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Opening Questions and Prayer

  • When was a time you felt honored?

    • What was done to make you feel this way?

  • When people spend time with you, do they feel honored by you?

  • How does the way you treat others honor God?

  • Thank God for how He honors and loves others. Pray for wisdom as you study the Bible.

Read Exodus 21:1-6

1 “These are the regulations you must present to Israel.

2 “If you buy a Hebrew slave, he may serve for no more than six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. 3 If he was single when he became your slave, he shall leave single. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife must be freed with him.

4 “If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave and they had sons or daughters, then only the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. 5 But the slave may declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I don’t want to go free.’ 6 If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door or doorpost and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will serve his master for life.

  • When the Israelites heard the word “slave” what did they think of?

  • How was the version of slavery God was presenting, different than how they Israelites were treated by the Egyptians?

  • How does this show God’s love and care for people?

  • See Exodus 19:5-6a Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. 6 And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’

  • How was this helping God establish His holy nation?

  • How did these regulations help the Israelites honor God and others?

Read Exodus 21:7-11

7 “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. 8 If she does not satisfy her owner, he must allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. 9 But if the slave’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave but as a daughter.

10 “If a man who has married a slave wife takes another wife for himself, he must not neglect the rights of the first wife to food, clothing, and sexual intimacy. 11 If he fails in any of these three obligations, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.

  • How were women viewed in this time period?

  • How did these regulations show God valued women?

  • How might these verses be taken out of context?

  • What are somethings you base your value of other people on? (apperance, possessions, abilities, etc.)

  • What is a way you can show value to someone else this week?

Read Exodus 21:12-17

12 “Anyone who assaults and kills another person must be put to death. 13 But if it was simply an accident permitted by God, I will appoint a place of refuge where the slayer can run for safety. 14 However, if someone deliberately kills another person, then the slayer must be dragged even from my altar and be put to death.

15 “Anyone who strikes father or mother must be put to death.

16 “Kidnappers must be put to death, whether they are caught in possession of their victims or have already sold them as slaves.

17 “Anyone who dishonors father or mother must be put to death.

  • What did this teach the Israelites about the Lord’s mercy?

  • What does this teach you about the Lord’s mercy?

  • Why does God value human life so much?

    • See Genesis 1:27- “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

  • What are some ways you have devalued life (either your own or others)?

  • How does God want you to view life?

Read Exodus 21:18-27

18 “Now suppose two men quarrel, and one hits the other with a stone or fist, and the injured person does not die but is confined to bed. 19 If he is later able to walk outside again, even with a crutch, the assailant will not be punished but must compensate his victim for lost wages and provide for his full recovery.

20 “If a man beats his male or female slave with a club and the slave dies as a result, the owner must be punished. 21 But if the slave recovers within a day or two, then the owner shall not be punished, since the slave is his property.

22 “Now suppose two men are fighting, and in the process they accidentally strike a pregnant woman so she gives birth prematurely. If no further injury results, the man who struck the woman must pay the amount of compensation the woman’s husband demands and the judges approve. 23 But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life, 24 an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, 25 a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.

26 “If a man hits his male or female slave in the eye and the eye is blinded, he must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And if a man knocks out the tooth of his male or female slave, he must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth.

  • Why was it important for people to make amends for their wrong doing?

  • Why was the “eye for an eye” rule important?

  • What does this teach us about God’s character?

  • What is tough about this passage?

  • What can you do this week to understand more about God’s love, justice, and mercy?

Read Exodus 21:28-36

28 “If an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox must be stoned, and its flesh may not be eaten. In such a case, however, the owner will not be held liable. 29 But suppose the ox had a reputation for goring, and the owner had been informed but failed to keep it under control. If the ox then kills someone, it must be stoned, and the owner must also be put to death. 30 However, the dead person’s relatives may accept payment to compensate for the loss of life. The owner of the ox may redeem his life by paying whatever is demanded.

31 “The same regulation applies if the ox gores a boy or a girl. 32 But if the ox gores a slave, either male or female, the animal’s owner must pay the slave’s owner thirty silver coins, and the ox must be stoned.

33 “Suppose someone digs or uncovers a pit and fails to cover it, and then an ox or a donkey falls into it. 34 The owner of the pit must pay full compensation to the owner of the animal, but then he gets to keep the dead animal.

35 “If someone’s ox injures a neighbor’s ox and the injured ox dies, then the two owners must sell the live ox and divide the price equally between them. They must also divide the dead animal. 36 But if the ox had a reputation for goring, yet its owner failed to keep it under control, he must pay full compensation—a live ox for the dead one—but he may keep the dead ox.

  • Why was God so specific with the Israelites about how they should deal with issues?

  • Why was the punishment for an ox with a repuation of goring, different than if it was a one time thing?

  • What are some ways we may let some things slide in our life and not deal with them right away?

    • Why might this not value or honor others or ourselves?

  • How does the Lord want us to treat others?

    • See Matthew 7:12- “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

  • Who is someone you need to honor this week?

    • What specific thing can you do to show you value them as God values them?

Memorize it!

Matthew 7:12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

Closing thoughts and prayer

These are some tough verses today. If taken out of the context in which they were originally written, and put through our 21st century lens, we can easily draw conclusions about God that simply aren’t true. His regulations were to value others, to give the poor a way to pay off their debt, to give women a fair chance, and for people to show value and honor to one another. Spend some time asking for forgiveness for the ways you have devalued others and yourself. Ask the Lord to show value to everyone you come in contact with this week. Pray for that specific person the Lord put on your mind that you need to show honor to this week.


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