Laws For The Faithful

Posted: Friday, August 24, 2012 in Old Testament
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Deuteronomy 17 (HCSB) “You must not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or sheep with a defect or any serious flaw, for that is detestable to the Lord your God. If a man or woman among you in one of your towns that the Lord your God will give you is discovered doing evil in the sight of the Lord your God and violating His covenant and has gone to worship other gods by bowing down to the sun, moon, or all the stars in the sky—which I have forbidden— and if you are told or hear about it, you must investigate it thoroughly… “If a case is too difficult for you—concerning bloodshed, lawsuits, or assaults —cases disputed at your gates, you must go up to the place the Lord your God chooses… “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, take possession of it, live in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations around me,’ you are to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses.

Brutality and firm enforcemeImagent seem to be the way of the Old Testament or am I reading this incorrectly. That is a question I hope you have when you read the chapter and hopefully we can answer it to some degree here.

The first verse starts off by an admonition regarding sacrificing animals with defect. It might seem mean that God would regard one animal as being better than the other but in reality, God was not referring to the animal but the one who presented the sacrifice. God does not want our praise and thanks because we HAVE TO but because we truly DESIRE TO. Offering the best of what we have been blessed with by God is showing God how much we appreciate His bounty in our lives. This is true of our lives today when we either fit God into our busy lives and schedules or we base our lives on God’s leading.

This again is a seemingly harsh judgment but the reality is that it was not as straightforward as it seems. The one who was suspected of idol worship or doing an evil act was to be fully investigated, witnesses were to be thoroughly cross-checked with another or more eye-witnesses and the execution was to be done by the hands of the witnesses. These three steps were taken to ensure false accusations and accusers were severely dealt with and the location of the killing was the public square where the entire village or community would be a witness naturally. This served as a clear warning and was issued to keep them in check rather than providing a means to kill.

Jesus responds to one such accusation of the adulteress woman who was being stoned to death as recorded in John 8. He says, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7). The question was being put first to the official witnesses who witnessed the adultery and were sure enough of their own righteousness that they could throw the first stone. Jesus showed that the law was provided to serve as a guide but without a transformed heart filled with God’s love, living by its standards in our brokenness would never be possible.

Remember also the witnesses who falsely accused Jesus, as recorded in Mark 14 and Matthew 26. When their testimonies were tried, they fell short until two spoke up and gave false testimony. As the law prescribed, Jesus was asked to respond to the witnesses and He did not honour them with a response because He knew this was His calling – to die for the sins of humanity so as to redeem it through His bodily resurrection.

Furthermore, difficult cases including those that were being tried in the public square could be contested by the victim in a higher court or before the Levitical priests and judges appointed. The judgments were final and binding and everyone including the accusers and the accused were to fully abide by them. This reinstated the value and purpose of the priesthood and leadership that God authorized to lead Israel and it also provided the people a fair way of knowing what is right in God’s sight. The wisdom these men of authority possessed was earned by spending their lives studying the Word of God and living in God’s presence.

When Jesus was tried by the high priests, not one wanted to take up the responsibility of the judgment because they would bear the brunt of God’s wrath for misusing their position of power and authority (John 18). They therefore took Jesus to the Roman authorities to pass judgment and when questioned by Pilate about why they did not judge Jesus under their own law, they responded saying they did not have the right to execute anyone. Clearly the judges and priests knew they were answerable to one authority, God.

The appointing of a ruler over the people was to signify what Jesus would be when His time arrived. The person who held the mantle of a king was to be one who would be chosen by God. Without a king during the time of the judges, Israel was is total disarray and that showed how much they needed to be unified under a leader, but not anyone. It had to be an Israelite and one of God’s own choosing.

Solomon was one such king but he was notorious for breaking the very commands God gave him. He had forty thousand stalls for his horses and chariots (1 Kings 4:26) and he imported horses from Egypt (1 Kings 10:28). He had seven hundred wives, princesses and concubines who turned away his heart (1 Kings 11:3) and more riches than anyone on earth (1 Kings 10:23).

Power, pleasure and wealth are three reasons Christian leaders fall even today. God warns us of self-deception which is an area of serious issue because we can try and justify our sinful desires but we are answerable to God, the good and highest judge.

God wanted the kings of Israel to write down the law themselves so as to know it fully and to be scribes to God. The Word of God was to be the king’s constant companion that he would read daily. Everyone needs the Word of God but the greater the responsibility, the greater the need to depend on the truth of God’s word. Staying in the Word of God was purposed to build reverence for God and live a holy life. Finally, studying the Word of God would keep the ruler humble before God. These were key commands for kings and Jesus was and is the only king who ever met up to the requirement of this law.

When put in the right perspective, these same burdening laws now become great guiding posts to living under God’s favour and I pray that you and I would not simply disregard the law but learn from it and apply it into our own lives with the leading of the Holy Spirit.

In His Loving Service,

  1. Ann says:

    thanks for sharing, Vineet

    Good to read your posts again.

    “When put in the right perspective, these same burdening laws now become great guiding posts to living under God’s favour and I pray that you and I would not simply disregard the law but learn from it and apply it into our own lives with the leading of the Holy Spirit.”
    A recent discussion centered around the Levictical laws and what was expected then, vs now. One point that came out of the conversation was that the Bible is a whole unit, and not one verse is irrelevant. Thanks for your prayer. We can avoid many pitfalls if we choose to learn from His laws.


  2. ServantBoy says:

    Thanks Ann for encouraging me and other Christians in our walk. Yes, your point is valid that we need to understand the Bible holistically rather than cherry picking passages to suit our ways. I pray with you that God will teach us to follow Him rather than permit us to redefine Him and His Words.
    In Christ,

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