Friday, September 28, 2012

Periodic Refresher Courses Needed

Deuteronomy 31:9-13

“And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and unto all the elders of Israel.  And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 

Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.” (Deuteronomy 31:9-13) 

While there was to be a memorial with the entire law on mount Ebal and the Jews were to post portions of the law on their gates and around their homes, it is easy to forget things.  Every seventh year, they were to assemble the entire congregation and read the entire law during the feast of tabernacles, the national campout remembering their forty years in the wilderness.  Taking the time to do this would refresh their memories of what the law said, and remind them of things they might not have realized in the past.  At the same time it would formally introduce the children to the law and to what God expected.

While most of us would prefer to learn new things, it is easy to forget that new Christians don’t know the old ones, and that we forget.  Teaching the basics is not just for the disciple ship program or the new converts class.  II Peter 1:12-13 says we are negligent if we fail to review the basics.  “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.  Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;”  In I Timothy 4:6, Paul said reminding them of these things will make one a good minister.  “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.”

While it may seem a little tedious to repeat the same things, it enables the hearers to keep doing the proper things,  I Philippians 3:1 Paul says, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.”  Realizing how important it is to remind them of the basics makes it far easier to focus on those things.  While it may be more exciting to teach calculus or algebra, it is far more important that the student learns and remembers how to add and subtract.  The same principle applies to being a Christian.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Changing Leaders

Deuteronomy 31:1-8

“And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel.  And he said unto them, I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also the LORD hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.” (Deuteronomy 31:1-2) 

Moses was eighty years old when he began to lead Israel.  About a year after they left Egypt, the people were complaining and accusing him of not caring or even trying to destroy the people.  When God commanded him to speak to the rock and water would come out, in frustration, he demanded of the people, “must we bring water out of the rock?” implying it was he and Aaron doing it, rather than God.  As a result, God had said he would not be allowed to enter the land of Canaan.   In addition, he had reached the age of a hundred twenty and it was becoming increasingly difficult to physically lead the people.

“The LORD thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the LORD hath said.  And the LORD shall do unto them as he did to Sihon and to Og, kings of the Amorites, and unto the land of them, whom he destroyed.  And the LORD shall give them up before your face, that ye may do unto them according unto all the commandments which I have commanded you.  Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Deuteronomy 31:3-7) 

For forty years the people had depended on Moses to tell them what to do,  Moses is trying to make them understand that God would be with them and lead them even though he would no longer be there.  Joshua would be taking Moses’ place, but it was God who was the real leader, and would provide the victories just as he had in the past.  They just needed to depend on God.

“And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it.  And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8) 

Moses makes the transition to new leadership as easy as possible, reassuring the people of his confidence in God to care for them.  He also makes it clear that he is confident in Joshua’s ability to follow God and complete the plan God has for them, publicly describing the responsibility to go into the land God had promised them and reminding him that they needed to depend on God.

Since Joshua had served as Moses’ assistant throughout the years in the wilderness, frequently taking the leadership, it was obvious that he understood and was committed to the same goals as Moses, and they were not going to be forced into a totally different direction.  The people were familiar with his ability to lead, and he was familiar with what they would expect.  Surprises seldom make for smooth transitions, and by handling it this way, there were no surprises.

Changes in leadership are some of the most dangerous times for any organization.  There are always people who see taking over an existing organization as a short cut to accomplishing their own agenda, which may be in opposition to the original goals of the organization.  Some of those who want to run the organization lack leadership skills, and others simply have a philosophy that is incompatible with the organization.  These things may not be immediately apparent and can result in division or even collapse.  Our present political situation highlights the problems.

The most successful businesses have used Moses’ approach in changing leadership, resulting in ongoing success, often for a century or more.  Churches which have used a similar approach usually are more stable and survive longer than those who call some outsider after the former pastor leaves, because they minimize the stress caused by a change of leadership.  A dramatic change of leadership is only justified when the previous administration has obviously not done their job properly.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Israel to Be Responsible For Their Destiny

Deuteronomy 30:1- 31:1

“And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. 

 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.” (Deuteronomy 30:1-5)

Moses had warned them that persisting in sin, ignoring the curses that resulted would lead to ever worsening problems until finally Israel would be conquered and dismantled, with the people being dispersed and relocated.   If at any time they repented, he would reverse the judgment on them, restoring the land to them and resuming the blessings as if they had never turned away.    Many people think of being sorry as repentance but the word repent actually means to change direction.  God would forgive and restore them, but only when they repented, not just said they were sorry.  Sorrow is a statement of regret, but it may only refer to the results of an action rather than for the action itself, and does not necessarily indicate any responsibility for even the result.  Before God would forgive them, Israel would have to change their actions.

“And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.  And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.” (Deuteronomy 30:6-7)

If Israel would repent and try to serve God, God would circumcise their heart, literally taking away the craving to continue in sin so they could serve God fully.  It is very similar to what Paul says in Galatians 5:24-25.  “And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”  Galatians 5:16 promises, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”  I Corinthians 6:11 describes the result of the Holy Spirit’s cleansing.  “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

“And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.  And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers: If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.” Deuteronomy 30:8-10)

Freed from the cravings and power of sin by God’s removing it, they would be able to give themselves wholly to obeying him.  As a result they would be able again to experience the full blessings of God.  Again it is very similar to what is promised for the Christian.

“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)

God’s commandments were written so they were available for everyone to see.  Later the monument would be built and inscribed with the law so anyone who cared could read it for themselves, so there could be no excuse.  They would not have to depend on some prophet to enable them to know what God had said.  If they didn’t know it would be because they didn’t care enough to read it, not because they had no prophet to tell them.

