Deuteronomy Lesson 56
Deuteronomy 16:18–25:4 – Review
13 September 2011
© Charles A. Clough 2011
In this review we’re going back to the Ten Commandments; and you’ll see in the outline that first exposition with bold face Deuteronomy 5:1–26:19. That’s the whole section of Deuteronomy, the real main section. That’s divided into two parts: chapter 5 through 11—loving Yahweh with all the heart, in chapter 12 through 26 with all the soul. In this section on the soul, last time we reviewed up to chapter 16. We looked at the first 4 commandments. The way we’re looking at this section of Deuteronomy has been suggested by a number of commentators.
When I started this I wasn’t too confident of this approach, but as I go through it I see the rationale behind it. The problem is from chapter 12 to 26 is a lot of details. Moses is a rational human being teaching God’s Word so there’s got to be a structure to this somehow. The problem, why this is sort of difficult to get your mind around, is that he’ll repeat himself with particular situations and it occurs in different sections. So however we interpret chapters 12 to 26, we’ve got to figure out what the rationale is. Last time we went through chapter 12 through 16:17. If you’ll look on the handout you’ll see that 12:1 to 13:18 is pretty much the first and second commandments; chapter 14:1-21 is pretty much the third commandment; 14:22-16:17 we said was the fourth commandment.
So just to review let’s look at Deuteronomy 5 when God is speaking those commandments and remind ourselves how this gets organized.
The first two commandments of chapter 5:6, 7, 8 are: NKJ Deuteronomy 5:6 “I am the LORD your God” That identifies who God is. It identifies Him as the God of history who has saved Israel. That’s important because we’re dealing here with a very clear articulation of God’s Lordship. The Lordship occurs after Israel was saved because when Israel is saved just like when we were saved; we know little if anything about the Lordship of God. It’s after we’re saved, after we’re regenerated, after the Holy Spirit convicts us of various things that that we – “Oh, this is what it means to worship God as the Lord.
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:7 “You shall have no other gods before Me”. There’s the first commandment. The second one: NKJ Deuteronomy 5:8 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image”. “...or any likeness”, an artistic expression.
Now looking at the handout, you’ll see 12:1 to 13:18 the theological unity of Israel’s tribes and its enforcement. So for the first and second commandments to work, there has to be theological unity in the nation Israel. But, there can’t be theological unity in the nation Israel if you’re going to have false prophets teaching. Therefore there has to be some sort of judicial process to eliminate false prophets. So the first and second commandments when we look at the embellishment in chapters 12 and 13, we realize it’s not just a religious slogan “thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” There is more to this. These commandments look very simple and they’re generic sounding; but if we don’t look at the details of loving the Lord with all our nephesh, how God expounded the implications of these commandments, we tend to trivialize them. We tend to limit them. We’ll see some graphic illustrations of that tonight.
The first and second commandments can’t be limited to a subjective experience. They’re not just talking about somebody’s psychological sanctification here; they’re talking about the cultural implications of worshipping God in a theocracy. This creates tension for us. We’re not living in a theocracy. God is allowing people to choose and reject. We live with wheat and tares. Now we have tension between ourselves as Christians and the culture around us because of the first and second commandments. The tension comes about directly because of those two commandments. It’s whoever is our ultimate allegiance. It is our allegiance primarily to God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ or is our allegiance to state, culture, to society or to some philosophy?
This creates a tension. It’s always there. It will always be there until we die or until the Lord comes back. So the problem is that we need to train ourselves to live under that kind of tension and not be suckers to absorb a lot of the world system simply because it’s easier to live that way. We don’t want to live in constant tension. It’s not a pleasant thing; but if we are to read what happened in the Old Testament - God when He says, “Love Me with all your heart,” He’s talking about all these other things that spill out. That’s chapters 12 through 13.
Then we come to the third commandment and that one is: NKJ Deuteronomy 5:11 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.” So we talked about that. This all of a sudden becomes bigger than we think. People read that hastily and think it is just about swearing. There is a lot more to it than that. This commandment is the whole chapter 14 expounding the details of it. It’s basically saying to live consistently with our faith. In other words “walk the talk” because if we don’t walk the talk we are attaching God’s name to something that demeans His name. We ought not to call something Christian and something biblical that isn’t Christian and isn’t biblical. That is an implication of the third commandment since it has nothing to do with swearing. That’s an illustration that each of the commandments has wide ranging implications.
