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

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 17 - Deuteronomy 17-20: Moses Reminds Israel to Purge Evil from Among Them

Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 17-20

The Message

English Standard Version

The next three days' readings are chocked full of laws, many repeated from Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers with some new wrinkles added. I will not comment on the same laws as before but try to discuss the new wrinkles.

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Moses uses the rhetorical device of repetition to ingrain the most important laws into their minds.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Moses reminded the people to execute anyone worshiping another god—only by the testimony of multiple witnesses who start the execution. The priests and judges would try difficult cases. Their verdicts were final.
Kings must not use their position for gain but study God's Law.
The priests would receive part of every sacrifice. No child sacrifice or any type of dark magic was tolerated.
God would provide prophets for Israel.
Accidental killings were forgiven.
Only willing warriors entered battle. Enemy cities were offered peace. If they fought, only their men should die. Others became servants—except the people in Canaan.

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

The multiple witnesses to a crime were to be the first to throw the stones, in other words, start the execution.

This law is what Jesus referenced (and modified) when He shows mercy to a woman caught in adultery. Those who see what happen should be the one who punish an evil act.
God will not allow one person to pervert justice. There are too many variables which could prevent justice from happening.

A priest's and a judge's verdicts were final. Anyone caught changing the punishment was to be purged.

Priests were God's chosen people to represent Him on the earth. Judges were the people's choice to make decisions. Therefore any person who disagreed with their decisions went against both God's and Israel's leaders. This would not be tolerated. God demands respect of His Chosen Leaders and the people's chosen leaders.

A king must not use his position for personal gain.

In what could amount to the most neglected and ignored part of the entire Law, this section (17:14-20) may have never been read and obeyed. It is ironic that God would push the people against having a king (in 1 Samuel) but include this section in the Law. It is almost like He did not want them to have a king but knew their hearts that they would want one anyway.
The problem with having a king is that the king believes he is above everyone and the law and takes control over God—which is sin. This is why God writes this law—to force the king to remember that he is under God's Law. By building a massive army he begins to think he guarantees his own strength. By sending trade emissaries to other nations he begins to think that peace comes based on his own diplomacy. By collecting gold and silver he begins to think his wealth comes from his own greatness. By marrying many women he begins to think his popularity comes from himself. And these wives would lead him to worship other gods. Power tempts a heart to leave its dependence on God. Studying God's Law prevents a heart from usurping God's control.

God provides a test for potential prophets.

God wanted to make sure the people could tell the difference between His Prophet and a fake prophet. So he gave them a test—if what the prophet says came true they were to believe him/her. If what the prophet says did not come true, they were to execute him/her. It was quite simple. Why would a person imitate being a prophet if they knew once being caught they would be executed?

God wages a peaceful and brave war.

First, God will allow anyone who wishes to go home to leave. Those who have just built a house, planted a vineyard, or recently become engaged are allowed to go home. Then He tells anyone who is afraid to go home so as to not make others afraid.
God's battle plan is peace because Israel must first offer terms of peace. If the enemy rejected peace then bloodshed came. God's way of war is to prevent bloodshed unless it is absolutely necessary.

God will not stand for evil to live among His Chosen People.

God repeats the idea at the end of several laws that the Israelites were to "clean" or "purge" themselves of evil, meaning the person who had done the evil must be executed. This repetition is to make His point clear. God will not stand for people who willingly do evil to live among His Chosen People.

What do you think of the command to "purge the evil from your community"? 

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