In I Corinthians 13:8-10 we find that gifts such as prophecy and tongues would be done away with once the message was finished as people would be able to read it for themselves, just as Israel could.

“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; De 30:16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. 

But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. 

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel.” (Deuteronomy 30:17-31:1)

It was totally up to Israel whether they experienced God’s blessings, or his cursing.  If they chose to obey his word they would be blessed to the fullest extent of his promises.  If they chose to disobey, they would experience all the curses he had promised.  They were responsible for what happened.  Today, we are responsible for what happens in our own lives.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Renewing the Covenant

Deuteronomy 29:1-29

"These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb." (Deuteronomy 29:1) 

Forty years before, starting in Exodus 19, at mount Horeb or Sinai, in Arabia, God had instituted his covenant with Israel.  At that time he had given the part of the Law that they would need during the time in the wilderness and an outline of what they were to do in the land.  As they prepare to go into the land, he has given greater detail as to how those laws are to be applied in a permanent land for long term blessings.  It in not a new covenant, but clarification of the contract they already had.

“And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land; The great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles: Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day. 

And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot.  Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine or strong drink: that ye might know that I am the LORD your God.  And when ye came unto this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, came out against us unto battle, and we smote them: And we took their land, and gave it for an inheritance unto the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to the half tribe of Manasseh.” (Deuteronomy 29:2-8) 

For forty years, Israel had not had grains with which to make bread nor had they had grapes for wine or a variety of food.  They had not had new clothing or shoes during the entire time.  They had complained about the lack of variety, but God had deliberately limited them so they could get to know him as God.  The intention was that they begin to understand that while he would always give what was needed, it was his right to decide what they should have.  Despite the lack of things they craved, they had experienced tremendous victories over their enemies.

Many Christians today have not learned to “…be content with such things as ye have…” as Hebrews 13:5 commands us.  It was a lesson Paul had learned according to Philippians 4:11-12.  “…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”  Until we learn this, we have not really learned to trust God.

"Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do. Ye stand this day all of you before the LORD your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, De Your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water: That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day: That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 29:9-13) 

Moses reminded them that this was the contract they had made with God, to keep his commands, forty years before, and that their prosperity depended on keeping it.  During the forty years they had seen the blessings for obedience and the cursing for disobedience.  God wants to be able to fulfill his promises to their forefathers.   He calls on them to renew their commitment at this time.

“Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; But with him that standeth here with us this day before the LORD our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day: (For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by; And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:) Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven. 

And the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law: So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the LORD hath laid upon it; And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath: Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?” (Deuteronomy 29:14-24)

The Covenant was not just between the people and God, but also with Joshua as their leader and with Eleazar the priest.  In addition, the covenant was with all the future generations of Israel.  Should some future person or group decide they no longer needed to keep the covenant, God would bring the promised curses on the individuals involved with out question.  If it went that far, God would destroy the entire nation leaving the land like the area around Sodom, the valley  containing the Dead Sea.  More than  four thousand years after Sodom was destroyed, hardly anything grows there.  Like Sodom, the destruction would be so complete as to cause people to ask why it was that way.

“Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them: And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book: And the LORD rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 29:25-28) 

Even their destruction would be a testimony to the righteousness God expects from his people.  The cause of their destruction would never be completely forgotten, just as Sodom’s has never been.

“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)

Things God hasn’t revealed are not man’s business.  Mankind is responsible for the things God has revealed.  Unfortunately, a great deal of effort is devoted to things God hasn’t revealed such as details about the return of Christ, instead of “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” as Matthew 28:20 commands us.  This verse is worth remembering.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Consequences of Systematic Disobedience

Deuteronomy 28:45-68

“Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee: And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.” (Deuteronomy 28:45-46)

The law was specifically designed to give people the best possible life here on earth.  Failure to observe the laws about cleanliness would needlessly expose them to diseases.  Ignoring the laws about other people’s property would cause conflicts and resentment, destroying unity.  Eventually the consequences would begin to be noticed.  By taking action the problems could be resolved.

 Many smokers develop smokers cough.  If at that point they choose to stop smoking their body will usually heal itself in a short time.  If they decide they would rather live with the cough than stop smoking, the problems will grow steadily worse.  Eventually, they may contract emphysema or lung cancer.  I am amazed by the number of people who have to have oxygen yet continue to smoke.  The disease will get worse and eventually kill them, but it is their choice.

Like the smoker’s cough, the curses were a warning that they needed to change what they were doing.  Refusal to do so would eventually result in God’s intervention, much like the emphysema or lung cancer.  Still refusing to change would eventually result in the death of the nation.

 “Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.” (Deuteronomy 28:47-48) 

If Israel turned away from God’s law it would be because, like the smoker, they considered something they got from disobedience more valuable than the rewards of obedience.  Like the smoker who has been forced to drag around the oxygen bottle, they would be forced to serve their enemies because they didn’t appreciate their freedom in serving God.

“The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favour to the young: And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.  And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.” (Deuteronomy 28:49-52) 

While initially, they would be ruled by small local groups that would be influenced by their power and size, eventually disobedience would lead to their being noticed and conquered by a nation strong enough to ignore their culture and power. They will only concern themselves with what they can take away immediately, with no interest in what ultimately happens to Israel.

“And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee: So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave: So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates. 

The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.” (Deuteronomy 28:53-57) 

Disobedience will lead to oppression so bad they eventually are forced into cannibalism to survive, fighting with their relatives over whose children will be eaten and who will be allowed to eat them.  Even the sophisticated woman who would never step on bare ground for fear of getting her shoe dirty will fight to eat a piece of her own children.  II Kings 6:24-30 describes this curse being fulfilled in Ahab’s son’s day.