Then we dealt with 14:22 to 17. We dealt there with the fourth commandment. That’s that long section from 5:12-15 talking about honoring the Sabbath day. When you look on the surface at the 4th commandment it looks like a simple holiday command. But involved in that 4th commandment are economics. Involved are attitudes towards business, attitudes toward labor and attitudes toward debt. There is a whole plethora of stuff. This is why we on this chiasm and that’s again to remind that we’ve looked at first and second commandment which is analogous to the 10th; we looked at the 3rd commandment which deals with language and we’re going to get to that again when we get down there.
Then we talk about the management of labor and property. We are going to talk tonight about property to be protected. Those two go together. That’s why we said that God has this structure; that at the basis of the theocracy was supposed to have been a heart allegiance. Without the heart allegiance, there can’t be anything else. This is the way Jesus is building His kingdom; unlike the Muslims who seriously think are going to redeem the world by imposing Sharia. They want to do it in this country. They want to throw out the Constitution and replace it with Sharia. Unquestionably that’s their whole goal. The idea there is that you can bring in the kingdom by law and good works and legalism. We know that never works. It doesn’t work because it doesn’t capture the problem of the heart.
Then you have to have the integrity of communication, consistently saying the truth so words fit reality. Then we come up here to labor and property. You can’t have that without integrity of language. So that’s where we left off last time.
Now tonight we start with 5:16. This is the fifth commandment. This is another example where you look at the commandment, in this case the 5th one, and for all the world it looks like it talks about the home. You wouldn’t think that it has any other implications. But it does. Now we are going to see the social implications of the 5th commandment. On the surface it is honoring your father and your mother as the Lord your God has commanded you. But then there is a hint in the 5th commandment that there is more to it than meets the eye because there is this purpose clause that the Apostle Paul picks up that says it is the first one with a promise.
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:16 “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long,” talking about in the land “and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you”. There is some connection between what goes on with mothers and fathers and children that had to do with the functioning of the entire nation. So before we hastily depart from the 5th commandment and say that’s talking about moms and dads and children. It’s talking about more than moms and dads and children; it’s talking about the whole nation. So what do moms and dads and children have to do with the whole nation? What is the main verb of verse 16? We have this command of honor your parents.
NKJ Deuteronomy 5:16 “Honor your father and your mother”. It doesn’t say to worship them. It doesn’t say they’re always right. It says honor them. What does that mean? It means that you recognize and respect the authority of the mom and the dad and there’s a respect for authority. Well now in the development of children, where is the first place we learn authority? It’s in your home. So does learning authority in the home have social implications? In other words, what we are back to is something remember we went over and over again. That is the cultural generating unit in a society is the family. It is not the state. The state can only deal with the residue and output of families. So if families are dysfunctional and they are throwing human debris out from the family into society, into the schools, into government, into every other place and the government has to cope with that, the government behind the 8-ball to start with because the home and the family are dysfunctional. And we know that all of our homes and families to a degree are dysfunctional. It’s been that way since the fall of man. So there is always that tension.
So now tonight in looking at the 5th commandment in Deuteronomy now we are going to go 16:18 and cover from 16:18 - 18:22. Chapters 16, 17, and 18 - this whole section deals with implications of the 5th commandment. So let’s turn to Deuteronomy 16.
This is one of the rewards of studying carefully Old Testament history, particularly Old Testament Law, because this Law is commented on by the prophets who wrote the rest of the Old Testament. What we are seeing here is the pattern. Then you’ll see how Samuel or one of the judges wrote the book of Judges. It’s a continual mess, absolute chaos in society. If you read the book of Judges with that in mind, you can see the prophets saying the families are all screwed up.
Think of the story of Sampson. The whole relationship of Sampson and his parents is screwed up. Why are those details in the Book of Judges? It’s because the prophetic writers of these books are saying when you measure society by a standard and in this case we have contractual stipulations of the Law. That’s the standard. When we take that standard and we measure what historically happened we can draw conclusions. This is why historiography really began with the Bible. It didn’t begin with the Greeks. It didn’t begin with Western civilization. It began with the Bible. And the reason is the Bible gave a measuring stick, which could then be used to analyze. If you don’t have a measuring stick to analyze then you can’t really write history in a perceptive way. You can only record data.
In chapter 16 if you look now in your handout you’ll see that what I’ve done after Roman 2 is I’ve given you 4 headings in this section. So let’s look at 16:18, the first heading. In that heading it says you will appoint judges and officers. NKJ Deuteronomy 16:18 “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you …” Then there is a whole series of stipulations about the qualifications and functioning of the judges.
You turn to NKJ Deuteronomy 17:14 “When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me.” That’s the whole section that deals with the office of king. Now you come to 18:1. Now we talk about the priests and the Levites. Then you go to 18:9 and you are talking about the prophets.
