Exodus 23

1 Gossip is a dangerous thing. Even a false report becomes believable if enough people are convinced.
2 Going along with the crowd, your friends, or your family is fairly easy and avoids conflicts. However, if we join other in doing something we know is wrong then we are in conflict with God. Instead of joining a crowd in doing or thinking evil, we should instead make a stand and exhort them to do right with as much tact as possible. After all, we want people to do what is right, not be hardened against the good. But even if they are not convinced, we should not join them in evil activities.

More specifically here it is commanded that we not give false testimony to please people. We are to tell the truth.

3 Some people favor the rich because of their influence while others feel sorry for the poor. However, God calls for us to be impartial judges in all matters irrespective of a person's physical wealth.
4 We are to be peacemakers and we are not to harbor anger. If we see a way we can help someone, we should do so whether it is for our best friend or our worst enemy. After all, it is more likely that there will be less strife between those people that help one another.
7 As has been seen previously, a person might suffer capital punishment if it is proven that he has violated a command of God. Thus, if you know someone is innocent you should not pass judgement against him. When you keep away from a false matter this does not mean that you sit by idly while an innocent man dies. If you know the man is innocent you should volunteer the information.
8 Trading money or favors for a favorable judgement is not justice. The same is true in the political realm. Often "campaign contributions" are followed by actions favorable to the contributor. Even if the recipient had already decided on the action, the acceptance of the contribution tarnishes it. We are to be influenced by God and what is right, not by money or power.
9 Just because you don't know someone does not mean they are bad. A person that has a different skin color or native language than your own does not make them bad. When someone new moves into your neighborhood you should welcome them and seek to make them friends. After all, the new person or family may be lonely and a little afraid. A community is much better when the people act in a friendly manner to one another. A community gripped by strife and prejudice is undesirable for all those involved.
10 People are to take a Sabbath rest every seventh day to honor God. In a similar way, land is to be given a Sabbath rest every seventh year. This was at least in part a test of faith for the Israelites (Lev 25:20-22). Crop scientists have found that leaving the land fallow once in a while will keep the land from wearing out.
11 Land that is left fallow does not produce much food. The people were supposed to live off previous harvests. They were allowed to supplement their stored food with fresh produce that grew in the fallow fields, although they were encouraged to leave it for the poor. In any event, "harvesting" was prohibited. This implies that fresh produce was not sold in the market during the Sabbath year.
12 The fourth commandment (Exo 20:8-11).
13 Some people believed that they could get a god's attention by invoking his or her name. Such practices were strictly prohibited. In a more general sense, no other object or being was to be given divine recognition. To even speak the name of a so-called god was prohibited.
14 Feasts were to be special days of remembrance. Here the three major "holidays" are listed. Christians do not celebrate these Jewish holidays per se, but we do have three major holidays that can be considered loose equivalents. Christmas can be considered most like the Feast of Ingathering, which is also called the Feast of Tabernacles. I say this because at that time God took on a human body (or tabernacle - see 2 Cor 5:1) for Himself in the person of Jesus. Thanksgiving is most like the Feast of Firstfruits except that Thanksgiving is held at the end of the harvest instead of the beginning. Finally, the most important holiday, Resurrection Day (or Easter) is most similar to the Feast of Unleavened Bread (or Passover). The Israelites were saved from slavery, but this is only a picture of the salvation of the spirit that came through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
17 The feasts were especially to be attended by the men who were representatives of the entire family.
18 Leavening is not prohibited everywhere, but in general it is considered a contaminant in sacrificial offerings. Thus, bread products brought before God were to not have leavening in them. God also considers it improper to have the fat portions of the sacrifice become "leftovers." Any sacrificial fat was to be burned before daybreak.
19 I have heard that boiling a young goat in its mother's milk was a pagan ritual. I don't know about that, but it is a morbid irony to cook an animal in the milk that once nourished it.
20 In addition to His own presence in the pillar of cloud and fire, God had assigned an angel (or messenger) to guide the Israelites (Exo 14:19).
21 This Angel is given the authority of God and His name. It seems to me that at least some angels are the incarnation of His word and/or theophanies. One can't help but notice the similarity of this Angel's authority to that of Jesus (John 10:30, Col 2:9) and the Holy Spirit (John 15:26). The Angel may indeed be an early manifestation of Jesus.
22 To obey this Angel's word was to obey God.

God's promise to the Israelites at this time was that their obedience would be rewarded with God's backing. Notice that it is not a case of God doing the bidding of the people. They are commanded to obey Him and to agree with His plans for them. When people do what God commands He will make sure that His plan for them will succeed.

24 They were commanded not to worship pagan gods (First Commandment). Quite to the contrary, they were supposed to destroy the nations and their religious symbols.
25 This abrupt switch between third person and first person would indicate again that the Angel was God and that the speaker was also God. Some people claim that the Trinity is a Christian concoction that is not supported in the Old Testament, but passages like this would be difficult to explain differently.

God promises the Israelites many blessings in return for their obedience. He does not promise them perfect peace and serenity. After all, if life here were made perfect the people would not want to go to heaven. He does promise to provide their food, ease the hardship of childbearing, and fight against their enemies.

26 Long life could apply both to individuals and the nation as a whole.
27 God has already used fear and confusion to aid in the overthrow of the Egyptians. We will find in many future battles that God will continue to use these same weapons as well as others.
28 Hornets could be literal here (and in Deu 7:20), but since the insects are not actually mentioned as a factor in these battles, the term may be figurative. TKS indicates that the Hebrew word for hornets (tzirah) is similar to the Arabic word for "strike down" (zaraa). Thus, a play on words may be intended here to indicate that God will defeat the pagan inhabitants and fleeing before the Israelites even engage them in battle.
29 God tells the Israelites ahead of time that it will take several years to completely destroy the current inhabitants. This is intentional. The Israelites were promised houses ready to move into and farms ready to tend. This could only happen if the current inhabitants maintained them until the Israelites defeated them. God implies that it is easier to defeat the current inhabitants than to tame a wild land.
30 As the Israelite population increased more land would be needed for them. God implies that throughout the growth of the nation the Israelites were to continue to conquer the pagan nations around them.
31 God promised the Israelites a large nation. The boundaries were finally achieved during the reign of Solomon. However, what most people miss about this passage is that the growth of the Israelite nation was limited.

When taken with the previous verse we can contrast the Israelite promises with the Christian promises. The Israelite nation would grow and destroy the surrounding nations, but their growth would be limited. The Christian nation grows by conversion (not absorption) of people, and it has no boundaries (Rev 5:9, 10, 7:9, 10).

32 As indicated above, the boundaries were finally established during the reign of Solomon, but it was also Solomon who entered into many covenants with pagan nations and began to worship their gods (1 Ki 11:3, 4). From that point on Israel begins to crumble and never again regains its prominence among the nations of the world.
33 Sometimes the only way to avoid falling to temptation is to destroy temptation.