Deuteronomy 15:1-11 (Ha’Shemitah – The Remission)

Deuteronomy 15:1-11
Ha’Shemitah – The Remission

The passage today deals with a precept known as the shemitah. It is a precept that is a part of the Law of Moses. Before we get too far along, there are a few questions for me to see how theologically sound you are:

  • Who was the Law of Moses given to?
  • Does the Law of Moses pertain to anyone else?
  • Through Christ’s work, what is the state of the Law of Moses?

Because the shemitah is a part of the law of Moses, because the law of Moses only applied to Israel under the law, and because the law of Moses is annulled in Christ – for any who come to Christ, the shemitah has nothing to do with anything in our world today – nothing. That is, except as it is typologically fulfilled for us when we come to Christ.

In other words, and as an example: The Day of Atonement was for Israel alone, for Israel under the law, and it is fulfilled in Christ. The only thing about the Day of Atonement relevant to us now is how it is fulfilled for us in Christ. He is our propitiation. He is our Atoning Sacrifice.

The shemitah is no different. I bring this up, because there is a gigantically popular teaching, by a Jewish guy, that says that those nations who fail to follow the precepts of the shemitah will be judged by God for not doing so.

In particular, he focuses heavily on America, claiming that our national calamities are based on a rotating cycle of the shemitah. This is not just extremely unsound theology, it is heresy. The problem with him is that he has no idea what he is talking about, on this, or on a host of other issues that he claims spiritual insights into.

And the next problem is that because he is Jewish, people immediately associate him with being a specialist on all things Bible-related. That is a logical fallacy known as a genetic fallacy.

A genetic fallacy occurs when a claim is accepted as true or false based on the origin of the claim. “My parents told me that God exists; therefore, God exists.” In this case “Jonathan Cahn is a Jew; therefore, his biblical insights are valid.”

It is a scary place to be for those who hold to this, it is unprofitable (except for the one who makes stuff up in this capacity), and it results in misinformed people who have no idea about what something – such as the shemitah – is in the Bible for. I will give you a hint: Think Jesus.

Text Verse: “And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing.” Deuteronomy 31:10, 11

I chose this for our text verse because the shemitah is mentioned only five times in Scripture. Four of those times are in the passage we are looking at today, and the final time is in the passage from Deuteronomy 31. That is all of the information that we have on it. Anything brought up, or claimed, apart from those verses has nothing to do with what Scripture teaches.

As we will see today, the year of release was at the same time as the seventh-year sabbath. If you remember from Leviticus 25, the Year of Jubilee occurred after seven of these cycles, in the fiftieth year. It’s important to understand that there is no biblical record of the year of Jubilee ever being observed, nor of which year it was started, even if it was ever observed.

Further, it could not have been observed during times of exile. And more, the shemitah year does not correspond to the year of Jubilee. Rather, it precedes it. And more, there is no biblical record of the shemitah being observed, nor is it known if anyone ever observed it while in exile. And more, if it was observed, nobody knows the first year that it was observed.

In other words, based on Scripture alone, nobody knows when any of these mandates were observed, or even if they were ever observed even once. This should clue people into the fact that the mandates given in the law are typical of Christ. That is the reason they are included. Nothing else about them is relevant to the biblical narrative. If you bought the book, you wasted your money.

Stick with the Bible and you will be far better off. Great things are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. A Release to the Lord (verses 1-6)

The transition from Chapter 14 to 15 is interesting. Chapter 14 ended with the thought of the third year of tithing which especially is intended for the care of the poor, even though the tithe is designated for Levi, it extends to the poor of the land. Now, Chapter 15 begins with a seven-year period, also pertaining to the care of the poor.

The number ten, as in the tithe, signifies the perfection of Divine order. The number three, as in the year of the tithe, signifies that which is solid, real, substantial, complete, and entire. The number seven, as in this year of release, is the number of spiritual perfection.

There is a harmonious working together of the various concepts in order to reveal how these things anticipate the work of Christ in redemptive history. The words of the law find their fulfillment in what He has accomplished. Understanding that, we begin…

“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts.

miqets sheva shanim taaseh shemitah – “From end seven years you shall make remission.” The meaning of “end” is not “after seven years,” but “the end of the seven-year cycle,” meaning the seventh year is what is being discussed.

This was seen already in Leviticus. It is not “seven and then,” but “six and then.” Each six-year period is followed by a special one-year time of remission. This is the same as the year of tithe of the previous chapter. It was not “three and then,” but “two and then.”

Here is introduced the word, shemitah, or “remission.” This is the first of five times it will be used, all in Deuteronomy, and with four of them in this chapter. It means, “a letting drop,” and thus a remitting. The word comes from shamat, signifying to let drop or even cast down. The precept here follows from Exodus 21:2 –

“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing.” Exodus 21:2

However, and before continuing, the precept concerning Hebrew slaves being released in the seventh year is one that is debated over. Does this mean the year of remission now being looked at, or does it mean six years of service regardless of the year of release? That will be evaluated when we get to verse 12. The next reference is found in Exodus 23 –

“Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, 11 but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.” Exodus 23:10, 11

This allowance is the seventh year Sabbath of the land. It is not the same provision as the shemitah, but it surely is the same seven-year period. One is a Sabbath of the land, the other is a release from debts. The Sabbath of the land is then further detailed in Leviticus 25 –

“When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land. And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land—all its produce shall be for food.” Leviticus 25:2-7

To understand all the details, it would be good to go back and review those particular sermons. Moses is now giving a new stipulation to be performed on this sacred seventh year.

One could look at this as an expansion of what has been thus far presented. A remission, or letting go, of all debts is to be made. As Moses next says…

And this is the form of the release:

v’zeh debar ha’shemitah – “And this word the remission.” In other words, “What will now be stated is the principle set forth for the remission.” And that word is…

2 (con’t) Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it;

shamot kal baal masheh yadow asher yasheh b’reehu – “shall let drop every master of the loan of his hand who has lent in his neighbor.” Here is a word found only this once in Scripture, masheh. It means a loan. It is from the verb nashah, also found in this verse, which means to lend.

The picture is made vibrant with the words. The owner of the loan is to open his hand and simply let it fall to the ground. From there, Moses says…

2 (con’t) he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother,

lo yigos eth reehu v’eth akhiv – “no exacting of his neighbor and of his brother.” The word nagas is used. It is from a root signifying to drive an animal. It was used of the harsh taskmasters over the people while in Egypt. It gives the sense of coming hard after the one with the debt.

This was not to be done to neighbor or brother, but the meaning of this has to be drawn from the surrounding context. A person may have a non-Hebrew neighbor. For him, this did not apply. Thus, “neighbor” is further defined as “brother.” In other words, this is referring to dealings solely between the Hebrew people.

2 (con’t) because it is called the Lord’s release.

ki qara shemitah l’Yehovah – “for called, ‘remission to Yehovah.’” In other words, one could paraphrase this as, “because proclamation has been made of the Lord’s release” (Barnes). This is not a release in a general sense, but it is a release to the Lord.” This year of remission is, like the Sabbath year, to honor the Lord.

It was to be an acknowledgment of their position before the Lord, and they were to deal with their neighbor as the Lord would deal with them. In the end, they are the Lord’s people, they were stewards of His land, and they were the recipients of His kindness.

To honor Him because of these things, they were to thus act accordingly with their fellow Hebrews. This continues to be seen in the next words…

Of a foreigner you may require it;

Here it speaks of the nokri, or stranger. It signifies a foreigner or alien, thus someone outside of the covenant people. This is not a mark of superiority over them, nor is it a mark of severity of treatment towards them.

The reason for this is because they were not bound to the same laws as Israel. While Israel was obligated to not sow, plow, or prune during the Sabbath year, the strangers were not under that obligation. Hence, they would have the usual income as during any other year. Thus, they were expected to pay their debts. Such was not the case with Israel. As this was so….

3 (con’t) but you shall give up your claim to what is owed by your brother,

v’asher yihyeh lekha eth akhikha tashmet yadekha – “and which become to you your brother you shall let drop your hand.” The greatest debate concerning this remission is whether it applies only during the seventh year, or if it is permanent. If during the seventh year, it means that the debt is let go of, or released, during that year, but it can then be picked up again in the next year.

This is the view that most scholars take. Keil uses Exodus 23:11 to justify this view. There, using the same word, it says –

“Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, 11 but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.” Exodus 23:11

His analysis says, “it must be interpreted in the same manner here as there. And as it is not used there to denote the entire renunciation of a field or possession, so here it cannot mean the entire renunciation of what had been lent, but simply leaving it, i.e., not pressing for it during the seventh year.”

One does not logically follow after the other. How someone can see a precept that instructs someone to not plow a field for a year equate directly to canceling a debt for only one year is hard to follow. The point of releasing a debt is to restore a person to a debt-free, productive state. The point of not plowing one’s field was for the field to renourish itself and to provide for the poor.

It goes against everything that the Lord does for His people to say that the remission of the debt is only for a temporary period. Even Jesus spoke of this precept in Luke 7 –

“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Luke 7:41, 42

Jesus went on to equate the woman weeping at his feet with the one who knew she owed a great debt. When He went on to say to the woman in verse 48, “Your sins are forgiven,” He didn’t mean they were forgiven, but would be remembered again someday. He meant that they were forgiven forever.

except when there may be no poor among you;

ephes ki lo yihyeh b’kha evyon – “End: for no may become in you poor.”  The words are widely translated, many simply passing over the word ephes, or end. It signifies a ceasing, an end, an uttermost part, and so on. What is surely being conveyed is not “except” as the NKJV says. Verse 11 clearly and unambiguously says there will always be poor among the people.

What is being conveyed is, “For the end purpose of there being no poor among you.” This was to be a remedy to alleviate the poor from the land. As more poor people cropped up in the next six years, they were to then be given the same relief.

The remission of this debt for those who had come into poverty was an act of the Lord’s mercy. It is His law, and it is His provision within the law. To not obey the precept then reflected a disobedience to His command as well as a lack of faith in the Lord. The lack of faith is because of what Moses next says…

4 (con’t) for the Lord will greatly bless you in the land

It is a statement of surety: ki barekh yebarekha Yehovah ba’arets – “For blessing will bless you Yehovah in the land.” It is a precept that is found several times in the Proverbs, such as –

“He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord,
And He will pay back what he has given.” Proverbs 19:17

What seems contradictory, but which is taken almost as an axiom in Scripture, is that the person who gives generously generally receives increase because of what he has given. In the case of Israel, the Lord – through Moses – indicates that in being obedient to the precept, He will bless them abundantly in the land…

4 (con’t) which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance—

They are the often-repeated words of Deuteronomy, something which forms its own emphasis. The Lord is the Giver of the land. Israel is the recipient of the land. As this is so, then Israel has a responsibility to act in accord with the precepts of law. In failing to pay heed, they can just as easily be dispossessed from what they possess. As Moses next conveys to them…

only if you carefully obey the voice of the Lord your God,

raq im shamoa tishma b’qol Yehovah elohekha – “ONLY if hearing you will hear the voice of Yehovah your God.” The word raq is used in a limiting sense. This is how things are, but only if certain conditions are met. If they are not, then the promise of blessing cannot be anticipated, nor will it be forthcoming.

Also, the words here once again reveal the doctrine of divine inspiration. Moses is the one speaking, and yet he explicitly states that what he is saying is the voice of Yehovah. That continues to be seen in his next words…

5 (con’t) to observe with care all these commandments which I command you today.

The translation is incorrect. It says lishmor laasot eth kal ha’mitsvah – “to watch to do all the commandment.” It is singular, not plural. It is one commandment even if it is made up of various precepts, statutes, and judgments. To neglect one part of the whole is to fail to observe the commandment.

Moses just spoke of hearing, meaning hearkening to, the Lord’s voice. He now says that His voice is conveyed in “all the commandment which I command you.”

Moses is carefully relaying to Israel that what he is speaking out is, in fact, the voice of the Lord. What he says is to be considered as conveyed by Yehovah himself. Therefore, if the people are obedient to the commandment, they can expect the blessing that comes with the commandment. As he next says…

For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you;

The Hebrew is in the perfect form and is thus stronger: “For the Lord your God has blessed you.” The meaning is that His favor is on them, and it will continue on them if they are careful to keep the commandment. For this reason, there is no excuse to oppress one another.

They are blessed and that will continue, so why should dropping a loan in the seventh year even be considered an inconvenience? They were given grace, and they needed to be gracious and merciful as well. And because of the Lord’s blessing…

6 (con’t) you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow;

v’haavata goyim rabim v’atah lo taavot – “and you shall lend nations many, and you no shall borrow.” Here is a new and rather rare verb, avat. It comes from the noun avot which is an article that is pledged. Thus, it can mean to lend or to borrow depending on the form of the verb. Both meanings are used in this one clause.

This verb, avat, is closely related to the word eved, translated as “servant.” The connection is easily seen in the proverb –

“The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7

In lending to the nations, they would become debtor nations of whom Israel would then rule…

6 (con’t) you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.

This was certainly fulfilled during the reign of David and then Solomon, but it is also true that other nations reigned over Israel from the time of the Judges and on occasionally. Thus, it shows that Israel was not obedient to the commandment. If they were, such would not have been the case.

Nehemiah even explicitly states this during his lengthy prayer of confession to the Lord while using the same word that Moses now uses. Thus, admitting that they had failed to do as he instructed –

“Here we are, servants today!
And the land that You gave to our fathers,
To eat its fruit and its bounty,
Here we are, servants in it!
37 And it yields much increase to the kings
You have set over us,
Because of our sins;
Also they have dominion over our bodies and our cattle
At their pleasure;
And we are in great distress.” Nehemiah 9:36, 37

Obey the voice of the Lord your God
Observe that which He has spoken to you
Be careful to observe in this life you trod
This is what I am instructing you

You are to release all debts in the seventh year
You shall do this because I have so instructed you
Do not worry about the loss; you shall not fear
Just be obedient; to the precept remain true

And I will bless you with a blessing in all that you do
Things will turn out fine, if you hearken to my word
Good things shall come upon you
If you just carefully observe all you have heard

II. You Shall Open Your Hand Wide (verses 7-11)

Of the following 5 verses, there is a decidedly chiastic structure –

“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren,

ki yihyeh b’kha evyon me’akhad akhekha – “For become in you poor from one your brothers.” The Hebrew reads as it did in verse 4, b’kha – “in you.” Moses has been consistently speaking in the singular.

At times, such as now, it is surely speaking of the nation, “in you, Israel. At times, he is probably referring to each individual. You, Israelite, are to do this. The entire passage is being kept very personal. Here, when he speaks of a person in Israel, he says that person is “in you.” One of the people within the body becomes needy. Moses then further defines him saying…

7 (con’t) within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you,

Being within the gates signifies closeness. It would also generally signify not just a Hebrew brother, but a person probably within the same tribe of Israel. But regardless of that, Moses again notes that it is in the land given to them by the Lord.

They did nothing to merit what they possessed, and yet they possessed the land. Further, they lived within the gate of the land, implying security. And yet, there is a brother who is not secure. He is, rather,  in need. If so…

7 (con’t) you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother,

To harden the heart is to be equated with searing one’s conscience. The heart is the seat of reasoning and understanding. And yet, one can purposefully say, “I see no reason to help this person. He got himself into his pickle and so he can get himself out.” In this, he will then shut his hand.

It is a new word, qaphats, translated as “shut.” It comes from a primitive root meaning to draw together. One can think of walking by the poor guy, thinking his evil thoughts, and then clenching his hand so that no chance of money being passed on to him could occur. And yet, this person is in a land that was given to him, and he is living securely within the gates of a city of the land. Thus…

but you shall open your hand wide to him

ki phatoakh tiphtakh eth yadekha lo – “for opening you shall open your hand to him.” Notice the contrast: Shutting hand, bad. Widely opening, good. The sense is just the opposite of the last thought. The miserly person will literally clench his fist as he encounters poverty Pete, but the people are to instead not just open the hand, but to open it generously.

Obviously, the hand is being used in place of what the hand possesses. Therefore, a wide-open hand signifies gracious and abundant giving. And more…

8 (con’t) and willingly lend him sufficient for his need,

Moses uses the same word, avat, that was introduced in verse 6, and it is repeated for emphasis: v’haavet taavitenu dei makhsoro – “and lending, you shall lend sufficient his need.” In other words, this stress is said in contrast to the hardened heart. Thus, the paraphrase of “willingly” is well stated.

Also, there is another new word here, makhsor. It signifies a lack or a need. It is the noun form of the more common verb found in the next clause…

8 (con’t) whatever he needs.

asher yekhsar lo – “whatever needs to him.” This is added to ensure that the idea of the stresses in the previous two clauses are perfectly understood. If he needs five dollars, you are to open your hand. If he needs five thousand dollars, you are to open your hand. He has a need. If you can meet the need, you are to do so. And this is especially to be considered at all times, excepting none…

Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart,

The Hebrew is very forceful: hishamer lekha pen yihyeh davar im l’vavekha veliyaal – “Watch to you! Lest become word in to your heart – worthless.”

The person knows that he is supposed to help out his fellow Hebrew. But then he suddenly realizes that if he does, he will lose his money in doing so. It is a worthless thought set in contrast to the high value of what this poor person needs. That thought is…

9 (con’t) saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’

qarevah shenat ha’sheva ha’shemitah – “Is near year the seventh, the remission.” In other words, the person has to pay back any loans during the first six years, but in the seventh year, the loan is to be forgiven. But then he thinks, “Wait! This is the third month of the sixth year.” In less than a year, I will have to let the loan drop.”

