1659.) Deuteronomy 19

September 10, 2015

Refuge: a place of shelter. I used to live quite near the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, a 140,000-acre natural sanctuary surrounding the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 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

Deu19 Safe-Place

Refuge:  protection from trouble.  National Safe Place is specifically designed for 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.

Deu19 Paris
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 fifty cities around the globe (including Paris, France, above) 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 and safety 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. At low tide the island is visible.

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.

God was just as concerned that the guilty be punished as He was that the innocent be protected (lest innocent blood be shed in the midst of your land, Deuteronomy 19:10).

–David Guzik



“Lord, Thou Hast Been Our Refuge,” based on Psalm 90, was written by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.  HERE  it is sung by the Westminster Abbey Choir.

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.


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 (NIV)

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

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.”

Deu19 eye

Our tendency is to want to do more to the offending party than what they have done to us. But we cannot punish from a motive of revenge, only from a motive of justice.

“Far from encouraging vengeance it limits vengeance and stands as a guide for a judge as he fixes a penalty suited to the crime. The principle was thus not license or vengeance, but a guarantee of justice.” (Thompson)

–David Guzik


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
National Safe Place sign.    http://nationalsafeplace.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Safe-Place-logo_new_20121.jpg
Paris.   http://s4.favim.com/orig/50/beautiful-cool-paris-photography-Favim.com-452424.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
eye.   http://everyonequestion.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Picture-62.png

1658.) Deuteronomy 18

September 9, 2015

Luke 4:16-21 (NIV)

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.”

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.



HERE  is “My Inheritance,”  sung by Travis Cottrell.

1 Peter 1:3-7 (NIV)

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.


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.

Deuteronomy 7:6 (NIV)

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.

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.

Luke 10:7 (NLT)

Those who work deserve their pay.

Abominable Practices

Deu18 fortune_teller
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 (NIV)

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.

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.

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

–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 fact 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.

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 (NLT)

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


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://www.mysarshalom.com/cms2/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/hebrew-scroll-torah.jpg
fortune teller.    http://s3.amazonaws.com/rapgenius/fortune_teller.jpeg
Jesus.   http://namaha.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/jesus-christ-divine.jpg
Prophet-Priest-King window.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/prophetpriestkingwindow.jpg
Jesus reading the scroll.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/jesus_scroll.jpg
wolf.   http://elraver.com/wyldheart/images-2/snarlingwolf.jpg

1657.) Deuteronomy 17

September 8, 2015

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.

Deu17 cross

Psalm 11:7 (CEV)

The LORD always does right

and wants justice done.

Everyone who does right

will see his face.

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.

(There were courts of appeal. Cases could be taken beyond the local judges to the priests, who were understood to be wiser judges because of their knowledge of God’s Word.)

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.

(contempt of court was a capital crime)

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

Deu17 king

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.

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

1 Kings 10:23-29 (NIV)

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 (NIV)

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

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.

Deu17 writing

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.

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.”



HERE  is a musical meditation on God’s laws, from Psalm 119:49-56.


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
writing.    http://cf.ltkcdn.net/college/images/std/64470-425×281-Scholarship_writing.jpg

1656.) Deuteronomy 16

September 7, 2015

All time belongs to God.  He ordered the time of the Israelites to revolve around three major annual festivals.

Deuteronomy 16 (English Standard Version)


“Christ on the Cross” by Bartomole Esteban Murillo (Prado, Madrid, Spain)

1 Corinthians 5:7 (NLT)

Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.

1“Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover to the LORD your God, for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night. 2And you shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the LORD your God, from the flock or the herd, at the place that the LORD will choose, to make his name dwell there. 3You shall eat no leavened bread with it. Seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction—for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste—that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt. 4 No leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the flesh that you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain all night until morning.

5 “You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, 6but at the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the Passover sacrifice, in the evening at sunset, at the time you came out of Egypt. 7And you shall cook it and eat it at the place that the LORD your God will choose. And in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents. 8For six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD your God. You shall do no work on it.