So look what happened here. You have four headers. One is the judges, one is the king, one is the priest, and one is the prophets. Now what characterizes those four offices in a social milieu? As far as the functioning in the nation those are all offices that involve authority. The people are to understand that these are authority figures, and they have a function to perform. But how are they to respect authority if they haven’t learned it first with their moms and dads? So here is where the 5th commandment now, Moses expounds the widespread social implications of this.
Now you’ve heard me mention several times the Report of the American Institute of Values where they did an analysis of a study. Remember that was called The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing. They spent years doing this in university research. What they found out going through every single state including Maryland, that conservatively estimating the costs we are talking about $112 billion a year because of divorce and unwed childbirth. And this is just one small segment.
I want to read some of their research because they are talking about structures here and I think it is very important because we all live in a society where people if you mention the Bible they’ll say, “Oh that’s just something that is religious; that is just in the religious compartment. It really doesn’t speak to real life; it doesn’t speak to objective society; it doesn’t speak to institutions; that’s just your little religious book.”
Well, it is a religious book. It’s written by the God of the Universe who has told us the structures that when violated we reap a price.
So here is from one report, Second Chances. It’s talking about:
Children with divorced or unmarried parents are more likely to be poor while married couples on the average build more wealth than those who are not married even accounting for the observation that well-off people are more likely to get married. Marriage is an economic institution as well as a social one. Marriage generates social and human capital especially with regard to children. Research on family structure is now suggesting a variety of ways through which lasting marriages may reduce the need for costly social programs.
Now you don’t hear that. Who politically is addressing this issue? Have you heard anybody in either party address this issue?
In a recent national study, which is the one I just mentioned, it included extensive data from all 50 states and relied on costs economic modeling scholars estimated that the divorce and out of wedlock childbearing costs US taxpayers $112 billion dollars every year.
Is the Word of God relevant economically?
These costs arise from increase taxpayer expenditures anti-poverty, criminal justice, and educational programs and through lower levels of taxes.
Not only is there costs in other words it costs all this. But listen to this.
It costs also to lower level of taxes paid by individual who as adults earn less because of reduced opportunities as a result of having to grow up in poverty.
So you have a whammy. You have increased the costs to solve the problem and then the carryover into the next generation is reduced productivity, which means reduced taxes and reduced revenues. So now we have increased expenses and decreased revenues. Does that cause a problem? See, we’re talking about structures here.
Here is another report – Do Fathers and Mothers Matter? Remember I read in another report parts of this before. But it bears reading. It bears listening. Remember, we said integrity of communication – that language has to fit reality.
Now think what we’ve got going now. We are going to redefine marriage. Gay marriage is redefining marriage. This is a language attack. In other words the new word “marriage” under the new system does not correspond to the structures that God built into society. So when your language no longer fits reality now you’ve got a problem to even think correctly about things.
If it wasn’t bad enough to redefine marriage now we have two movements that are redefining what a family is called intentional families. Remember this?
Among family diversity proponents and increasingly in family law the concept of an intentional family is seen as a positive good. The assumption is that so long as adults choose or intend to form a family in a certain way such a family will be good automatically for children. So we can redefine what we mean.
And this is what they mean by redefining.
Two groups – one is called SMBC – The Single Mothers by Choice. It started because of single moms trying to raise children. Now it’s taking on a new term called a Choice Mom. The headline is that women opt for sperm banks or autonomy tops one of many stories across the country revealing how women today can browse online catalogues, shop for a sperm donor in the same way they might choose a sectional sofa or a new car. The article quotes one Long Island choice mom saying: “You are paying for it so you kind of want the best of the best.” The reporter notes this mom saw her ability to select a 6 foot 2 blonde blue-eyed genetic disease-free donor as some consolation for not getting to fall in love with someone who would most likely to have been more flawed. So this is where we are redefining families. We don’t need both parents – moms and dads.
But if that was crazy, then we also have another group. Not to be outdone we have SFBC – The Single Fathers by Choice. In the United Kingdom is Ian Mucklejohn, father of three. In 2001 at the age of 54 Mucklejohn became the father of triplets conceived with an egg donor and a separate gestational surrogate mother both living in California.
What you might expect.
So we go on and Mucklejohn readily admits he uses services in the US because men are not allowed to buy women’s eggs in Britain, nor can one circumvent the right to keep the child if she changes her mind after birth. By contrast, in California the destination by choice the would-be fathers from around the world anything goes. So now we not only do we redefine marriage, but we redefine what family means. Of course as this particular report winds up, what about the children involved? Are they just accessories to further the good feelings of mothers and fathers who are single?
It concludes with this.
