Archive for category Judgment
Most of these appear pretty similar to our own laws on these subjects with the exception of the commandment for a woman who was not promised in marriage to marry the man who raped her. Now the father of the woman could say no to this marriage. But, I wonder if they are using the term rape more broadly than we do. We define most rape as forcible action against someone’s will, except in the case of children. But this law makes it appear they may be using it for any sexual activity that happened between an unmarried woman and man. Also, the rule that a couple who were married under these circumstances could not divorce, seems to support the idea that the sexual immorality that one could divorce for under Moses’ law was sexual sins committed before marriage.
The punishment stated for stealing, paying back what was taken plus 20% in most cases, seems like a better solution than putting people in jail and not requiring restitution. But maybe that’s just me.
The law of Moses’ anticipated the people’s request to have a human king. The people didn’t understand how great they had it with God as their king and not a man, in part because having no human king, they felt they could do anything they wanted. They used their freedom under God to follow their own desires rather than the good of others. This is an important concept when it comes to the freedom we have in Christ. The New Testament teaches Christ frees us from sin to serve others, not our selfish desires.
God commanded the kings not to accumulate wives, property and wealth from the people. Oh boy, if government would only listen to this. Have you ever noticed that politicians who go to Washington for long periods of time, become very wealthy on incomes just over 100k? God also said the king was supposed to follow the law himself, why do rulers and congressman often exempt themselves from the very laws they create?
The rules for establishing a judicial system was simple and direct. The average person could understand how and why judges were to rule, not so today! The judicial system is ruled and operated by the same group of people (lawyers), who seem to make their own rules as it suits them.
The LORD the God of Israel, Isaac, and Abraham is the God of gods and Lord of lords. I love this section where Moses explains this concept to Israel (Deut 10:14-11:1). Moses explains to Israel that God shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. How then is God’s guidance to Israel not partiality? Moses explains this as well; God loves the aliens, meaning those outside of Israel, and He defends the fatherless and widows, meaning He is actively involved in the lives of everyone. He loves all mankind unconditionally as proven by the love he has for the aliens as well as Israel. And we are not competing for God’s love either as children often do for parents love. He has enough love to share with all people, the only question for us is will we circumcise our hearts, or in other words, will we stop being rebellious children who want what we want when we want it and instead love God and love our neighbor? This is the ultimate challenge God presents to Israel, elevate the importance of others rather than the importance of our desires.
Yet, God will judge all mankind, those who have heard the word of the LORD as well as those who have not. So what advantage is there to hearing the word of God? Paul writes in the book of Romans that there is much in every way. But, Jesus also said that to whom much is given much is required, meaning the more we know the more is expected. In other words the standard by which we are judged changes depending on the knowledge and capabilities with which we are blessed. That also explains why James writes that not many of us ought to be teachers since we will receive a stricter judgment. God judges us on based upon what what we know and are capable of, not a fixed standard or a comparative standard, but a righteous standard for me and you.
Though the love of God is unconditional and the judgment of God always righteous, the blessings of God, are conditional. When we obey He blesses, when we disobey He curses. See Dt 11:26-32. We sometimes wonder why good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people, but often the time frame for blessing or cursing has a longer view than one’s life. For example, the blessing of Jesus was promised to Abraham through his descendants, but didn’t happen for approximately 1800 years. Likewise, the curse of exile from the land if Israel practiced idolatry took centuries to be fulfilled in Babylonian captivity. Ultimately the curse of being cast away from God for eternity is the final judgment we hope to avoid.
Remember God is always with you, walk with Him and He will make your way prosper. (By the way, prosperity isn’t always money)
Even though Balaam could not curse Israel, he did the next best thing as far as the enemies of Israel were concerned. He taught Midian and Moab to go to war using seduction and idolatry instead of direct conflict. This story should hit all of us as coming straight from Satan’s playbook. If our faith in God can’t be defeated by direct argument, then Satan will help us fall using our own desires against us.
The women of Midian that entice Israel into idolatry and sexual immorality may be Temple prostitutes that practice sex in their rituals to Baal. You will notice the passage says the sexual immorality happened after the women had invited the men to participate in their sacrifices to their gods. They practiced sexual activity as sacrifices and offerings to their gods, especially this god which was a fertility god.
The response from God and Israel against Midian sometimes troubles people, but the planned attack on Israel by Midian was warfare of a different type and it caused 24,000 people in Israel to die. The response may seem harsh to us, but we don’t understand , as God does, the consequences of little or no action. Every action or lack of action has consequences that is impossible for us to foresee. But God has demonstrated he knows how to deliver his people, especially in Egypt.