It is a worthless thought to the Lord, and it is not to be considered. It is the Lord’s land, this guy belongs to His people, the law was given by Him, and there can be no excuse for withholding what he is supposed to willingly provide.

These words surely indicate that the remission of the debts is not a temporary, one year, remission to be taken up again after the shemitah. Rather, the year of remission means the debt is to be forgiven – wholly and entirely – forever. Otherwise, the importance of these words would be wholly without merit. The remission was to be forever. Thus, the wrong attitude creeps in…

9 (con’t) and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing,

Here it says, “and your eye be evil b’akhikha, or in your brother.” Again, the words of Moses are close and personal throughout the entire passage. Whether speaking of Israel in the singular, or speaking to the individual of Israel, the words demonstrate evident closeness in the matter at hand.

The evil eye is an eye of wickedness. It is uncaring, greedy, and so on. Jesus uses the term in the New Testament, first in a parable –

“Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” Matthew 20:15, 16

And again, in general discourse He says –

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Mark 7:21-23

If someone is to be this way, it will not go unnoticed…

9 (con’t) and he cry out to the Lord against you, and it become sin among you.

Again, it is close and personal, “and become in you sin.” The shemitah is “to Yehovah.” Thus, in neglecting the need of the needy, it is an attack against the precept of the Lord. And the precept of the Lord is to be considered as a representation of the character and moral nature of the Lord.

To treat this matter as such is to trample on the name of the Lord who designated the shemitah in the first place. In such a situation, the imputation of sin is a given. To avoid such a thing…

10 You shall surely give to him,

The Hebrew is again emphatic, “Giving you shall give to him.” Despite the coming year of remission, there should be no consideration at all of that fact. Rather…

10 (con’t) and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him,

This is set in contrast to the words, “lest there be a wicked thought in your heart.” Instead of entertaining a worthless thought, there should be no evil in the heart, but rather a sense of joy. This is because it is in accord with the law, it is right towards a fellow Israelite, and it is pleasing in the sight of the Lord who gave the command in the first place. As Moses says…

10 (con’t) because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you

The word translated as “because” is galal. It is a noun coming from the verb galal which means “to roll.” In other words, in doing right, blessing will roll back upon the right-doer. And that will be…

10 (con’t) in all your works and in all to which you put your hand.

The words translated as “put your hand” signify an outstretching of the hand. This takes the reader right back to verses 7 and 8 where Moses said to not shut the hand, but to open it wide. In the act of the unclenched hand, blessing will come back upon the all works of that person’s outstretched hand.

11 For the poor will never cease from the land;

The point of opening the hand wide is to alleviate the plight of the poor who arise in the land. Life is time and chance according to Solomon. In this, circumstances change, and difficult conditions arise for even the most industrious or talented soul. The Lord doesn’t interfere in these things.

He allows people to make decisions and some of them will be poorly made. This is why the poor will never cease from the land. The shemitah was given to alleviate this and to restore such brothers through the remission of debt. In this, the poor will be restored. It is the Lord’s land, they are His people, and these are His precepts. And so, Moses says…

*11 (fin) therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’

Moses repeats his words from verse 8, “opening you shall open,” thus stressing the importance of the matter. The hand is to be extended and what comes to it is to be given away without consideration of the year of remission.

But Moses extends the thought now to close out the passage by adding in another word to describe his plight, ani. It signifies one who is humbled, lowly, or afflicted.The idea for adding this in is surely to contrast the blessing that lies ahead for tending to his need. He is humbled; you will be blessed. He is lowly; you will be exalted. He is needy; you will be filled.

The shemitah has come and I must let go of what you owe
And I know that it is the right thing to do
It would be great if I got it all back, but even so
The Lord has instructed that I provide remission to you

And who can argue with that? It is a small thing to do
When everything came from Him in the first place
And all along, He has been faithful and true
From Him has come goodness as a smile from His face

I know that from Him has come so much more
Than anything that I could ever have returned from you
He has given more than I could ever ask for
Certainly, this is a small thing he asks me to do

III. The Shemitah. Fulfilled in Christ.

In Luke 6, Jesus said –

“And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” Luke 6:34-36

The shemitah anticipates the state of all people who are the Lord’s. Through sin, we have become poor before God. In our poverty, we have a debt we cannot pay. The shemitah of Israel was given to anticipate this. It is a correction of our impoverished and needy state.

Jesus saw us in our poverty, and He has given to us freely, asking nothing in return. He extended His hand and paid the debt that we could not pay. And He brought us back to a right standing before God.

The word shemitah signifies a letting drop. One opens his hand and lets go of what it holds. Thus, it is a remission. In the New Testament, the noun translated as remission is aphesis. It is derived from the verb aphiémi, that carries essentially the same meaning, to let go. Thus, aphesis is a letting go, and thus forgiveness.

In Hebrews 9:22, the author tells us, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” The Lord, through Moses, told the people of Israel to “let go” of the paltry money they held in their hands in order to restore their fellow brother to a right standing, free from the impoverished state that he could not correct.

In Christ, the Lord let go of the most precious thing, His life, in order to restore us to a right standing before God, free from the impoverished state we were in and that we could not correct.

And the Lord, through Moses, told the people of Israel not to even take into consideration the wicked thought of the heart that would say, “The seventh year, the year of remission, is at hand.” The nearer the day of release, the more likely there would be loss, and the higher the loss was sure to be.

And the Lord, through Christ, was willing to provide us remission even up to the last moment of our existence, where not even a single work could be worked back in some attempt to repay the infinite debt that we owed. This is the lesson of the first recorded death after that of the Lord Himself –

“Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ 42 Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’
43 And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’” Luke 23:39-43

The time of shemitah was coming, the criminal had no way of paying the debt he owed, he implored his Brother Israelite, and the letting go, the remission, was granted. To see the end of the account, but which is not the end of the story, one has to continue on to the Gospel of John –

“Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him.” John 19:31, 32

As far as recorded history goes, these are the first two people who died after the death of the Lord. And what a difference between the two.

For the one, God was his Creditor, and Christ is the remission of his debt because he identified with Him. Though a debtor with a debt he could not pay, the Lord – through His shed blood – became the means of God’s letting go. And that, even though the time of remission was – literally – moments away.

God got nothing in repayment. Not a single tract handed out, not a single person to lead into the kingdom, not a single Sunday morning saying, “It’s the Lord’s Day again. Thank you, JESUS, for having saved me.” Nothing was repaid, and yet God, through Christ extended His hand out to him and forgave the debt.

The other criminal with Jesus did not identify with Him, and his debt to God remained unpaid. For him, there is no remission, no letting go, no shemitah.

I once watched a History Channel program on what it means to be saved. During the program, a Baptist minister was interviewed. He openly and boastfully proclaimed that he did not accept the premise that someone who had lived a bad life, right up until the end, could be saved.

He said, “There is no deathbed forgiveness.” That person neither understood the premise of the shemitah, nor does he understand how it points to Christ – meaning, he does not understand the meaning of the word “grace.”

I find it probable that such a lifelong sinner on the deathbed with a heart that has called out to God through Christ is more likely to be saved than that ridiculous minister who has spent his life working for what he cannot earn and trying to pay a debt that he cannot pay.

The shemitah was given to end the cycle of human debt and poverty that we find ourselves trapped in. But it is only open to those who are the Lord’s. The provision was not granted to the foreigner. But God in Christ took care of that, calling all people near through the blood of Christ, if they will simply respond and identify with Him. In doing so, we are accepted, and in Him, the shemitah, the letting go, the remission, is given.

The premise in this was that there would be no poor among the Lord’s people, and indeed, He not only brought that about, but He made us rich in Christ in the process. Paul says –

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9

Imagine someone in Israel walking around finding every single person that needed help and giving to them all. In doing so, he would bring himself to a state of poverty. Who would do that? God in Christ would. And God in Christ did.

He offers to do so for you as well. Today is the day. Your time for needing remission is at hand, and the Lord already knows when you are going to die. It may be today, or it may be many long years from now. But He has graciously offered to help you out, even if you will never pay back a penny. He is a great God, a wonderful Lord, and a marvelous Savior. He is JESUS.

Closing Verse: “…in whom we have the redemption through his blood, the remission of the trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” Ephesians 1:7 (YLT)

Next Week: Isaiah 26:19 What Power does the Resurrection Give?… (Your Dead Shall Live) (Resurrection Day Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Ha’Shemitah – The Remission

“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts
And this is the form of the release:
Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor
Shall release it; the obligation shall cease

He shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother
Because it is called the LORD’s release, this name and not another
Of a foreigner you may require it
But you shall give up your claim to what is owed by your brother

Except when there may be no poor among you
For the LORD will greatly bless you in the land
Which the LORD your God is giving you
To possess as an inheritance, from His open hand

Only if you carefully obey the voice of the LORD your God
Pay heed, please, to what I say
To observe with care all these commandments
Which I command you today

For the LORD your God will bless you just as He promised you
You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow
You shall reign over many nations
But they shall not reign over you – not today, and not tomorrow

“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren
Within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God
———-is giving you
You shall not harden your heart
Nor shut your hand from your poor brother, such you shall not do

But you shall open your hand wide to him
———-such shall be your deeds
And willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs

Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying

‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand
And your eye be evil against your poor brother
And you give him nothing; such wickedness you have planned

And he cry out to the LORD against you
And it become sin among you
You shall surely give to him
And your heart should not be grieved when you give to him
———-as you are instructed to do

Because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you
In all your works and in all to which you put your hand
This shall certainly be the case
For the poor will never cease from the land

Therefore I command you, saying
‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother
To your poor and your needy, in your land
Be sure to not simply pass it on to another

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“At the end of every seven years you shall grant arelease of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord’s release. Of a foreigner you may require it; but you shall give up your claim to what is owed by your brother, except when there may be no poor among you; for the Lord will greatly bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance— only if you carefully obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe with care all these commandments which I command you today. For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.

“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the Lord against you, and it become sin among you. 10 You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. 11 For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’

Deuteronomy 14:22-29 (The Tithes of Israel)

 

Deuteronomy 14:22-29
The Tithes of Israel

In the past, in Genesis 28, Leviticus 27, and Numbers 18, I have done sermons on tithing in relation to the precepts laid down in those passages. The fullest one to refer to, and which I will exhort you to refer to again, is from Numbers 18.

However, to understand the concept of tithing properly, it is necessary to follow the narrative from each of those passages. In the end, tithing is an Old Testament concept and a Mosaic Covenant standard. It is not a New Covenant precept.

The only time it is mentioned in the New Testament is by Jesus while speaking about issues related to the law, or by the author of Hebrews while making a point about genealogies. Nowhere else is tithing prescribed or even alluded to apart from that. And, in fact, to preach tithing would then set up a direct contradiction to Paul’s words of 2 Corinthians 9:6, 7.

Text Verse: “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:8-10

Q’s: Where is Malachi recorded? Who was Malachi speaking to? Under what dispensation was he prophesying? A’s: Old Testament. Israel. The law.

A few points: 1) We are not under law, but even if we were, 2) though tithing was prescribed for every year under the law, it was only given away by the one tithing every third year. So, when your preacher tells you to tithe, tell him you are not under law. And if he comes up with another reason to tithe, tell him, “Then I will give as they did in the Law of Moses, every third year.”

See how he shifts in his shoes at that. For those preachers that say the tithe predates the law because Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek, and it therefore falls under what they call “the law of first mention,” remind them that there is no such law.

If he insists on this, then ask him if he makes sure that all believing women whose husbands die before they have children marry the dead husband’s brother. That predates the law too. So does the Sabbath and circumcision. Does he insist on them?

Lots of things mentioned in the Bible predate the law that you can be sure he doesn’t do or tell others to do. It is a hypocritical and devious way of handle one’s theology. In fact, it is shameful. The tithes of Israel had several main purposes that we will review.

The reason Genesis mentions Abraham tithing to Melchizedek wasn’t because it was being prescribed for believers. Rather, it was setting up a theological point that the author of Hebrews would later explain to us concerning the greatness of Christ. The passage in Genesis was descriptive. It prescribes nothing.

In the end, the main purpose of the tithe was the same as countless other precepts found in the law. It was to anticipate and typologically prefigure the work of Christ. As this is so, and as Christ has come and fulfilled the law, tithing – like circumcision, Sabbath observance, and numerous other precepts – are done away with. They were mere shadow, but we have the Substance.

Such truths as these are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

Whatever Your Soul Lusteth After (verses 22-26)

22 “You shall truly tithe

aser t’aser – “tithing, you shall tithe.” The whole section, from verse 22 until the end of the chapter, is in the second person singular. The collective body of people are to accomplish this mandate. They are Israel.

At times, however, Moses will certainly use the singular here as if speaking of any single person. Rather than, “you all,” he will speak as if directly to an individual – “You, Sir, shall do this.”

Moses is now reaffirming something that had been vowed hundreds of years earlier. He is using the same phrase their forefather Jacob used before he departed Canaan to go to Padan Aram in Genesis 28 –

“Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.’” Genesis 28:20-22

There he said aser aaserenu, “tithing, I will tithe.” Understanding that, Israel is being reminded of the obligation first laid upon them there, and then as it was later defined in Leviticus 27 –

“And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. 32 And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord.” Leviticus 27:30-32

Those words there conveyed that a tithe was required, but they did not tell what to do with the tithe. After that, what to do with it is more fully – but not completely – defined in Numbers 18:21-32. To understand that section, one must watch the sermon on those verses. It is vital to know concerning what will be presented now. The key part of the passage is first found in verse 24 –

“For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, ‘Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.’” Numbers 18:24

The translation is incorrect and misleading. There is no article before “tithes. Rather, it says, “For tithes children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to Yehovah.” In other words, it is not speaking of the entire tithe, but a portion of the tithes. That particular portion is offered as a heave offering to the Lord. It is that portion that is then given to the Levites. This is confirmed in what is then done with the tithes of the Levites. Of this, it says –

“When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the Lord, a tenth of the tithe.” Numbers 18:26

Again, the translation is incorrect and misleading. It first rightly says, “the tithes which I have given you,” speaking of everything they had received. However, it then says while leaving off the article, terumat Yehovah maaser min ha’maaser – “heave offering Yehovah, tithe from the tithe.”

The part they offer is Yehovah’s heave offering. Unlike in verse 18:24 that was just cited, it is not “to the Lord,” but the Hebrew says, “heave offering Yehovah.”

It is a tithe of the heave offering tithe. That this is again called a heave offering, in and of itself, shows that only that which is presented to the Lord is considered in these verses. Any other uses for the annual tithes, not presented as heave offerings, are dealt with separately.

It is that part of the tithes which are not offered as a heave offering that are now to be detailed in Deuteronomy. Again, to fully understand what is conveyed in Numbers 18, and the almost universally faulty translations of those verses, please be sure to watch that sermon.

Thus far, Moses has confirmed the previous words concerning tithing. Israel is to, in fact, tithe. They are to take one tenth of…

22 (con’t) all the increase of your grain that the field produces

The translation is incorrect. Rather than “grain,” it should read “seed.” It says: kal tevuat zarekha ha’yotse ha’sadeh – “all increase your seed the coming the field.” This isn’t just speaking of grain, but of everything that the field produces, including olives, grapes, and even animals. Everything that springs up from the field is to be tithed.

The Lord has already given instruction for the Lord’s offering of that, meaning “tithe sons Israel which they offer up to Yehovah” from Numbers 18:24. That no longer needs to be addressed in such a specific manner. However, not all of the tithe is offered up as a heave offering and then given to the Levites. That which is not is what is detailed in these verses.

Before going on, and as will be explained later in more detail, nowhere in Scripture is a “second tithe” referred to. It has not been mentioned up until this point, and what is stated here has nothing to do with the fabled “second tithe” that scholars, preachers, and teachers alike speak about. Here is what Charles Ellicott states –

“The Talmud and Jewish interpreters in general are agreed in the view that the tithe mentioned in this passage, both here and in Deuteronomy 14:28, and also the tithe described in Deuteronomy 26:12-15, are all one thing—“the second tithe;” and entirely distinct from the ordinary tithe assigned to the Levites for their subsistence in Numbers 18:21, and by them tithed again for the priests (Numbers 18:26).” Charles Ellicott

He then goes on to say, “The tithe described in Numbers was called ‘the first tithe,’ and was not considered sacred. The second tithe, on the contrary, was always regarded as a holy thing.”

That is absolute poppycock. Moses is referring to the tithes of Israel that were introduced into the law in Leviticus 27, but which were obligated by Jacob’s promise all the way back in Genesis 28.

It is to be noted that what Jacob promised to the Lord there was never mentioned again in any manner at all, right up until Leviticus 27. But the very fact that Jacob promised to tithe to the Lord, and that Israel had continued to do so, indicates that this tithe – this one and only tithe – is, in fact, “a holy thing” and sacred to the Lord.

Based on Moses’ words here, which are taken as an axiom that this was the customary habit of the people even since the time of Jacob (as will be seen), he is placing into law how to properly fulfill that obligation that their forefather promised. With that in mind, Moses now codifies what was once only custom.

