“Unit 11: Day 1, Exodus 21–24,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 11: Day 1,” Old Testament Study Guide
The Lord revealed additional laws to Moses. The Israelites agreed to obey God’s laws and formally entered into a covenant with God.
Imagine you are a judge. What would your judgments be in the following situations?
Two men became angry with one another and began to fight. One of them was severely injured in the fight and confined to bed for several weeks. What responsibility does the other man have toward the injured man?
A boy borrowed a donkey, and then someone stole the donkey from him. Is the boy financially responsible for the stolen donkey? Does the boy need to pay the owner for the cost of the donkey?
A woman has been treated very poorly by her neighbors for several years. They often ridicule her and her family. One day she discovers an ox belonging to one of her neighbors wandering by itself in the road. What should the woman do?
Exodus 21–23 includes the Lord’s laws for the children of Israel as they encountered situations such as the ones above. For a brief summary of these laws, read the chapter headings for Exodus 21–23. The laws recorded in these chapters would help the people keep the Ten Commandments and live peaceably with one another.
The Lord revealed these laws to Moses after Moses again ascended Mount Sinai (see Exodus 20:21). Turn to the diagram titled “Moses’s and Israel’s Experiences with Jehovah at Mount Sinai,” in the Exodus 17–19 lesson (Unit 10: Day 3). In the blank space on line 6 of the diagram, write: God gives additional laws.
Read the following verses, and discover how the Lord instructed the Israelites to respond to situations like those at the beginning of this lesson: Exodus 21:18–19; Exodus 22:7–12; Exodus 23:4–5. Using these verses as laws, how would you rule in each of the situations from the beginning of the lesson? Write your answers below:
Read Exodus 21:22–25, looking for the penalties set for Israelites who injured one another. How might knowing these penalties have been helpful to the children of Israel?
The laws were to establish balance, fairness, and justice. Read Exodus 22:1–6, looking for what was required of the children of Israel after someone committed one of the sins listed in these verses.
The phrase “make restitution” (verse 5) means a person repairs the problems caused by his or her actions.
- What principle can we learn from Exodus 22:1–6 about what we need to do when we violate these or any other laws of God? Write your answer in your scripture study journal.
There may be some situations in which it is difficult or not possible to make restitution. As you read the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, look for how these situations can be resolved:
“To earn forgiveness, one must make restitution. That means you give back what you have taken or ease the pain of those you have injured.
“But sometimes you cannot give back what you have taken because you don’t have it to give. If you have caused others to suffer unbearably—defiled someone’s virtue, for example—it is not within your power to give it back.
“There are times you cannot mend that which you have broken. Perhaps the offense was long ago, or the injured refuse your penance [attempts to make restitution]. Perhaps the damage was so severe that you cannot fix it no matter how desperately you want to. …
“… Restoring what you cannot restore, healing the wound you cannot heal, fixing that which you broke and you cannot fix is the very purpose of the atonement of Christ.
“When your desire is firm and you are willing to pay [all you are able to pay,] the law of restitution is suspended. Your obligation is transferred to the Lord. He will settle your accounts” (“The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 19–20).
Ponder whether there are any situations in your life in which you feel you need to make restitution. Seek the Lord’s help to do so.
Exodus 23 contains laws the Lord revealed concerning integrity and godly conduct. The Lord also told the children of Israel to keep three annual feasts.
The promised land the children of Israel were preparing to occupy was home to several nations that were involved in idol worship. These nations were to be gradually driven out of the land of Canaan by the Israelites.
As you continue your study about the children of Israel, you will see that at times they failed to obey the Lord and overthrow and destroy the false gods. At these times the Lord withdrew His help and His blessings. Ponder the Lord’s promised blessings for obedience. If God was willing to bless the ancient Israelites for keeping the commandments, what kinds of things will He do for you in your life as you strive to be obedient?
- Imagine that you have a friend who wants to be baptized and become a member of the Church. In your scripture study journal, list what you think this friend might need to do to prepare to enter into the covenant of baptism. Then answer the following question: Why do you think it is important to make these preparations before entering into the covenant of baptism?
Turn again to the “Moses’s and Israel’s Experiences with Jehovah at Mount Sinai” diagram in the Exodus 17–19 lesson (Unit 10: Day 3). Remember that at Mount Sinai the Lord gave the Israelites the opportunity to enter into a covenant with Him that would prepare them to return to His presence and receive eternal life.
Review the diagram to see what the Lord had done to prepare Israel to enter into a covenant with Him.
How was the Israelites’ preparation similar to the ways in which a person might prepare today to enter into the covenant of baptism?
Exodus 24:1–4 explains that before Moses ascended Mount Sinai again, he reviewed with the people the law that they had recently received from the Lord, and they committed to obey it. Moses then recorded “all the words of the Lord” (Exodus 24:4). Before the people formally entered into the covenant with God, Moses built an altar and instructed some young men to make burnt offerings and sacrifice oxen on it.
Read Exodus 24:5–8, looking for what Moses did to help the children of Israel formally enter into a covenant with God. You may want to mark what you find.
Remember that God had commanded His people to participate in the ordinance of animal sacrifice, which had taught them about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. What do you think the blood sprinkled on the altar might have represented? What do you think the sprinkling of blood upon the people symbolized?
One principle we can learn from this event is that making and keeping covenants with the Lord helps us qualify to receive the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
What are the blessings of the Atonement that we receive as we make and keep covenants? Look for answers to this question as you read the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners. I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints—for good men and women who are obedient, worthy, and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully. We may mistakenly believe we must make the journey from good to better and become a saint all by ourselves. …
“The gospel of the Savior is not simply about avoiding bad in our lives; it also is essentially about doing and becoming good. And the Atonement provides help for us to overcome and avoid bad and to do and become good. Help from the Savior is available for the entire journey of mortality. …
“The enabling power of the Atonement of Christ strengthens us to do things we could never do on our own” (“The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality,” Ensign, Apr. 2012, 42, 46).
- In your scripture study journal, list two or three examples of ways in which a nonmember friend could be blessed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ by making and keeping covenants. Also consider writing how making and keeping your covenants has given you strength to serve others and become a better person. (You do not need to share anything that is too sensitive or personal.)
In the blank space on line 7 of the “Moses’s and Israel’s Experiences with Jehovah at Mount Sinai” diagram write: Israel enters into the covenant.
Read Exodus 24:9–12, looking for what happened after the children of Israel formally made a covenant with God.
The men who ascended Mount Sinai with Moses and saw God were able to stand as witnesses with Moses of the experience. Moses then went farther up the mountain to receive the law of the covenant written on stone tables by God. (These stone tables were tablets—flat pieces of stone that were written on—not tables like those on which we eat.)
Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai receiving additional instruction from the Lord. You will learn more about this instruction as you study Exodus 25–31 in upcoming lessons.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Exodus 21–24 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: