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Lex Talionis

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  1. LexTalionis

  2. Mt 5:38-42: Retaliation 38 You heard that It was said “Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.” • Ex 21:22-25 • Lev 24:20 • Dt 19:18-21

  3. Dt 19:16-21      16     “If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing,      17     then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days.      18     “The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely,      19     then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.      20     “The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you.      21     “Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

  4. What is the LexTalionis? • This “eye for eye” law applies to personal injury only. • The law is for use in court to determine just punishments for personal wrongs. • There is no provision for vigilantism in the statements of “an eye for an eye.” • This law was a limitation on retaliation. Ex: Lamech: Gen 4:15, 23-24 • God is merciful to Cain • Sinful Lamech makes God’s mercy the basis for his unjust over-kill • The wronged party was not responsible to require everything the Law demands! Ex: Mt 1:19

  5. However there was provision in the Law for dealing with a murderer. • The near kinsman of a murdered victim or “avenger” was responsible for executing justice on a murderer once his guilt had been established. Num 35:9ff • This was God’s justice committed under the Law to the family of the murdered victim in the special case of murder. • The special case of capital punishment for murder was a restatement of Genesis 9:6 under the Mosaic Law. • The spirit of this provision was not retaliation or revenge but obedience to the Lord.

  6. Lex Talionis

  7. Mt 5:38-42: Retaliation 38 You heard that It was told “Eye for eye and tooth for tooth” 39 Now I say to you Do not stand against an evil person But Whoever is slapping you upon the right cheek, Turn to him also the other

  8. Seemingly Impossible! • The slap on the right cheek by a person who is right-handed would likely be a back-handed slap. • This is the highest possible insult you can receive, though it is not the greatest possible physical assault. Matt 26:67 • Who is the evil person in Matt 5:39? The person who demonstrates hostility by word or deed. • Jesus tells us not to insist on a reckoning between ourselves and the evil person who insults us. • This command is very clear-cut: you are right; they are wrong; you let it go.

  9. The wisdom of the command not to retaliate when insulted or wronged reflects a God-centered view of reality. • We expect justice, but only from God. • From where will you get this kind of patience and self-control? • Not from an emotional fear of confrontation! “I’m a lover, not a fighter....” • How we accomplish the command is as important as that we accomplish it. • This ability to calmly resist the urge to retaliate comes from the thinking produced by a Christ-like character.

  10. Mt 5:38-42: Retaliation 38 You heard that It was told “Eye for eye and tooth for tooth” 39 Now I say to you Do not stand against an evil person But Whoever is slapping you upon the right cheek, Turn to him also the other

  11. Staying Engaged • Not only do you not contend with the wicked instigator, you stay engaged with him after he delivers the greatest possible insult! • Why stay engaged? Because you are communicating something that the “evil person” needs to know. • Just as he is warring against you, so he is warring against God. • And it is with God that he must really contend. • This is the salt and light principle in the face of someone who hates you. • Your patience and forbearance is representative of God’s patience . • Also you are permitting God to act on your behalf instead of going it alone.

  12. Ps 10:2  In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised. Prov 20:22   Do not say, “I will repay evil”; Wait for the Lord, and He will save you. Prov 24:29  Do not say, “Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.” Prov 26:27  He who digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him.

  13. As God’s image, man has certain responsibilities and prerogatives that demonstrate God’s character. • Vengeance is not one of them. • You will demonstrate God’s glory by getting out of His way when it comes to attacks and insults by your enemies.

  14. What This Is Not • This is not pacifism • This is not failure to defend yourself from an attacker • This is not failure to defend your family from an attacker. • This is certainly not a basis for “conscientious objection” to defend your family and your country in military service.

  15. Going Beyond the Law 40And to the one who wants to take you before the judge and take your shirt, give him your outer coat too. • What direction does “going beyond the Law” take? • What does this say about your property? • Not that it is not important • But that God is more important than even your shelter

  16. Military Service 41 And whoever impresses you into military service to walk one mile, go with Him two. • There is no draft-dodging in the Sermon on the Mount • There is no interpretation of this passage for the nation, except that the nation can expect disciples of Jesus Christ to be good soldiers.

  17. Even Beggars 42To the one who asks of you, give! And the one who wants you to lend to him, do not turn him away! • What does this say about the Kingdom of God? • Irresponsible lending practices? • No • The Grace of God has to do with the Righteousness of God. • What do you have to give?