In God’s justice system, murder must be vindicated, and never, ever tolerated. If someone was killed, and the killer was not known, the elders of the closest city, along with the priests were called to the scene with a specific prayer to pray:
Deuteronomy 21:7–8 (NKJV) “Then they shall answer and say, ‘Our hands have not shed this blood, nor have our eyes seen it. 8 Provide atonement, O LORD, for Your people Israel, whom You have redeemed, and do not lay innocent blood to the charge of Your people Israel.’ And atonement shall be provided on their behalf for the blood.”
Jesus told us in Matthew 19:8 that Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of man’s heart, but from the beginning it was not so. Divorce for any reason other than adultery and abandonment are the terms for the new covenant. Here we read of a law permitting a man to divorce his wife (Deuteronomy 19:14) but this was only God’s permissive will, never His perfect will.
Polygamy was also God’s permissive will, not His perfect will. If we look back to the garden we see Adam with only one wife, Eve. If we look forward to 1 Timothy 3:1 we see the standards for today’s society and family being a husband of one wife. But often in the Bible we see multiple wives and multiplied heartache. Imagine a man with wives he didn’t love? Of course there would be that temptation to have favorites when it comes to children, but God forbade it – the firstborn son must be honored (Deuteronomy 21:15-17).
If parents had a rebellious son, the law commanded him to be stoned to death. Sounds harsh for us today, and it was more than likely rarely practiced, but a society of obedient children to parents who feared God, was the intention of the Father. These laws were intended to be preventative more than they were punitive.
Cursed is he who hangs on a tree (Deuteronomy 21:23) – that was the love of Jesus.
Galatians 3:13 (NKJV) “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’),”
Deuteronomy 22 contains some more minor and miscellaneous laws about being a good neighbor, caring to animals, building our homes with certain safety codes, even the material we use to make clothes, but it also deals with some heavy situations.
Deuteronomy 22:5 (NKJV) “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God.”
Wouldn’t you say that has huge relevance and application for today?
Deuteronomy 22:13-30 deals with heavy issues in reference to sexual purity, sexual accusations, and even rape. Our heart aches when we see what goes on in today’s society. Again, we understand the death penalty for sexual immorality sounds harsh, but today 45% of all pregnancies are unplanned due to sex outside of marriage. So imagine a society of purity, where every child was only wanted and raised within a loving and Godly family. In my opinion the death penalty for rapists doesn’t sound too harsh, it’s one of the most horrible things anyone can do to another human being – but in our society today, an individual can serve as little as four years in prison if convicted of rape!
Jesus “set His face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51) He was determined to die for us; He faced and embraced His cross with perfect courage.
What an amazing work God did in James and John. Here they are wanting to call fire down from heaven upon the city of Samaria (Elijah style) (no wonder Jesus called them Sons of Thunder – Mark 3:17). But they eventually understood the compassion and grace of God. James would become the first Apostle to die a martyr’s death and John would eventually be known as “John the Beloved.” God can do a great and transforming work in all of us.
The salvation of Samaria was always on God’s radar (Acts 1:8) and what a beautiful thing it was to eventually see it come to pass (Acts 8).
As Luke 8 closes, we see some principles of ministry. There very well may be financial, family, and “first-me” sacrifices to be made. Once we answer the call to follow Christ, we are to never “look back,” it’s just not fitting.
Luke 9:62 (NKJV) “But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
We continue to learn tons about ministry as Jesus sends the seventy out to go before Him in all the cities and places where He Himself was about to travel. The reality is, there’s always a great harvest to reap, but a lack of laborers – Jesus teaches us to pray for more laborers.
Luke 10:2 (NKJV) “Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’”
Does that mean that the more people we can get busy about God’s business, serving in the fields, the more people we’ll see saved? Hmmm, sure sounds like it!
Ministry (in one sense) is spiritually dangerous, we’re lambs among wolves, so we better stay close to our Shepherd.
What an important lesson to learn in this life – “where God guides, God provides,” so I’m not dependent on my “money-bag” or knapsack, I’m only dependent on my Provider. We learn on mission’s trips to be content with our food and lodging, and we learn as preachers, that we’re not to be discouraged if they reject the message, it’s not us they’re rejecting, it’s the Lord. We’re to make the message of salvation and judgment clear, but woe to those people who spit in the face of our Savior, who choose not to receive His love and grace, the judgment is severe…and some are more accountable than others.
This Psalm was written while both kingdoms were in captivity. Israel had been carried away by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. and Judah had been carried away by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The Psalmist, understandably is devastated by the way the beautiful Temple, built by Solomon has been completely destroyed.
This is a prayer for God to restore His people to fellowship with Him.
It may sound disconnected, but I think of the time that Moses threw down the two tablets upon which God had written the ten commandments – they were shattered; the reason he did that was because Israel had already broken them all.
The Temple destroyed by the Babylonians, in one sense, had already been destroyed by the Jews, for they had gone after other gods and left their first love.
In Psalm 74:9 the Psalmist points out that there was no longer a prophet, there was no longer a Word from God – Warren Wiersbe explains the reason for that, “One of God’s judgments is to leave His people without a word of guidance because they have refused to obey His will.”
God’s warnings are to be heeded; there are consequences to our sins, may we learn from the past, may we grow to fear and love God, and if we’ve strayed away and find ourselves in the enemies’ territory, may we cry out to God, He is ready and willing to restore us.
Till your land, break up that fallow ground, dig, prepare, cultivate…work hard. If you do, you’ll be blessed with bread.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.