“Bread and Wine” by Norwegian painter Kjersti Timenes

For Israel, the Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread looks simultaneously to the past (the great historical event of their redemption, the  exodus) and to the future (the promised land — where they could grow their own crops).  For current day Christians, the Passover feast is remembered as the eucharist or holy communion.  That sacred meal invites us to look back to the great historical event of our redemption, the cross, and also to look forward to that heavenly banquet of the Kingdom of God.

Blessings past and blessings future!

The Feast of Weeks

9 “You shall count seven weeks. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. 10Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the LORD your God blesses you. 11And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your towns, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are among you, at the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell there. 12 You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.

“Pentecost” quilt by Linda Schmidt

This feast is also known as Pentecost, for 50 days (= seven weeks), and the feast of harvest.  The joy of this celebration was to include everyone!  For current day Christians, Pentecost means the coming of the Holy Spirit and the boldness, power, and joy the Spirit brings.

The Feast of Booths

Also known as the Fest of Booths, this happy celebration takes place at the end of harvest, a time of great rejoicing.  Small shelters are built as a remembrance of the dwellings used by the Jews during their years in the wilderness.

13 “You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress. 14 You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. 15For seven days you shall keep the feast to the LORD your God at the place that the LORD will choose, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.

Deu16 joy

John 16:24 (ESV)

Jesus continued, “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. 17Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God that he has given you.



Scripture invites us, even commands us, to worship God the Father our Creator, God the Son our Redeemer, and God the Holy Spirit our Helper.  HERE   is a worship song that I really like:  it is trinitarian, it is singable, it is lovely.  Selah sings “Wonderful Merciful Savior.”



18“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. 19 You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. 20Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Forbidden Forms of Worship

21“You shall not plant any tree as an Asherah beside the altar of the LORD your God that you shall make. 22And you shall not set up a pillar, which the LORD your God hates.”


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

Images courtesy of:
four season tree.    http://www.loyolapress.com/assets/fg_comp/ocf/liturgical-year_m1.jpg
Murillo.    http://ak1.ostkcdn.com/images/products/8033475/8033475/Bartolome-Esteban-Murillo-Christ-on-the-Cross-Oil-on-Canvas-Art-P15393968.jpg
Timenes.    http://www.kjersti.timenes.net/paintings/symbols/1%20brdogvin.jpg
Schmidt.   https://home.comcast.net/~shortattn/Pentecost.jpg
man constructing a booth.    http://www.uscj.org/images/succot.gif
joy.    http://focustreatmentcenters.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/joy.jpg

1655.) Deuteronomy 15

September 4, 2015

The Year for Canceling Debts!

Deuteronomy 15 (English Standard Version)

The Sabbatical Year

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

In Israel, money was always loaned with the understanding that every seventh year, debts would be canceled. So there was no long-term debt in this sense — money could never be borrowed, or owed, for more than six years.

–David Guzik

2And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the LORD’s release has been proclaimed. 3 Of a foreigner you may exact it, but whatever of yours is with your brother your hand shall release. 4 But there will be no poor among you;

. . . because of the Lord’s reward for obedience (vv. 4-6), and because of the Sabbath-year arrangement (vv. 7-11). This “year for cancelling debts” (v. 9) gave Israelites who had experienced economic reverses a way to gain release from indebtedness and so, in a measure, a way to equalize wealth.

notes from The NIV Study Bible

for the LORD will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess— 5 if only you will strictly obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today. 6For the LORD your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you.

Reflections on generosity:

Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.
–Barbara Bibesco

We make a living by what we get.  We make a life by what we give.
–Winston Churchill

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.
–John Wesley

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
–Galatians 6:10

7“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, 8but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. 9Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the LORD against you, and you be guilty of sin. 10You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. 11For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

Deu15 Mother TMother Teresa said:
“Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted
according to the graces we have received,
and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.”

Freeing Servants

12 “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. 13And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed. 14You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress. As the LORD your God has blessed you, you shall give to him. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.

Even as debts were to be canceled every seventh year, so were slaves to be freed. The slaves thought of here are those who have had to sell themselves into slavery because of their debt. This made certain that a “bankruptcy” did not harm an Israelite all their life. The worst that could happen is they would have to serve someone without pay for six years. And God commanded generosity to the departing slave, giving him something to start his new life with.