This is no different than circumcision and the Sabbath. Both predate the Law of Moses, and yet both are then incorporated into the law in order to ensure the people observed the rites, observed them in a unified manner, and observed them to the Lord. This is why Moses is further defining the one and only tithe levied upon Israel which is explicitly stated to be…

22 (con’t) year by year.

shanah shanah – “year year.” This defines the regular interval by which the Israelites were to tithe. As theirs was a largely agrarian society, the natural interval to tithe any particular product was annually.

What this probably involved was to bring the tithes as they were ready. At the end of the barley harvest, a tithe would be brought. At the end of the wheat harvest, a tithe would be brought. This would continue on as the things were ready to be brought to where they were then dispensed with. Of this directive, Moses says…

23 And you shall eat before the Lord your God,

Here, Moses states this as a customary thing. Before verse 12:7, nothing had ever been said about it before, either as something the people did, or as a command from the Lord, and yet, he says it as if the people would already understand what is being presented.

In other words, what did Jacob do in order to give the Lord a tenth of what he had been given? He ate it in a meal of gratitude. This is then what his progeny continued to do, and this is what is now being codified into law. Apart from that which was to be set aside for the Levites as a terumah, or heave offering to the Lord, this is what is being detailed here.

How do you materially give to the Lord that which He already possesses? He has no need of anything, but we can give of ourselves in gratitude and praise. This is obviously what Jacob did with the tenth of what he had been given. However, to ensure uniformity of worship, Moses now adds on a stipulation to the ancient custom, making it a law. They are to eat it…

23 (con’t) in the place where He chooses to make His name abide,

ba’maqom asher yivkhar l’shaken shemo sham – “in the place which He chooses to make dwell His name there.” In other words, at the place of the tabernacle and later the temple.

This was originally at Shiloh, but eventually the location found its way to Jerusalem, at which time, the pilgrim feasts were conducted there. Likewise, the tithes were to be brought there as stipulated in these various tithing passages.

23 (con’t) the tithe

The Hebrew reads: maesar – “tithe.” There is no article before the word – “You shall eat before the Lord your God…tithe.” Like in Numbers 18, this is defining a portion of what the entire tithe signifies. There, it was limiting to that which was for the priests. Here, it is limiting to that which is for the people. And this tithe is further defined by Moses, saying…

23 (con’t) of your grain and your new wine and your oil,

These things are representative of all of the produce of the ground. It would include both wheat and barley as well as olive oil or whatever other products they raised. For example, in Matthew 23, Jesus includes herbs as well –

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Matthew 23:23

Such was to be understood. The three categories – grain, new wine, and oil – stand representative of all other products of the ground. Also, they were to eat the tithe…

23 (con’t) of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks,

These words explain the use of the term zera, or seed, mentioned in verse 22. The word signifies both seed, as in grain, but also offspring, as in animals and even humans. Israel was to eat these animals before the Lord at the place where He chose for His name to dwell. And the reason given is exactly the same reason why Jacob made the promise…

23 (con’t) that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.

l’maan tilmad l’yirah eth Yehovah elohekha kal ha’yamim – “to end purpose you may learn to fear Yehovah your God all the days.” Here, Moses says that they are to do this in order to learn to fear the Lord.

The word is lamad that was introduced in verse 4:1. It signifies “to goad.” The people are to be taught as if being prodded with a rod, year by year, to fear the Lord. It is the lesson Jacob learned at the beginning –

“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.’ 17 And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!’” Genesis 28:16, 17

Moses uses the same word that described Jacob’s reaction, yirah, or fear. His words are more literally translated, “And he feared, and he said, ‘What fearful place this.” He then went on to say it was the house of God.

Moses is directing the people to go to the place where the Lord chose for His name to dwell, meaning the house of God, to eat the tithes with the end purpose of them being goaded into fearing the Lord – just as their forefather, of whose name they bore – feared before the Lord at the beth Elohim, or house of God – and at which place he vowed to give the tithe back to Him.

When Jacob made his vow, it was a vow that was to continue on into the subsequent generations as a mark of their acknowledgement of the care of the Lord for them.

Jacob’s promise of the tenth was an anticipatory picture of the coming Messiah. The number ten in Scripture signifies the perfection of Divine order. The tenth, or tithe represents the whole of what is due from man to God, it is a mark of His claim on the whole. In this, the tithes anticipate the Messiah who would mark His claim on the whole of His redeemed.

This is one of several reasons why the church is not required to tithe. It is because the type, tithing, is fulfilled in the Antitype, Messiah. Tithing was a shadow of the Substance to be found in Him. The fact that tithing was a part of the law is, in itself, a second reason why we no longer tithe. We are not under law, but under grace. The law is annulled in Christ.

If we can keep our theological boxes straight, we will be much sounder in our doctrine, and much less susceptible to being duped and deceived, and even demanded into doing something that was never intended for the New Testament church.

For now, and with that understood, Moses gives a provision of relief from what could otherwise be a very burdensome trip to the place where the name of the Lord dwelt…

24 But if the journey is too long for you,

This is one main reason for having the provision of relief – distance. There is the fact that there was not a church on every corner. Rather, there was only one place of the dwelling of the name of the Lord in the entire land.

Israel is a bit larger in size, and quite a bit longer, than the state of New Jersey. And there were no planes, trains, or automobiles back then. Taking one’s tithes such a long distance would be problematic at times. As Moses says…

24 (con’t) so that you are not able to carry the tithe,

This is the second main reason for the relief – abundance. The implication is that not only is the journey too long, but the amount of the tithe is simply too great, and it cannot be easily carried. If such is the case, Moses will provide relief. But before he does, he restates the two main precepts again…

24 (con’t) or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you,

The translation here is lacking. This second half of the verse is a form of parallelism provided by Moses. Young’s translation gives the proper sense –

[a]’And when the way is too much for thee, [b]that thou art not able to carry it – [a]when the place is too far off from thee which Jehovah thy God doth choose to put His name there, [b]when Jehovah thy God doth bless thee; — YLT

In other words, the words, “But if the journey is too long for you,” are then reworded and repeated with the words, “if the place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far from you.” After that, the words, “so that you are not able to carry the tithe,” are reworded and restated by saying…

24 (con’t) when the Lord your God has blessed you,

As you can see, the words, “the Lord your God,” are added into both of the repeated clauses. The trek which is too far is to the place of the Lord your God, and it is the Lord your God who has blessed you. The aim is to be with the Lord God, but the blessing of the Lord God could actually inhibit going to be with the Lord God! Such a conundrum is quite possible, and something must be done about it. And so, Moses provides the form of relief…

25 then you shall exchange it for money,

v’natathah ba’keseph – “and you shall give in the silver.” In other words, and simply stated, sell the tithe or replace the tithe with silver money of equal value that you have personally stored up. The idea is to take what is overly burdensome and turn it into something that would not be.

And more, there is the problem that even if the tithe could be carried, it may be that it is simply too much to eat as previously instructed. The tithe is holy, and it is to be consumed, but it would just not be possible to do so in the form it is in. Then it is to be converted into money, and they were to…

25 take the money in your hand,

v’tsarta ha’keseph b’yadekha – “And bind up the silver in your hand.” It shows intentional care and purpose. “This is holy money to be used for a sacred purpose. Bind it up in your hand.”

The words here are so close to those of Proverbs 7, and yet distinct enough from them, that the parallel and the divergence should probably be noted. In that passage, Solomon speaks of the adulterous woman who is looking for someone to snare. In her words, she says –

“Come, let’s drink our fill of love until morning;
Let’s delight ourselves with caresses.
19 For my husband is not at home;
He has gone on a long journey.
20 He has taken a bag of money with him.
At the full moon he will come home.” Proverbs 7:18-20 (NASB)

The husband had a bag of money and was going on a long journey. The Hebrew wording is close enough in both passages to give us the impression that he may be going to do exactly what is prescribed here in Deuteronomy. If this is what he is doing, the divergence of the passage will follow in a moment. For now…

25 (con’t) and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses.

Whether tithe of the seed of the field, or tithe of silver which was exchanged for the seed of the field, it was to be taken to where the tabernacle was located. If silver, then it was to be used for a very specific purpose…

26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires:

v’nathatah ha’keseph b’kol asher taaveh naphshekha – “And you shall give the silver in all which desires your soul.” The word in this clause is avah. It means to incline towards or desire. The KJV quaintly translates this as “whatever thy soul lusteth after.”

The meaning is that the silver is to be used to buy anything that will make the person happy. As Adam Clarke says, “This one verse sufficiently shows that the Mosaic law made ample provision for the comfort and happiness of the people.”

It is a clear and obvious indication that the abuse of the doctrine of the mandating of tithing by New Testament churches is wholly inappropriate. Not only is tithing not a New Testament precept, the way it is handled by such churches completely destroys the intent and spirit of what was given to Israel.

Moses not only says that Israel can buy whatever they want with the tithe money, but he even gives some hearty recommendations for the people. He becomes the seller in a store full of good things for a moment, recommending some of the delights it offers…

26 (con’t) for oxen or sheep,

ba’baqar u-ba’tson – “In the oxen and in the sheep.” The idea is “from the herd or from the flock.” The oxen and sheep are given to represent either category. Whatever meat they wanted, they were to pull out the bag of silver and they were to enjoy themselves. But what good is a meal without something to wash it down with? And so, Moses says…

26 (con’t) for wine or similar drink,

u-ba’yayin u-ba-shekar – “and in the wine and in the blinko drink.” The word yayin signifies fermented (meaning alcohol) wine. The word shekar goes beyond wine, and it is inclusive of any strong intoxicating drink. You might think of bourbon or whiskey.

The odd thing about many preachers is that they love to reinsert precepts of the law when it is convenient, such as tithing. But then, in the very next sermon, they both deny and forbid precepts of the law, found in the exact same context – such as drinking.

It is a very inept way of handling Scripture and it results in poorly educated believers who are filled with all kinds of legalistic ideas that only harm the faith of others while fomenting arrogant and judgmental attitudes. Let us take the word of God in context, and let us accept what it says without inserting our own presuppositions into it.

Moses, now having recommended several tasty delights in two distinct categories, says…

26 (con’t) for whatever your heart desires;

u-b’kol asher tishalekha napshekha – “and in whatever inquires after your soul.” It is a completely different word than the first clause, shaal. It means to inquire or ask for. In essence, one might paraphrase this as, “Whatever your soul is curious about,” or maybe, “Whatever your soul asks for.” And when the desires are met with the exchange of the silver…

26 (con’t) you shall eat there before the Lord your God,

v’akalta sham liphne Yehovah elohekha – “and you shall eat there to face Yehovah your God.” In other words, this is how one remembers to fear the Lord. The God who gave the abundance is the same God who can withhold it. In eating before the Lord, there is to be the sense of gratitude and humility, not arrogant boasting. In such a state, Moses says…

26 (con’t) and you shall rejoice,

The word is samakh. It signifies “to brighten up,” and thus to be happy, even gleesome. The tithe was first and foremost to be a joyful thing. This is exactly what Jacob anticipated, and it is thus what Moses determined for the people to carry on with. And it wasn’t just for the worker. As Moses says…

26 (con’t) you and your household.

It is supposition, but if the passage in Proverbs 7 is referring to a man going to enjoy his tithes, it would explain why he had the kind of wife presented there. A man who loved his wife would have complied with these words and would have brought her along too.

But in his lack of care for her, it demonstrates that he didn’t care about the precept of the law, he didn’t care about her, and he didn’t care about who he had married in the first place because he didn’t bother to determine her character – that she would be the kind of woman who would do exactly what she was doing while he was neglecting her.

Rather than such an attitude, the one bringing his tithes before the Lord was to not only rejoice, but he was to do it with all who were under his authority – allowing them to also be blessed in the Lord while they were blessing the Lord.

Give that tithe and the Lord will bless you
Give that tithe and He will open up the windows of heaven
Send me your money and this He will do
I promise you abundance… times seven

Don’t you realize that a tithe you must give?
That’s what the word says, trust me on this
If you want abundantly to live
You will send it in, and not a percent shall you miss

How can you receive God’s grace if you don’t give?
You must not understand what grace means at all
My goodness! Is it by grace that you think you live?
If that’s what you think, you’re headed for a fall

Give until it hurts and then give a little more
This is what you must do, even if you are poor

II. That the Lord Your God May Bless You (verses 27-29)

In one of the sermons from Deuteronomy 12, I cited the scholar Keil and talked about the supposed “second tithe” of Israel. We will go over that again now that we are in Chapter 14, repeating a significant portion of what I said there. The scholar Keil says –

“In the laws contained in the earlier books, nothing is said about the appropriation of any portion of the tithes to sacrificial meals. Yet in Deuteronomy this is simply assumed as a customary thing, and not introduced as a new commandment, when the law is laid down…, that they were not to eat the tithe of corn, new wine, and oil within their gates (in the towns of the land), any more than the first-born of oxen and sheep, but only at the place of the sanctuary chosen by the Lord; and that if the distance was too great for the whole to be transported thither, they were to sell the tithes and firstlings at home, and then purchase at the sanctuary whatever might be required for the sacrificial meals. From these instructions it is very apparent that sacrificial meals were associated with the delivery of the tithes and firstlings to the Lord, to which a tenth part of the corn, must, and oil was applied, as well as the flesh of the first-born of edible cattle.” Keil 12:7

The Bible does not agree with this. It says, quite clearly, that the people were to eat their tithes. Everything that he is referring to, along with countless other scholars, preachers, and teachers, is a complete twisting or manipulation of what the text clearly says.

After his words there, Keil then went on to speak of what he just inserted into Scripture as referring to the “second tithe,” of which the Law says nothing. And then, instead of citing Scripture to justify his “second tithe,” he punted, referring rather to an apocryphal book, Tobit, in order to justify a “second tithe.”

As we saw, and as we will again review, what is recorded in Tobit doesn’t match – even closely – with what is stated in the Law of Moses. As Tobit says –

But I alone used to go often to Jerusalem for the festivals, as was prescribed for all Israel by longstanding decree.* Bringing with me the first fruits of crops, the firstlings of the flock, the tithes of livestock, and the first shearings of sheep, I used to hasten to Jerusalem

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and present them to the priests, Aaron’s sons, at the altar. To the Levites ministering in Jerusalem I used to give the tithe of grain, wine, olive oil, pomegranates, figs, and other fruits. Six years in a row, I used to give a second tithe in money, which each year I would go to pay in Jerusalem.

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The third-year tithe I gave to orphans, widows, and converts who had joined the Israelites. Every third year I would bring them this offering, and we ate it in keeping with the decree laid down in the Mosaic law concerning it, and according to the commands of Deborah, the mother of my father Tobiel; for my father had died and left me an orphan.

First, the very fact that Keil said that the practice of eating the tithes was “assumed as a customary thing,” demonstrates that what Moses says in Deuteronomy is referring not to a “second tithe,” but to the one and only tithe that was levied upon Israel.

This is what is known as “progressive revelation.” A precept is introduced, and then it is later explained and expanded upon. Moses now anticipates that expansion.

Secondly, Tobit’s practice of tithing a second tithe is clearly his own voluntary act because the law says nothing about a six-year period. He then refers to the third-year tithe, which will be evaluated in just a minute from our verses today.

In his comments concerning how he handles the third-year tithe, he clearly diverts from what the Law of Moses says, demonstrating that the book of Tobit is both not in accord with Scripture (it is not Canon), and it is not to be used as either doctrine or for instruction of what the law says.

This is also true with the rabbinical writings found in the Talmud. To defer to them to justify a second tithe is as appropriate as it is to defer to them to demonstrate that Jesus is not the Messiah. It is very poor biblical scholarship. Scripture alone defines the tithes, and Scripture defines one tithe for Israel.

Thirdly, the eating of the tithes was stated in Deuteronomy 12:7 without any qualifiers at all, meaning that it was speaking of the one and only tithe that Israel made from year to year. The next words fully substantiate this…

27 You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you.

If Israel had two tithes, Moses would not have said this. There are already provisions for the Levites recorded in Numbers 18, as we have already seen today. If a second tithe was speaking of what the people eat, then the first tithe would have already taken care of the Levites. Rather, Moses says this for an exacting and specific reason which is found in the next verse…

28 “At the end of every third year

miqseh shalosh shanim – end three years. This does not mean “after three years,” but “the third of three years.” It is a rotating three-year period as is explained in Deuteronomy 26.

The tithe is one-tenth each year. Moses has just told Israel what to do with that one-tenth. The people were to eat it. However, they were also instructed to take some of that tithe and give it to the Levites. No amount is stated. In fact, it is intentionally left out.

The implicit reason for leaving it out was provided in verse 23. It was because they were to fear the Lord their God. They sat there eating the abundance given them by the Lord, and He told them that in this time of rejoicing, they were to remember the Levite.

It is as much for the sake of caring for the Levite as it is a word of warning for the Israelite – “These people tend to you in your spiritual needs; you are to tend to them in your abundance.” It is the exact same precept that Paul refers to in Galatians 6 –

“Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” Galatians 6:6

Paul doesn’t give an amount, he simply says “in all good things.” The precept is true with Israel toward the Levites. The law has already provided for them, now Moses is directing Israel to go beyond the law, but without stating any particular amount. And why is he doing this? It is because something different happens every third year with the annual tithe…

28 (con’t) you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates.

