The Old Testament Laws — The law leads people to Christ & the two most important laws.
Reading 1: Exodus 21
Reading 2: Matthew 22:34-40
Reading 3: Galatians 3:19-26
Today we see a portion of the laws given to Moses for the nation of Israel. These are difficult verses to understand from our modern perspective, especially in the West with the terrible history of slavery oppressing those of African and Caribbean descent. In the nation of Israel, slavery was very different – the Hebrew word is closely related to the word for work, and means a worker. There were social protections for slaves (unlike the other nations in the region at that time which all had slavery as part of their social fabric). There is more information from a Jewish perspective at this link, which you may wish to read.
The second half of the chapter gives commandments and instructions in case of death and kidnapping, which emphasize the sanctity of life (as a gift from God) and provide for equivalent penalties for the perpetrators of these crimes. This means there were no serial murderers in Israel.
With all these instructions, it would be easy to conclude that there are many individual laws which must be kept to obey God, but Jesus summarizes them all into two: “You must love the lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” And “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
This illustrates that the Law was a guardian for those who lived before Jesus came, confining them for their own good until freedom from the penalty of sin, which only Jesus could provide, was achieved. Now, rather than being prisoners of sin we can live as free children of God alongside our brother, Jesus!
Have a great day!