Deuteronomy 13-17; here is a repeat of the dietary restrictions from the Law. He foods and animals that Peter said He had never eaten in Acts 10:14. You might be shocked if you knew how many time pastors have to answer the question about what can be eaten and “do we have to keep the dietary restrictions today.” In Deuteronomy 12:15 it says that you may eat whatever you slaughter within your gates; whatever you desire, according to the blessing of the LORD God which He has given you. When I read this, I think why did it take so long for them to understand that what “God has declared clean, don’t call unclean?” Now I read about the prohibited list and see a lot of birds and animals that I wouldn’t want to eat anyway. Bats don’t appeal to me.
There is a repeated phrase in these chapters – “the place which the LORD your God chooses to put His name.” This alludes to the future Temple that Solomon would dedicate in 2 Samuel 6-7. We still read about the restrictions the people of Israel have when they enter into the Promised Land. It was filled with all religions and cultic practices. God tells them “Do not get entangled with it.” The reflects back to Exodus 32-34 when the people rose up to play. Now there is a great struggle with this restrictions, for we are sensual people and the cultic worship had a very intense sensual [sexual] connotation. The people are warned again about idolatry and immorality. I wonder why it is that those two words seemingly are quoted together?
In the last blog I mentioned some words that were repeated, but here in chapter 13, we have some words we need to put into our lives, so as not to fall into the garbage of the cults/world. Words like “keep, listen, serve and cling.” If we are focused on pleasing the Father, we won’t have time to entertain other gods and idols.
In Chapter 15 we find the concept of “Sabbatical” year. It means that the 7th year people get to rest. This previously included animals and slaves. Here we find that slaves are set free. But that they are not to be sent away with nothing, but that they are to be given some of the owners provisions and property. This is especially true when the slave was a fellow Israelite. I have never had a Sabbatical, but I love the concept. Especially the Year of Jubilee [49th and 50th] because everything returns back to the original owners and all are set free. We have this program today call “Bankruptcy” that allows all debts to be expunged. When a person trusts Jesus as Savior, our debt is paid in full. It isn’t just wiped off the record, it is dealt with – Jesus PAID our debt with His precious life-saving blood.
In our reading we have the provision for distance traveled to the “future” Temple. Exchange money for a suitable sacrifice at the Temple. Yeah, we know how that all turned out in Jesus’ day with the moneychangers. Anyway, people were required to travel three times a year to the Temple – the Place where God chose to put His name. The Feast of the Weeks, the Feast of Pentecost, and The Passover. Obviously, taking animals to the Temple would be difficult, so the provision was made to buy the sacrifice when you got to Jerusalem.
In chapter 17, a topic of great importance – Justice. Contained in this chapter are examples of how to administer justice in the community. If we will look closely we find that justice is laced with MERCY. I would rather have mercy or justice any day. I don not want what is coming to me! Evidence must be brought by the witnesses of two or more. Wow, what if we put this in practice today, not reacting when someone “accuses or insinuates” a wrong. But to require evidence of wrong doing before we judge the person. It use to be that a person was innocent until proven guilty, now it more like prove you are innocent instead of the accuser having the burden to bring evidence.
In verse 17:7 it tells us to “purge the evil from your midst.” I find that today we are living in a time when “evil is called good and good is called evil.” Oh, how I long for a Holy Spirit movement washing over His people and coming to a place where the “Lion and the Lamb lay together.” Let us remember it is not about behavior but about an issue of the heart, for out of the heart comes the issues of life.