Today many professing Christians are ashamed of the civil laws that God gave Israel at Sinai, as if they were bad or wrong. But the law is full of God’s wisdom and justice.
Consider God’s law for Israel concerning an ox that gores:
28 If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall surely be stoned and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall go unpunished. 29 If, however, an ox was previously in the habit of goring and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death. 30 If a ransom is demanded of him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is demanded of him… 35 If one man’s ox hurts another’s so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and divide its price equally; and also they shall divide the dead ox. 36 Or if it is known that the ox was previously in the habit of goring, yet its owner has not confined it, he shall surely pay ox for ox, and the dead animal shall become his. – Exodus 21:28-30, 35-36 NASB
So to summarize:
- Ox gores a man: stone the ox.
- Habitually goring ox gores a man: stone the ox and its negligent owner.
- Ox gores an ox: divide the profits from sale of live ox, and divide the dead ox.
- Habitually goring ox gores an ox: trade oxen.
So you’re an Israelite; you have an ox, and your neighbor’s ox that was known to have a habit of goring gores your ox to death… Horror! Indignation! You demand justice!
And here’s God’s justice: your neighbor gets your dead ox, and you get his live ox.
But notice that where before you owned a normal ox, you now own an ox that is known to be in the habit of goring—you are bearing more responsibility than you used to. “But I don’t want to bear more responsibility than I used to!” you say. “I shouldn’t be required to bear more responsibility than I used to! This is not justice! Am I my brother’s keeper?”
God’s justice blends wisdom with love of neighbor, but we chafe at it because our hearts are evil.