The reason this change has occurred is because increasingly in the eyes of society’s leaders an adult’s right to children outweighs children’s hardwired need for a mom and a dad.
Are we going to pay a price for this?
Then finally, a new report that just came out on Why Marriage Matters. This is dealing with cohabitation and everything else. It deals with 30 conclusions. I won’t go through all 30 conclusions; but I will name some of them because I think it’s relevant. The idea that you read again and again in the papers about modern findings justifies redefining things.
Here I’ll just read 30 different conclusions from the study.
Are we talking about economic structures in this country – something about something wrong with the economy? Is anybody pointing out the fact that it might possibly be related to the structures that God has created? This is where as Christians I think we can start hitting an area that the society at large has never connected with the Bible – never connected, never seen the connection.
Keep in mind these are not random. This took years – 25 university-level scholars that complied this.
This is talking about physical health now. We were talking about family. We talked about economics. Now we’re talking about physical health. See, it carries over into every area.
You don’t hear that do you? You won’t find this by the way in your college HCC sociology. They are too busy showing pornography in the classrooms.
Finally, the last category is crime and domestic violence.
…and so forth.
So the 5th commandment is very serious structure. We see here in both judges and kings and the priests and the prophets. When I went through this I mentioned something about the priests. I will skip that tonight. You have it I think in the outline where I point out that the priesthood in the theocracy has been done away with and in those churches today that have great liturgy and priests; they’re basically taking truths that apply to the nation Israel and try to apply that to the church. I might give you some of the historical things there.
Let’s turn to 18:9, the prophets. These are the men who were the conduit of revelation. In the outline (handout) where you see prophets right under the chart it says, “To convey divine directions.” It had two functions, to convey divine directions regarding Israel’s contractual performance. That was the first function of these prophets: to directions regarding Israel’s contractual performance, or lack thereof.
Then the second thing is to indict pagan nations. So they also had a ministry to indict the nations but not on the basis of the Mosaic Law. When they addressed Assyria and Babylon it was based on Noahic general principles of morality. But the importance of the prophets is this thing and you’ve seen this ad infinitum in the Deuteronomy series, pointing out that this is a characteristic you will not find in any other religion except Judeo-Christianity. Only in Israel do you have a line of prophets. Every other religion is usually grounded on one or two people: Buddha, Confucius, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism. But you don’t have a line of continual succession of apostles of a god that come to the people through the ages. Such a line of apostle-prophets is unknown to paganism. So that’s an objective fact about the Bible. And, that should tell us there is something very much true of the Word of God as God works down through history. Okay, that’s the fifth commandment, basically the extension of the home and the family out into society first by breeding and generating a respect for authority and order. This manifests itself in the social offices.
Now we come to Roman numeral III. What does the 6th commandment – and this is thou shalt not commit murder. So we’re looking now at this structure and we’re up to the top level, life is protected or it isn’t. So when you start looking at 5:17 (Thou shalt not murder.)
Look at Deuteronomy 19:1. So we are at this section from 19:1 to 21:23. This has to do with the outworking of “thou shalt not commit murder.” We have to see in chapter 19 what happens. NKJ Deuteronomy 19:1 “When the LORD your God has cut off the nations whose land the LORD your God is giving you, and you dispossess them and dwell in their cities and in their houses, [2 ]you shall separate three cities for yourself in the midst of your land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess.”
That is to distinguish between murder and accidental homicide. So now what are we doing here? We’re dealing with the civil state. The state has the right to take life. That goes back to Genesis 9. That’s why capital punishment is inherent in capital government. But that being said, there has to be some rules and controls that life not be taken accidentally or taken too aggressively.
There has to be some response to murder. The reason why there has to be some response to murder in contrast and frankly a lot of critics of capital punishment who are so concerned - and they have some legitimate concerns about the guy who can’t afford the slick lawyer he gets killed but the guy that can murder 3 people and can hire a million dollar attorney he gets off. That’s a problem in the justice system. It’s not a reflection of God. It’s just because the justice system isn’t working right.
But the reason why there’s capital punishment all the way back to Genesis 9. The reason is because of murder. What is murder? Murder is taking a life that God gave. There has to be a response to that murder. So when you don’t have a proper response to murder; then what in effect you’re doing is you’ve trivializing the act of murder. “We can’t do anything about it, so it’s irrelevant. You know, 7 people got shot last week in Baltimore, or something. We don’t care about the 7 people that got shot. Those are just incidental criminal statistics, and so forth. We’ve got better things than mess around.”
But that’s not the way God looks at it in the text. “Those are 7 people for whom My Son died. Those are 7 people I created in My image and they have value. People didn’t think they had any value. That’s why they murdered them. So I have to correct that.” So this is why you have this function of killing.
