Thoughts on Ex 23:4-5 – Grace in the Old Testament

I came across the following verses this morning as I was doing my RttBiaY reading:

Ex 23:4(D) “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him.
5 If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.

This struck me as very interesting – an example of extending grace towards one’s enemy in the middle of the Law! The law is not all “an eye for an eye”, etc. The OT does foretell the grace of the cross, obviously – and there’s a lot of mercy and grace extended to the people of Israel by God. Furthermore, even in the OT, God sought “circumcision of the heart”, and obedience over sacrifice, etc. But I don’t recall seeing the law address grace formally. It may well be that there are other examples which I’m either forgetting or haven’t ever come across – we’ll see!

Of course, the OT economy didn’t provide, generally speaking, for the infusion of the Holy Spirit into one’s life – and even those instances where the Spirit of God was upon someone, those instances were short-lived. All this to say that it was more difficult to extend grace in the OT economy… not that it is always easy to do so now. My sinful heart often gets in the way of that!

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