238.) Deuteronomy 23

March 31, 2010

Consider this chapter to be by-laws for the compassionate and caring community that God is developing.

Deuteronomy 23 (English Standard Version)

Those Excluded from the Assembly

1“No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD.

How can we read this and not think of John Wayne Bobbitt? His wife cut off his “male organ” during a marital argument.  A few months later, they were divorced (surprise!).

2 “No one born of a forbidden union may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of his descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD.

3 “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the LORD forever, 4 because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. 5But the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam; instead the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loved you. 6You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever.

7“You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. You shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were a sojourner in his land. 8Children born to them in the third generation may enter the assembly of the LORD.

Uncleanness in the Camp

Cleanliness is next to godliness!

9“When you are encamped against your enemies, then you shall keep yourself from every evil thing.

10“If any man among you becomes unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he shall go outside the camp. He shall not come inside the camp, 11but when evening comes, he shall bathe himself in water, and as the sun sets, he may come inside the camp.

12“You shall have a place outside the camp, and you shall go out to it. 13And you shall have a trowel with your tools, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it and turn back and cover up your excrement. 14Because the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.

Now something like this would have been handy for the Israelites in the desert . . .

from New International Biblical Commentary:  Deuteronomy
by Christopher Wright

There are many countries where the routine burial of excrement would have a marked effect on the health of millions of the world’s population where, without adequate latrines, people defecate in the open and insect borne diseases spread easily.  Since God was aware of the effects of germs long before humans knew of the existence, we may be impressed yet again with the correlation between holiness and health.  Physical cleanliness, ritual cleanness, and moral holiness were interrelated.

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Miscellaneous Laws

15 “You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in the place that he shall choose within one of your towns, wherever it suits him. You shall not wrong him.

Despite the rewards offered,  many people followed their faith and risked their lives to help  slaves get to freedom.

Galatians 3:28 (New International Version)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

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17“None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute. 18You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the LORD your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God.

19 “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest. 20 You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest, that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

We are called to be generous even as God is generous.  For the sake of those in need in God’s kingdom — to whom could you be financially generous today?

21 “If you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay fulfilling it, for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and you will be guilty of sin. 22But if you refrain from vowing, you will not be guilty of sin. 23You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.

24“If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in your bag.

grapes

25If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain.

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Music:

This chapter of Deuteronomy urges us to take seriously the needs of the weak and vulnerable.  Of course we know that one way to love God is to love our neighbor,  but how do we put flesh on those bones?  Is this a question that rings in our minds every single day?

Jars of Clay sings “They Will Know that We Are Christians by our Love.”

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English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

community plan.   http://www.okeelandforsale.com/clientuploads/Thoroughbred-Estates-Model-1.jpg

Bobbitt.    http://zoice.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/johnwaynebobbit.jpg

bath tub.    http://www.marykayemusic.com/images/Illustrations/bubblebath.jpg

latrine.    http://www.saltlakeclimbers.org/images/slclimbers/latrine.jpg

runaway slave reward poster.    http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/highlights/archives/undergroundrr1.jpg

zero interest.    http://www.cbq.com.qa/admin/images/ZeroInterestLogo.gif

Guard my mouth.   http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_jhJLHAuYlVc/Rx31o-0fQfI/AAAAAAAAATE/CXn0liTCJUU/s400/MMDC%2BMouth%2Bguard.png

grapes.    http://www.aito-spain-and-portugal-holidays.co.uk/root/ewebeditpro4/upload/grapes%281%29.jpg


237.) Deuteronomy 22

March 30, 2010

1 John 4:10  (New Century Version) — “This is what real love is:  It is not our love for God; it is God’s love for us.  He sent his Son to die in our place to take away our sins.”  The following instructions helped the Israelites to love God and each other rightly.     

Deuteronomy 22 (English Standard Version)

Various Laws

1“You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray and ignore them. You shall take them back to your brother. 2And if he does not live near you and you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall stay with you until your brother seeks it. Then you shall restore it to him. 3And you shall do the same with his donkey or with his garment, or with any lost thing of your brother’s, which he loses and you find; you may not ignore it. 4 You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and ignore them. You shall help him to lift them up again.

