That's Unfair!

No it isn't.

Exodus 30:22-33 (ESV)

The LORD said to Moses, “Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane, and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil. With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the basin and its stand. You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them will become holy. You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. And you shall say to the people of Israel, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.’”

The copyright on this recipe for anointing oil is so strong that anyone who violates it shall be cut off from his people. That’s similar to excommunication except that there’s a sense of being removed from the family tree. Such a severe consequence for such a seemingly minor infraction may seem unfair.

There are many similar situations in life where the penalties for breaking a rule are disproportionately severe. “Don’t run out in the street in front of cars.” “If you see a snake with a rattle on its tail, don’t play with it.” Are the consequences for violating these rules unfair?

Of course not. Life is full of easy ways to kill yourself. The “punishment” in those cases doesn’t seem to fit the “crime.” Yet, no one complains that this is unfair. It just is.

The rule about the oil would be unfair if God didn’t warn people about what to avoid, or didn’t explain what the consequences would be. This passage is that warning; God makes the rules and the consequences perfectly clear. While avoiding all sin is beyond our skills set, some of God’s commands are easy to obey.

This is like the classic doctor’s office skit:

Patient (stretching his arm behind his back) – “Doc, it hurts when I do this.

Doctor – “Then don’t do that.

This is why children’s education is so important. There are many things in life, and in understanding Christianity, that are simple. Yet without proper instruction, no one could figure these things out on their own.

Children need teachers. Their teachers need your prayers.

Their task is to teach them the incredibly important, yet often incredibly obvious (to adults) rules of life.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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