Now in your outline you’ll see that in this section we deal with the first judicial protocols to protect life in chapter 19. NKJ Deuteronomy 19:13 “Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with you.”
It’s talking about judgment. Remember we dealt with verse 14. We said, “What is verse 14 doing in between verse 13 and 15?” Thirteen is talking about execution and talking about civil authorities. Verse 15 is talking about the protocols and false witness in court. Why the heck is verse 14 there? When you read it, when you are devotionally reading the chapter, you come by this fast. You wonder, “Whoa! What has verse 14 got to do with verse 13 and 15?”
The answer is that landmarks are part of the evidence used in court hearings. Today we would deal verse 14. We call that evidence tampering, whatever the vernacular is for courtroom proceedings. That is to protect the records and the evidences that would be used in court cases. So included in the 6th commandment about “thou shall commit no murder” is all this other stuff. In order for that commandment to work you need all this other paraphernalia in place.
Then on the outline you’ll see 20:1-20 is military policy. Well, what is military policy dealing with? There must be conscious based sentiment about the justice in military action. Military action involves killing people. So you have to have conscience. You have to have priests to clear this that it is a just war and not a case of somebody getting mad at somebody. There are two different kinds of war.
Then in verses 19 and 20 of chapter 20 you have an environmental protection clause. That is where God says there are certain constraints even in military actions. And why is that? Is it because these guys are greenies? That’s not the case. If you look at 20:19 look at the subject material.
NKJ Deuteronomy 20:19 “ When you besiege a city for a long time, while making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them; if you can eat of them, do not cut them down to use in the siege, for the tree of the field is man’s food.”
Those were particular kinds of trees. Now what are the trees that you would eat of? Orchards, and what are orchards used for? To grow food. And what is food to do? To sustain life. So do you see how this is related to the 6th commandment: thou shall do no murder? It includes taking caution about the things that sustain life. That’s included. Just because we haven’t done murder does not mean that we have kept the 6th commandment according to this text. The 6th commandment involves a lot more than not murdering somebody. So again this is how you unwind some of these commandments.
Then finally in chapter 21 we have various legislation that protects people. For example, 21:10-14 is a protection of a woman’s vulnerability. And verses 15 to 21 is that very controversial passage where it talks about family inheritance and then capitally punishing a child who is not capable of taking care of his family’s inheritance and the family is not to export that kind of a product into the society at large. He is cut off at the boundary of the family. I think that passage which everybody ridicules and say: “Gee, look at what everybody did to their children.”
People didn’t do it. You don’t find one evidence of it in the Scriptures. It’s a rule that shows you the seriousness that Israel and God behind this took that, “I don’t want families to dump their debris, their social debris, their misfits, into the society at large.”
That’s not the function of the family. The family is to give productive people into society so that society can function. You can’t have thousands of families dumping criminals out into society. So see how this design works. The responsibility is back on the parents in this case. Then if the parent can’t deal with it then the protocol that’s given there in 21:15-21. That’s the context of that. When you hear somebody ridiculing it, challenge them. Say, “Yeah, that’s in the Bible. Have you read the context?” That might open up a conversation with somebody.
All right, now we deal with the 7th commandment. Now we’re coming back down the thing. Now we’re coming back down at a lower level marriage and family. This is thou shall not commit adultery. Then lo and behold in chapter 22 there is adultery and there are sexual sins there. But, look what else is there. In 22:4 ownership boundaries. Now what do ownership boundaries have to do with the 7th commandment? Well as I’ve gone through all of those there seems to be a common thing in each of those topics in chapters 22 and 23. They deal with boundaries. There are boundaries that God has built into society that you can easily transgress but when you do so you’re transgressing a design feature of God for that society. .
So in verses 1 to 4 of chapter 22 dealt with property issues. That was the passage in verse 4, you remember. NKJ Deuteronomy 22:4 “ You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fall down along the road, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely help him lift them up again”. You say, “I’m not committing adultery by hiding myself from somebody’s property.” Well apparently from the way Moses thinks, you are because the commandment about the protecting marriage and family is grounded on the idea that the marriage and the family have certain boundaries. And incidentally, God has other boundaries in society.
So in verse 1 to 4, ownership boundaries.
Look at verse 5 through 12. It is talking about building a house – making a parapet. NKJ Deuteronomy 22:8 “When you build a new house, then you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring guilt of bloodshed on your household if anyone falls from it.  You shall not sow your vineyard with different kinds of seed, lest the yield of the seed which you have sown and the fruit of your vineyard be defiled”.