The story of Balaam blessing Israel has so many interesting points that it could take 1000’s of words to bring them out. But I will mention briefly the points I find most fascinating and curious.
Balak, King of Moab, is terrified of a nation, larger in size than his own, moving along side his territory. Remember that Israel is related to Moab, they are both descendents of Abraham’s father. Israel is descendent from Abraham and Moab from Lot his Nephew. Now Balak could have reached out to Israel with a hand of peace and would have been blessed by God because of it, in fact Balaam reiterates the promise to Abraham in Gen 12:1-3 saying that those who bless Abraham will be blessed by God. Instead he seeks to curse them and therefore his nation is cursed by Balaam.
Balaam is a fascinating case. He seems to know and follow the LORD ( YHWH, the specific name of God is used here, not the general) even though he is not from Israel. This is a reminder that many people, in this time period, received messages from God through prophets besides Abraham and Israel. Even though this reading doesn’t bring out that Balaam taught Balak how to tempt Israel to fall into idolatry and sexual immorality, It is mentioned in Revelation 2 to the church at Pergamum. Why would God use a man to prophecy who was practicing divination, a practice God condemns? Why isn’t Balaam shocked when a donkey begins to talk to him?
Why did God tell Balaam to go with the men from Moab the second time they came and then tell us He was angry at Balaam for going? In fact the angel of the LORD says that he would have killed Balaam if not for the donkey moving. After the angel is revealed to Balaam, Balaam says he sinned, is he referring to going or something else? Some parts of this story seem to be missing. But we must remember that God does not reveal everything He could, but only that which we need for edification. And in this story we are reminded that God is in charge, and Balaam says well that he could only say what God had said, he could not go beyond God’s command. A good lesson for all of us, if only Balaam had followed his own advice!
The part of today’s reading that struck me is the story of Moses and Aaron providing water for Israel at Kadesh. Not the story itself, I remember the basics pretty well, Moses and Aaron are frustrated by the people and their constant grumbling and complaining. When the people complain again about no water, Moses hits the rock God told him to speak to. I think most of us can relate to Moses frustration because of kids, parents, work, etc.. One thing I did not remember about this incident is that it happened in the last year they were in the desert. But, that’s not the thing I found so interesting today.
I was struck by how far above us God is, and it emphasizes that God shows no partiality. Moses, we could argue, is one of the two or three most godly people to live, yet he was overcome by his anger and frustration then he displayed pride and arrogance towards Israel. When we puff ourselves up we usually do it in opposition to other people, but the reality is we puff up against God as Moses did. When God punished Moses and Aaron, he says they lacked trust (or faith) in Him and they did not honor God as holy. Even though we might not have seen this incident as a big deal, God held Moses accountable for his sin, and this ought to remind us of what James writes in chapter 3:1, that teachers shall receive a stricter judgment. Spiritual leaders need to be especially aware of anger, frustration and pride creeping into their thoughts as they work with many people like Israel, spiritually immature, often lacking faith and godliness. It is easy to fall into the trap of seeing ourselves as more important or better than others. I think it is the most common sin and temptation for spiritually mature people, PRIDE. And we need reminding that God is Great and Awesome, provides for all, loves all, desiring that all would come to repentance. We are not great if we become spiritually mature, God is great because we are His workmanship.
Israel demonstrated their fear of men and dying, but they did not have a proper fear of God. They worried more about what might happen to their flesh rather than what God could do to their spirit. So they grumbled and complained when they were hungry and afraid, but did not respect the awesome power of God enough to honor Him and do what He commanded.
In this section of Numbers, 3 men along with 250 leaders of Israel oppose Moses’ and Aaron’s authority. They claim Moses and Aaron have taken their positions by their own power. However they were opposing God, not men. God demonstrates this to the nation by opening the earth to swallow up the households of the three men who lead the opposition and burning up the 250 men who followed them.
After witnessing the destruction of the rebellious men, what does the rest of the nation do? Why naturally they rebel themselves (sarcasm). This episode demonstrates, more than just about any other, the rebellious character of the adult Israelites who came out of Egypt. But even with Israel opposing Moses and Aaron, they made incense offerings to save the people. Finally, after 14,700 people died, the people finally realize they will die if they approach the Tabernacle of God and are willing to submit to the ministry of the priests.
How often have we rebelled against the commands of God yet we were not destroyed as we deserved, but instead we received grace because of the love of God and the offering of Jesus.