“If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD; Then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.  Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee.  Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.  And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the LORD thy God.  And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. 

And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.  And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life: In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see. 

And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.” (Deuteronomy 28:58-68) 

A couple of times I worked on construction projects where the owner or general contractor refused to pay on time.  The contractors who had not been paid filed leins against the property and removed equipment they had installed to prevent the owner from selling it and leaving them with nothing.

In effect, God promises to do the same thing to Israel if they refuse to keep their contract with him.  He would take away their land, allow them to have all the diseases other groups have, experience the starvation and oppression, and eventually even be carried back as slaves to Egypt.  For seventy years, they were enslaved in Babylon, as described in II Chronicles, Daniel, and Esther.  Allowed to rebuild Israel, the obeyed God for about five hundred years, but turned away at the time of Christ.  For almost nineteen hundred years, from 60 AD. until 1948, there was no nation of Israel.

Because of his promise to Abraham, God is giving them another chance to fulfill their contract.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Blessings of Obedience

Deuteronomy 28:1-14

“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2) 

The blessings are conditioned on hearing and doing all God’s commandments. James 2:10 warns, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."  Galatians 5:3 declares, “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.”  Obedience demonstrated respect and love toward God, and blessings were contingent on that demonstration.   John 14:21 makes a similar promise to the Christian.  “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”

Parents who love their children delight in showing that love by giving them the things they want when they have been obedient.  When they do wrong, however, love requires withholding those things to cause them to correct their behavior.   If Israel would be obedient, God would demonstrate his love in specific manners.

“Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.  Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.  Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.  Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.” (Deuteronomy 28:3-6)

This first promised blessing is a restatement of Deuteronomy 7:12-14.  “Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers: And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.  Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.”  Exodus 23:26 added one additional promise to this.  “…the number of thy days I will fulfil.”  They could expect live out a full normal complement of days.

“The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.” (Deuteronomy 28:7)

Here God reminds them of his promise in Deuteronomy 7:20-24.  “Moreover the LORD thy God will send the hornet among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed.  Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the LORD thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible.  And the LORD thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee.  But the LORD thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed.  And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them.”

One blessing of obedience to God is the lack of need to fear other people.  Matthew 10:28 commands Christians, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”  II Timothy 1:7 informs us, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”   The result is “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me,” according to Hebrews 13:6.

“The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” (Deuteronomy 28:8)

Not only would God bless in the productivity of their crops, but he would bless by preserving what they saved, and by enabling them to succeed at what ever else they attempted if they would obey him.  It wouldn’t be necessary to go elsewhere to succeed.

“The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in his ways.  And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee.” (Deuteronomy 28:9-10) 

If Israel would obey God’s commands, they would be a testimony to the rest of the world as an holy people called by his name and there would be a fear and respect for them.

“And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee.  The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.” (Deuteronomy 28:11-12)

Obedience would result in and abundance of possessions, of food, of dependable weather and success in many endeavors.  They would have abundant money to lend to other nations, while never needing to borrow.  It would be a nation people would want to immigrate to.

“And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them: And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.” (Deuteronomy 28:13-14) 

If Israel would follow God’s commands completely, exactly as written with no deviation, Israel would be the world leader, never controlled by any other power.  She would attain a position much like what The United States held during much of the last century.

Remember that these blessings were to be formally pronounced to the nation of Israel after they took possession of the land to remind them of their contract with God.  It seems to have been the occasion for Joshua’s challenge in Joshua 24.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Bases Or Reasons For Cursing

Deuteronomy 27:11-26

“And Moses charged the people the same day, saying, These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin: And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.” (Deuteronomy 27:11-13)

The peaks of Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim are only a couple of miles apart.  People standing on the slope of one would be able to hear those on the other slope.  The people on the slope of mount Gerizim were to respond to each of the penalties for disobedience with the word, Amen, agreeing to or approving the statement.  The first set of curses deal with individual sin and deal with both God‘s and the people‘s response to them.  They were not to simply ignore them.

“And the Levites shall speak, and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice, Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.” (Deuteronomy 27:14-15)

The person who makes a picture or statue, and hides it is to be cursed and ostracized.

 “Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Deuteronomy 27:16)

Anyone who disobeyed or treated their parents disrespectfully was to be cursed or ostracized. Jesus commanded, "Honour thy father and thy Mother..."

“Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour's landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Deuteronomy 27:17)

Anyone who moved the survey markers identifying a piece of land, trying to gain an unfair advantage was to be cursed.

“Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Deuteronomy 27:187) 

Taking advantage of the blind for entertainment or gain was to be cursed.  It isn’t funny to the victims.

“Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Deuteronomy 27:19) 

Taking advantage of the destitute, the weak and the defenseless brought the curse.  It ought result in being ostracized.

“Cursed be he that lieth with his father's wife; because he uncovereth his father's skirt. And all the people shall say, Amen. 

Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. And all the people shall say, Amen. 

 Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.  

Cursed be he that lieth with his mother in law. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Deuteronomy 27:20-23) 

All forms of incestuous relationships and bestiality were to be cursed.  They were not to be considered normal behavior.

“Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbour secretly. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Deuteronomy 27:24) 

Surprise assaults were to be cursed by God.

"Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person. And all the people shall say, Amen. ” (Deuteronomy 27:25)

Murder for hire was to be cursed.

“Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.” (Deuteronomy 27:26) 

Refusal to obey the law would make one cursed.  They also were to be ostracized.