–David Guzik

16 “But if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he is well-off with you, 17then you shall take an awl, and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your slave forever. And to your female slave you shall do the same.

I wonder how large that hole in the ear had to be. . .

18 “It shall not seem hard to you when you let him go free from you, for at half the cost of a hired servant he has served you six years. So the LORD your God will bless you in all that you do.



HERE  is “Set Me Free,”  by Casting Crowns.  Galatians 5:1 — It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.


The Firstborn Animals

19 “All the firstborn males that are born of your herd and flock you shall dedicate to the LORD your God.

This was for three reasons. First, because Israel was God’s firstborn (Exodus 4:22), and this honored that fact. Second, because the firstborn was thought to be the best, and the best was always given to God. Finally, it was to be a reminder to all generations of when God redeemed Israel, His firstborn.

–David Guzik

You shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. 20 You shall eat it, you and your household, before the LORD your God year by year at the place that the LORD will choose. 21 But if it has any blemish, if it is lame or blind or has any serious blemish whatever, you shall not sacrifice it to the LORD your God. 22You shall eat it within your towns. The unclean and the clean alike may eat it, as though it were a gazelle or a deer. 23 Only you shall not eat its blood; you shall pour it out on the ground like water.

Psalm 40:6-8 (NIV)

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced;
burnt offerings and sin offerings
you did not require.

Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll;

I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”


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

Images courtesy of:
debt relief pills.    http://i.ehow.com/images/a05/1u/bm/use-debt-consolidation-debt-relief-800X800.jpg
generosity.   http://raytownvineyardchurch.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/generosity.jpg
Mother Teresa.   https://loveismyform.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/128619586_141.jpg
large hole in earlobe.    http://img252.imageshack.us/img252/8940/cellphoneholderinearty1.png
Psalm 119:34.    http://www.4catholiceducators.com/graphics/Psalm119_34.jpg

1654.) Deuteronomy 14

September 3, 2015
You know the drill!  Eat less. Lower sodium.  Lower fat. More vegetables. More water. :)

What to eat?  My Iowa-farm-girl belief: Consuming real, whole foods is always best!

Deuteronomy 14 (English Standard Version)

Clean and Unclean Food

1“You are the sons of the LORD your God. You shall not cut yourselves or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead. 2For you are a people holy to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

Among Christians today, there is something wrong if our burial customs are just as the rituals of the ungodly. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13: 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. We may certainly mourn the passing of our loved ones, but as those who have eternal hope in Jesus, as sons and daughters of the Lord, we should be different in our mourning.

-David Guzik

3 “You shall not eat any abomination. 4 These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, 5the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, and the mountain sheep. 6Every animal that parts the hoof and has the hoof cloven in two and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat. 7Yet of those that chew the cud or have the hoof cloven you shall not eat these: the camel,

NO camel burger with cheddar cheese and harissa.

the hare, and the rock badger, because they chew the cud but do not part the hoof, are unclean for you.

8And the pig, because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch.

NO fried pork chops with gravy.

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

NO grilled shrimp and scallops.

NO grilled shrimp and scallops.

11“You may eat all clean birds. 12But these are the ones that you shall not eat: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 13the kite, the falcon of any kind; 14every raven of any kind; 15the ostrich,

NO smoked ostrich steaks.

NO smoked ostrich steaks.

the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind; 16the little owl and the short-eared owl, the barn owl 17and the tawny owl, the carrion vulture and the cormorant, 18the stork, the heron of any kind; the hoopoe and the bat.

NO bat soup.

19″And all winged insects are unclean for you; they shall not be eaten. 20All clean winged things you may eat.

21 “You shall not eat anything that has died naturally. You may give it to the sojourner who is within your towns, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. For you are a people holy to the LORD your God.

NO roadkill.  (The NIV says, “Do not eat anything you find already dead.”)

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

NO cheeseburger.