You say, “What is it that ties all these random look-alike verses together?” And what you come out with is the only thing you can see that is general throughout all these verses is they are talking about God’s design and transgression of that design. It’s easy in verses 13 to 30 because that deals with sexual sins. It’s easy to see how that might be related to the 7th commandment. But then in chapter 23 it is talking about eunuchs not being allowed into worship. You ask,” Well what has that got to do with it?” I think again it is the boundaries that God set up for His approachability. He does not want that approach to Him to be casual. And He wants it to have integrity.
In 23:9-14, that’s talking about latrines. You say, “For heaven’s sake, what does latrines got to do with the 7th commandment? But again it is because God says, “I am walking around your camp. I don’t want to see sewage. I don’t want to see that. That to me that is a physical representation of sin and I don’t want to see it.”
See there is an analogy going on here between physical reality and spiritual reality. And as I said when we went through this, had the church read verses 9, 10, and 11 in the Middle Ages we probably would not have had the Black Plague. So we have these boundary issues. That’s the 7th commandment, which now seems to be rooted in marriage and family, yes, but marriage and family are part of a bigger thing of boundaries: boundaries of ownership, natural boundaries, citizenship boundaries, Yahweh’s approachability boundaries.
Now we come to Roman 5, now the 8th commandment. So let’s go back. In 5: 19 what’s the 8th commandment? “Thou shalt not steal”. So you think, “Okay. That is talking about private property or property rights.” But if you’ll look in your outline under Roman numeral V…
Oh by the way I see some blanks that I didn’t mention. In Roman III, the neighbor’s landmark – the significance of that is, it’s evidence tampering. You can’t mess around with that. In Roman IV it says God’s design boundaries that include not merely marital spouses but all created distinctions.
Now we come to Roman 5. The 8th commandment necessarily deals with property rights however property has no inherent rights. We use that term; but we don’t think about it. What on earth? Does a piece of property have a right? Our language doesn’t reflect what we’re trying to say here. Property rights aren’t the rights of property. What we mean by property rights is people’s right to property. People have rights, not property. So property rights really means the right of ownership, the right a person has to private property. So property has no inherent rights. Rights must reside in God’s imputations in order to be objective. Otherwise (and this is the next blank) they are only man’s speculative opinions. Either they are made because God has set them or they’re just speculative opinions.
Now included in this is a bunch of stuff that you would normally think of when you think of the 8th commandment.
Here is 23:19. Here we have the fact that you will not charge interest to your brother. Now what is going on with this interest? This is charitable loans. The idea is that Israel’s citizens were not to live as debt slaves. In other words there is a certain connection between ourselves as God’s created beings in His image and He wants us to have responsibility in property. It’s part somehow of the way we’re made. When we don’t have property or we exercise our dominion in a wrong way we’re out of kilter with the Lord. So property and people go together. It was abnormal for one not to have property in Israel.
In verses 21 to 23 remember, we went through this. NKJ Deuteronomy 23:21 “When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it …” Well, what has that got to do with property? The idea there is when we promise God we are going to do something we create a debt. In other words we owe something to God. So now we’re back to owing something. So if we are going to promise God to do something, we do it but we don’t promise it. But what we don’t do is promise and then not do it, because it is seen as thievery. I mentioned that carryover into business relationships, personal relationships that if it’s a theft when we promise something to God and we don’t carry it out it; it can also be theft on a horizontal basis with personal human relationships. So this is why when we get obligated, let’s say, to a business relationship I will do this, I will do that, and so forth and so on. We are creating a debt on us that we owe that person fulfillment of those promises. So this is something that you don’t normally think of when you think of the 8th commandment about stealing. But do you see what Moses is doing here?
He is taking the commandment that we can superficially pass over and then suddenly he says, “Let’s explore this a moment. Let me show you its implications of this 8th commandment.” Notice in following your handout 24:1-5 there are limitations on ownership. In this case it is talking about a man taking a wife so forth and so on because in this day and age in that society the wife was considered part of the property of the man – not in a bad sense, not a material thing but in the ownership. That meant that the ownership of a human being is derivative of God’s ownership. This is why people who read the Bible in sociology class they can’t get this because most of them are unregenerate. They don’t link up with the Bible. It doesn’t resonate with them. So they jump to the conclusion, “Well, men own women.” No, it was a case of God designed marriage and the man had this responsibility and the woman had this responsibility. It functioned under God’s direction. So it wasn’t some arbitrary thing that the guys all got together to dream up. This is a functioning thing underneath God’s ownership. So you’ll see these limitations.