Luke 6:31 (New International Version)

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

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5“A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.

RuPaul — one man:  as a drag queen, as himself.

6“If you come across a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. 7You shall let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long.

8“When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your house, if anyone should fall from it.

9 “You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, lest the whole yield be forfeited, the crop that you have sown and the yield of the vineyard. 10You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.

11″You shall not wear cloth of wool and linen mixed together.

Lanvin coat of wool and linen, yours for only $1,760.

12 “You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.

A tallit, or prayer shawl, fulfills this law — a four-cornered garment with tassels. This one is of pink organza, but traditionally they have been made of wool.

Laws Concerning Sexual Immorality

13“If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then hates her 14and accuses her of misconduct and brings a bad name upon her, saying, ‘I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her evidence of virginity,’ 15then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate. 16And the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to marry, and he hates her; 17and behold, he has accused her of misconduct, saying, “I did not find in your daughter evidence of virginity.” And yet this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloak before the elders of the city. 18Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip him, 19and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name upon a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife. He may not divorce her all his days.

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Music:

One can only imagine how difficult life must have been for a woman with such a man.  Even so, a law such as this was protection for her — better this, the preservation of her good name and the provision of a household, than the insecurity of divorce.

It strikes me how many men and women around the world are longing today for someone to love them truly!  So many marriages, begun with such high hopes, deteriorate into apathy and even hostility.  So many parents are so consumed with their own problems they cannot lovingly raise their children.  So many elderly people feel alone and neglected in their old age.  Only One can love us perfectly, and this old hymn explains it beautifully.   “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,”  written in 1740 by Charles Wesley, is sung here by Ken Medema.

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20″But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, 21then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

22 “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.

“The Adulterous Woman” by Corinne Vonaesch

John 8:1-5 (New Living Translation)

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives,  but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them.  As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

Too bad the religious leaders didn’t read the verse carefully;  they neglected to bring the adulterous man!

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23“If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

25“But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. 26But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor, 27because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her.

28 “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.

30 “A man shall not take his father’s wife, so that he does not uncover his father’s nakedness.”

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All these laws about sexual immorality, when it’s so simple, really.  Just sleep with the people you are married to!

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English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

Respect Life.    http://www.mercy.org.tw/picture/iconograph/1-1.gif

ruler.    http://lifesgoldenrule.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/ist2_2974880-ruler.jpg

RuPaul.    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_CNpZNOS_qpg/Rnvl4ZnTKII/AAAAAAAAAFE/m97Ci9fFgdI/s320/pic_rupaul2.jpg

bird’s nest.    http://katemckinnon.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/birds-nest-at-moms.jpg

wool and linen coat.    http://www.harpersbazaar.co.uk/?module=images&func=display&fileId=83773

tallit.    http://www.tallit.org/images_products/tallit-eretz-designer-organza-tallit-set-pink-ezt-138-4705big.jpg

Vonaesch.    http://www.c-vonaesch.ch/couleur_d_evangile.html

sleeping couple.    http://s3.hubimg.com/u/672990_f520.jpg


236.) Deuteronomy 21

March 29, 2010

–and as such, I have responsibilities to both the living and the dead. The sections in this chapter show how the whole community should work to correct any misconduct.

Deuteronomy 21 (English Standard Version)

Atonement for Unsolved Murders

1“If in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess someone is found slain, lying in the open country, and it is not known who killed him, 2then your elders and your judges shall come out, and they shall measure the distance to the surrounding cities. 3And the elders of the city that is nearest to the slain man shall take a heifer that has never been worked and that has not pulled in a yoke. 4And the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with running water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley. 5Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come forward, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister to him and to bless in the name of the LORD, and by their word every dispute and every assault shall be settled. 6And all the elders of that city nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley, 7and they shall testify, ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it shed. 8Accept atonement, O LORD, for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and do not set the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of your people Israel, so that their blood guilt be atoned for.’ 9So you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD.