Keeping Kosher:

This verse has led to a very involved set of rules for observant Jews:  Meat and milk (or derivatives) cannot be mixed  in the sense that meat and dairy products are not served at the same meal, served or cooked in the same utensils, or stored together. Observant Jews have separate sets of dishes, and sometimes different kitchens, for meat and milk, and wait anywhere between one and six hours after eating meat before consuming milk products.



HERE  is “Food, Glorious Food,”  the opening song from the musical Oliver (1968).

Is it worth the waiting for?
If we live ’til eighty four
All we ever get is gru-el!
Ev’ry day we say our prayer
Will they change the bill of fare?
Still we get the same old gru-el!
There is not a crust, not a crumb can we find,
Can we beg, can we borrow, or cadge,
But there’s nothing to stop us from getting a thrill
When we all close our eyes and imagine

Food, glorious food!
Hot sausage and mustard!
While we’re in the mood
Cold jelly and custard!
Peas pudding and saveloys!
What next is the question?
Rich gentlemen have it, boys

We’re anxious to try it.
Three banquets a day
Our favorite diet!

Just picture a great big steak
Fried, roasted or stewed.
Oh, food,
Wonderful food,
Marvelous food,
Glorious food.

Food, glorious food!
Don’t care what it looks like
Burned! Underdone! Crude!
Don’t care what the cook’s like.
Just thinking of growing fat
Our senses go reeling
One moment of knowing that
Full-up feeling!

Food, glorious food!
What wouldn’t we give for
That extra bit more
That’s all that we live for
Why should we be fated to
Do nothing but brood
On food,
Magical food,
Wonderful food,
Marvelous food,
Heavenly food,
Beautiful food,
Glorious food!



22 “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. 23And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. 24And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, 25then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses 26and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.

Three Table Graces:

Come, Lord Jesus, be our Guest;
May these gifts to us to blessed;
And may our souls by Thee be fed,
Christ, our ever-living Bread.   Amen.

O God, we ask you for what we want,
And in your divine extravagance,
you give us what we need.
Thank you, Lord. Amen.

(Lifting one’s arms to heaven, clapping wildly)
” Bravo!! Thank You!!  Thank You!!”

27And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.

28 “At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. 29And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.

God will bless the giving heart. If our question is, “How little can I give and still be pleasing to God?” our heart isn’t in the right place at all. We should have the attitude of some early Christians, who essentially said: “We’re not under the tithe — we can give more!” Giving and financial management is a spiritual issue, not just a financial one (Luke 16:11).

–David Guzik


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

Images courtesy of:
USDA nutritional guide: my plate.   http://primaldocs.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/usda-nutrition-my-plate.jpg
camel burger.  http://newworldreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/camel.jpg
pork chops.    http://cdn-image.myrecipes.com/sites/default/files/styles/300×300/public/image/recipes/sl/03/01/pork-chops-sl-401445-x.jpg?itok=WTfHNivp
shrimp and scallops.    http://cdn2.blisstree.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/wood_grilled_shrimp_and_scallops_fresh_lemon_butter.jpg
ostrich steak.    http://cdn-jpg.thedailymeal.net/sites/default/files/smoked_ostrich_steaks_anna_maria_de_freitas_450x360.jpg
bat soup.    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/52/126873117_a6d6cadf94.jpg
armadillo roadkill.    http://brainy33.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/armadillo_dead_a02.jpg
cheeseburger.    http://www.pinballnirvana.com/forums/images/commerce/items/cheeseburger.jpg
10 per cent.   http://wellstonecottages.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/10percent1.gif
saying grace cartoon.    http://lowres.jantoo.com/children-grace-say_grace-faith-heaven-prayer-20900270_low.jpg

1653.) Deuteronomy 13

September 2, 2015

No other gods!

Deuteronomy 13 (English Standard Version)

Worshiping Other Gods

Matthew 7:15-20 (NIV)

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

— danger from false religious leaders

1“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. 5But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

Put in your ear plugs and do not listen!

Jeremiah 23:15-16 (NIV)

Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty says concerning the prophets:
“I will make them eat bitter food
and drink poisoned water,
because from the prophets of Jerusalem
ungodliness has spread throughout the land.”

