DEUTERONOMY 22:1 – 24:22 and MARK 14:32–72
Moses is now giving some practical instructions as to how people are to relate to one another. If a possession such as an animal of a brother had been found, action would need to be taken to secure it until the owner could be informed. This would help ensure harmony and peace among the people. Today everyone is worried about theft and the preservation of their goods and property. Theft protection devices, alarms and security services are a multi-billion dollar business. Insurance policies need to provide coverage for potential theft. This is one of the fruits of sin within a society. The policies that Moses was seeking to implement would eliminate many of these things. If there was theft there were would be huge consequences to pay. The swift judgment against such acts served as a strong deterrent.
Moses also put forth several other laws pertaining to a range of issues. In verse 5 he makes clear that men and women are not to wear clothing that pertains to the opposite sex. I suspect that there were pagan rituals and practices that many of the nations of Canaan observed that allowed for such things. God makes very clear as to how offensive this is. It is an issue that is blatantly seen today. There have been movies made where the prominent actor played the role of a female. They are presented as comedies but through it all gender identification is challenged. A door is opened which eventually leads into gender role reversals which is seen in homosexual relationships; not to mention many who are opting to gender change. Never forget that one of the most potent tools in the arsenal of Satan is his ability to attack IDENTITY. Without it we are void of a compass and reference point. If we do not know who we are in God we can fall prey to the cultural values that seek to define right from wrong. How does a child really feel growing up in a home with either two dads or two moms? What kind of identity and values will shape this young person’s life? The issue of cross-dressing is no trivial matter.
Moses gives a variety of other laws in this chapter that will help them in their assimilation into Canaan. One of the laws was meant to serve as a preventive measure from avoidable accidents. When they build houses in Canaan they were to erect some sort of fence or wall on the top of their flat roofs so as to prevent people from falling off from the top. This responsible act is a common sense measure to help prevent accidents. There would be liability on the part of the owner if such an occurrence took place.
In verse 10 Moses instructs the people that an ox and an ass were to not plow together. These are animals of different strengths which would make for much difficulty in the effective plowing of a field. This brings to mind a statement by the Apostle Paul.
2Co 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
Paul in this passage is clearly addressing the case of a believer with a non-believer. Is it possible for believers to be unequally yoked? I would say yes if there is a distinct difference of calling and vision. If a woman has a strong missions call and the man has a strong local ministerial call as a pastor there could be concerns. The respective visions could well become an area of contention. There is considerable meaning in verse 10 and we do well to meditate and seek the Lord for modern day applications to its warning.
There are some laws that relate to sexual conduct that Moses puts forward to try and pre-empt any eventuality that would cause harm to the involved parties and nation. God has already given His Law by way of the commandments. These laws and ordinances are supplementary to the 10 commandments but they help to reinforce common sense application of matters they would be experiencing.
There had to be boundaries established with regard to the interactions that would come into play amongst the conquered people. In any country today there are requirements that need to be in place before a foreigner can become a citizen of that country. A country has a heritage and identity and any foreigner looking to become a citizen needs to become acquainted and qualified with that country. This would be especially true with the nation of Israel who had the high calling of being an example of God to the nations. If these boundaries were not enforced it would result in Israel becoming more like the nations they have been sent to conquer. Sad to say this is what will be seen in the generations that will later come. Once again, these instructions have immediate application for Israel but they speak to our day as well.
There is very strong sentiment against the Ammonites and Moabites. The reason given is that they were not accommodating to Israel when they came forth out of Egypt. In addition, they hired Balaam for the purpose of cursing Israel. They clearly stood in the way of God’s declared purpose for His people. Israel was called to do more than just possess territory. They had to lay strong foundations in their nation building. To do this required total destruction and annihilation of certain enemies. If allowed to exist an enemy over time could assert himself in a manner that would undermine God’s purpose.
Psa 11:3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
This is a very important principal that must be understood. Both God and the enemy put a strong emphasis on foundations. If a new work whether it be a building or a move of God is not founded on solid principals it will not stand under pressure. Satan attacks foundations because he knows that if he can undermine a foundational truth a whole work can come crashing down. He sought to break the foundations of God’s Law when he tempted Eve. “Yea hath God said?” He has been instrumental in getting the teaching of an alternative form of creation into the educational system. The first four Words of the Bible are even challenged. “In the beginning God…” Can you see how these 4 words have been redefined into something like In the beginning BANG! Or that man and creation evolved into existence. We also have noted that Moses was not just speaking to Israel, he was speaking to future generations, and he was speaking to us hence such meticulous instruction and preparation before the going into the land.