It says kal maesar – “all tithe.” There is, again, no definite article. It is a portion of the tithe, being one-third of it. The tithe is ten percent per year. Of that, one-third of it – that of the third year – is to be handled differently. That part was defined in Numbers 18 using the exact same words as are used now, kal maesar, all tithe.

If “all tithe” meant what scholars claim, then the second tithe would belong to the Levites as well. Or what Moses is defining in this chapter would be a violation of the previous ordinance. Either way, by inserting a “second tithe” into Scripture a contradiction is the result.

Rather, this third-year tithe is the heave offering to the Lord that is then presented to the Levites. This is exactly why Moses just said in the previous verse to not forsake the Levite in the first two years of the tithe.

Israel was having one party after another as their crops, flocks, and herds were coming to seed. On the other hand, the Levites were toiling away as normal. The obvious thing to do is to invite them to participate in the first two years of blessing as well. Then, on the third year, the heave offering to the Levites was to be stored up in the gates. Moses then reminds them of why it was to be so…

29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied,

What is implied here is that the heave offering to the Lord, through the Levites, was to then be disbursed by the Levites not only among them, but among the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. It is the very thing that would be expected of the ministry.

Just as the people were to tend to the ministers during the first two years, the ministers were to tend to the disadvantaged of the people with the abundance that they were provided during the third year.

How do we know this is correct? We simply go forward in Scripture to see more of the progressively revealed word of the Lord. First, to Deuteronomy 26 –

“When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year—the year of tithing—and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled, 13 then you shall say before the Lord your God: ‘I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. 14 I have not eaten any of it when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for an unclean use, nor given any of it for the dead. I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, and have done according to all that You have commanded me. 15 Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us, just as You swore to our fathers, “a land flowing with milk and honey.’” Deuteronomy 26:12-15

Moses calls all of the tithe, ha’qodesh, or “the holy.” This includes the third year, but it also speaks of the first two years as verses 13 and 14 clearly indicate and just as Leviticus 27 states, where it says the tithe of the land and of the herd and flock is “holy to the Lord.”

With that understood, the tithe is mentioned in this particular context one more time, in a negative sense, in Amos 4:4 (LSV) –

“Enter Beth-El, and transgress,” “At Gilgal multiply transgression,” “And bring in your sacrifices every morning,” “Your tithes every third year.”

Depending on your translation, it may say “third day” instead of “third year,” but the context is “every third year.” The Lord was rebuking the people for doing the things of the law as a pretense of holiness while multiplying transgressions at the same time.

They were bringing their tithes every third year according to the law, but just a few verses earlier it noted that they oppressed the poor and crushed the needy. But the point is made quite clear, the third year is the year of tithing in the sense of giving away the tithe. The other two years, the tithe was also holy, but it was to be a reminder to the people to fear Him. It is with that attitude in mind that Moses completes the thought for the day…

*29 (fin) that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.

The implication is that in doing what they were instructed to do, they would have within them the fear of the Lord. In this state, they would be blessed in the work of their hands. This was the hope and the anticipation for the people of Israel. But like all things that involve law, it just doesn’t work that way.

The same is true now. When a preacher stands in the pulpit and preaches adherence to the law, he will certainly have a number of people who will line up in order to cross every t and dot every i. They are doing their best to work their way to heaven, and the preacher is there to spur them along.

But most of the people will lose heart in what is presented and either tithe while multiplying transgressions like those mentioned in Amos, or they will not tithe and be under the assumption that they are in violation of the law.

This is the sad and futile state of those who have simply failed to understand the context of what is being given, and who have also failed to see the fulfilled typology in Jesus Christ. If we are in Christ, then we are to live as those who are in Christ.

And the place to get that instruction is not from the Law of Moses. Rather, it is to come from the body of instruction that tells us we are in Christ in the first place – the New Testament epistles. I would hope that you would be sound in your theology and reject anyone who tries to put you back under the yoke of bondage.

Instead, you are to understand your freedom in Christ while not using that freedom to fulfill the lust of the flesh. Live for Christ, live in Christ, and walk in the Spirit granted to you through the finished work of Jesus Christ – to the glory of God.

Closing Verse: “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:7, 8

After giving the sermon, I received some insightful thoughts from a friend, Chris Smith. Please enjoy his thoughts –

The sermon mentions, “The stranger the fatherless and the widow.”  Christ was offered in the third year of his ministry, so I see a parallel to the 3rd year tithe. The stranger reflects the state of the gentiles (Ephesians 2:12). The orphan, those cut off from the Father. And the widow, those that need a kinsman-redeemer. I find the term “a third referenced as interesting in that Jesus is a third of the Godhead offered for the poor. The first two years they (Israel) consumed their portion or tithe for themselves, as Christ stated that He came for the lost children of Israel, but after that, the blessing was to go to everyone else who needed it. In essence, Jesus is our tithe! The abundance God gave us. Also, for those that were far away, they can change their blessing which had become a burden for money. In Hebrew, “silver.” Silver represents redemption and blood. Jesus said, “come to me you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest for my burden is light.” Judas was paid the price of a Female slave….you could Also say Christ paid for us with 30 pieces of silver and his blood to make our burden light taking on our sin debt so that we can be in the presence of God and rejoice in the Lord.

Next Week: Deuteronomy 15:1-11 Big relief for those who can’t pay, you can bet… (The Remission of Debt) (47th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Tithes of Israel

“You shall truly tithe – these words carefully hear
All the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year

And you shall eat before the LORD your God
In the place where He chooses to make His name abide
The tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil
Of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks
———- your bounty on every side

That you may learn to fear the LORD your God always
Yes, fear Him for length of days

But if the journey is too long for you
So that you are not able to carry the tithe, such you cannot do
Or if the place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name
———-is too far from you
When the LORD your God has blessed you

Then you shall exchange it for money
Take the money in your hand
And go to the place which the LORD your God chooses
That fair and pleasant land

And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires:
For oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink
For whatever your heart desires
You shall eat there before the LORD your God and in your mind
———-thus, shall you think…

And you shall rejoice, you and your household
You shall rejoice, just as you have now been told

You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates
———-such you shall not do
For he has no part nor inheritance with you

“At the end of every third year
You shall bring out, as this law states
The tithe of your produce of that year
And store it up within your gates

And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you
And the stranger and the fatherless and the widow too
Who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied
That the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your
———-hand which you do

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22 “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. 23 And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. 24 But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, 25 then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. 26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. 27 You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you.

28 “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deuteronomy 14:3-21

Deuteronomy 14:3-21
A Holy People to the Lord

How often do we hear that there are contradictions in the word of God? It is true that many things are difficult, and some things are exceptionally hard to pin down as to why they seem to, in fact, contradict.

However, the more we study the word, the more we learn the context of what is being said, and the more we evaluate these supposed contradictions in that context, we find that they do not only not contradict, instead, they make complete sense.,

Many people within the faith dismiss the idea of dispensations, but it is the dispensational model that eliminates many of these supposed contradictions. In Genesis 9, it says –

rightx“And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.” Genesis 9:2, 3

The implication is that until that point in human history, man didn’t eat animals. So, something different was happening that did not happen before that time.

Next, in our verses from Deuteronomy today, it says that the people cannot eat a perfectly porky pig. This stands completely at odds with what was said to Noah, unless there is a reason for it.

Further, the implication at this time, as will even be seen in our verses today, is that these things did not apply to non-Israelites. What was said to Noah still applied to all but Israel. And then in the New Testament, Paul says the following…

Text Verse: “I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” Romans 14:14

But wait. Paul was an Israelite. His people had been told that there are things that are unclean for them. Here we are piling up contradictions… unless. Unless God is working out the redemptive narrative in — anyone? Yes, in dispensations.

He is doing different things at different times, and for different reasons. And yet, none of these things contradict in any way, shape, or form. Rather, they complement the narrative – if one understands the narrative.

One could say that each of those eras was initiated with a covenant, and thus covenantalism is what is being described here. But if that is so, then how can it be that the dispensation of grace that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 3, which applies to both Gentiles and Jews (remember, Paul is a Jew and the Ephesians were Gentiles), doesn’t apply to all Jews?

And, further, it is obvious that the Mosaic Covenant still surely applies to Israel today, and yet it doesn’t apply to all Jews today. How is that possible if the Covenantal model of theology is the complete and final answer to the question. Indeed, it is not.

There are clearly covenants in Scripture, but there are also set dispensations plainly presented in Scripture as well. Understanding this is one avenue to eliminating supposed contradictions in the word. Without properly applying set dispensations you will – not maybe, but will – have contradictions in your theology.

Keep the boxes straight, don’t mix dispensations, and spend as much time in the word as you can. The more you are in it, the more it will make sense to you. This is actually a precept typologically implied in our verses today. Yes, it’s all to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Clean and Unclean Quadrupeds (verses 3-8)

“You shall not eat any detestable thing.

lo tokal kal toevah – “No you shall eat all abomination.” The word is toevah, an abomination. It is derived from ta’av, a verb signifying “to abhor.” The precepts in these verses follow largely from Leviticus 11 where the word sheqets or, detestable thing, was predominantly used.

That chapter contains eight of its eleven uses, but all eleven refer to detestable animals. Rather than that word, Moses uses a more common word, one which was heavily stressed in Leviticus 18, a chapter dealing predominately with sexual immorality.

In this, one can see that for Israel the animal was to be considered as a detestable thing because it is considered an abomination. However, the reason for it being an abomination must be drawn out from the purpose of the law. These cannot be abominable in and of themselves. This is seen first from Genesis 9 –

“Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” Genesis 9:3, 4

God gave all living creatures into man’s hand for food. This would have been the case with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all other people within this line until the giving of the law. Job, and those outside of this line who are considered upright before God, were also free from these precepts. Further, Jesus says in Mark 7 –

“Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” 20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Mark 7:18-23

Paul further, and very clearly, reveals that all foods are acceptable to eat. He does this several times and, in several ways, plainly presenting this as axiom. Therefore, it is the law itself that makes these things both detestable and an abomination. It is not that they are so in and of themselves.

As this is absolutely established, and as the law is only given to Israel – and no other person or group of people in all of redemptive history – then the reason for the precepts in Leviticus, which are substantially repeated here, is found in the purpose of the law. That purpose is to then be drawn out with such a consideration in mind. With that understood, Moses defines what is acceptable for Israel to eat first…

These are the animals which you may eat:

Moses states it in the singular to define each type: zot ha’behemah asher tokelu – “This the animal which you may eat.” In Leviticus 11, the clean animals were not defined, only what defined them as clean. On the other hand, the unclean animals were defined, giving some (but not all) examples of what was forbidden.

Moses takes a different approach here, showing examples of what can be eaten, and only later of what cannot. Many of these animals are implicitly (or explicitly) noted as clean elsewhere, but Moses is being precise in first telling which are clean, without yet explaining the reason for it being so.

4 (con’) the ox, the sheep, the goat,

Moses continues the precise wording, leaving off any articles: shor, seh kesavim, w’seh izzim – “ox, lamb (of) sheep, and kid (of) goats.” In this, he first names the animals acceptable for sacrifice and then he mentions all others. Here, he starts with the shor, or ox. That comes from a root signifying “to wander about.” It is a traveling animal.

The seh, or “lamb,” probably comes from a root, sha’ah, signifying to crash, or make a din. Thus, it would be an animal that pushes out to graze. That is then defined by the word kesavim, identifying it as a flocking animal.

Moses then says v’seh izzim – “and kid (of) goats.” It is the same word, seh, that was just used for “lamb,” but it is then identified with the word izzim, or goats. It is the plural of ez, or goat which comes from a word signifying “to be strong.”

Being sacrificial animals, it has already been explained in Leviticus how they point to Christ and His work. To understand that, check out those earlier sermons. These are all animals of the flock and herd. Next, Moses says…

the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the mountain goat, the antelope, and the mountain sheep.

Moses continues by stating the wild, non-sacrificial animals. He does so without using any articles, simply stating each animal in the singular – ayal, u-tsviy, v’yakhmur, v’aqqo, v’dishon, u-teo, va’zamer – “deer, and gazelle, and roe deer, and wild goat, and mountain goat, and antelope, and mountain sheep.”

It should be noted that due to the rarity of the names, the identification of some of these is highly debated. The first two are rather common in Scripture. The ayal, or deer, comes from ayil, or ram, which then comes from ul, signifying mighty, or strength.

This anticipates believers in Christ where Paul says, “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10).

Next is the tsviy, or gazelle, which signifies beauty or honor. The word is used when speaking of the coming Messiah in Isaiah 4:2. It comes from tsavah, to swell up. Thus, the description of the animal is that of prominence or splendor.

This speaks of believers in Christ who are each to “be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).

The third, the yakhmur, or roe deer, is found here and in 1 Kings 4:23. That comes from khamar, meaning to ferment or boil up. Its color is what then defines it, appearing as if its coat is vivid and alive.

This animal anticipates the position of believers who are to be “not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).

The fourth, aqqo, the ibex or wild goat, is found only here. It is derived from anaq, to cry or groan, and so it is a slender animal. This anticipates all believers. Of us, Paul says in Romans 8:23 that “we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23).

The fifth, dishon, or mountain goat, is found only here. It is from dush, meaning to tread or thresh. It is the leaper. If you’ve ever seen one, you would understand the description. This looks to Paul’s words of 1 Corinthians 9:10, where he says, “that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.”

The next, teo, or antelope, is found only here and in Isaiah 51:20. It comes from taah, to draw out or mark a line. Thus, it is named probably for its white strip, or maybe for its long horns that form a line. This anticipates believers who are to “walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).

Lastly, the zemer, or mountain sheep, is found only here. That probably comes from zamar, to make music in praise of God. Just as a person playing an instrument will lightly touch the string or windpipe, so this animal would lightly touch the ground.

This anticipates the state of those in Christ who are to be “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).

As noted, these were not specified in Leviticus 11. But Moses specifically names these to the people here and only next explains why they may be eaten…

And you may eat every animal with cloven hooves, having the hoof split into two parts,

As a point of correct translation, the word hoof is singular here and in verse 7. Moses repeats the substance of Leviticus 11:3, stating the requirements in reverse order –

“Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves…” 

The words to focus on are maphreset paresah, or “cloven hooves,” and the fact that they are v’shosaat shesa shete pherasoth, or, “and having split the hoof into two parts.” Every word here gives the sense of division, or of dividing completely.

The repetition of the words is purposeful. It isn’t enough to simply say, “splits the hooves,” because some animals do this, but they don’t have fully split hooves. They are to split the hooves so that the hooves are completely split.

6 (con’t) and that chews the cud, among the animals.

maalat gerah babehemah otah tokelu – “ascends cud in the beasts you may eat.” The word gerah, or cud, comes from garar, “to drag away.” Thus, this speaks of the cud, as in scraping the throat. To make it ascend, then, means to bring the food back up.

In animals, it is the process of up-chucking food from the first of several stomachs where it is chewed a second time before passing into the second stomach. The idea behind this is that the maximum amount of nutrition is obtained from the food. It is also necessary because the foods these animals eat are difficult to digest, and so the extra process makes it much easier for them.

The requirements given in Leviticus and here do not assign reasons as to why such animals are acceptable for food. They are merely distinguishing marks of what is considered acceptable. And so, this verse gives the specifics of what is authorized.

It is claimed that the meat of these animals is better for people for a variety of reasons, but that is untrue. It also doesn’t explain why God specifies this now. One can say, “Oh, of course, it is because the Lord wants His people to be healthy, and this is how it will come about.” But that is an insufficient explanation.

In fact, it would simply muddy the theological waters. If that were true, then it would imply that He didn’t really care about this in anyone from the time after the flood until the giving of the law. It would also then imply that He doesn’t care as much about us now. We have no such dietary restrictions.

It is unreasonable to claim that the Lord didn’t care about the health of those both before, outside, and after the time of the law. And so there must be another reason for specifying this. And there is. It anticipates what believers are to do now.

The purpose of both of these is that they anticipate the believer’s responsibility concerning God’s word. First, it concerns the proper handling of the word as outlined by Paul in 2 Timothy where he speaks of “rightly dividing the word of truth.” Both commands – concerning the division of the hooves, and to rightly divide the word – are positive in nature.

The fully divided hooves give us this picture. Likewise, the chewing of the cud gives us another picture. We are not to simply eat, swallow, and forget. The word, like the food for these animals, is difficult to digest. It must be contemplated and meditated upon.

Like the animal that chews the cud, we are to call the word back to mind and chew on it, contemplate it, and get every ounce of nourishment that we can out of it. It must be chewed and re-chewed. This is why Paul said to the Philippians and then again to Timothy to “meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

A cow spends about eight hours of every day chewing the cud. This, plus their normal chewing of food totals approximately 40,000 jaw movements a day. If God’s people would carefully and rightly divide the word, and then spend such a great amount of time contemplating it and then applying it to their lives, nothing could hinder them in their daily walk.

With this understanding, Moses next refers to what is forbidden–

Nevertheless, of those that chew the cud or have cloven hooves, you shall not eat, such as these: the camel, the hare, and the rock hyrax; for they chew the cud but do not have cloven hooves; they are unclean for you.

In Leviticus 11:4-6, the Lord named these animals and gave similar explanations as to why it was to be –

‘Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; the rock hyrax, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you.”