–from New International Biblical Commentary:  Deuteronomy
by Christopher Wright

What ought to strike us from this law is not the oddity of a cow with a broken neck in an uninhabited wadi, but the expected response of a whole community through its civic, judicial, and religious leaders to a single human death. In our society, a violent death has to be particularly gruesome or shocking (e.g., of a child or of the defenseless aged) to become even newsworthy, let alone a matter for public penance.  We have lost not only any concept of corporate responsibility for blood guilt (having rejected a sovereign God to whom we might be corporately responsible), but we have increasingly lost any sense of the sanctity of life itself.

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Marrying Female Captives

10“When you go out to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, 11and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, 12and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. 13And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. 14But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.

Inheritance Rights of the Firstborn

This law protects a son from an unfair father; the following law protects parents from a delinquent son.

15“If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him children, and if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved, 16then on the day when he assigns his possessions as an inheritance to his sons, he may not treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn, 17but he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his.

A Rebellious Son

18“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Proverbs 1:8-9 (New International Version)

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

They will be a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.

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A Man Hanged on a Tree Is Cursed

22“And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.”

Galatians 3:10-13 (New International Version)

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

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Music:

Michael W. Smith sings  “Wonderful Cross” which includes the hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

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English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

brother’s keeper.    http://www.bikers-stuff.net/catalog/IAmMyBrothersKeeper.JPG

murder unsolved.    http://www.thetimesherald.com/multimedia/murderlogo.jpg

cow.    http://michelledonahue.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/cow.jpg

father and two sons.    http://www.momlogic.com/images/father-with-his-two-sons-pm-thumb-270×270.jpg

man wearing laurel wreath.    http://www.racheshop.de/product_images/images/big/4545R_a1.jpg

crucifixion.    http://www.churchforum.org/arte/arc-crucifixion1.htm


235.) Deuteronomy 20

March 26, 2010

The Art of War, a Chinese military treatise written in the 6th Century BC by Sun Tzu: “The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”

Deuteronomy 20 (English Standard Version)

Laws Concerning Warfare

1“When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. 2And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people 3and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, 4for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’

Psalm 20:7 (New International Version)

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

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5“Then the officers shall speak to the people, saying, ‘Is there any man who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it. 6And is there any man who has planted a vineyard and has not enjoyed its fruit? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man enjoy its fruit. 7 And is there any man who has betrothed a wife and has not taken her? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man take her.’ 8And the officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘Is there any man who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest he make the heart of his fellows melt like his own.’ 9And when the officers have finished speaking to the people, then commanders shall be appointed at the head of the people.

As Moses was preparing the people to enter the land, the wars he is describing are envisioned as for the possession or defense of the land.  So it would be a shame for a warrior to die without having enjoyed the very blessings the land was meant to bring!  Effectively, the Israelite force is an all-volunteer army!  That will work for them because their victories come not from their superior military — but from the help of the Lord.

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Sun Tzu:

Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.

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10“When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it. 11And if it responds to you peaceably and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labor for you and shall serve you.

Sun Tzu:

To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.

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12But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it.

Sun Tzu:

He who wishes to fight must first count the cost.  When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be dampened.  If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.  Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.  Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor dampened, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity.  Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.  In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.

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13And when the LORD your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword, 14 but the women and the little ones, the livestock, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as plunder for yourselves. And you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the LORD your God has given you. 15Thus you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not cities of the nations here.

16″But in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, 17but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the LORD your God has commanded, 18that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the LORD your God.

19“When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you? 20Only the trees that you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siege-works against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.”

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The original document of the first Geneva Convention, 1864.

from New International Biblical Commentary:  Deuteronomy
by Christopher Wright

Without a Geneva Convention, Deuteronomy advocates humane exemptions from combat;  requires prior negotiation;  prefers nonviolence;  limits the treatment of subject populations;  allows for the execution of male combatants only;  demands humane and dignified treatment of female captives;  and insists on ecological restraint.

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Music:

“The Battle Hymn of the Republic,”  written by Julia Ward Howe during the American Civil War, and sung here by the Robert Shaw Chorale.