II Thessalonians 3:14instructs Christians to avoid those who refuse to obey God.  “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”  I Timothy 6:3-5 describes the attitude of those who refuse to obey.  “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”  Again Christians are to withdraw from them.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Curses For Disobedience

Deuteronomy 28:15-44

“But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.  Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.  Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.  Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.” (Deuteronomy 28:15-19)

God had promised that if they would obey him there not be any barren or unfruitful crops or livestock, and that their savings would be preserved.  Here God directs Moses to  warn them that the consequences of sin will be exactly the opposite.  Disobedience will result in crop failures, unhealthy and infertile livestock and families and unhappy lives.  He goes into considerable detail.

“The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.  The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.  The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.” (Deuteronomy 28:20-22)

Everything they attempted would be fraught with frustration and opposition, ultimately consummating in defeat and death because of their sin.  In addition they would be plagued with diseases, such as tuberculosis, infections, bubonic plague, and other epidemics.  In addition they would be infected by molds and silicosis from inhaling dust.  Terrorism and gang activity would increase until the society finally collapsed.

Almost all the Old Testament starting with the book of Judges describes Israel turning from God in disobedience, and his efforts to get them to turn back.  A cycle of disobedience, followed by judgment and turning back  developed, averaging about forty years. Each cycle seemed to go a little farther into sin, and each return tended to be a little less complete.

“And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.  The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.” (Deuteronomy 28:23-24)

Man’s wickedness affects nature as well and man, as Romans 8:20-22 describes.  Sin would result in a lack of rain and unyielding soil so that there would be dust storms and drought instead of rain.  Sounds like the summer of 2012 doesn’t it?

In David Brainerd’s journal he describes praying for hours, day after day, repeatedly concluding with “the heavens were brass and God did not answer.”  I John 5:14-5 declares, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”  I find it hard to consider Brainerd as the great spiritual example his biographers would have us to believe he was.  There is something wrong with our spiritual life when God will not answer our prayers.

“The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.  And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.” (Deuteronomy 28:25-26)

Sin would affect their military capabilities.  Whereas God would cause their enemies to flee before them and seek peace if they obeyed, disobedience would result in fear and defeat.  This is graphically demonstrated in the battle against Ai in Joshua 7-8.

“The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.  The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart: And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.” (Deuteronomy 28:27-29)

Besides the other natural consequences of their sin such as epidemics, and contagious diseases, God would also cause diseases like cancer, diabetes, thyroid problems, allergies and others.  Problems such as insanity, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease,  macular degeneration, heart problems and panic attacks would abound a s a result of disobedience.  Taxation and loss of freedom would become increasingly burdensome.

“Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof.  Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them.  Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand.” (Deuteronomy 28:30-32) 

As a result of their disobedience, adultery and prostitution would be widespread, homes and property would be seized for taxes, repossessed, or taken by fraud, leaving people homeless.  Children would be taken from parents by authorities or through divorce or kidnapping, leaving the parents to suffer.

“The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway: So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.” (Deuteronomy 28:33-34) 

Disobedience would result in being raided and victimized by gangs and political groups until they almost go crazy with frustration.

“The LORD shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head.” (Deuteronomy 28:35) 

Things like arthritis and skin diseases resulting fro disobedience would make farming and earning a living quite painful and unpleasant, and they would be difficult or impossible to cure.

“The LORD shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone.  And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee.” (Deuteronomy 28:36-37) 

Disobedience would result in being taken over by other countries and loss of their influence and culture to such a degree people look down on them as an example of failure and inferiority.

“Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.  Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.  Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit.” (Deuteronomy 28:38-40) 

Even the crops that grew would be devoured or damaged by insects and disease to the point of being unusable.  The labor preparing and caring for them will be totally wasted.

“Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.” (Deuteronomy 28:41)

Children would be taken from parents and put into sweatshops, military service, and training programs, destroying families as a result of disobeying God.

“All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.” (Deuteronomy 28:42)

Even the long term abilities to produce would be destroyed when locusts stripped and killed the trees, leaving only dead trees behind.  It takes years to bring new trees up to fruit bearing and useable size.

“The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low.  He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.” (Deuteronomy 28:43-44) 

Minorities and foreigners will obtain power and control of the financial or government systems, controlling the people through their power, as a result of the refusal to obey God.

Looking at history, a similar pattern emerges, with country going through extremes of poverty and political upheaval just after a period of moral decay.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rewards and Penalties

Summary of the Terms of the Covenant or Contract
Deuteronomy 26:16-19

“This day the LORD thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.  Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice: And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the LORD thy God, as he hath spoken.” (Deuteronomy 26:16-19)

Israel had sworn that they would keep God’s commandments, his laws, and his prescribed penalties with everything they had as demonstration that they claimed him as their God.  God promised that in return for their obedience, he would promote them above every other nation, as his special people, respected and honored by the other nations.

The promise is similar to the promise to Christians in John 14:23-24. “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.  He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.”  There are a number of people who claim to be Christians yet refuse to obey the Lord.  Clearly they don’t really care about him.  As John 14:15 says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

A Permanent Memorial
Deuteronomy 27:1-10

“And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you this day.  And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster: And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee. 

Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaster them with plaster.  And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them.  Thou shalt build the altar of the LORD thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD thy God: And thou shalt offer peace offerings, and shalt eat there, and rejoice before the LORD thy God.  And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.” (Deuteronomy 27:1-8) 

Israel was to build a monument of large stones on mount Ebal which were to be plastered over, and the entire law then engraved in the plaster.  Centrally located, Mount Ebal was visible from most areas of Israel, so it would be a constant reminder of what God expected.  The law engraved on the memorial was a permanent record that could be readily referred to.

Next to the monument was to be an altar of natural uncut stones so there was no element of man’s works in their worship.  The altar was to be used for burnt offerings and peace offerings, reminding them how much they had been blessed and of their obligation to God.  Joshua 24:25 describes Joshua setting up this monument in Shechem, on the south slope of the mount between the peaks of Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim.