To understand why each of these specific animals was singled out, and how they then are typological of New Testament truths, please be sure to rush home and watch the Leviticus 11 sermon…

Also the swine is unclean for you, because it has cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud;

This delightful and delicious animal that has more flavor and variety of taste running through it than a candy factory is noted in Leviticus 11:7. To understand why it is mentioned here, and what type of a person it is referring to, please be sure to watch that sermon. Of all of these animals, Moses tells Israel…

8 (con’t) you shall not eat their flesh or touch their dead carcasses.

The utterly ridiculous nature of reinserting these precepts from the law into New Testament theology is revealed in these words. Those who are overly pious and yet underly educated in theology make a show of how they are so much better than others because of their rejecting the eating of such meat.

But this list is not all-inclusive. Any animal that does not meet the requirements laid out by Moses is included in this list, such as the cat and the dog (and etc).

However, Jews around the world, and these uniformed, or willfully ignorant supposed followers of Christ, will openly mourn over their dead Fifi or Fido, pick him up, and carry him to his little grave – thus violating the second and equally important precept given here. To further understand this precept, it is more fully explained in the Leviticus 11 sermons.

What’s for dinner ma? I’m hungry and my tummy is achin’
What’s for dinner ma? I can’t wait till we eat
Will we have some burgers topped with cheese and bacon?
I can’t wait to taste the nummy-delicious treat

No sonny boy, you can’t have that as you know
I don’t care if that is for what your tummy is achin’
We’re legalists in this house. It is true and that is so
Here we don’t eat anything topped with bacon

We are working our way to heaven despite the work of Jesus
We’re on our way; this is the path we’ve taken
I’m sure God will look with super favor on us
When we eat our burgers without any bacon…

II. Clean and Unclean Water Life (verses 9 & 10)

“These you may eat of all that are in the waters: you may eat all that have fins and scales.

This is more fully explained in Leviticus 11:9 –

“These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers—that you may eat.” Leviticus 11:9

The senappir and qasqeseth, or fins and scales are rare words. The fins are only found in the Torah, and only in regard to fish. The word scale is found elsewhere when speaking of scale-armor, as was worn by Goliath.

As a reminder of the symbolism, fins are used to keep a fish swimming properly in moving forward, turning, staying upright, and stopping. They guide the fish smoothly and efficiently through the water. Scales are predominantly used for protection, among other things.

The symbolism is perfectly obvious. Like fins, the word of God is intended to keep us moving properly and in an upright manner – ever towards Christ, not racing ahead of ourselves and not going beyond what is written. It is to be the rule and guide of our walk. And like scales, it is intended to protect us from harm.

As there are many scales, and as they vary in size, they are indicative of satisfactory good works which the Bible exhorts us to apply to our lives in order to be well-rounded and fully protected from that which would otherwise bring us harm. For this reason…

10 And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat;

This is more fully defined in Leviticus 11:10 –

“But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water.”

To eat something without these attributes typologically anticipates believers who run ahead without them, heading into their own self-made disaster. Hence, for Israel…

10 (con’t) it is unclean for you.

Leviticus 11:10 says, “they are an abomination to you.” The reason for including these words (“for you” or “to you”) is to show that they are not unclean in and of themselves, but only to Israel under the law. When the law was annulled in Christ, the wall of partition was taken away. These dietary restrictions went away with the law. The purpose they were given was to lead us to understanding what these things only typified for the believer.

Honey, I went down to the beach and caught us some fish
And while I was down there, I got some lobster too
There’s plenty here, more than I could wish
Where should I put them, and what else can I do?

Ack! Lobster! What are you nuts my dear?
That isn’t clean according to the Law of Moses
We’re working our way to heaven, but we won’t make it I fear
If you bring home stuff like lobster. We’ll get an F minus

If we go eating the wrong stuff, things just won’t go well
It would be no different than if we were a couple of mobsters
The last thing we need is to be cast into hell
Because we sat down to a nummy meal of buttered-up lobsters

III. Clean and Unclean Flying Things (verses 11-20)

11 “All clean birds you may eat.

kal tsippor tehorah tokelu – “All bird clean you may eat.” This is not stated in Leviticus 11. Rather, the Lord begins with, “And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds.” It is then anticipated that anything not forbidden in the word is, by default, clean.

As there are countless birds in the world not mentioned here as unclean, but which would fall into the unclean category, it is obvious that typology is the main consideration here. It would be naïve to think otherwise.

And to say, “All clean birds,” without further defining what that means, only solidifies this notion. There are a couple changes between the list here and of that in Leviticus. These changes will be noted, and the typology will be explained for them.

For all the others, you will just have to continue watching the Leviticus 11 sermons as there is no need to reexplain all of those details…

12 But these you shall not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard,

These are recorded in Leviticus 11:12 and are explained there.

13 the red kite, the falcon, and the kite after their kinds;                            

Of this verse, it should be noted that the words are so similar to Leviticus 11:14 that someone might mistake them as the same names, but there are differences. The similarity between them is noticeable and confusing if not carefully analyzed.

The raah (called the “red kite” here) is not mentioned in Leviticus 11, but the daah is. It is possible that both are the same bird. The D and the R in Hebrew are almost identical. Thus, it may be that the Hebrew contains a scribal error as the NAS concordance states.

If not a scribal error, then the raah comes from a word signifying to see, or to look. Thus, it is a bird of exceptionally keen sight, as birds of prey are known to be.

Also, if it is not a scribal error, then what is equally probable is that the daah of Leviticus 11 is represented by the third bird, the dayyah, or kite, and only having a variant spelling. If not, then it is only mentioned here and in Isaiah 34:15. It is a completely different bird than the ayyah, or falcon seen in Leviticus 11:14.

As you can see the names are so closely spelled that it is very hard to know what is actually being conveyed. I broke my brain on trying to give you a reasonable analysis of these things.                  

14 every raven after its kind;

v’et kal orev l’mino – “And all raven to its kind.” The only difference between this verse and Leviticus 11:15 is the addition of the word “and.”

15 the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after their kinds;

The words are identical, word for word and letter for letter, to Leviticus 11:16.

16 the little owl, the screech owl, the white owl,

Here the first two birds are mentioned in Leviticus 11:17. However, the third bird, the tinshemeth, or “white owl” is mentioned in Leviticus 11:18 and is also translated in Leviticus 11:30 as a “chameleon.”

17 the jackdaw, the carrion vulture, the fisher owl,

The first two are mentioned in Leviticus 11:18. The only difference there in them is that the carrion vulture is pronounced ha’rakham in Leviticus and ha’rakhamah in Deuteronomy. The third was mentioned in Leviticus 11:17, coming out of order now.

18 the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe and the bat.

The same birds are mentioned here as in Leviticus 11:19, but the structure of the sentence is a bit different. In all, they both convey the same thoughts.

19 “Also every creeping thing that flies is unclean for you; they shall not be eaten.

The words are similar to Leviticus 11:20 –

“All flying insects that creep on all fours shall be an abomination to you.’

The major difference here from Leviticus 11 is that there it goes on to describe those creeping things in much more detail, including the exemptions to this law – meaning the various locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers.

Because of the lack of exceptions here, the Pulpit Commentary seems to suggest a contradiction in the text, saying, “Winged insects are forbidden without exception in Deuteronomy; in Leviticus, the locust and certain other insects of the same kind are excepted.”

This is not correct. The words of this verse say: v’kol sherets ha’oph tame hu lakem – “And every swarming thing the flyer unclean it for you.” However, the next verse says…

20 “You may eat all clean birds.

Kal oph tahor tokelu – “All flyer clean you may eat.” In other words, the clean exemptions from Leviticus 11 are considered under these words here. This was perfectly understood by the Hebrew society. We know this because of what it says about John the Baptist, it says he “ate locusts and wild honey.”

Unclean until evening, what will I do?
Nobody saw me touch that thing, and yet this is right
To myself and to my God, I must be true
And it’s only 10 more hours until comes the night

It’s kind of hard for me to understand this
If I had touched it at 5pm, I would only be unclean an hour
What am I not getting, or from the law what did I miss?
That being unclean would carry such a varying power

What is it about the ending of the day?
What is it about the turning of that one hour?
That will my debt of uncleanness pay
What is it about that certain time, that carries cleansing power?

I know that in Messiah, all of this will be made known
And the revealing of every mystery will be shown

IV. A Holy People to the Lord Your God

21 “You shall not eat anything that dies of itself; you may give it to the alien who is within your gates, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner; for you are a holy people to the Lord your God.

The words here are a lot of clauses that would normally be taken one by one. But the precepts overlap with quite a few other passages. Three of them are –

“And you shall be holy men to Me: you shall not eat meat torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs. Exodus 22:31

“And every person who eats what died naturally or what was torn by beastswhether he is a native of your own country or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Then he shall be clean. 16 But if he does not wash them or bathe his body, then he shall bear his guilt.” Leviticus 17:15, 16

Whatever dies naturally or is torn by beasts he shall not eat, to defile himself with it: I am the Lord. Leviticus 22:8

First is the immediate verse which pertains to eating something that died of itself. The people were not to eat that. Of the three references, the first from Exodus 22 referred to meat torn by beasts.

That was forbidden for two reasons. The first is that it had not been properly bled, making it unclean. Secondly, the beast which tore the animal would have been an unclean animal and thus passed on ceremonial defilement. Hence, there was defilement in both ways.

The second reference speaks in the same verse of that which died naturally and that which was torn, showing that this was not allowed, but if it did happen, there was a remedy for the sin. This clearly shows that the prohibitions are spiritual in nature, and this for several reasons.

An animal that died by itself, or one which was killed by other beasts, did not have the blood drained out of it. The animal is dead because its lifeblood has stopped flowing. To eat this animal cannot be compared to eating blood itself, because the soul had departed.

And yet, it is still true that the blood remained in the animal. Such meat was forbidden to be eaten, but if it were, the person was merely considered unclean. Because he ate something forbidden, it shows the spiritual nature of the mandate.

And then, secondly, comes the means of purification from defilement. The first is washing the clothes, and the second is bathing. Both of these are external acts. They have absolutely nothing to do with what went into the man. And yet, they are required in order to be considered purified.

And finally, the last part of the purification was to wait until sundown, at which time he would be clean again. If he ate his meal at 6:55 pm, and the day started at 6pm, then he would be defiled for 23 hours and 5 minutes.

If he ate and then washed at 5:45pm, then he would only be defiled for 15 minutes. This shows us that the defilement is spiritual. Further, it pertained to an Israelite and stranger alike. In order to be considered clean, the command stands for both.

As was seen in Leviticus, the washing of the garments pointed to trampling out sin in one’s life. The bathing points to the purification of one’s life by Christ. And the evening time points to the time that Christ died and was placed in the tomb. With His death and burial, all defilement of man is truly washed away. This ceremonial period of defilement simply looked forward to the cleansing from all defilement provided by the Lord.

The third reference from Leviticus 22 was a prohibition for the priests. They were never to eat such an animal because they, in their work, anticipated the coming mediatorial role of Christ. Thus, they were specifically prohibited from this.

For the rest of this verse in Deuteronomy, it speaks of the alien or the foreigner. That is clearly showing a distinction between those in Christ, and that who are not in Christ.

The key thought is always Christ. It is either looking forward to Him in typology by Israel, or looking back on what He did for us, and which now includes us in Him. As it says, “for you are a holy people to the LORD your God.” The church is, like Israel was intended to be (and will be someday), a holy people to the Lord.

*21 (fin) “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

This is the third and final time this is stated. The first was in Exodus 23:19 –

“The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” Exodus 23:19

The second time was in Exodus 34:26 in a verbatim repeat of Exodus 23:19. Now, it is repeated, but without the note concerning the Firstfruits.

Both of the first two mentions of this were in relation to the three annual pilgrim feasts. This particular prohibition is logically tied to the third such feast, the Feast of Ingathering. The boiling of a young goat in its mother’s milk was a pagan practice.

After it was boiled, and along with magic rites, the milk was used to sprinkle plantations, fields, and gardens in hopes of them being more productive the next year. This then reflects those who refuse to give up magic practices right through the entire dispensation of grace, and even through the tribulation period. Thus, it speaks of what is stated in Revelation 9 –

“The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” Revelation 9:20, 21 (NIV)

This is a prohibition that speaks of what the people of God are not to do, just as was the case with the first two verses of this chapter that were looked at last week. The positive and negative precepts laid down here are all given in anticipation of Christ and in our relationship to Him. As it says in both verse 2 and then again here in verse 21, “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God.”

The marvel of these dietary laws given first in Leviticus 11, and then repeated here in our passage today, is that they convey this truth to Israel in typology. They were really to do these things, but the reason for doing them wasn’t because it brought them any closer to God. Instead, it is because what they picture does.

An observant Jew can stick to every single dietary precept given here today, and indeed many do, and yet he can be as far from God as the greatest pagan. However, for those who live out what these laws typologically anticipate, they will come closer to the Lord.

God is not looking for our externals, but He is carefully evaluating our internals. What is our heart condition before the Lord? And above all, that heart condition must first be set and fixed through trusting in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without that, nothing else matters.

One is either apart from Christ and tainted with sin that blocks his fellowship with God, or he is in Christ and has fellowship with God. From that point on the fellowship that we experience is based on how we respond to what we have been instructed under the New Covenant which is outlined in the New Testament epistles.

Let us not fail in our wholehearted devotion to applying this wonderful word to our every step. In this, God will certainly be pleased with our actions. As a reminder, if you have forgotten the details of what each of these animals signifies from the Leviticus sermons, go back and brush up on them.

Finally, please make sure that you truly are in Christ. Without that, all of the head knowledge on the planet won’t do you a bit of good. In case you forgot it, the typology of the swine will reveal that to you. Make your head knowledge a heart knowledge today. Call on Christ and be reconciled to God through Him.

Closing Verse: “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” 1 Timothy 4:4, 5

Next Week: Deuteronomy 14:22-29 Are you supposed to give 10%? Is that what the Bible does tell…? (The Tithes of Israel) (46th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

A Holy People to the Lord

“You shall not eat any detestable thing
These are the animals which you may eat:
The ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer
The wild goat, the mountain goat, the antelope, and the mountain
———-sheep; such are to be your meat

And you may eat every animal with cloven hooves
Having the hoof split into two parts
And that chews the cud as well
Among the animals, that’s where your clean animal list starts

Nevertheless, of those that chew the cud or have cloven hooves
You shall not eat, such as these, such you shall not do:
The camel, the hare, and the rock hyrax
For they chew the cud but do not have cloven hooves
———-they are unclean for you

Also the swine is unclean for you
Because it has cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud
You shall not eat their flesh or touch their dead carcasses
Not even in a soup containing the spud

“These you may eat of all that are in the waters:
You may eat all that have fins and scales
And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat
It is unclean for you, both for your ladies and your males

“All clean birds you may eat
But these you shall not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard too
The red kite, the falcon, and the kite after their kinds
Every raven after its kind shall be unclean for you

The ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk
———-after their kinds
The little owl, the screech owl, the white owl
———-(you shall not eat that)
The jackdaw, the carrion vulture, the fisher owl
The stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe and the bat

“Also every creeping thing that flies is unclean for you
They shall not be eaten; such you shall not do

“You may eat all clean birds
“You shall not eat anything that dies of itself
You may give it to the alien who is within your gates
That he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner
———-but keep it off your pantry shelf

For you are a holy people to the LORD your God
———-so be ye pure like silk
“You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You shall not eat any detestable thing. These are the animals which you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the mountain goat, the antelope, and the mountain sheep. And you may eat every animal with cloven hooves, having the hoof split into two parts, and that chews the cud, among the animals. Nevertheless, of those that chew the cud or have cloven hooves, you shall not eat, such as these: the camel, the hare, and the rock hyrax; for they chew the cud but do not have cloven hooves; they are unclean for you. Also the swine is unclean for you, because it has cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud; you shall not eat their flesh or touch their dead carcasses.

“These you may eat of all that are in the waters: you may eat all that have fins and scales. 10 And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you.

11 “All clean birds you may eat. 12 But these you shall not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, 13 the red kite, the falcon, and the kite after their kinds; 14 every raven after its kind; 15 the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after their kinds; 16 the little owl, the screech owl, the white owl, 17 the jackdaw, the carrion vulture, the fisher owl, 18 the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe and the bat.

19 “Also every creeping thing that flies is unclean for you; they shall not be eaten.

20 “You may eat all clean birds.

21 “You shall not eat anything that dies of itself; you may give it to the alien who is within your gates, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner; for you are a holy people to the Lord your God.

“You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deuteronomy 14:1, 2 (Sons of the Lord God)

Deuteronomy 14:1, 2
Sons of the Lord God

Chapter 14 of Deuteronomy is divided into three separate sections, improper mourning, proper adherence to dietary laws, and what to do with – meaning how to properly handle – the blessings bestowed upon the people.

However, each of these three main points is based upon the first words of the passage – “You are the children of the Lord your God.” Everything else stems from that first clause, and it is then further defined in verse 2.

What does it mean when the Bible speaks of the sons of God? The first instance of the term is found in Genesis 6:2. There, it is a highly contested phrase among scholars, as if the countless other uses of the term in Scripture have nothing to do with the phrase as it is used there.

This is so much the case that the most fanciful interpretations have arisen to explain it. And, fanciful is both exciting and profitable. So, most people normally hold fast to the most fanciful interpretation, and those who can profit off of them present that most fanciful interpretation, renewing it from time to time, in order to make a bit more off a new book or a new video.

