Tuesday, September 25, 2012

LXII - Deuteronomy 12-26 - Laws for Life in the Promised Land

In this book of Deuteronomy, we're studying a series of sermons that Moses is delivering to the nation Israel right before they enter the Promised Land.  Last week I concentrated on the perils of prosperity which were included in the five chapters we covered (7-11).  In today's post I hope to cover chapters 12-26, which touch on quite a few subjects, all of which we've looked at in previous books, but nonetheless deserve a review which the whole Book of Deuteronomy provides.  Since we've covered all of these parts of the Law in previous posts, I'll keep my comments to a minimum, but will be careful to list all of the topics, and reference the chapters and verses.
12:1-14  Moses instructs them to destroy all places of worship used by the Canaanites.  God detests idol worship and wants all evidense of it gone in the land He promised for His holy nation.  You will see mentioned throughout the Old Testiment the term "high places".  The pagan Canaanites made their worship centers on the highest places in their territories because they thought it would bring them closer to their gods.

12:15-25  This passage reminds them that the Levites will not be allotted any portion of land, therefore the Levites are to be taken care of by the enitre nation Israel.  The Levites were somewhat set aside and made holy as a tribe.  I spoke earlier how the Levites could see this as an advantage or a disadvantage, depending upon how each individual looked upon it.

12:26-32  God did not want Israel to worship Him in scattered places throughout the land.  Until the temple is built in Jerusalem, His place of worship will be wherever the Ark of the Covenant is located, which will be at various places in the Promised Land for many years.

13:1-18  In this passage, God forbids worship to be anything that is even remotely similar to the practices of the pagans.  Therefore certain reminders of how things are to be done are gone over.  Also in this passage, dreamers and scorcerers are dealt with (by death).  Also given the death penalty is anyone found inticing others to join in idol worship.  God is an absolutist about this.  He wants purity when it come to worship.

14:1-21  This passage deals with listing "clean" versus "unclean" foods.  This short passage makes this understanding a bit simpler.

14:22-29  Tithing is a very important part of worship.  This part of chapter 14 explains how tithing can be dealt with when one must carry a tenth of his livestock to the tabernacle, and it is a very long distance.  Since a perfectly unblemished animal could become blemished through injury on a long journey, it can be sold for its market value of silver, and the silver could be used to either tithe or to purchase substitute livestock at the place of worship.

15:1-11  God takes particular cautions against Israelites taking advantage of other Israelites.  He set up a system, explained in this chapter, which deals with the forgiveness of debt every seven years.  He also addresses attitudes toward the poor and how we must give generously and not of a grudging heart.  {Sound familiar?}

15:12-18  As with all societies there will be the poor, through a multitue of reasons.  As was the custom in many of the lands, when a person cannot pay his debt, he can become his debtor's servant.  This law states that no man is to be servant to another Israelite more than six years.  By the seventh year he is freed from the obligation of debt.

16:1-17  The three festivals are mentioned:  The Passover, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Tabernacles.  The Festival of Tabernacles is actually the Festival of Tents, mentioned later in the Old Testament.  I find that festival to be interesting and helpful to that or any society, as it reminds us of our humble beginnings.

16:18-20  Moses instructs them to establish judges from each tribe to administer justice concerning conflicts among its citizens.  A just God wants just judges.  Three specific requirements for the office was stated:  First they were to see that pure justice was rendered.  Secondly, they were not to show partiality (toward rich or poor).  And thirdly, they were not to accept bribes.

16:21 - 17:7  Worshiping other gods is mentioned and stressed yet again.  This is getting back to my earlier comments about the very first commandment that God etched into the tablets.

17:14-20  God makes it very clear about His opposition to Israel having a king.  But He also knows they are going to raise up a king for all the wrong reasons.  Here in this Scripture, God lays ground rules for what a king should be like.  (worth a few minutes of study)

18:14-22  God prefers a nation to be lead by a prophet appointed by God and one through whom God speaks.  This is far superior to the rule of a king.  Israel will learn this lesson the hard way soon enough.

20:1-20  This chapter deals with going to war.  Moses encourages them to not be afraid of defeat, as long as they are obedient to God.  Also interesting in the latter part of the chapters, it lists those who are excused (temporarily) from going into battle with the rest of Israel.  Very interesting.

21:10-14  Very interesting little passage about the marrying captive women.

21:18-21  I didn't catch this earlier, but these verses say that a disobedient and rebellious son is to be put to death by the men of the town.

22:1-12  These are some samples of simply respecting one's neighbors.

22:13-30  This section addresses the very difficult and touchy subject of marriage violations, with many "do's and don'ts" attached.
23:1-98  This focuses on exclusion from assembly, which automatically excludes all Ammonites and Moabites and their descendants up to the tenth generation.  But it says that the Edomites (Esau's descendants) can be included after the third generation.  I find that interesting.

23:9-14  Keeping the camp clean is the subject of this short passage.  Purity is important to God when it comes to so many things.

23:15 - 26:19  This rather long passage includes laws pertaining to miscellaneous subjects, anywhere from respecting slaves to fair business practices.  Noteworthy is the fact that a son cannot be put to death for his fathers sin, and a father cannot be put to death by his son's sin.  Plus this is the first mentioning of the "forty lashes, save one" in 25:3.  This is still a practiced limit to punishment in those countries that use this type of punitive action for its law breakers.

The next post will pick up at chapter 27 and will address the consequences of obedience and disobedience.


  1. Do you think that even though Esau went a different way that God still had a heart for him and his people because he was a son of Isaac?

  2. I sure do. If we look back at what little we can find of Esau's life, he wasn't so bad. He was somewhat weak and yielded to the "spirit of the moment", but many of the Biblical characters did that (especially Samson). I think God indeed wanted to watch over Esau and his descendants. And not only was Esau Isaac's son, but he was Isaac's favorite son.