“And Moses and the priests the Levites spake unto all Israel, saying, Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of the LORD thy God.  Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the LORD thy God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command thee this day.” (Deuteronomy 27:9-10) 

Because they were God’s people, Israel had an obligation to fulfill his commands.  Christians have a similar obligation to demonstrate their appreciation for what he has done for them.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Offering The Firstfruits

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

“And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein; That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name there.  And thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto the LORD thy God, that I am come unto the country which the LORD sware unto our fathers for to give us. 

And the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand, and set it down before the altar of the LORD thy God. 

And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous: And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: And when we cried unto the LORD God of our fathers, the LORD heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression: And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. 

And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God: And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you. ” (Deuteronomy 26:1-11)

For over five hundred years, Israel had occupied and farmed land belonging to others.  When they had gone into Egypt it had been strictly as aliens with no real rights except as the Egyptians permitted them.  When they brought the first fruits it was to be a reminder that they had possessed no land of their own, and that they would not have survived except for Egypt’s generosity.

Later the Egyptians made slaves of them, and began to abuse them, and God delivered them in a miraculous fashion.  The first fruits were a sample of the first harvest each year from their own land.  They were to bring the first fruits to the Lord and review what he had done for them, thanking God that they had their own land and the crops belonged to them.

Deuteronomy 26:12-15

“When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them: I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that thou hast commanded me.  Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey.” (Deuteronomy 26:12-15)

God did not require the tithe be paid until the end of the third year, allowing the profits to grow freely.  The effect would be similar to placing one’s money into an IRA where it can grow freely without deductions.  It also gave them time to have fully disposed of the crop so they know exactly what they have made.

When the tithe was settled at the end of the third year, they were to review how they had shared  portions with the Levites, homeless, orphans and widows according to God’s commandments.  They were to certify that they had obeyed God’s commands, not using the tithe selfishly or for any purpose that he would not be honored by.  While the tithe was given to the Lord, how it was dispersed was largely up to the donor.  Based on their obedience they were to ask God to bless them as he had promised.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Provision For A Widow

Deuteronomy 25:5-10

“If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her.  And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.” (Deuteronomy  25:5-6)

A dowry was given to the wife’s family as a sort of life insurance policy should something happen to the husband.  If he died before they had children, his brother had the responsibility of marrying the widow however.  Their first son would be considered as the child of the brother that dies so the inheritance would remain in his name.  The wife was not to go and marry someone outside the family.  This requirement gave the brothers a vested interest in the marriage.  They might not want to risk having to marry her, and intervene.   Knowing she might end up married to his brothers would give her a reason for looking more closely at his family.

“And if the man like not to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband's brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother. 

Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her; Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house.  And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.” (Deuteronomy 25:7-10) 

A brother who was already married might hesitate to marry his sister-in-law to avoid conflicts with his present wife.  An unmarried brother might hesitate to marry her, knowing that their first son would be considered his brothers rather than his own, and if there weren’t any more leaving himself without an heir.  In the story of Ruth the next of kin refused for this reason, leaving Boaz free to marry her.

If they refused to marry their brother’s widow, they were to be publicly shamed for refusing to fulfill their family responsibility.  In dealing with the church’s responsibility for caring for widows, Paul said, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel,” in I Timothy 5:8.

Hitting Below The Belt
Deuteronomy 25:11

“When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her.” (Deuteronomy 25:11-12) 

God had promised that there would be nothing barren or unfruitful in the land if they would obey his commands.   Injuries to the sex organs would make a man unable to have children, so Deuteronomy 23:1 ordered, “He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.”  In an effort to save her husband, a wife might strike or grab his opponent in his sex organs, risking permanent injury.   The penalty was to be mandatory amputation of her arm whether the person sustained permanent damage or not.      

Fair Trade
Deuteronomy 25:13-16

“Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small.  Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small.  But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.  For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 25:13-16)

When I was a child, a store owner in our area was known for secretly placing his thumb on the scale while weighing things out for pricing.  It was widely questioned how many times he’d sold his thumb.  Today we have a bureau of weights and measurements to test merchant’s scales and dispensers to verify their accuracy and protect the customer from such unscrupulous businessmen but similar abuses still occur.  God promised that being fair in business dealings would ensure long prosperous lives.   God despises those that cheat in business.  Having seen the corruption of Bernie Madoff, Jon Corzine, Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs, none of which could have happened if the regulators had done their job, is it any wonder the United States has serious economic problems?  Dishonest business has been tacitly approved.

Future Destruction Of Amalek
Deuteronomy 25:17-19

“Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God.  Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.” (Deuteronomy 25:17-19)

Forty years before, just weeks after Israel crossed the Red Sea, raiding Amalekites had attacked them in the wilderness, even though they were not encroaching on Amalekite land.   God commands them not to forget that attack but to one day in the future wipe out all traces of the Amalekite culture.  Nearly six hundred years later, God ordered Saul to carry out this command, in I Samuel 15:3.  “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”  Saul disobeyed and lost the kingdom as a result.  He died at the hand of one of the ones he refused to kill, and some four hundred years after that, Haman, a descendant of Agag, the Amalekite king attempted to destroy the Jews in the book of Esther.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Payment To Be Made On Schedule

Deuteronomy 24:14-15

“Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates: At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee.” (Deuteronomy 24:14-15) 

Anyone who has taken a job and had to wait until the following pay period before getting paid understands the pressure of not being paid on time, especially if one doesn’t have any savings.  Employers that delay payment are using the employee’s money for their own benefit, effectively cheating him of the use of his pay.  Like the Old Testament Law, United States law requires that employees be paid on time.

