Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Friday, March 3, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Mar 4, Dt 14-16

Today's readings are Dt 14-16.

Dt 14:1-21 reminds God's people that they are to be set apart from the world. They are not to engage in pagan cultic practices like ritual cutting or shaving (Dt 14:1). This is not a warning against routine shaving. Rather, it’s a caution against ungodly worship practices. In a similar fashion, Israel’s use of animals as a food source was to be by God's clear and detailed instructions. This is mandated not so much as a control on their diets or because there was anything evil about the prohibited animals, but as a demonstration of loyalty and obedience to Him (Dt 14:3-21). 

The Jews’ reverence for God and their gratefulness to Him will manifest itself in their tithes, offerings and their support of the priests who serve Him (Dt 14:23-29). The tithes are also an acknowledgment that all they have has come from Him. As such, the very first of all their crops and livestock are to be devoted to Him.

Dt 15:1-6 puts on display the freedom God’s people have. All slaves and debts will be released every seven years. This periodic emancipation shows that no one but God permanently owns His people. They are eternally indebted to no one other than Him. Anything yoking them to another man or woman will be declared null and void by God’s commandment every seven years. In a broader application of the same principle, as a nation Israel may lend to other countries but may not borrow from them.  Like the individual people, the nation is to be indebted to no one but God.

Dt 15:7-11 tells us God's chosen people will have concern for the poor and oppressed. This is more than an encouragement for His people to be altruistic. It is an expression of the gift of grace God gives His people. They are to distribute the same type of grace to people who receive little or no consideration or compassion from the world. God's people will be set apart by their willingness to show grace to the poor.

But, who are the poor? Later in Scripture, we will see that "the poor" are not all inclusive of people without assets or means. Proverbs will frequently speak of the sluggard who is not worthy of help because he refuses to work. Even further on, we will hear that the one who does not work does not eat. With these exceptions in mind, we see that the poor become those who are unable, not unwilling, to support themselves.   

We also see that slavery for God's people is a temporary condition in Dt 15:12-18. Freedom is a promise to them. That promise is symbolically represented every seven years as those who have had to sell themselves as slaves to other Israelites are set free. 

Dt 16 documents appropriate offerings during the festivals and in the sanctuary. Each of the offerings is symbolic of the things God has done for Israel in delivering them out of Egypt. For instance, the Passover feast (Feast of Unleavened Bread) is instituted (Dt 16:1-8) as a way of remembering that God took every firstborn Egyptian in the tenth plague while the firstborn of Israel were spared. In an annual expression of thanks, every Jewish family is to dedicate the firstborn of their livestock to the Lord.

The Feast of Weeks celebrates the early harvest and gives thanks for God’s provision (Dt 16:9-12). The Feast of Booths celebrates the late harvest and looks back on Israel's time spent in the wilderness when all food came directly from God (Dt 16:13-17). Everyone participates “as he is able” because everyone has been blessed with what God has given them.

Deut 16:18-22 shows that God's people will be overseen by righteous judges. They are to judge in a godly manner because God judges in a righteous and godly manner. The judges of Israel are meant to be a reflection of Israel's true judge. They are to show the world that God's people can govern with integrity, justice, and impartiality. 

The chapter ends with forbidden modes of worship (Dt 16:21-22), another reminder that worship is mandated, guided by and focused on God and never at the whim of the worshiper nor for the benefit of any other being.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Pastor John. I am also a Pastor from Mumbai, India. I am so blessed and feel privileged and honored to get connected with you. The post on the Bible study(Daily Bread) of Dt 14 -16 is very refreshing and I am blessed to go through it. I have also emailed you on your email id. Trust you will have a time to go through it. Pastor Diwakar Wankhede, Mumbai, India