A brand new culture right in the middle of a hostile and pagan environment. What would it be like? What would set them apart from the other nations? Where would the ideas come from? Isn’t it totally amazing that God in His mercy didn’t leave His people to flounder when it came to many areas of life and community that would make them distinctive and would help them to be pure and righteous? By following the clear instructions that had been given to them, they would be able to establish their new way of life according to the purposes of God. As they did this, they would experience His blessing and prosper in all that they did.
God gave them far more than arbitrary laws and regulations. He outlined a plan for them in many areas of community, moral and religious life. While some of these laws may seem harsh and even cruel to us, we would, no doubt, have a different impression if we understood God’s deep desire for His people to thrive, rather than be gradually seduced by the ungodly practices and beliefs of the other nations. A good, just and holy God could only outline behavior and societal regulations that would be in keeping with His character.
It is intriguing to follow the clear incentives that Moses outlined for the people as he gave them these societal and personal regulations. They would have rest from their enemies and live in safety. They would have abundant food to eat and times of rejoicing as they celebrated the past and enjoyed the present. Things would go well with them and with the next generations. They would be admired and feared by other nations because of their generosity and God’s presence among them. How much more could they have wanted?
God had entered into a covenant relationship with His chosen people, but He would not force them or manipulate them in any way. He would continue to offer His forgiveness, mercy, and love and give them the opportunity to receive His gifts through their faith in Him. Would they believe that what He said was really true?
This morning I read Chapter 11 and caught something I hadn’t before. 3 separate times our gifts to Him are specified in ‘separate’ categories: tithes, special gifts, choice possessions, freewill offerings. We no longer do burnt offerings but Jesus did use the word ‘sacrifice’ to describe giving. I tithe, give freewill offerings, special gifts–but have I “vowed to the Lord” my very favorite and best ‘choice possessions’? Having no family–this will need an inventory. I don’t think so–but I’ve not really put serious thought into it. Is there a difference between using what God has given me, for His glory, versus actually giving it up, to Him? I think there might be. Could use some help with this!!
There is certainly alot to think about in these chapters.
While so many of these specific laws for living apply to the Isralite culture…they can also apply to us when looking at the “reason behind the law”. For instance, the laws pertaining to marriage has at it’s root the idea that marriage is not to be taken lightly. Also the laws reminding us to remove all the centers of false worship in our lives.
I think what bothers me most is the bloodshed, stoning, etc. of that time. Especially since the commandments stress love and thou shalt not murder. I need some enlightenment here.
Jesus brought us love, forgiveness & fulfillment of the law.