Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Mar 6, Dt 21-23

Today's readings are Dt 21-23.

Dt 21:1-9 makes it clear that all sin must be atoned for, even unidentified sin. Any sin in the community impacts the whole community and must be redeemed. There are no “victimless” sins. Furthermore, the unity of God's people is a factor in dealing with murders in which there are no witnesses. The closest community is to take responsibility and offer a corporate sacrifice in atonement.

Marrying outside the clans is addressed in Dt 21:10-14. Anyone marrying a captive of the army of Israel must be entirely cleansed of the filth and corruption of the world before the wedding. The wife is not to be treated as a belonging to be bought and sold.

In a culture that allowed for polygamous marriages, favoritism is prohibited (Dt 21:18-21). The firstborn of the first marriage gets a double inheritance. Notice that the Bible neither endorses nor prohibits polygamy. Nonetheless, this passage acknowledges some of the difficulties associated with having multiple wives and demands that the husband act in a godly, compassionate manner regardless of his feelings.

Refusing to honor your father and mother is a rebellion against the family that God created and is a grave violation of God’s commandment. Violating that commandment brings death (Dt 21:18-21).

In Dt 21:22-23, we see a harbinger of what is to come by levying a curse on any man who is hanged on a tree.

Sons who are blatantly, repeatedly rebellious are to be put to death. This is a reflection of the "wages of sin" Paul describes in Rom 6:23.

Because God’s people are one with Him and one with each other, they are to treat one another the way God would treat them, by protecting and providing for each other in a compassionate and merciful way (Dt 22:1-4). Lost property must not only be adequately cared for but returned to its owner. This is a direct result of the spiritual truth that everything we have comes from God and belongs to God. If God determines to give something to another, it is not our prerogative to claim it for our own. Rather, we should make every effort to honor God's will in who possesses that item. 

In a passage that addresses a volatile issue of our day, cross-dressing is prohibited (Dt 22:5). Blurring gender lines and claiming to be something other than how God created an individual is a strong statement of self-determination and rebellion against the Father. It is, literally, the pot telling the potter how it will be used in the Father’s house.

Preserving the God-ordained means of life is addressed in 22:6-7. Careful and prudent planning must be used in managing God’s resources and respecting His creation.
Homeowners have a moral responsibility for the safety of those who come to their home (Dt 22:8).

Dt 22:9 is a reiteration of the caution against being unequally yoked. The way God’s people use the blessings He gives them should reflect their reverence for this commandment.

Tassels for garments are prescribed in Dt 22:12. Num 15:38-40 reveals that the tassels are a reminder of God’s commandments.

Dt 22:13-30 deals with godliness and integrity in intimate relationships. Every facet of marriage and intimacy must be a reflection of holiness and honesty. Anything less is punishable by death.

Dt 23:1-9 prescribes parameters for the assembly of God’s people. Pagans and those who have rebelled against God are strictly prohibited. Dt 23:1 most likely refers to eunuchs that were mutilated in pagan worship, given the context of the rest of the passage.

God’s purity is revered by refusing to allow anything unclean in the camp of His people (Dt 23:9-13). This commandment relies on the integrity of His children to observe it.  While some of the infraction may be private and undetectable to others, there is still a price to pay for violating them (Dt 23:14).

Dt 23:16-24 addresses godly living on a number of levels. Integrity, holiness, compassion, deference and a lack of self-interest will be the hallmarks of God’s people.

These guidelines display that God's people are set apart and are to rise above cultural norms and strive for a higher moral standard, one that reflects the holiness of the Father.

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