People Are To Be Held Responsible For Their Own Actions
Deuteronomy 24:16

“The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:16)

Modern society tends to blame wrong doing on others, usually the parents.  God was specific the individual committing the act was responsible for his action.  Parents were not to be executed for the actions of a child, nor a child for the actions of the parent.   In the story of Achan in Joshua 7, Achan’s family was killed as well as Achan, but if we read the story, it is apparent that the entire family must have helped conceal his sin as he had buried the spoil in his tent.  They were not executed for his sin but for helping conceal it.

Judgment To Be Completely Fair
Deuteronomy 24:17-18

“Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow's raiment to pledge: But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing.” (Deuteronomy 24:17-18)

Judgment was not to be influenced by a person’s connections or ability to hire lawyers. True justice does not depend on having connections or selecting the right lawyer.    They were not to take advantage of a foreigner, an orphan, or a widow.  Necessary items such as clothing could not be taken as collateral for loans, or pawn, just as the millstones could not.   They were to remember the experience of slavery in Egypt and how God redeemed them and treat others in a similar fashion.

The Charity Or Welfare Program
Deuteronomy 24:19-22

“When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.  When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.  When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.  And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.” (Deuteronomy 24:19-22)

Anything missed on the first pass through the field was to be left for the poor.  A foreigner who had no land, orphans, and widows were to be allowed to gather what was left in the field and use it.  In fact, Leviticus 19:9-10 commanded that they deliberately leave some for the needy.  “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.  And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.”

What was left was to remain in the field for the needy, but it was up to them to do the work needed to gather it.  There was no obligation to gather it for him.  In II Thessalonians 3:10 Paul commanded Christians not to feed a person who would not do his part.  “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”  Much of the charitable work in the United States, while well intentioned, is sin.  Part of our economic problems are a direct result.

Punishment Not To Be Abusive
Deuteronomy 25:1-3

“If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.  And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number.  Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.” (Deuteronomy 25:1-3) 

Civil disputes were to be settled by designated judges.  Those judges were to be careful to find out who was at fault and sentence accordingly.  If physical punishment was deemed appropriate, the guilty was not sentenced to prison, but was to be flogged or caned.

Chastening treats the condemned with respect and humanity, seeking only a change in behavior.  It is and essential part of training.  Punishment seeks revenge for what the person has done, with no concern for the other person, and is only appropriate for deliberate, willful repeated wrongdoing.  They were to chasten the guilty when needed, but they were not to dehumanize the person by excessive beating.

Modern society has little concept of chastening, focusing on punishment, which results in abuse, whether of children, spouse , or prisoner.  Since they have not been properly trained themselves, they then abuse those around them, resulting an ever increasing problem of rebellion, recidivism and abusive behavior.  Modern American society is a clear example of improper training.

Labor Deserves An Appropriate Reward
Deuteronomy 25:4

“Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” (Deuteronomy 25:4)

The ox used to thresh the grain was to be permitted to eat freely of the grain while he worked.  Paul stressed that this was less about caring for the ox than about the principle that the laborer, whoever he might be deserved an appropriate recompense for his work.  I Corinthians 9:9-11 refers to this command as relating to the pastor or teacher in the church. “For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?  Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.  If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Deuteronomy 24:1-4

“When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.  And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.” (Deuteronomy 24:1-2) 

Dating and engagement were originally intended to give a couple the opportunity to get to know each other in various settings before becoming sexually involved.  Observing the prospective mate and their family’s  attitudes and habits can give a great deal of insight as to what marriage will be like.  Contrary to the old saying, real love is not blind according to I Corinthians 13:6, but rejoices in the truth.   Infatuation is blind, and may prevent recognizing the reality.  There can also be a deliberate attempt to conceal problems.  As a result, what seemed so wonderful may be unbearable.

The Old Law allowed remarriage in such a case, butt Jesus said that divorce was never intended in Matthew 19:6-9.  “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.  They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?  He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.  And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”

Because the sex drive is so powerful, and keeping the Law did nothing to change the persons heart, the Law permitted remarriage to limit the temptation.  When we become Christians, we become a new creature with the holy Spirit to change our attitudes.   Jesus said that leaving one’s mate for any reason other than sexual infidelity exposed them to unnecessary temptation.  Re-marriage still constituted adultery since it involved sex with someone other than ones mate.

Unfortunately unbearable conflicts can still occur, and Paul addresses the situation in I Corinthians 7:10-13.  “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.  But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.  And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.”  Divorce is never to be taken lightly, but under certain circumstances may be the only choice.  For the Christian, remarriage is not, as long as the possibility of reconciliation exists.

“And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 24:3-4) 

According to Matthew 19:9 remarriage constituted adultery, and even though the Old Testament Law permitted remarriage, they could not return to the first mate.  They had separated for unbearable differences, and getting back together made a mockery of their separation.  It would bring reproach on their land.  The belief that a Christian has to take back a mate who has been guilty of adultery is clearly unscriptural.

Deuteronomy 24:5

“When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.” (Deuteronomy 24:5) 

Tradition has a couple taking a short honeymoon to get acquainted and settle into their new roles before resuming their regular life.  It is not enough.  While they might need to earn a living, God specified they were to have a full year to establish their relationship before being charged with major responsibilities or sent to war.  The marriage is more  important than their participation in other things.  

Essential Items Are Not To Be Taken As Security
Deuteronomy 24:6

“No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man's life to pledge.” (Deuteronomy 24:6)

The ability to grind grain for food was essential.  To take one of the grindstones left a person unable to prepare his food, and it was forbidden to take as pawn or security for a loan.

Deuteronomy 24:7

“If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you.” (Deuteronomy 24:7)

Kidnapping required the death penalty, whether for ransom, or for slavery, whether for sexual purposes or for labor.   No one has the right to take away another’s freedom without due cause.