This is not responsible theology, and it edifies no one. The real key to understanding the phrase there in Genesis 6 is actually found in Job 1 & 2. Almost everyone agrees on that, but not everyone has a correct understanding of those verses in Job. I admit, I didn’t.

There was a disconnect between my understanding of the term there and my understanding of the term elsewhere in Scripture that was, thankfully, resolved when some marvelous people – Benzer and Sandra –traveled to the US from the UK in order to visit the church, which – ironically – happened exactly one year ago this week.

The first time we were together at the house, Benzer brought up the Nephilim in Genesis 6 and I immediately thought, “Here we go. Another loose cannon.” That lasted about two seconds until he explained why my thought on Job 1 & 2 was incorrect.

The light came on, and I said, “It sounds correct, but there is a lot of work to do before I agree to this.” And so, instead of doing whatever thing we had planned to do, we sat down at the computer and went through every single instance of the phrase ha’elohim, or “the God,” found in Scripture. We don’t form sound doctrine and proper theology any other way.

Text Verse: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

Being a son of God is, first and foremost, a mark of humanity. This will be explained as we continue on today. There is, within the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but the Son in that capacity is a term used to indicate a position within the Godhead – God the Father; God the Son; God the Holy Spirit.

When the term “Son of God” is used in the gospels, it is referring to the human Jesus who is God’s Son. He is the Son of God who is a Man. Curiously, the term Son of Man that is used so often concerning Jesus is more closely associated in thought with His deity, not His humanity. He is a Man, but He is a Man who is God.

If you doubt this, go read every instance of Son of God and Son of Man in the gospels and see if it is so or not. It is. As this is so, the term “son of God” is one that refers to humanity. How does one become a son of God?

James 4:7, our text verse, gave us an insight into it. In submitting to God and resisting the devil, the devil will flee from us. The implication is that the devil is the problem.

John makes it explicit in 1 John 3:8, where he says, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

Where does sin come from? It comes from a violation of law. Where does the law come from? It comes from God. In violating God’s law, sin enters the picture. With sin comes death and separation from God. How is that restored? Not through law! The devil uses law to separate us from God. What is the answer?

It is available, and it is to be found in God’s superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Translation Matters; Context Matters (½ Verse 1)

The contents of the previous passage were almost entirely in the singular with just one exception. Moses was speaking to Israel as a collective whole. Now, to open chapter 14, he immediately switches to the plural to address them…

1 “You are the children of the Lord your God;

banim atem Yehovah elohekem – “Sons you (all) are of Yehovah your (all) God.” Of these words, Charles Ellicott rightly and poignantly states –

“This fact is made the foundation of all the laws of ceremonial and moral holiness in the Pentateuch, more especially in the Book of Leviticus, where these laws are chiefly to be found.” Charles Ellicott

When he says, “the Pentateuch,” it means the five books of Moses. Although Israel was only introduced later in Genesis, and then the nation of Israel only truly received its calling in Exodus, the entirety of these five books must be considered in this truth.

And from that foundation, all of the rest of the Old Testament finds its basis – both among the people of Israel, but also among the sons of God who are not of Israel, such as Job.

And then from there, the work of the Redeemer is introduced, fulfilling what is stated in this law – and which concerns these “sons of Yehovah” – and how they are brought fully to a right state of sonship to the Lord God.

One cannot look at these words of Moses to Israel now without understanding what it means to be a son of Yehovah, meaning a Son of God, without taking a much more intimate look at the concept – even from the earliest time of man on earth. The idea first goes back to the opening words of Genesis 6 –

“Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.” Genesis 6:1, 2

There it used the term bene ha’elohim, or “sons of the God.” The definite article was, and continues to be, expressive. It is used when referring to the one true God in relation to man. But more especially, it is in relation to those who are in a right relationship with Him, or it is used to contrast those who are not in a right relationship with Him.

In the Bible, the term “son(s) of God,” more expressly focuses on one’s humanity. When Jesus is called the Son of God, it is true that He is the divine Son of God, but the term more appropriately is referring to His humanity. He is the true Son of God – the perfect ideal of Man in relation to God.

This idea extends to all people who stand in a proper relationship to God. The “sons of the God” of Genesis 6:1 refers to this relationship between men and the God.

Before that term was introduced, a set division of humanity was carefully laid out so that when the term was given, there should not be a mistake as to what it was conveying. But mistakes do come.

Genesis 4 immediately introduced Cain and Abel. Abel was shown to be right with God through his actions of faith. Cain was not. Cain killed Abel – demonstrating the enmity between the two thoughts.

From there, Chapter 4 carefully details Cain and his line, a line separate from – and at enmity with – God. At the end of the chapter, however, another line was introduced with the words –

“And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” 26 And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.” Genesis 4:25, 26

Chapter 5 then lists this second line, a line that is right with God. It is the line of sonship, meaning a line of faith in the promises of God. This is why these two divergent lines are highlighted immediately after the fall.

The word of God introduces a subject, it gives details based on that subject, and then the word goes back and fills in more details to more fully flesh out what is being conveyed. The simple example of giving the book of Judges and only later giving the book of Ruth, a book that rightly belongs in the chronology of the book of Judges, shows how this occurs.

This happens time and again in Scripture. The account of Joseph being sold into a life of servitude in Egypt is introduced. Immediately after that, the story of the line of Judah through his relationship with his own daughter-in-law is then given, and only then does the narrative return to Joseph in Egypt.

And so, to understand this idea of being sons of Yehovah – and thus sons of the God – from its proper context, the first two uses of the term, ha’elohim, or “the God,” were provided in Genesis 5 when speaking of Enoch –

“After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with [the] God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 And Enoch walked with [the] God; and he was not, for God took him.” Genesis 5:22-24

Enoch was a man who was clearly in a right relationship with “the God,” and the article was given to solidify that fact. The next use of the article was twice in Genesis 6 when referring to this line of people who stood in this proper relationship with God. They are bene ha’elohim, or “sons of the God.”

That this is the correct interpretation of this is first seen when the next use of the article before “God” was found in Genesis 6:9 when speaking of Noah who was in a right relationship with Him –

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with [the] God.” Genesis 6:8, 9

Using the same words spoken of concerning Enoch, but in an emphatic form, Noah is likewise said to be of this godly line: eth ha’elohim hithalek Noakh – “with the God walked Noah.” In other words, Enoch was a son of the God, being in a right standing with Him. Noah was likewise.

However, immediately after that, the article is again used to define the state of Nephilim, or “fallen ones,” already referred to in the chapter. The word Nephilim is not referring to a hybrid product of humans sleeping with angels – something the Bible never refers to nor hints at. Rather, it is speaking of those who are not in a right standing with “the God.” Rather, they are fallen –

“The earth also was corrupt before [the] God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” Genesis 6:11, 12

In other words, the use of the article is expressing the contrast between the two lines that exist in the presence of the God. Noah is of one line; the others are not. This is why the definite article is so meticulously and precisely used in these accounts. In following this term, we follow the thought of Scripture as it presents to us man’s status before God.

The next time the article is used is not until Genesis 17. It is at a time when it is necessary to define those who are, or who are not, in this right “son” relationship –

“Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’ 18 And Abraham said to [the] God, ‘Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!’” Genesis 17:17, 18

The implication is that Abraham was petitioning for Ishmael to define the line of right standing with God. But that was rejected. Another son would come who would be in that position.

When a possible interruption of that promise came about in Genesis 20, the article is used twice to confirm the right standing of Abraham before God to Abimelech who had Abraham’s wife, Sarah.

Following that, in Genesis 22, in the great test of faith of this man of faith, the definite article is used three times, confirming Abraham’s right standing before “the God.”

Carefully following the use of the article before elohim, or “God,” in the Bible consistently reveals the relationship between man and the true God. This means either a right relationship or the lack of it. This is true in the more than 370 uses of the article.

When it is necessary to define the true God, the article is used. An example of this, and which defines this relationship, is found in 2 Chronicles 35. In that chapter, the word elohim, or “god,” is found five times. The first use in verse 3 defines God as the true God by identifying Him as “Yehovah,” saying to the people of Israel, “Now serve the Lord [Yehovah] your God.”

The second use, in verse 8, refers to beth ha’elohim, or “house of the God.” Thus, it clearly defines the house – meaning the temple –as that pertaining to the true God. However, the final three uses of elohim in the chapter are when Pharaoh Neco is referred to –

“But he sent messengers to him, saying, ‘What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroy you.’ 22 Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself so that he might fight with him, and did not heed the words of Necho from the mouth of God. So he came to fight in the Valley of Megiddo.” 2 Chronicles 35:21, 22

In all three instances there, the article is lacking, thus signifying that it is not the true God that Pharaoh communicated with, but rather his own false god or gods.

One must carefully evaluate each instance of the use of the article, and also maintain the proper context of the passage, or errors in theology, such as the misrepresentation of who the Nephilim of Genesis 6 are, will inevitably result.

This is especially true when considering the only other uses of the full term, bene ha’elohim, or “sons of the God,” found in Scripture. The uses are in Job 1 and Job 2 –

“Now there was a day when the sons of [the] God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’
So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’” Job 1:6, 7

&

“Again there was a day when the sons of [the] God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’
Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’” Job 2:1, 2

The error of analysis made in these verses by many is that the “sons of the God” are angels, and that they are presenting themselves before the Lord. This is incorrect.

This is not speaking of angels but of men presenting themselves before the true God, just as Enoch did, just as Abraham did, and just as all other uses of the article demonstrate – a right relationship of man before the true God or the lack thereof.

This becomes perfectly evident from the reference made in Job 38:7 which all scholars who incorrectly identify the Nephilim as angels use to justify their position on this matter –

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38:4-7

In this passage, the term used is bene elohim, “sons of God,” not bene ha’elohim, or “sons of the God.” The article is left off because it is not speaking of men in relation to the true God. If this is even speaking of angels, which is probably not the case, there is no need to include the article because both angels and demons know who the true God is.

However, these words in Job 38 are probably not speaking of angels. Instead, it is more probably referring to the early formation of stars as detailed in the Genesis account harmonically resonating as the word of God was spoken forth in the act of creation.

In other words, the Lord is speaking in parallelism in Job 38. Parallelism is a literary devise where something is stated, and then it is repeated in another way to make the point more poignant –

Job 38:4-7 in parallelism

Where were you (JOB) when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you (JOB) have understanding.

Who determined its measurements? – The size of the earth
Or who stretched the line upon it? – The size of the earth

To what were its foundations fastened? – the underpinnings
Or who laid its cornerstone – the underpinnings

When the morning stars sang together, – the early star formation
And all the sons of God shouted for joy? – the early star formation

The questions of the Lord continue in parallelism throughout the passage, and so there is no reason to assume that the morning stars are being poetically equated to angels, but rather to actual stars. The lack of the article in this verse demonstrates this because the article is specifically used to express the nature of the true God in relation to man.

Man was not yet created in that section of Job, and so the article is left off. However, the article is used in Job 1 and 2 to expressly set those verses apart from the notion that God is speaking of angelic beings.

This, then, obviously invites the question, “Then what is Satan doing there, walking among the sons of the God?” The answer is clearly expressed elsewhere in Scripture. Satan is explicitly said to be the accuser of the brethren in Revelation 12 –

“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’” Revelation 12:10

In both Job 1 and 2, it is not referring to angels at all. Rather, it is referring to humans who anticipate the coming Messiah – thus they are sons of the God – who have presented themselves before the Lord. Satan, then, has come among them in an attempt to sift them, exactly as he sifted Christ’s followers as is recorded in Luke 22 –

“And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.’” Luke 22:31, 32

Peter later says exactly this concerning believers in 1 Peter 5 –

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:8-11

The idea presented in Job 1 and 2 is not that Satan has come before the Lord with other angels. Rather, it is that the sons of the God, meaning those – like Job – who are those who “fear God and shun evil,” have come before the true God (see Job 1:1, 1:8, etc.).

Though not being in the line of Messiah, they are faithful believers in the promise of the coming Messiah. They have presented themselves before the God, and Satan has come among them to sift them. This is exactly the premise of Satan’s testing of Job with the approval of the Lord that is conveyed in the surrounding passage.

To further confirm this, the word used in Job that says they came to “present” themselves before “the God” is yatsav. It is used in exactly the same way concerning men presenting themselves before the Lord in Numbers 11 –

“So the Lord said to Moses: ‘Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you.’” Numbers 11:16

But, more importantly, this is seen again in Joshua 24:1 –

“Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and called for the elders of Israel, for their heads, for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.”  Joshua 24:1

There, it says they presented themselves liphne ha’elohim, “before the God,” just as those in Job do. Such instances clearly define what is later referred to in Job. The same word, yatsav, translated as “present” is again used in this same context in 1 Samuel 10 –

“Then Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mizpah, 18 and said to the children of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those who oppressed you.” 19 But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, ‘No, set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the Lord [Yehovah] by your tribes and by your clans.” 1 Samuel 10:17-19

In this passage, the article before “God” is unnecessary because He is defined by the name of the true God, Yehovah.

To fully appreciate this connection of the use of the article before elohim, or “God,” to the relationship of human beings toward the true God, one must go through all 370+ instances of the term ha’elohim expressed in Scripture.

Only in doing this will one see that every use follows the same contextual pattern. In this, one can then appreciate the error in thinking that has resulted from accepting the view that angelic beings are sleeping with humans and producing aberrant hybrids of mutants.

Such fanciful analyses are dramatic, sensational, and they sell well, but they improperly analyze Scripture, they introduce contradictions into Scripture, they fail to consider the use of the definite article preceding elohim as it is intended, they neglect the context of the surrounding passages, and they fail to take into account the whole body of Scripture that is necessary to properly and rightly divide the word concerning what is being said.

Satan did not sleep with Eve in order to cause man to fall. Rather, he deceived the woman through a manipulation of Scripture and Adam accepted his presentation over the word of the Lord. This is how he attempted to lead Christ astray as well.

The devil misuses the word of God, meaning law, in order to introduce sin. Through the introduction of sin, the devil gains his foothold over man. It is through deceit, temptation, affliction, opposition, and accusation that he works out his plans.

This is how he operates, not by having his fallen angels, which are spirit beings, sleep with human beings – something not possible for spirits, by the way.

To understand more on the misanalyses of who the Nephilim are in Genesis 6, you can go back and watch that sermon. The Bible is written for man about man’s right or wrong relationship with God. That is clearly expressed in Scripture. When one is in a right standing with Him, he is termed a son of God through faith.

This is the case in both testaments, and it is the case with the first clause of this first, most important, verse in Deuteronomy 14 – banim atem Yehovah elohkem, “Sons you are of Yehovah your God.”

Sons of God through faith in His promise
This is how the deal is sealed
One cannot be a doubting Thomas
And expected the title “Son of God” to him be dealed

But if we just trust in what God has done
If we hold fast to the promise
Believing in the word concerning God’s Son
And not continuing as a doubting Thomas

Then all good things will come to us
God will be pleased with the faith we possess
Yes, if we place our trust in the Lord Jesus
And Him as Lord we do confess

This is what God would ask of you
This is what God expects you to do

II. A Holy People; a Special Treasure (verses 1 con’t & 2)

The sons of God are those who live life in relation to Messiah. In the Old Testament, it is those who anticipated the coming of Messiah. Enoch did, Noah did, and Abraham did – among others in that select line. But Job also did, and he lived his life according to that promise.

How do we know this? It is because the hope of Messiah is the hope of restoration and life. Job’s words clearly indicate that he possessed this hope –

“For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:25-27

It is this that made him a son of the God – faith. For Israel, that term, son of the God, is more fully defined using the divine name, Yehovah. This more precise relationship was established in Exodus 6 –

“And God spoke to Moses and said to him: ‘I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name Lord I was not known to them.’” Exodus 6:2, 3

The name translated both there in Exodus and here in Deuteronomy as “Lord” is Yehovah. The people of Israel are called sons of Yehovah because this is how God had revealed Himself to them. With this in mind, Cambridge notes –

“But when all the O.T. references to God as the Father whether of Israel or Israelites and to them as His children have been reckoned up, how few are they in comparison to the number of times that sons, and children, of God occur in the N.T. God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying Abba Father (Galatians 4:6); joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).”

Their somewhat dismissive note doesn’t change the fact that Moses now calls them the sons of Yehovah. It is a truth and a calling that is set forth by him, and thus it is to be accepted as such.

It is for this reason that they were to apply the moral and holy laws of the Lord carefully to their walk before Him. Understanding this, Moses continues addressing the people in the plural with…

1 (con’t) you shall not cut yourselves

lo titgogedu – “no shall you (all) gash yourselves.” It is a new word in Scripture, gadad signifying to penetrate or cut. It comes from gud, meaning to invade or attack. Thus, it signifies to crowd, or to gash. The idea is that of pressing into oneself like a crowd presses in to form a break in a line.

The words here are similar to that stated in Leviticus 19 –

“You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:28

Gashing oneself had varying purposes. One of them was to petition one’s god in an almost mournful way. Such is found of the worshippers of Baal in 1 Kings 18 –

“And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. 29 And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.” 1 Kings 18:27-29

The worshippers of Baal were in great distress because there had been no answer to their petition and Elijah was have fun poking at them over that fact. Likewise, the implication here in Deuteronomy is that this is intended as a sign of mourning as is further seen in the next words…

1 (con’t) nor shave the front of your head for the dead.

v’lo tasimu qarekhah ben enekem lamet – “and no shall you (all) place baldness between your eyes to the dead.” In other words, they were not to shave the forehead. Our friend Rhoda noted that this may be a pun based on the previous verse.

