God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March 16 - Deuteronomy 14-16: Moses Reminds Israel to be Holy (and Party!)

Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 14-16

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Moses is reminding the people of their (w)holiness to God.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Israel was God's Chosen People and was not to harm the body to honor the dead or eat unclean animals. They were to be wholly for God.
All Israelites should tithe. If someone lived too far to carry the produce they could bring the proceeds to the Tabernacle, buy goods, and feast there.
Every seventh year was the year of release. All debts were forgiven. All slaves were released (unless they wished to stay). God promised to give liberally to them if they gave to the poor.
They must observe the festivals to remember their heritage.
They must love righteousness!

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

God's Chosen People are to be different, a more righteous group of people.

As mentioned one month ago, the laws against eating certain meats were to prevent diseases. However, they were also to set Israel apart from the people who came before. This is why they were not to mutilate their bodies for the dead, boil a kid in its mother's milk, not put the firstborn to work, etc. but were allowed to sell these unclean animals to foreigners to eat. These may seem like "holier than thou" laws, but, in essence, they are! The problem with the "holier than thou" attitude is not in the "holier" part but in the unspoken "I'm the cause of it." Israel was to be holier than the people around them because their god was holier than any other god.

If a person lived too far from the Tabernacle to carry the tithe, they could basically use a tenth of their produce to fund a big party at the Tabernacle.

This is an interesting passage. That is basically what it says, if a person cannot go to the priests they are allowed to sell the tithe, travel to the tabernacle, buy whatever they wanted, and feast in the presence of God. As long as they were doing this to celebrate God's blessings all was acceptable. Even the mandatory feasts are times for celebration and partying in thanksgiving. That stands in contrast to the prudish vision many have of God in the Old Testament. As long as our local poor and dedicated servants of God are taken care of, we should spend some of the fruits of our labor in celebration of God's bountiful blessings. God is a partying god!

God protects the poor by blessing His Chosen People with enough to provide for the poor and themselves.

This is a cool part of scripture. God tells Israel that they should give until there is no poor person in the land because God would supply enough food for every person, including the poor. Even if the person makes bad decisions and goes terribly into debt they could only be a slave for no longer than seven years. When God's Chosen People obey Him, they have no poor due to an abundance of blessings and the gracious distribution of those blessings.

Moses reminds the people that God's Chosen People are holy because God is righteous.

This is why he pleads, "The right! The right! Pursue only what's right! It's the only way you can really live and possess the land that God, your God, is giving you" (16:20, The Message). If we choose to set things right for God, God will bless us with uncountable blessings.

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