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English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

Sun Tzu’s Art of War.    http://www.scienceofstrategy.org/strategyshop/images/PocketSunTzu.gif

Roman chariot.    http://www.estatevaults.com/bol/chariot-roman.jpg

volunteer.   http://www.caring-unlimited.org/uploads/images/volunteer.jpg

Chinese terracotta warrior.   http://chloewatt.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/terracotta-warrior_a160622a.jpg

Geneva Convention.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d3/Original_Geneva_Conventions.jpg


234.) Deuteronomy 19

March 25, 2010

Refuge: a place of shelter. I live quite near the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, a 140,000-acre natural sanctuary surrounding the John F. Kennedy Space Center. Roseate Spoonbills (nearly decimated in the mid 1800’s to early 1900’s by hunters after their beautiful plumes for ladies’ hats and fans) are one of the many species of birds which winter there.

Deuteronomy 19 (English Standard Version)

Laws Concerning Cities of Refuge

Refuge:  protection from trouble.  Project Safe Place is specifically designed for runaway youth encountering any number of crises, including but not limited to family conflict, drug or alcohol abuse, school conflict, homelessness, and immediate safety.  Started in 1983 as an outreach of the YMCA in Louisville, Kentucky, it is now in 38 states.

1“When the LORD your God cuts off the nations whose land the LORD your God is giving you, and you dispossess them and dwell in their cities and in their houses, 2 you shall set apart three cities for yourselves in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess. 3You shall measure the distances and divide into three parts the area of the land that the LORD your God gives you as a possession, so that any manslayer can flee to them.

In 1993, following the shocking assassination of Algerian writer Tahar Djaout, the international literary community proposed a series of cities be established to protect writers facing persecution and death in their home countries. Now, some twenty cities in Europe (including Frankfurt, Germany, above)  and five in the United States sponsor writers through the International Cities of Refuge Network and Cities of Refuge North America. For two-year periods, the writers are given housing, health insurance, a stipend, and the freedom to write.

4“This is the provision for the manslayer, who by fleeing there may save his life. If anyone kills his neighbor unintentionally without having hated him in the past— 5as when someone goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down a tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies—he may flee to one of these cities and live, 6lest the avenger of blood in hot anger pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and strike him fatally, though the man did not deserve to die, since he had not hated his neighbor in the past. 7Therefore I command you, You shall set apart three cities. 8 And if the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as he has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land that he promised to give to your fathers— 9provided you are careful to keep all this commandment, which I command you today, by loving the LORD your God and by walking ever in his ways— then you shall add three other cities to these three, 10lest innocent blood be shed in your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance, and so the guilt of bloodshed be upon you.

The Tower of Refuge was built in 1832 on a partially submerged reef near the Isle of Man as a shelter for people who had survived shipwrecks nearby.  The Tower was stocked with bread, fresh water, and a bell for summoning help.

11“But if anyone hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and attacks him and strikes him fatally so that he dies, and he flees into one of these cities, 12then the elders of his city shall send and take him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die. 13 Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so that it may be well with you.

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Music:

“Lord, Thou Hast Been Our Refuge,” based on Psalm 90, was written by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.  Here it is sung by the Elora Festival Singers.

Lord, thou hast been our refuge from one generation to another.
Before the mountains were brought forth
or ever the earth and the world were made,
Thou art God from everlasting and world without end.
Thou turnest man to destruction; again Thou sayest:
Come again, ye children of men.
For a thousand years in Thy sight are
but as yesterday; seeing that is past as a watch in the night.

O God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come.
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

As soon as thou scatterest them, they are even as asleep,
and fade away suddenly like the grass.
In the morning it is green and groweth up,
but in the evening it is cut down and withered.
For we consume away in thy displeasure,
and are afraid at thy wrathful indignation.
For when thou art angry, all our days are gone,
we bring our years to an end, as a tale that is told.
The days of our age are threescore years and ten:
and though men be so strong that they come to fourscore years,
yet is their strength then but labour and sorrow.
So passeth it away, and we are gone.
Turn thee again, O Lord, at the last.
Be gracious unto thy servants.
O satisfy us with thy mercy, and that soon.
So shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.

Lord, thou hast been our refuge from one generation to another.
Before the mountains were brought forth
or ever the earth and the world were made,
Thou art God from everlasting and world without end.

And the glorious Majesty of the Lord be upon us.
Prosper Thou, O prosper Thou the work of our hands upon us.
O prosper Thou our handy work.