In verse 13:18 it said the people were to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Now, it says not to place baldness between their eyes, implying it is an act that is not right in the eyes of the Lord. Both acts were a defilement of the body as a sign of mourning.

These were pagan practices that defiled the body created in the image of God. They were for superstitious reasons in relation to the gods of the people, and as a sign of exceptional mourning that the person was forever lost due to the end of his life.

To gash oneself would release blood. But the Lord has said that the life is in the blood. To shed one’s own blood would be a way of demonstrating, through mourning for the dead, that the life was lost and there was no hope.

To shave one’s forehead was equally objectionable because the forehead is the place of conscience and identification. To shave the hair from the forehead was an acknowledgement that the conscience and identification of the dead was forever lost.

These were forbidden firstly because there is one God, and it is not the false god of one of these nations. The second reason was for exactly the reason that was talked about earlier – the hope of Messiah. Israel was not to mourn in such ways because they were the people of God through whom this hope was promised.

It would be inconsistent to grieve in such a manner, as if all hope was lost, when considering that Yehovah had called them as a people for exactly the opposite reason. They were the people of God, and it is through them that Messiah would come. Because of this, the hope was assured. This is the reason why this thought now is expressly tied to the first thought, meaning that they were the sons of Yehovah.

Through Him is the promise of life, meaning Messiah, and there was to therefore be no such mourning as if all hope had perished. This is exactly what was so beautifully expressed by Martha at the grave of Lazarus –

“Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.’
23 Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’
24 Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’” John 11:20-24

Martha mourned for her brother, but it was a mourning of separation, not hopeless loss. Jesus commended her for her faith and then received acknowledgment from her of how great that faith actually was –

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’
27 She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’” John 11:25-27

We read such verses as this one in Deuteronomy in the Old Testament, and we think they are completely disconnected from faith in Christ. In fact, exactly the opposite is true. They are intimately tied into the idea of Messiah. Martha’s words clearly demonstrate this. “No hope? On the contrary! Great is my confidence in the promises of the Lord!” This is in accord with Paul’s words which say –

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14

With this understanding, Moses continues…

For you are a holy people to the Lord your God,

The words of this clause are identical, word for word and letter for letter, to Deuteronomy 7:6. They are similar to the words of a portion of Exodus 19:6, but the meaning between them is vastly different. To grasp that difference and how important it is, one should go back and review the comments of that Deuteronomy 7 sermon.

If Israel was to demonstrate whether they were truly sons of the Lord or not, they were to conduct themselves as a people holy to the Lord. Thus, the statement that opened the passage must be taken as a conditional one.

It is certain that the Pharisees of Jesus’ time minutely abided by the tenets of this chapter. And yet, Jesus – when speaking to them – said that they were of their father the devil. Therefore, there is for Israel a positional sonship that all of the people enjoyed, and an actual sonship that only those of faith participated in.

Again, we will not dwell on the meaning of this clause because it was minutely analyzed in Chapter 7.

*2 (fin) and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

Note: the Hebrew says, mikol, “out of (or from) all,” not “above all.” Here the words are very similar to the final two clauses of Deuteronomy 7:6. Taken side by side, this can be seen –

and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.

Despite some translational differences that don’t exist in the Hebrew, the only substantial differences between the two are that this verse includes the word “and,” and it leaves off the word “your God.” Other than that, they are almost identical.

For this reason, I am not going to reevaluate the words for you today. Rather, when you go home, please be sure to re-watch or reread what is outlined there. The main point is that Israel is set apart as holy, even if they do not act as such. In other words, they are holy to the Lord as a people, even if the people are unholy before the Lord.

In this state, they are a special treasure to the Lord who are “out of all,” not “above all,” the peoples on the face of the earth. This is an important distinction in translation that must be made. Israel is not “above all” the nations but has been taken “out of” all the nations.

This was for the Lord’s own purposes and it sets them apart as distinct, but it also bears a very heavy burden. It is a burden that they have failed to bear up under, and it has – because of their own lack of faith – brought them much grief and sorrow.

For now, we will close with the thought that it is through Jesus that one becomes a true and forever son of God. And that only comes about by faith. It cannot come apart from it. The law has been given to show us this, and Israel has been the means by which that demonstration has been made.

This is true both in the lives of the individual people who come from that body, and it is true in God’s giving of us His Son, the promised Messiah, through them. Where they failed, He prevailed. Where they sinned, He remained sinless.

Even if some were people of faith, like David or Martha, the people of Israel were expected to live out their lives under law. The sad fact of the matter, however, is that not one of them was able to do this perfectly. The testimony to this is that all of them (minus Elijah who was taken alive to heaven) are dead.

This does not mean that they are forever lost. If they were people of faith in the promise of Messiah, they shall rise again – just as Job knew that he too would rise, and just as Martha knew that Lazarus would rise. However, they – meaning the people of Israel – were given as examples to us that the law could never save anyone. Every one of them is just as dead as Job is.

They did not prevail over the law that was given to them… well, not until God did the miraculous and accomplished all things Himself through the giving of Christ Jesus. It is through faith in Him – whether looking forward to Him or looking back on Him – by which the people of faith have that promise realized.

The righteous requirements of the law are now fulfilled in us through Jesus Christ, if we will simply accept that it is so. In this, God reckons us as justified. Paul says that Abraham stood justified before God, but Abraham came before the law. He also says that by deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in God’s sight, but rather that a man is justified apart from the deeds of the law. If that is so, then it is solely by faith.

God in His bountiful grace gave us the Gift of life when He gave us the Gift of His Son. And it is through faith in that, and faith in that alone, that we become full and complete sons of God. Enoch walked with the God, Noah walked with the God, and you too can have a close and personal walk with the God when you walk in faith with Jesus Christ. And so today I would ask you to do so.

Reach out to Him, believe that He died for your sins, have faith that He was buried, but that He rose again according to Scripture to bring you back to full and complete restoration with God.

Closing Verse: “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:19, 20

Next Week: Deuteronomy 14:3-21 It is a responsibility not to be ignored… (A Holy People to the Lord) (45th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Sons of the Lord God

“You are the children of the LORD your God
Just as the Lord to you has said
You shall not cut yourselves
Nor shave the front of your head for the dead

For you are a holy people to the LORD your God
And the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself
———-such is your positional worth
A special treasure above all the peoples
Who are on the face of the earth

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You are the children of the Lord your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave the front of your head for the dead. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

 

Deuteronomy 13:6-18 (You Shall Walk After the Lord Your God, Part II)

Deuteronomy 13:6-18
You Shall Walk After the Lord Your God, Part II

At Christmastime this past year, my friend Tina asked me to do a sermon on the question, “Why it takes so long to understand grace.” She even repeated the question, amending it as she wrote – “Why is it so hard to understand grace?”  In asking twice, she was letting me know it was truly important to her.

I’m not sure an entire sermon is needed to answer that. And yet, at the same time, I’m not sure that a thousand sermons could answer it as well. The reason why is because every person ever born is an individual, and so every person is going to come to a different level of understanding concerning things like it. And, we cannot go further than what our limited, finite comprehension then allows.

The simple definition of grace is “Getting what you do not deserve.” The very fact that it is undeserved makes it beyond our ability to fully grasp. We may generally understand it, but we cannot fully apprehend the impetus behind the act.

The first question is, “Why does it take so long to understand grace?” Surely, she is referring to the grace of God. As this is so, it is because the grace of God is infinite. How can we ever explore an infinite? As long as the ages have been, and as long as they will continue to be, we cannot – nor will we ever be able to – fully peer into what is infinite. We can only see it from what we know, which is finite and limited.

The second question, though seemingly easier to answer, is actually more difficult, “Why is it so hard to understand grace.” Again, she is certainly referring to the grace of God. The answer to the first question is simply a punt. God is infinite, we are not, and so we cannot attain to what God has done.

But from our perspective, it seems the second question doesn’t bear that limitation. We are finite and grace has been bestowed upon us. The Source of that may be infinite, but the results of it aren’t. The act has happened and yet we find ourselves not understanding how it can be.

Text Verse: “You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.” Galatians 5:7-10

The contents of the sermon today are more directed to mercy than to grace. In the context of the passage, God has already redeemed Israel. He has already given them the inheritance. It is the people who are faced with disobeying the word of the Lord who are addressed.

What they need is obedience to the word, and the Lord will have compassion on them for acting rightly. But this is the same as those who Paul is addressing in Galatians. They had received the grace of God. They had been saved and sealed. There is no question about that. And yet, they had trampled on that grace, returning to the law that Christ had already fulfilled for them.

In other words, they had failed to understand grace. Why? The answer is different for those in Rome, for those in Corinth, for those in Galatia, and so on. The Corinthians were given grace, and they had immediately turned it into an idol fest of division. They also had some who turned it into an excuse for license.

The Galatians had turned away from it and to an idol fest of “self.” Why can’t we understand grace? It is because it is opposed to our very nature. We know how to be gracious, but it always stems back to something we can receive from it – even if it is to simply obtain a state of personal satisfaction. “That made me feel good.”

We turn from grace because we find it hard to accept that there are no strings attached, or that God has somehow failed to benefit from His bestowal of grace. That is completely contrary to why we are gracious.

And so, we think, if God isn’t benefitting from this, then it can’t be real. If it isn’t real, then I need to do something to merit His favor. As a result of this thinking, what do we do? We go back to personal merit before the Lord, forgetting that personal merit is actually opposed to grace – which we suppose can’t be grace because there was no benefit from the Giver of the grace.

Not understanding grace is a condition of placing our own finite, failing, and fallible limitations on God who is none of those things. That means that we need to have the mind of God. Not in the sense that we are God and have infinite knowledge, but that we accept that what God says is exactly what God means.

And the way that we do that is to read and accept His word, in context, and at face value. How can we understand grace? I would say that to do so, we must completely ignore our own self and what it means to be the person each of us is – one hundred percent. If we allow ourselves to be the judge of what God’s grace means, we will never – never ever – understand what it means.

In setting aside the notions of self, we can then accept the gift of God. “He has done this, I accept it, and I will not attempt to think any further in relation to my own self in order to understand it.”

If we can do that, then we will have all of eternity to no longer claim we understand God’s grace, but to simply accept it and then go on in learning what it means, as He reveals it to us.

Tina, that’s the best I can do. It is an answer that demands that we accept God’s word, wholly and completely, as it is given to us. And I am certain that this is true because God’s eternal, unchanging, and ageless word ends on exactly that note – “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” Revelation 22:21.

If God wanted us to understand it from our limited perspective, He would not have ended His word with that. And if He expected us to understand it, He would not have promised us eternity to find out – in its fullness – what that ending sentence meant.

Grace is given, mercy is received, and the fulfillment of the law through Christ our Lord is how those things come to be. This is a truth that is to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Lord Above All Others (verses 6-11)

In the previous passage, Moses spoke of the prophet or dreamer of dreams leading the people away from the way in which the Lord God commanded. In such an instance, he said “that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death.” In doing this, he said they would “put away the evil from your midst.”

This is correct, but it is not the end of such an example, even by a longshot. That is a specific example of anyone in general. The world is full of heretics, and such heretics are to be eliminated. However, Moses now goes from the general to the personal…

“If your brother,

The conjunction is a common one, ki. It is what opened the chapter in verse 1, and it will be used again to begin the next thought in verse 12. It is widely used and translated, but the word “if” – though not being incorrect – may not be the best way of stating the force of the intent.

One might say, “Though your brother.” In other words, it seems Moses is assuming the thing has occurred. In this, he will state the law for such an occurrence. He begins with the personal affiliation that is considered one of the closest in Scripture, that of the brother. To further define the closeness, he then adds in…

6 (con’t) the son of your mother,

In the Bible, like in our own general speaking, the word “brother” can extend to someone who is actually not related at all. There is a closeness that we feel towards others that brings our affections and allegiances to that of a brother in almost all ways.

However, we also use the term “blood is thicker than water” to demonstrate that there are times when we will tolerate or forgive something from a blood brother that we would not accept in a friend, usually no matter how close of a friend he is. Hence, Moses further defines the relationship for this reason. From there…

6 (con’t) your son or your daughter,

The NKJV leaves off a preposition. It says: o binkha o bitekha – “or your son or your daughter.” It is two different classes as Moses elevates the importance of the command. One might reject even his own brother, but would he reject his son? It must be so.

And, even more, his daughter is the weaker sex. The inclination would be to have mercy on her, or to say, “I am the parent, and I am the stronger. I can impose my will on this person to effect a proper change in her.” But Moses will show that such a thought is to be excluded. And from there, he elevates the matter higher…

6 (con’t) the wife of your bosom,

o eshet kheqekha – “or wife of your bosom.” Moses could have just said, “or your wife.” If so, she may have been at the beginning of the list, not towards the end, because not all men love their wives. But in adding the word kheq, or “bosom,” he is defining a relationship that is so intimate and loving that it is as if the wife is enclosed in the man. The implication of unfailing love is communicated with this thought. But even that is again elevated…

6 (con’t) or your friend who is as your own soul,

The word “friend” is rea. It signifies “another.” It can be a brother, a friend, a companion, a lover, and so on. Such a person is defined by Moses as asher kenaphshekha – “which as your own soul.” This is the one referred to in the proverbs –

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

It is the truly undying love for another without regard to physical intimacy or gender. Such a relationship as this transcends such things and is revealed in the strongest bond of all. It is how the relationship between David and Jonathan is described –

“Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.” 1 Samuel 18:3

So great was David’s love, that when he was killed David said –

“I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
You have been very pleasant to me;
Your love to me was wonderful,
Surpassing the love of women.” 2 Samuel 1:26

Moses, having brought in the closest of all human relationships, now says that even under such a relationship as that, if that person…

6 (con’t) secretly entices you,

ba’sether – “in the secret.” It is a new word in Scripture, sether. It is a noun signifying a cover, literal or figurative. And it can be in a positive or negative sense. It comes from the verb sathar (to hide or conceal). In this act, any such person, no matter how close comes forward…

6 (con’t) saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’

lemor nelekha w’naabdah Elohim akherim – “saying ‘Let us walk and serve gods other.’” In other words, any god, or any gods – other than Yehovah – that are brought forward for the purpose of worship. The words here follow in accord with the words of verse 2, “Let us go after other gods…and serve them.” Such gods are…

6 (con’t) which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers,

Again, the words are in accord with verse 2, “which you have not known.” The people are sitting before Moses, the representative of the law of the Lord. They have personally experienced the Lord, and they are being instructed in the law of the Lord.

Thus, the reference is from this point in their history, and it extends out from there for all time. Only Yehovah is known to them, and only Yehovah is to be known to them. Such a prohibition is to extend in all directions as well. As Moses says…

of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you,

Here, the words go from the singular to the plural for just one word, and then back to the singular – “from gods of the people which around you (all) near to you (singular) or the farthest from you (singular). Moses is ensuring that both the individuals and the collective nation pay heed to what is said.

Despite the plural being confirmed by the Greek translation of this passage, and in a marvelously stupid comment, Cambridge says that the words “ought to be deleted.” In this, they have elevated themselves to being the arbiters of God’s word, claiming that what is presented is subject to their own whims of grammar and of what is to be considered useful or unhelpful concerning instruction. They will be punished.

7 (con’t) from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth,

miqtseh ha’arets v’ad qetseh ha’arets – “from end the earth and unto end the earth.” The meaning is obvious, and it is to be understood from both a geographical and a chronological sense. In no place, and at no time, shall this be tolerated. Rather…

you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him;

It is an emphatic and pregnant verse made up of five different clauses. And more, Moses uses several words that are rather rare. Hence, what he says is grave and striking – “No you shall consent to him; and no you shall listen to him; and no shall pity your eye him; and no you shall spare; and no you shall cover him over.”

And more, the first two clauses deal with the individual’s response to the offender – “You shall not consent, and you shall not listen to.” However, the final three clauses deal with the individual’s responsibility toward the offender – “Your eye shall not pity, nor shall you spare, and you shall not conceal.”

The offender is not to be heeded, and the offender is to be dealt with even as an enemy. As Moses next says…

but you shall surely kill him;

Moses places a stress upon the requirement: ki harog tahargenu – “For killing you shall kill him.” It is to be considered a judicial act because the offender has committed a capital offense.

But more, the person who was enticed is – by his actions – placing his allegiance to the Lord above his own human instincts, which would otherwise be to defend someone he loved so much. But Moses brings in an implied protection for such an action, saying…

9 (con’t) your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people.

If a person were to be enticed by another person, and he was to kill him right then and there, it could be argued that he had committed murder and that he had only claimed that he was so enticed in order to kill another person. This is why the law says –

“Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness. The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you.” Deuteronomy 17:6, 7

In such a law, there is protection for the offender, and there is also protection for the one who took the Lord’s side in the matter. Otherwise, anyone could claim anything and get away with murder. Or the truly righteous man who took action into his own hands could be accused of murder.

This is substantiated by the fact that it notes that not only would the one who heard be required to kill the person, but then it says that “all the people” were to follow suit. The implication is that the matter was brought before the congregation.

