft is even worse. You have a responsibility to the one you have wronged and it is more than just saying you are sorry; it may involve the sacrifice of your life.
If you start a fire, you are responsible for containing it and even though accidents happen, accident or not, you are responsible. There is no such thing as “finders keepers losers weepers” in the Bible. A man’s property remains his property. If you find something, you have a responsibility to return it, or to find the owner. If you make no attempt, and the owner sees his property, you must not only return it, but also pay back double its value. If someone entrusts something to you, and you accept that responsibility, you are responsible for its safe-keeping. There will be no excuse for an “accident.” You are responsible.
Why are laws having to do with sorcery and sacrifice to other gods and sexual immorality mixed in with these laws?
It is because our responsibility in the community is a serious thing, and while things and people are not the same, responsibility to things, people, and God are all serious matters. This kind of ethics should be characteristic of Christians. We don’t live like the rest of the world, a fact I believe is emphasized by verse 31. We’re not animals. Animals look out for themselves and for their own. God’s people, however, look out for the community and understand that their place in the community is defined by God, and our place with God is determined to some degree by how we fulfill those responsibilities.