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Property Boundaries

A boundary marker on Greenhow Moor, North Yorkshire, England

14 “You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.

Laws Concerning Witnesses

Proverbs 14:25 (New International Version)

A truthful witness saves lives,
but a false witness is deceitful.

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15“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. 16If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, 17then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. 18The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, 19 then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. 20And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. 21 Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”

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English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

Roseate Spoonbill (photo by Joe Kegley).    http://www.wildlifesouth.com/Locations/Florida/Images-MerrittIsland/Roseate-Spoonbill-Merritt-Island.jpg

safe place sign.    http://www.cfslubbock.org/images/Safe%20Place%20color.jpg

Frankfurt skyline.   http://www.shahrazadeu.org/files/u10/skylinefrankfurt.jpg

Tower of Refuge.    http://www.gov.im/lib/images/iomfinance/landscapes/refuge.jpg

boundary marker.    http://www.nymcam.co.uk/021502p.jpg

Pinocchio.    http://www.prwatch.org/files/images/pinnochio.jpg

good news.    http://www.thestayathomemother.com/sites/default/files/u3/goodnews.jpg


233.) Deuteronomy 18

March 24, 2010

Luke 4:16-21 (New International Version)

Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them,
“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
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Deuteronomy 18 (English Standard Version)

Provision for Priests and Levites

1“The Levitical priests, all the tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel. They shall eat the LORD’s food offerings as their inheritance. 2They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the LORD is their inheritance, as he promised them.

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Music:

“My Inheritance”  sung by Ronnie Freeman.

1 Peter 1:3-7 (New International Version)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

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3And this shall be the priests’ due from the people, from those offering a sacrifice, whether an ox or a sheep: they shall give to the priest the shoulder and the two cheeks and the stomach. 4 The firstfruits of your grain, of your wine and of your oil, and the first fleece of your sheep, you shall give him. 5For the LORD your God has chosen him out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the name of the LORD, him and his sons for all time.

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Deuteronomy 7:6 (New International Version)

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

Just as God chose Israel as a whole out of all the nations, so God chose the Levites out of all of Israel.  The point is clear:  the Israelites should care for the Levites in the same way that God cares for the Israelites.

The Levites had specific responsibilities both to God and to the Israelites.  They were to serve in the sanctuary, to teach the law, and to judge the people’s disputes.

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6“And if a Levite comes from any of your towns out of all Israel, where he lives—and he may come when he desires— to the place that the LORD will choose, 7and ministers in the name of the LORD his God, like all his fellow Levites who stand to minister there before the LORD, 8then he may have equal portions to eat, besides what he receives from the sale of his patrimony.

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Luke 10:7 (New Living Translation)

Those who work deserve their pay.

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Abominable Practices

9“When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. 10There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you. 13You shall be blameless before the LORD your God, 14for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do this.

A New Prophet like Moses

John 1:15-17 (New International Version)

John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ” From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

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15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—16just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

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This stained glass window, found in the chapel of Wadham College, Oxford, depicts Aaron as a priest, Moses as a prophet, and a king. All these offices are fulfilled in Christ.

“Christ was truly, and in all commendable parts like him, in being both a prophet and a king and a priest and mediator, in the excellency of his ministry and work, in the glory of his miracles, in his familiar and intimate converse with God.”

–John Wesley

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–from New International Biblical Commentary:  Deuteronomy
by Christopher Wright

These verses are of great importance in understanding the nature of true prophecy.  four points are significant.  First, true prophecy would be a matter of God’s initiative (verses 15, 18).  It was God who wanted to do the speaking, God who would address God’s own people with word or warning and encouragement. . .

Secondly, true prophecy would follow God’s model, namely, Moses himself.  Moses’ role was as a mediator of God’s word and will.  He was sent into a specific situation of need and crisis, within which he had to address the challenging word of God both to God’s own people and to the political authorities.  He was faithful in intercession and passionate concern for the good of his people.  He suffered with and for his people . . .

Thirdly, the true prophet would speak God’s message“I will put my words in his mouth.” Only by divine initiative could God’s words be expressed by a human mouth.  But the face that they could is the presupposition that lies behind every “Thus says the Lord . . .”