The Lord made a distinction between the Edomite and Egyptian from the other nations. They were not to be abhorred and they could enter into the congregation of the Lord until after only 3 generations. The reason is that Edom is a brother from Esau and Egypt at times allowed Israel to be strangers in their land. The Lord once again reminded them that they were to be holy (vs 14). The Lord God Himself was going to be alongside them so there could be no unclean thing. There were natural laws of sanitation that were implemented so that Israel would be modest, even in war and not like the brute beasts that they were conquering (vs 11-13). These natural laws have spiritual implications. Our God is holy and He gives each of us opportunities to be partakers of His holiness. This will be one of the keys to being an overcomer in the last days. There is an assortment of other laws given to address certain eventualities. In verse 20 they were not to exact usury from one another if they were brothers. It was allowed if it involved strangers.
This was an issue that Nehemiah had to deal with during the Restoration period. The walls and gates around the city were being restored but there was developing problem within the workers themselves. It is covered in Nehemiah 5. The enemy up until this time had been seeking to undermine Nehemiah’s efforts in many different ways. This issue in Nehemiah 5 was an internal one and if not properly dealt with could have easily undermined the whole of the work. Nehemiah already was instructed in the writings of Moses as seen from chapter 1:8-10. He probably was well aware of this instruction as well. The wealthier members of Israel were exploiting their brethren resulting in their obtaining homes and tribute from many of the workers. Everything that God had accomplished through Nehemiah could have come crashing down if this matter were not addressed. Nehemiah was one who did not take advantage of his position; he could have had access to many treasures due to the position he held, but he stated emphatically that he feared God (Neh 5:15). Once again, the Fear of the Lord is an excellent foundational anointing we should all seek after.
This is a chapter that is often referred to on the issue of divorce. In fact, Jesus Himself referred to this chapter when He was challenged by the priests and scribes (Math 19, Mark 10). When reading the account from this chapter it seems like it is permissible since Moses made allowance for it. He does not forbid it so it may not seem to carry the seriousness that it deserves. This portion needs to be balanced with some other scriptures. God made very clear His disdain for divorce as mentioned through His prophet Malachi.
Mal 2:15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
Mal 2:16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.
Jesus further elaborated when challenged by saying that “In the beginning” it was not God’s intent that there would be divorce. We know that marriage is to serve as a picture of the love relationship between Christ and the church. The purpose was that two might become one and bring forth a godly seed. The Lord also goes on to say that one who marries a person who is divorced commits adultery (Mark 10:11-12.) It is important to again reiterate the importance of a vow (Num 30:2). What God has joined together let no man put asunder (Math 19:6). There is another truth that must be explored in some detail. God may well give us what we want if we persist enough. He answers us according to what is held in our heart. Moses gave Israel this statute because they had hardness of heart. It was not His desire to do so but he answered them according to what they wanted. Israel asked for a king and God answered but it was not His best (1 Sam 8). Israel asked for meat because they were not satisfied with God’s provision of manna but it resulted in leanness of soul (Num 11, Psa 106:15). Why do these things happen? It is due to forgetting God and not waiting upon Him. It’s true that Moses made allowance for divorce. It is also true that it was not God’s design but rather a function of a hardened heart. Oh Lord, a pure heart, that is what I long for.
Eze 20:25 Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live;
Once again we see an assortment of other supplementary laws. One of the common themes seen in this chapter and in many other portions of scripture is the care and concern that God has for the fatherless, the poor and the widows (vs 17-22). The Lord gives the reminder that they once served as bondmen in the land of Egypt. How quickly we forget our own experiences. Jesus taught the story of the man who was forgiven a tremendous debt. This man forgot the debt he once owed as he sought to exact debts owed to him (Math 18:23-35). This is what the Lord is reminding His people. They are to look after those who are vulnerable and in need. The Lord puts a very high premium on those who have a love for these different groups. In serving them we are ministering to God.
Mark 14 – Read day 69 commentary