This is what the LORD Almighty says:
“Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
they fill you with false hopes.
They speak visions from their own minds,
not from the mouth of the LORD.”

–danger from close family members

6 “If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, 7some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, 8you shall not yield to him or listen to him,

Deu13 walk-away

Proverbs 1:10 (NLT)

My child, if sinners entice you,
turn your back on them!

nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. 9But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. 10 You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 11And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.

–danger from an influential group of leaders

Mark 14:1 (NLT)

It was now two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and kill him.

12“If you hear in one of your cities, which the LORD your God is giving you to dwell there, 13that certain worthless fellows have gone out among you and have drawn away the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, 14then you shall inquire and make search and ask diligently. And behold, if it be true and certain that such an abomination has been done among you, 15you shall surely put the inhabitants of that city to the sword, devoting it to destruction, all who are in it and its cattle, with the edge of the sword. 16You shall gather all its spoil into the midst of its open square and burn the city and all its spoil with fire, as a whole burnt offering to the LORD your God. It shall be a heap forever. It shall not be built again. 17 None of the devoted things shall stick to your hand, that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger and show you mercy and have compassion on you and multiply you, as he swore to your fathers, 18if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, keeping all his commandments that I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the LORD your God.

C.S. Lewis once said that if we no longer feel comfortable with the cursing psalms, for example, it is not because of our greater, “Christian” sensitivity, but because of our appalling moral apathy. We no longer feel the passion of the psalmist that God should deal with evil and evildoers and vindicate God’s own moral order in the world. We respond to idolatrous, blasphemous evil not with a curse, but a shrug, and then have the gall to claim morally higher ground than ancient Israel.

Similarly, if we can no longer identify with the scale of priorities and values that under-gird Deuteronomy 13, it is manifestly not because we have acquired a greater appreciation of the value of human life, but because we have lost any sense of the awful majesty of God’s reality. The western church, more than it cares to admit, has imbibed that dichotomized, privatized, cultural worldview in which God is no longer the ultimate governing reality and Lord of all human life and community, private and public, domestic and political, local and global.

And having for all practical purposes accepted the box into which the surrounding culture has confined God, it is not surprising that we have difficulty with the concept of idolatry. For if the living God is little more than an idol, where do other idols fit? We lack the categories to define them and the tools to discern them. And thus, in reality, their power over us is infinitely enhanced because we don’t even recognize them.

We can’t begin to work on the relevance of a chapter like Deuteronomy 13 when we don’t know what it is talking about. We have long since failed the test of verse 3. For only those who know and love the living God “with all their heart (= understanding, mind, intellect) and soul (personal commitment)” know what idols are. One of the most critical missiological tasks facing the church today is to recover, rethink, and reapply a fully biblical understanding of idolatry, with a sober and painful evaluation of the extent of its penetration, not only to the roots of western culture, but into the very bloodstream of the church. We will not find ourselves reviving the legislation of Deuteronomy 13, but we may become more impressed by the sharpness of its delineation between truth and falsehood, between the saving God and lifeless substitutes, and ultimately, between life and death.

–from New International Biblical Commentary:  Deuteronomy
by Christopher Wright


1 John 5:21 (NIV)

Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

This chapter asks an important question: What would it take to lead you away from God? Would signs and wonders do it? What if your mate forsook God, or all of your friends? What if culture, or nationalism, or ethnic ties called you away from Jesus? We must never allow such ties to come before our bond to Jesus. We must decide, as the song says, “Though none go with me, still I will follow.”

–David Guzik



Many others have sung it, but the original group does it best.  HERE  from 1955, The Platters and “Only You.”


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

Images courtesy of:
Only You.    http://www.fordesigner.com/pic/zip/20099151159164077801.jpg
rotten apple.    http://feelingupindowntimes.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/rotten-apple.jpg
foam ear plugs.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/earplugs.jpg
walking away.   http://simplereminders.com/domains/simplereminders.com/uploads/images/blog/kimberley-blaine-decision-walk-away.jpg
Wanted:  Jesus poster.    http://www.gospelgifs.com/art_pages_17/imgs/wanted1.png
God in a box.   https://kindasassy.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/god-in-a-box.jpg


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