Deuteronomy 24:8-9

“Take heed in the plague of leprosy, that thou observe diligently, and do according to all that the priests the Levites shall teach you: as I commanded them, so ye shall observe to do.  Remember what the LORD thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth out of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 24:8-9) 

Leprosy is a highly contagious disease and the pathogens can remain inactive a long time.  It was crucial that the laws procedures be followed to prevent future outbreaks.  They had seen how quickly it developed when Miriam rebelled against God’s direction in Numbers 12.  They must not take it lightly.

Security for Loans
Deuteronomy 24:10-13

“When thou dost lend thy brother any thing, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge.  Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee.  And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge: In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee: and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 24:10-12) 

While it was entirely appropriate to secure a loan with personal property, the lender was not to embarrass  the borrower by going into his home for the security, but to allow the borrower to bring it out to him.  If the person was poor, and the item something that was needed for everyday business, it was to be returned the same day so the borrower was not deprived of it’s use.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lending Law

Deuteronomy 23:19-20

“Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury: Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.” (Deuteronomy 23:19-20)

Although the modern usage of the word refers to charging exorbitant rates of interest, the historical meaning was of any rate.   Poor people are often forced to borrow because they have no reserves, and high interest rates make them even poorer.  Leviticus 25:35-37 commanded, “And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.  Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.  Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.”  

God warned that there will always be poor people, and interest free loans was a major part of the Jewish welfare system to help the poor get back on their feet.  Given as a loan rather than a gift, the assistance did not destroy the recipient’s self esteem like handouts do.  Under Jewish law, a person who didn’t pay his bills could be sold as a bond servant for up to seven years so there was little risk of losing ones money, even for a Jew from another tribe or community, and God promised to bless the efforts to help others.   Loans to people from other countries were less sure of recovery and interest was allowed on them to compensate for taking the risk.

On the other hand, Proverbs 28:8 warns, “He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.”  Taking advantage of a poor person by charging them interest or paying less than a fair price for their belongings will result in God taking it away to give to those who will be fair.

Scientific laws such as the Newton’s Law of Gravity explain certain natural principles of the physical world.  They cannot be successfully ignored, even by a society that has no formal science.   The most primitive societies learn to live according to those scientific laws, even though they may not be able to explain why.  In a similar way, The Old Testament Law states certain principles that cannot be safely ignored.  Societies succeed only to the degree they follow those principles, whether they understand them or not.
 The current mortgage crisis is a direct result of financial institutions and individuals trying to take unfair advantage.  The principles have not changed.  It ought not surprise us when ignoring God’s principles turns out badly.

Promises to God
Deuteronomy 23:21-23

“When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.  But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee.  That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.” (Deuteronomy 23:21-23)

In Judges 11, Jephthah was chosen to lead Israel against the Ammonites.  In the excitement and stress of the moment just before the battle, he promised that if they won the battle, he would sacrifice the first thing that came to meet him to God.  They won the battle and his only daughter was the first one to meet him.  Judges 11:35 describes his reaction.  “And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.”  Once the commitment was made, it must not be broken for any reason.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 goes into more detail.  “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.  Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.  Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?”  

How many young people have been convinced by some youth pastor or evangelist to commit to being a preacher or missionary, or how many adults have made a financial commitment they couldn’t afford because of excitement or peer pressure and been unable or unwilling to fulfill it.  “I didn’t realize what it would require” is no excuse for failing to keep the promise.  There was nothing wrong with not making the promise, but it is sin not to keep it.  Preachers who pressure people to make such commitments are causing people to sin and will be held accountable.

Other People’s Crops
Deuteronomy 23:24-25

“When thou comest into thy neighbour's vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel.  When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour's standing corn.” (Deuteronomy 23:24-25)

Passing a loaded fruit tree or a strawberry patch it is very tempting to pop some in your mouth.  A person was not to be considered stealing for giving in to such a temptation, even though they might eat several.   Placing them in a container to take home or using reaping tools to get more implied it was not a matter of simply yielding to a momentary desire, but a deliberate intention to take advantage, and was forbidden.  This closely relates to the provision for the needy,supplying for those who are traveling.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Restrictions on joining the Nation of Israel

Deuteronomy 23:1-8

“He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 23:1)

The law promised that if Israel would keep God’s commands, “There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in thy land:” in Exodus 23:26.  A person who had had his sex organs removed or injured could not reproduce, making his wife unable to have children as well and forcing God to break his promise or miraculously intervene.

“A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 23:2) 

A bastard is the product of a couple having sex but not becoming husband and wife.  Sex was not to be treated as a form of recreation.  Adultery and whoredom were to be punished by death as was a rapist.  A child born as a result of such sin was not to be executed, but he and his descendants were to be excluded from full membership in the nation, even ten generations in the future.  Promiscuous sex had serious consequences even for future generations.

“An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever: Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.  Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.   Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever. ” (Deuteronomy 23:3-6)

Both Ammonites and Moabites were descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew, and thus relatives of Israel. God had promised their land to them because, despite Lot’s sin, he was related to Abraham and a man of God.  In Deuteronomy 2:9, Moses said, “ And the LORD said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession.”

Ignoring or not believing God’s promise, the Ammonites turned on Israel rather than encouraging them on their way to where God was sending them, even trying to invoke God’s curse on them by Balaam, and then getting them involved in sin.  As a result, their men were never to be adopted into the nation of Israel, and Israel was never to try to help them out.  The old saying, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you“ implies that the way you treat others is the way you wish to be treated..  They were to treat the Ammonites and Moabites as they had treated them.