Notice in 24:6, the same thing. “No man shall take the lower or the upper millstone in pledge, for he takes one’s living in pledge”. The idea there is you can’t take for collateral a piece of property, that is essential to that person’s identity, that person’s ownership. The tool in verse 6, the millstone - what was the millstone used for? To prepare food. So you’re going to take that as collateral what’s this guy going to do with his food? In other words you respect his ownership and in your business loaning you’ve got to remember that you might need collateral; but there are limitations on how far you can push that without coming into a situation where you’re stealing.
So these are very delicate relationships and you can see when you work your way through these things, these commandments, it takes skill to apply them. That’s why this book is considered to be a chokmah book, a wisdom book.
Finally in Roman VI we’re dealing with the 9th commandment. That is, “thou shalt not bear false witness.” Now obviously that means perjury in court; but it has to do with integrity of communication. Language and integrity of communication mean that we truly represent things. We don’t falsely represent things. That’s why when we look at 24:8 you start into the thing and all of a sudden now we’re talking about leprosy. You wonder what on earth does leprosy have to do with, “thou shalt not lie.”
Well, let’s watch. NKJ Deuteronomy 24:8 “Take heed in an outbreak of leprosy, that you carefully observe and do according to all that the priests ...” …according to the Levites. That’s the emphasis on sins. Leprosy is an incident. But the principle is that you are to respect and honor the priests. In other words, accept their authority, their priestly authority. Don’t falsify it.
In verses 10 through 13 it’s talking about when you lend your brother anything you won’t go into his house to get his pledge. You’ll stand outside. NKJ Deuteronomy 24:11 “You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you lend shall bring the pledge out to you”. Now what is that about? That’s about representing this person’s worth and being gracious and just in the relationship.
So we go on to chapter 25:1-3 representation value of a transgressor. Then in 25:4 we are talking about work animals. NKJ Deuteronomy 25:4 “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain”. What does that have to do with thievery? That is falsely representing the worth of those oxen. It is a misrepresentation of that animal’s worth. You are treating that oxen in a way that misrepresents; you have lost your integrity of language. Your thinking is screwed up. It doesn’t fit reality. You are to honor that working animal.
So now we come to Roman VII and the conclusion tonight. If you’ll look on the chart that is there what I’ve tried to do is introduce in the end this other characteristic. So this sort of finishes up our review.
If you’ll look at these sections that we have struggled through here in loving the Lord with all our details of life; that is with all the nephesh; you get the idea that sometimes these same things occur again in different sections. So what’s the lesson here? If our approach is correct and this is roughly approximating the amplification of each of the Ten Commandments and we find in the 7th commandment the same thing is repeated over in the 9th commandment discussion; what conclusions are we to draw from that?
Let’s look at the false prophet. Discipline of the false prophet and treating the false prophet separating them occurred with the section of the first commandment and the second commandment. You can kind of see that fits. But then remember the 5th commandment was also dealing with prophets. So what is the 5th commandment? Honor your father and mother. Well, what’s the implication of that? Respect authority.
But how do I respect the authority of a prophet if I can’t tell whether he’s a false one or a true one? So that’s why the prophet case, the issue of the false prophet comes up under 3 different commands. What this shows you is that these Ten Commandments are all interlocked. They spill over onto each one.
When we dealt with misuse of animals; we find it occurs under the 3rd commandment, the 7th commandment (the boundary commandment) and then the 9th commandment, misrepresentation. It violates their life-giving purpose, its unique design, and its value. So by looking at how these cases repeat under different commandments it expands our view of that social situation. By the way, what New Testament doctrine comes out of this whole idea? I’ll leave you guessing here for a few minutes. Let’s finish the chart. See if you can think in Paul’s writings when he is dealing with legalism he makes a conclusion about the Law and you’re seeing this pattern.
Let’s go to perpetual labor and debt. That occurs under the 4th, 8th and 9th commandments. Why is that? Because it violates faith in God’s provision. That was that 4th commandment, the Sabbath rest. It demeans designed freedom from debt forced labor under the 8th commandment and 9th commandment.
And I’ve added one other one, modern socialism violates the 8th, 9th, and 10th commandments. It violates the 8th commandment because socialism basically says the state has the right to take property from productive people and give it to others. Wealth redistribution is a form of theft and is a violation of the 8th commandment. It’s a violation of the 9th commandment because to pay for socialistic enterprise you have to inflate currency, which violates weights and standards. It would be like Israel violates the weights and standards when you diminish the value of the dollar. You’ve got to pay for it somehow, and the way you pay for it is by make everybody pay for it with the diminished dollar. Violation of the 9th commandment, a dollar doesn’t mean a dollar anymore because you’ve played with it. It is a violation of the 10th commandment because it teaches class warfare and envy. “We’re going to get the rich, people.”