Fourthly, the true prophet carried God’s authority, for he or she would speak “my words . . .in my name.” Therefore, those who heard the prophet heard God; whatever response they made to the prophet they made to God, and they would take the consequences.

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20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.”

Matthew 7:15 (New Living Translation)

“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.”

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English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

scroll.    http://hphotos-snc1.fbcdn.net/hs246.snc1/9318_160425746402_94426501402_3334884_395838_n.jpg

payroll cartoon.    http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/tbr/lowres/tbrn314l.jpg

Jesus.   http://namaha.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/jesus-christ-divine.jpg

Prophet-Priest-King window.    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_eleaI7veMfU/SpZddMMP65I/AAAAAAAAAE4/oa7p51I4vHk/s400/Prophet+priest+king+window.jpg

Jesus reading the scroll.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/jesus_scroll.jpg

wolf.   http://elraver.com/wyldheart/images-2/snarlingwolf.jpg

good news.    http://www.thestayathomemother.com/sites/default/files/u3/goodnews.jpg


232.) Deuteronomy 17

March 23, 2010

Statue of Lady Justice in Bern, Switzerland. Sculptor Hans Gieng, 1543.  She is blindfolded (to show her impartiality), holding scales (to weigh the evidence), and wielding a sword (to carry out the punishment).

Deuteronomy 17 (English Standard Version)

1 “You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God an ox or a sheep in which is a blemish, any defect whatever, for that is an abomination to the LORD your God.

2 “If there is found among you, within any of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, a man or woman

(Note these interesting features of Israel’s judicial practice:  the law is to apply equally to both men and women)

who does what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, in transgressing his covenant, 3and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden, 4and it is told you and you hear of it,

(the charges are to be public knowledge)

then you shall inquire diligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abomination has been done in Israel,

(there is to be a full investigation and clear proof that the crime was indeed committed)

5then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing,

(the trial is to be conducted in public)

and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones. 6 On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses

(there must be more than one witness)

the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. 7 The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death,

(whoever brings such a serious charge must be ready to carry out the punishment)

and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

Psalm 11:7 (Contemporary English Version)

The LORD always does right

and wants justice done.

Everyone who does right

will see his face.

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Legal Decisions by Priests and Judges

8“If any case arises requiring decision between one kind of homicide and another, one kind of legal right and another, or one kind of assault and another, any case within your towns that is too difficult for you, then you shall arise and go up to the place that the LORD your God will choose. 9 And you shall come to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall consult them, and they shall declare to you the decision. 10Then you shall do according to what they declare to you from that place that the LORD will choose. And you shall be careful to do according to all that they direct you. 11According to the instructions that they give you, and according to the decision which they pronounce to you, you shall do. You shall not turn aside from the verdict that they declare to you, either to the right hand or to the left. 12The man who acts presumptuously by not obeying the priest who stands to minister there before the LORD your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So you shall purge the evil from Israel. 13And all the people shall hear and fear and not act presumptuously again.

Laws Concerning Israel’s Kings

14“When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ 15you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ 17And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.

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Wealth, weapons (horses), and women — Solomon’s disobedience to the Lord’s laws

1 Kings 10:23-29 (New International Version)

King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.  The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart.  Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift—articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules.

Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem.  The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills.  Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue —the royal merchants purchased them from Kue.  They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty.

1 Kings 11:3 (New International Version)

King Solomon had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.

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18“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests.

Here’s an idea for a change in your daily devotions — hand write a portion of Scripture.  For example, if you were to write only eight verses a day, you could write out all of Psalm 119 in less than three weeks!  I think this exercise would help us understand the verse above and Psalm 119:15 – 16, which says — I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.  I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

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19And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 20that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.”

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Music:

A musical meditation on God’s laws, from Psalm 119:49-56 (eight verses . . . ).

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English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:

Lady Justice.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0e/Berner_Iustitia.jpg

cross.    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2369/2331769483_cc1f82c26d.jpg

king.    http://www.clker.com/cliparts/d/4/2/5/11949845941323081832card_figure_king_nicu_r.svg.hi.png

man holding a pen.    http://bankersmortgagealliance.com/images/business2.jpg