God gave the Israelites 613 laws – both do’s and dont’s. Here’s a brief explanation of why they’re there, which ones we’re supposed to follow, and a little tax code…just kidding…no tax code. Just making sure you’re paying attention.
Some of the laws Moses is sharing with the Israelites in today’s Deuteronomy reading may sound repetitive…because they are. We’ve heard them in Leviticus when he originally gave them the law. And while it may seem redundant, I know I sometimes have to hear things more than once to get it right. How about you?
- Not being allowed to enter the assembly of God is the focus of the first part of the reading. There are two explanations of what this might refer to. Some people say the phrase means that those are the people who are not allowed to marry, but more likely, this is describing the people who are not allowed to participate in Israel’s cultural practices such as military and legal affairs.
- 1-4 – This should not be read as encouragement to divorce. In the New Testament Jesus explains that Moses gave instructions for divorce because the Israelites’ hearts were hard. In other words, they were doing it anyway so Moses gave them parameters. These are Moses’ parameters.
- 16 – Certain parts of Scripture explain that sins are passed down through generations and/or certain consequences (like not being a part of the assembly of God) can be passed down. This, however, prohibits a father being killed for his son’s sins and vice versa.
- 19-22 – The Israelites are continually reminded to provide for travelers, orphans, and widows because they were once in a position where they could not provide for themselves.
- 7-10 – One of the few times in Scripture where a woman disrespects a man. And it’s funny that the man’s house is now called “the house of him who had his sandal pulled off” (though it wasn’t funny at the time).
- 13-16 – Weights were used for buying and selling agricultural products. Some people would try to cheat by using an unfair weight and causing others to pay too much for what they received.
- 13-15 – Tyre and Sidon were gentile cities while Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were all Jewish cities who had seen miracles and heard Jesus’ preaching. The Jewish cities, despite their exposure to Jesus refused to repent. Jesus uses these gentile cities, who the Israelites looked down upon because they were not God’s chosen people, to show the unrepentant cities that his message trumped their heritage and self-righteousness.
- 25-37 – This is the parable of the Good Samaritan. Samaritans were despised by the Jews. In our context it might read that a pastor, and a prominent church member passed by the injured man, but a drug dealer took care of him.
- 12 – We often want the wealth and success of someone who gained it illegitimately because it seemed easy, but we should find joy in the fruit born by righteous efforts.