Why do the rich people owe you anything? If they worked hard for their money and they did it lawfully, they’re entitled to it. What rule, what entitlement do we have to rip off rich people? The only rich people that should be ripped off are the people who got their riches illegitimately. If it was legal and it was hard work, blessings on them! So this is a case then where we take one political idea and it sweeps across the whole area of the Ten Commandments.
Now application and conclusion - when Paul talks in Galatians and other passages in the New Testament and James does this again. NKJ James 2:10 “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all”. Here you see how that works. You can’t just violate one commandment because these commandments are so interlocked you wind up if I violate this, I violate this and I violate this and I violate this. That’s what Paul was talking about. The Pharisees had it so isolated you could sort of microscopically confine disobedience to just one area. You can’t do that because we live in God’s universe. It’s all integrated. Screw up in one area and it carries across the board. So that’s the review we’ve tried to bring together.
Question: When Christ summarized the Law as loving God and loving your neighbor, He said that fulfills the Law. How does that fit with what we are seeing here in Deuteronomy?
I think the way it fits is that all of those laws, all the intricacies and pieces and this and that in the situations all involve those two things. They all involve am I or am I not going to approach the situation with God in mind. It’s also the fact that God has created people in His image and do I care for them? That’s very prominent in the law because you see how a neighbor in the Mosaic Law code was defined pretty much as another Israelite. They are treated differently. Remember we have gone through those laws how they treat the citizen of Israel versus how the stranger is treated. There is a differentiation there because the neighbor in the theocracy is another theocratic citizen. So there is a distinction there. In all of these hundreds and hundreds of cases they all deal with people. So take the donkey situation that we just talked about.
NKJ Deuteronomy 22:4 “You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fall down along the road, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely help him lift them up again.
If I am a Pharisee I say, “I’m going to walk where I can’t be bothered by that. If I take that donkey back and I have to hold it for some time I’ve got to feed it. I have to take care of it. I don’t want to bother with that. Besides, I can walk down the road and not see it and I’m not guilty of stealing.”
But there is a greater thing there. Do I love my neighbor? The loving the neighbor comes out and is now unfolded and we see the ramifications. The thing about the Ten Commandments - I guess 8 of them (I have to count them.) are phrased negatively – a negative statement, thou shalt not steal. That’s the way you phrase a law. You will not do this and not do that. The problem is when you phrase something negatively if you don’t think through the implications as Moses does you tend to contract the statement.
“I didn’t do that. I didn’t do this,” failing to bring out what Jesus says positively affirming the love of God and the love of neighbor.
So that’s the best I can do. That’s a true integration.
The problem with “thou shall love your God and your neighbor” is what happens today is that it becomes trivial because loving the neighbor is whatever I feel good about. You lose track of all these design functions and interrelationships. This isn’t sentimentalism here.
This involves thinking about, “I am not living in my universe. I am not living the way I would like in a world I would like it to be like. I live in the world as it is, the way God designed it and the way the fall has messed it up. I have to live in this environment.”
Interesting point, that years ago that (What was it?) if you, if years ago if you were a horse thief it was a capital offense. It might have been related. You would have to read when that law was passed what the discussion was. Obviously 100 years ago people were a lot more informed biblically.
But what I think tonight what George is bringing up about law creation and writing regulation is do you see what a mess we are in if we are redefining what the words mean? When we talk marriage and we talk family it no longer fits the way it was designed to function. We start making regulations and we start writing laws with the content screwed up and the words that are in the proposition of a regulation. You can end up really messed up.
Cults do that. They emasculate the language.
That’s a good point about people see a large family and they think of it as a burden on society. Think about that segment for a moment. Are they a burden on society or are they being productive and far more productive than people without children? Right? When those parents get to be 65 do you suppose they have a higher chance of being taken care of by children than the person with no kids? See the thinking doesn’t go forward.
I had an experience one time in Texas. I went out to a funeral of a dear friend of ours. We were sitting there. You know they have social functions. This lady walks in. The door opens. One kid comes, another kid comes in; another kid comes in. What is that? It must be a teacher with a class. I can figure out it’s not her kids, because one is Hispanic, one is black, one’s white. What’s going on here? They sit down. There were 8 or 10 of them. They were all dressed alike so I thought it was a uniform from a school. It wasn’t a uniform from a school. That lady and her husband had adopted those kids. They were throw-away kids from every race.
I thought to myself. Yeah, let’s have someone make fun of that family. Those are the neat things that Christians do that are under the radar, but the Lord sees it. And the Lord will reward them.