However, once the matter was settled, the one who made the initial accusation would be required to back up his words with action. Thus, the punishment would be both a grave responsibility and an implied honor. Of this law, Charles Ellicott rightly states –

“The law may seem harsh, but its principle is reproduced in the Gospel: … ‘If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple’ (Luke 14:26). It is impossible to deny or escape the identity of the Lord Jesus with the Jehovah of the Old Testament. He does not always put the execution of His judgments into human hands, but He is the same for ever.” Charles Ellicott

10 And you shall stone him with stones until he dies,

Verse 5 said the prophet or dreamer of dreams who committed such an action was to be put to death. This verse now explains the means of execution: u-seqalto ba’abanim va’met – “And you shall stone him in the stones and he dies.”

This is the first of several explicit references to stoning a person in Deuteronomy, but it was already implied in verse 5. The land of Israel is the rockiest place one can imagine. There is hardly a spot that isn’t fit to accomplish this, and it is a means of execution that everyone at hand could – and indeed was expected to – participate in. In this case, the stoning was mandated…

10 (con’t) because he sought to entice you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

Though they vary in several ways in both order and words used, what is said here bears great similarity to verse 5. The focus is on one’s allegiance to Yehovah, and the explanation for that is – again – that it is He who brought Israel out of Egypt.

Again, and again, Moses returns to this same theme. As such, we need to remember the parallel. This is what Christ spiritually did for us. As always, Egypt pictures bondage to sin. Christ Jesus brought us out from that, having redeemed us from that house of bondage.

Despite the bloody history of the Roman Catholic Church, the church of the saints of Christ has no authority to execute the false prophets or those around us who attempt to draw us away from faith in Christ, but we have the same personal responsibility to love the Lord more than any other person.

He alone is to be our greatest desire of the heart and soul. That loving allegiance to Him is to be what will hopefully draw others into the same relationship. For Israel, however, execution of offenders was to be its own warning…

11 So all Israel shall hear and fear,

The spelling of the word “fear” bears a strong emphasis: v’kal Yisrael yishmeru v’yiratun – “And all Israel shall hear, and shall (certainly) fear.” In other words, just as any society hears of executions and realizes how serious certain matters are taken, so Israel would take it to heart and be absolutely certain to not do as that offender had done.

Such a punishment has a double impact. It removes the wicked from the land, and it causes the people to walk circumspectly. But even that leads to a third benefit. In walking properly, people will revere the Lord who set the standard in the first place. The problem for Israel is never with the law itself, but with the people’s inability to uphold it. As long as the law is upheld others will see…

11 (con’t) and not again do such wickedness as this among you.

v’lo yosiphu laasot kadavar ha’ra hazeh b’kirbekha – “and no shall add to do according to the thing the evil the this in your midst.” In other words, in executing the offender, it will end any other such attempts by those who are so easily led astray.

The precept is no different than countries that execute homosexuals. When that is the case, those who may think in that manner would never openly acknowledge it. The standard is set, the law is given, and those who fear the law will exercise restraint. And so, it is with any other activity – adultery, drugs, and so on. In executing offenders, the masses will cease the offenses.

Blessed is the one who walks after the Lord his God
And happy is the man who shall see His face
It is on the straight path that he does trod
And it is he who finds the Lord’s mercy and His grace 

So is it for that man who walks after the Lord his God
And it shall be so, even when life appears dark and grim
His feet are faithful and with righteousness he is shod
He will see good days. Joy and blessing lie ahead for him

Do what is right and pleasing before the Lord
And He will honor you with life and length of days
Be carefully attentive to His sacred word
And live out your life to His honor and His praise

This is the path to follow for the discerning and the wise
He who understands is ever pleasing in the Lord’s attentive eyes

II. What is Right in the Eyes of the Lord (verses 12-18)

In verses 1-5 Moses dealt with apostacy in a general matter. In verses 6-11, he dealt with it in a personal matter. Now, in verses 12-18, he will refer to apostacy in an organized matter, saying…

12 “If you hear someone in one of your cities,

Again, as in verse 1 and verse 6, the translation is probably more rightly, “Though you hear…” It is more assuredly assuming that the thing has occurred, and so action must be taken. In this case, it is an offense that has happened in a city.

Further, the word “someone” doesn’t belong here. It reads: ki tishma b‘akhat arekha – “Though you hear in one of your cities.” The words are referring to Israel (the whole) hearing about something that has occurred in one of the cities. And to be more specific, Moses says…

12 (con’t) which the Lord your God gives you to dwell in, saying,

This is the same idea as saying, “the Lord who brought you out of Egypt.” In other words, the offense is aggravated by the notion that the city was provided by the Lord. He brought them in. He subdued the nations. He gave them cities. And yet, in one of those cities…

13 ‘Corrupt men have gone out from among you

The Hebrew is more expressive: yaseu anashim bene beliyaal miqirbekha – “Have gone out men, sons of worthlessness, from your midst.” The word beliyaal is introduced here. It comes from beli (failure) and yaal (profit). Thus, “no profit” or “worthless.”

Many scholars and translators render this as a proper name, Belial. And, indeed, that is how Paul renders it in 2 Corinthians when dealing with a similar matter –

‘Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
‘I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.’” 2 Corinthians 6:14-16

And yet, throughout the Bible, people describe an object by its predominant characteristic as a “son” of that quality. For example, the term “son of death” is used in this way at times, such as when David said in 2 Samuel 12:5, “As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this is a son of death.”

The meaning is that the person deserved to die. Unfortunately for David, he didn’t realize that the person he was referring to was himself. For now, whether as a noun or a pronoun, the intent is ultimately the same.

In this verse in Deuteronomy, the worthless people are said by Moses to have gone out “from among you.” This doesn’t mean within the city, but from among Israel. In other words, the entire city is being contrasted to all the rest of Israel. This is evident from the next words…

13 (con’t) and enticed the inhabitants of their city,

va’yadikhu eth yosheve iram – “and impelled inhabitants their city.” This word, nadakh, or “impel,” has been used in all three instances of this chapter – the prophet of verses 1-5, the personal close one of verses 5-12, and now the worthless men of this section. One might think of beguiling or seducing, even through intimidation. And their words are…

13 (con’t) saying, “Let us go and serve other gods”’

The words follow closely after both verse 2 and verse 6 – “Let us walk after and serve gods other which not you have known.” The offenders are worthless, and they are luring the people away to that which is worthless. This is because they are gods…

13 (con’t) —which you have not known— 

It is the same expression said twice in this chapter already. There is the Lord, the God of Israel, and then, there are those gods which the people, or the person, have not known. The temptation is especially strong for those who may be going through a bad spell, who are struggling with the realities of life, and so on.

The thought may be, “The Lord is our God, and He isn’t taking proper care of us. But these guys are promising great things, contentment, abundance, wealth, and so on if we follow their gods. This is exactly what churches do all the time.

And so, we can see the progression of thought. The first is the false prophet or dreamer of dreams. Whether in Israel, or the guy on the street, he has something to offer other than the truth of God in Christ. And then there is the close relative or friend. They see your faith in Christ, and they – for whatever reason – want to misdirect you from it.

And then there is the city now being addressed. It would equate to an entire church that offers something tantalizing – be it wealth, prosperity, or contentment. Moses is warning the people in basic categories, and we need to be attentive in basically the same categories – from the general, to the personal, to the organized.

Israel knew the Lord, and yet they are being beguiled to walk after another they did not know. We know the Lord, and yet no sooner do we know Him, than we are tempted to walk after the Lord in a way we did not know, nor in a way that He has presented Himself.

For now, and concerning the city which has done what Moses warns against…

14 then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently.

Again, the Hebrew is very specific: v’darashta v’khaqarta v’shaalta hetev – “and you shall seek, and you shall search out, and you shall ask diligently. In this, a new word is introduced, khaqar. It signifies to penetrate, and thus to examine intimately.

The onus is on Israel to do their due diligence and to determine the truth of the matter. Nothing less would be acceptable…

14 (con’t) And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination was committed among you,

And again, the English fails to convey the force of Moses’ words. It more rightly reads, “And behold! Truth! The thing is established! This abomination was committed in your midst!” His words are so poignant that what follows must absolutely come to pass…

15 you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword,

The Hebrew reads forcefully – “striking, you shall strike the inhabitants of that city with the mouth of the sword.” Here, as elsewhere, the sword is spoken of as a devouring instrument. The souls of the people are eaten away as the sword is wielded. The fate of the people who have acted in this way is death. But more…

15 (con’t) utterly destroying it,

hakharem otah – “devoting it.” In other words, the city is to be placed under the ban. It is to be completely destroyed as an act of devotion to the Lord. Nothing living in it was to be taken out…

15 (con’t) all that is in it and its livestock—with the edge of the sword.

Every living thing – man, woman, child, and livestock. Of this, Matthew Poole says –

“…to wit, all that are guilty, not the innocent part, such as disowned this apostacy, who doubtless by choice and interest, at least upon warning, would come out of so wicked and cursed a place.” Matthew Poole

This is incorrect. All were held guilty regardless of their innocence. Once the matter was discovered, it was all to be utterly destroyed with the mouth of the sword. The place was accursed, and so all that lived within it was under the ban. Further…

16 And you shall gather all its plunder into the middle of the street, and completely burn with fire the city and all its plunder, for the Lord your God.

The act of devotion to the Lord is to extend to everything within the city. It was to be taken to the rekhov, or broad open place such as a plaza. It was to then be piled up, and the entire city was to be burned. The word “completely” is kalil. It signifies “all” as in a holocaust, or whole burnt offering. Thus, the act of devotion to the Lord would be complete in its scope. But it was also to be forever in its duration…

16 (con’t) It shall be a heap forever; it shall not be built again.

Here, the word tel, or mound is introduced. It is a contraction of the word talal that is found in Ezekiel 17:22 where it speaks of a prominent mountain. Thus, this is a mound or heap. Today, many cities or sites are known by the word, such as Tel Aviv. It is a place where a mound exists upon which more has been built over the years.

In the case of such a city, however, it was not to be built upon. The mound itself was to be a testament to the apostacy of the city, and of the devotion of that city to the Lord by the people. The mound was to serve as its own witness for all time. And there is an important reason for this mandate, as Moses next relays…

17 So none of the accursed things shall remain in your hand,

The word translated here as “remain,” signifies to cling to. The idea is that if any accursed thing were kept, it wouldn’t just be in the person’s hand, but it would cling to it. The stain of it could no more be taken away than could the shame of an adulterous woman. The Lord would see the thing and it would then withhold any favor from Him.

This will be seen in Joshua when Achan will take an accursed thing during the battle of Ai. It clung to him, it found him out, and he and all he possessed – in turn – became subject to the ban. Thus, the people were to completely rid themselves of the banned city. This was so…

17 (con’t) that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of His anger

l’maan yashuv Yehovah mekharon apo – “To end purpose, will turn Yehovah from burning His nose.” The Lord is truly angry at the actions of such people. It is as if fire shoots from His nostrils as He fumes over their actions. And this isn’t a state that may arise. It is the state that exists over their sins.

In destroying the city, devoting it to complete destruction, His anger over the infraction ends, symbolized by the thought of turning. Where there was confrontation and enmity, there is again peace and solicitude. This verse is exactly what we see in the account of Achan in Joshua –

“Then they raised over him a great heap of stones, still there to this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger.” Joshua 7:26

Achan’s grave of stones became its own tel. And in destroying him as was just and proper, the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger, exactly as this verse in Deuteronomy proclaims. Though the cause of the anger was different, the expected punishment – that of devotion to the Lord – was the same. When the devotion is made the enmity ceases. In this restored state the Lord will turn…

17 (con’t) and show you mercy,

v’nathan lekha rakhamim – “and give you mercies.” The plural, mercies, is intended to show that upon those who are abundantly faithful, there will be a return of a multitude of mercies. The unceasing stream of the favor of the Lord is opened when faithfulness to Him is demonstrated. In this, He will…

17 (con’t) have compassion on you and multiply you, just as He swore to your fathers,

The idea is that in the destruction of an entire city, a number that could go into the high thousands, there will be a diminishing of the tribe and of the nation. And yet, because of the faithfulness of the people to the Lord, He will turn and bless them through multiplication so that there will be no gap in the tribe or the nation.

And the reason for this is because of the oath to the fathers. The Lord spoke, and He would carefully remember His promise when the people lived in obedience to His word. He would multiply their seed as a sign of His divine favor. Of this act of kharem, or devotion being restored to the people, John Lange states –

“Holiness, as it makes its demand through righteousness, must receive satisfaction, and therewith mercy can follow. The enlargement should counterbalance the loss occasioned by the punishment.”

With this happier tone restored to the nation through their faithful obedience, Moses affirms why restoration could be expected…

*18 (fin) because you have listened to the voice of the Lord your God, to keep all His commandments which I command you today, to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord your God.

Again, as has been seen throughout Deuteronomy, Moses states that what he commands equates to listening to the voice of the Lord. In other words, he is claiming, and the Bible is affirming, the doctrine of divine inspiration.

In obeying Moses, the people are listening to – meaning hearkening to – the voice of the Lord. What Moses says is right in His eyes. What this means is that everything he says is right. Obedience to the law is not deserving of a pat on the back for Israel over some issues, but then not something to worry about for others. It is a unified whole and it must be taken as such.

Apart from the matter of Achan in the book of Joshua, the closest Israel ever came to the matter described here is at the end of the book of Judges where a city of the tribe of Benjamin was found to be filled with sons of Belial, or sons of worthlessness.

In order to purge the evil from Israel, the entire nation came against them, but the tribe of Benjamin sided with their own people. Thus, the tribe of Benjamin was reduced to only six hundred men. However, they eventually regained their numbers, and noted biblical figures came from them including Saul, Israel’s first king, and the apostle Paul.

Throughout the Bible, there is seen grace and mercy mingled with judgment and punishment. But every infraction of the law demanded punishment before the mercy could be bestowed. This truth extends to all people. Judgment for sin against the holy God cannot be overlooked, but it can be meted out in a substitute.

Israel as a whole deserved judgment for the apostacy of one city, but the destruction of the city could appease the Lord. The sins of the people required judgment, but the penalty could be taken out on an innocent substitute – such as in the temple sacrifices, especially on the Day of Atonement.

And those things only look forward to the greater work of Christ, who is the fulfillment of those mere types and pictures. Each of us has a choice, and each of us must decide how we will come before this holy God. Will we attempt to stand before Him on our own merits? The thought is impossible to even consider.

Let us act in prudence and let us choose the wise option. Let us come to God through Jesus. It is He who has already paid the penalty for the sins of the world. The full cup of God’s wrath was brought to bear upon Him on the tree of Calvary. And, indeed, He bore it all. In this, God’s wrath was satisfied. The payment was made, and peace is now offered through His deed.

Let us remember what Christ has done, let us receive it as our own, and let us stand before God forgiven and free of the sins we have committed in His presence. And let us thank God for Jesus Christ – now and forever. Let us hail our Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Closing Verse: “Blessed is every one who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.” Psalm 128:1

Next Week: Deuteronomy 14:1, 2 How do we become a part of this squad?... (Sons of the Lord God) (44th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

You Shall Walk After the Lord Your God, Part II

“If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter
The wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul
Secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ Which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers
———-such a person is out of control

Of the gods of the people which are all around you
Near to you or far off from you
From one end of the earth to the other end of the earth
You shall not consent to him or listen to him; such you shall not do

Nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him
———-or conceal him
But you shall surely kill him for trying to mislead the sheeple
Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death
And afterward the hand of all the people

And you shall stone him with stones until he dies
Because he sought to entice you away from the LORD your God
Who brought you out of the land of Egypt
From the house of bondage where once you trod

So all Israel shall hear and fear, so they shall do
And not again do such wickedness as this among you

“If you hear someone in one of your cities
Which the LORD your God gives you to dwell in, saying
‘Corrupt men have gone out from among you
And enticed the inhabitants of their city, thus relaying…

“Let us go and serve other gods”
Which you have not known
Then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently
On such a deed light must be shone

And if it is indeed true and certain
That such an abomination was committed among you
You shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city
———-with the edge of the sword
Utterly destroying it, all that is in it and its livestock—
———-with the edge of the sword; so you shall do

And you shall gather all its plunder into the middle of the street
And completely burn with fire the city and all its plunder
———-for the LORD your God
It shall be a heap forever
It shall not be built again, but it shall lay beneath the sod

So none of the accursed things shall remain in your hand
That the LORD may turn from the fierceness of His anger
And show you mercy, have compassion on you and multiply you
Just as He swore to your fathers, as a deep sweet clangor

Because you have listened to the voice of the LORD your God
To keep all His commandments which I command you today
To do what is right in the eyes of the LORD your God
To do according to all the words I say

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. 10 And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 11 So all Israel shall hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you.

12 “If you hear someone in one of your cities, which the Lord your God gives you to dwell in, saying, 13 ‘Corrupt men have gone out from among you and enticed the inhabitants of their city, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods”’—which you have not known— 14 then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination was committed among you, 15 you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it, all that is in it and its livestock—with the edge of the sword. 16 And you shall gather all its plunder into the middle of the street, and completely burn with fire the city and all its plunder, for the Lord your God. It shall be a heap forever; it shall not be built again. 17 So none of the accursed things shall remain in your hand, that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of His anger and show you mercy, have compassion on you and multiply you, just as He swore to your fathers, 18 because you have listened to the voice of the Lord your God, to keep all His commandments which I command you today, to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord your God.