Archive for category Law
In this days reading, the main focus is the results that come from following the commands of God or disobeying the commands. God forewarned them about the consequences of their behavior.
God blesses obedience, why? Jesus said that all the laws hang upon the first and second great commandments; to love God, with all of our heart, mind and soul, and the second is to love our neighbor. If then every law hangs upon these preeminent commands, then the purpose of the commandments is to teach the people how to love, which is what Paul wrote to Timothy in 1st Timothy chapter one. In addition, a natural consequence of knowing what is the good, and loving to do is that if I don’t do these things then I am doing things unloving or sinful. That is why Paul writes in Romans chapter seven that he learned what sin is through the law. In other words, when we learn what is right we also learn what is wrong, therefore the choice we make whether to follow the commands or disobey the commands determines whether we are following God or rebelling against God.
In the New Testament, the doctrine of Grace covers our failure to do what is right, however the purpose of Jesus commandments is still the same, to teach us how to love God and love one another. Remember Jesus said you can tell who are his followers by their love for one another (John 13:35). Even in 1st John when John writes about walking in the light and having fellowship with God (chapter 1), walking in the light is about practicing what is right, but when we fail we still have an advocate with the father who covers our sins by his sacrifice.
I am very thankful God stated in 1Tim 4:3-5 that we could eat all foods created to be eaten with thanksgiving. I am thankful to be able to eat lobster, crab, catfish, pork and many other foods that were forbidden for Israel. Though I think I understand why God forbade many of these, there appears to be a greater health risk in eating many if not all of the unclean animals he forbids in the law. However, I think the greater reason for distinguishing between clean and unclean is for Israel to understand there is a distinction God makes between good and bad and those who love God will be Holy as Lev 20:25-26 states.
The prohibition against eating of blood is still a command God expects even Christians to follow. You may wonder why I’m making this distinction between some commands in the law of Moses and others, and that is a good question? If it was simply me making the distinction that would be a problem, however if you read the letter sent from the church in Jerusalem and the Holy Spirit to other churches in Acts 15:23-29 you will notice 4 things that they stated were still requirements from the law; abstain from idolatry, blood, things strangled and sexual immorality.
This is one of the reasons it is good for Christians to understand the law, many of the commandments are still righteous requirements for godly men and women.
Do you know that in the modern nation of Israel today, you cannot get a cheeseburger? There laws prohibit cheese from being put on hamburger because of the commandment that they could not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk. I can why Jesus rebuked Israel for adding so many traditions of men to the commandments of God. A simple commandment to not cook a young animal in its mother’s milk, gets transformed into not being able to eat the meat of any animal while also eating the cheese made from any other animals milk. Am I just opposed to this because I don’t want to have my right to eat cheeseburgers taken away? Hopefully not 🙂
The law regarding escaped slaves caught my attention. Since slavery was part of their culture, I would have thought that Israel would be required to return runaway slaves. However God says that if a slave sought refuge from their master, that they were to let the slave live amongst them and not to oppress them. I had to think awhile about why God would not want them to return a slave. It seems to mirror Israel being slaves in Egypt who were oppressed, and God freed them from their bondage to show them the way of righteousness. If a runaway slave sought refuge in Israel, God would want that ex-slave to learn the way of righteousness also. Unfortunately Israel didn’t often walk in righteousness, even though the law taught them how.
I wish the US would understand why God told Israel not to borrow from other countries, but rather to lend. Because the borrow is a servant to the lender and you never know what kind of master another country might be.
The law regarding brothers marrying their brother’s wife if he died and they had no children was not a new practice God taught in the law of Moses. It was already a custom of the people as seen in Genesis chapter 38 with Judah and Tamar. This command reminds us that when a woman married a man she was leaving her family behind and becoming part of his extended family for the rest of her life.
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 laws that excluded certain people due to their heritage or physical handicap usually violates our modern sensibilities. But, God is foreshadowing his kingdom in Christ, so even though God loves those who are handicapped or from another nation as much as any one else, what he is teaching is that in the eternal kingdom there will be no handicap or alien, God will make all things new and glorious.
Making vows was not something that anyone should do lightly. Even though these vows were not required of people, if someone made one of these vows God expected them to fulfill it.
I think people often mistake the Nazirite Vow with Jesus being a Nazarene (they don’t refer to the same thing at all), I think that is probably why people have usually depicted Jesus with long hair in art.
As I stated in the title, the laws in this category all help Israel honor God above all others and hope to prevent setting up false gods in place of our Creator.
The laws against false spiritualists remind Israel that there are no other gods other than the LORD. When anybody claims to receive any kind of knowledge from the spirit world other than the LORD Himself they are lying. They also tempt people into following false gods rather than the true and living God, who made the heavens and earth as well and gives us life. Also in this category we see one of the earliest prophecies of Jesus the Christ. In Deut 18:15-19, Moses tells Israel that another prophet will be raised up by God to speak the words of the LORD and Him you must listen to. Israel was also given a test for any prophet, if everything they said happens then they are from God, but if not they are not from God. This ought to help us understand when self-proclaimed fortune tellers or visionaries claim 98% accuracy, they are telling us they are false prophets.
The laws against blasphemy are there that we honor God with our words. Blasphemy doesn’t mean only cursing as in the example given, but are any words used to speak poorly of someone, in this case against God.
The laws of dedications and tithing reveal many details about what to do with certain tenth parts of their increase. However the most important part of these laws is to understand that the first fruits of man, animals and crops belong to God. This isn’t a new concept introduced with the law of Moses. Somehow Able knew this when he brought an offering to God and Abraham understood this as well. We don’t know exactly how they knew this or were instructed of this by God, but it does tell us this principle predated the law. A proverb also speaks to this concept saying that the first fruits belong to God. What we do with the first fruits and where we bring them may change but the principle seems to remain.
The law of the Sabbath is a reminder of God in creation and a command to not overwork, even though work is good, it is a reminder that there is something more important than work, God. The sabbath was to honor God and remember what he did for them. The Roman people in the time of Christ thought the Jews were lazy because they wouldn’t work 7 days a week. But, the law commanding the sabbath was not a law to make them lazy, but one to help them understand where their blessings really came from, not solely by their own effort but also by the grace of God.