The women of Moab and Ammon had little to do with the men’s decision to turn on Israel, and were not excluded, with Ruth, a Moabite woman being adopted into the nation of Israel and becoming one of Jesus’ earthly ancestors.

One of the states of present day Jordan, Amman, is the ancient land of Ammon, and the enmity toward Israel persists to the present day.

“Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land.  The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the LORD in their third generation.” (Deuteronomy 23:7-8)

The Edomites were descendants of Esau, Jacob’s(Israel’s) brother.  They were even more closely related to Israel than the Moabites and Ammonites, while they didn’t welcome them, they had not tried to destroy Israel either.  Egypt had allowed Israel to move freely into their land in Joseph’s day, enabling them to survive, although they later enslaved them.  Israel was not to hate them, and the grandson of an Edomite or Egyptian man could be considered a full fledged part of Israel, even though he was not full blooded Jewish.

The Standards Are Not To Be Changed For Those In Military Service 
Deuteronomy 23:9-14

“When the host goeth forth against thine enemies, then keep thee from every wicked thing.” (Deuteronomy 23:9)

Prostitution and drunkeness seem almost expected of military personnel on leave, and cities with military bases cater to the debauchery.  God’s people were not to permit such activity, but were to maintain the same moral and health standards at all times.

“If there be among you any man, that is not clean by reason of uncleanness that chanceth him by night, then shall he go abroad out of the camp, he shall not come within the camp: But it shall be, when evening cometh on, he shall wash himself with water: and when the sun is down, he shall come into the camp again.” (Deuteronomy 23:10-11)

Discharge from a sore or wound or ejaculation carried the potential for disease and made one unclean, as we see from Leviticus 15:31-32.  “Thus shall ye separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness; that they die not in their uncleanness, when they defile my tabernacle that is among them.  This is the law of him that hath an issue, and of him whose seed goeth from him, and is defiled therewith;” The same standard of uncleanness and purification was demanded in the military camp as in the regular cities.

“Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee: For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.” (Deuteronomy 23:12-14) 

There was to be a designated latrine area anytime they were camped.  A paddle or shovel blade was to be on the back of their spears so that when they needed to relieve themselves in the field they could bury it, preventing the spread of disease, minimizing the odor and not spoiling the view.

On visitation, I visited a family who was into drugs and alcohol.  They lived in an old house that still had an outhouse, and when the indoor plumbing quit they didn’t bother to fix it.  It wasn’t long before they decided it was too far to the outhouse, so began relieving themselves where ever was convenient.  Police officers have described similar situations, and children are often removed from such homes to protect their health.  God forbade such a lifestyle, even in a temporary situation.

Escaped Servants or Slaves
Deuteronomy 23:15

“Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee: He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.” (Deuteronomy 23:15-16)

Under the law, people could be sold as bond servants to pay debts, and outsiders could be held as slaves.  If the service was so cruel or demanding that the servant or slave found it necessary to run away, He was not to be forced to go back but was to be given the opportunity to make it on his own.  It was the employer or owner’s responsibility to make things good enough they didn’t leave.

Sodomy and Prostitution Forbidden
Deuteronomy 23:17-18

“There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.  Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 23:17-18) 

Today there is a great deal of emphasis on “safe sex”.   Promiscuity, and especially prostitution exposes one to whatever diseases any other sexual partners may have had.  Sodomy, or anal sex exposes both partners to any disease organisms that may be present in the intestines or colon, not just sexually transmitted diseases.  This prohibition was more effective at preventing disease than our safe sex programs.

God had forbidden such activity, and bringing part of the wages for it as a sacrifice amounted to mocking God’s command.  It was an abomination.  Dogs are promiscuous, breeding whenever they can, and buying them was essentially rewarding someone for their promiscuity.  The money was not acceptable to God.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sexual Relationships Between Family Members

Deuteronomy 22:30

“A man shall not take his father's wife, nor discover his father's skirt.” (Deuteronomy 22:30)

The Old Testament is a very practical system for living a prosperous and happy life.  The principles it lays out are still applicable to modern life, although we are often told they have no relevance today.  Sexual relationships with relatives have two potentially serious risks.

Those who work with livestock are usually aware of the consequences of inbreeding.  A gene that when combined with other genes may produce a highly desirable trait, but when duplicated in both the father and mothers DNA nay result in serious genetic problems.  Dwarfism is common among inbred Herford cattle, Hip problems are common among collies, and mental problems are common among Pitbulls and Poodles.  Similar problems are seen in small closely knit groups which are concerned with retaining their cultural identity or purity.  It is shocking to study the mental and physical decline of European royalty because they would not allow marriage to outsiders.  Leviticus 18:6-13 give specific instructions to minimize this danger.

“None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD. 

The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.  The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father's nakedness. 

The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover. 

The nakedness of thy son's daughter, or of thy daughter's daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness.  The nakedness of thy father's wife's daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. 

Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister: she is thy father's near kinswoman.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister; for she is thy mother's near kinswoman.” (Leviticus 18:6-13) 

Conflicts arise in any relationship, and sexual relationships are especially vulnerable to jealousy and emotional damage.  Psychologists tell us that losing a mate is as traumatic as having a limb cut off, which is one reason why adultery was such a serious offense.  It is compounded when it is with the mate of a close relative. These dangers are very real in the above situations, and may destroy family relationships, but the same risk involves those who are only connected by relationship to another person.  Leviticus 18:14-18 deals with these situations.

“Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt. 

Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son's wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. 

Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son's daughter, or her daughter's daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness. 

Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.” (Leviticus 18:14-18)

Close association can lead to temptation unless one makes a definite decision not to get involved.  Getting involved forces the family to take sides and does great emotional harm to everyone involved.  Guilty parties were to be cut off from the people, either excluded or executed.