The Bible is the Word of God. Given that, we must read and study it daily because it helps us learn how to live righteous, godly lives. Without it, we are left to our own ways and, unfortunately, our ways usually don’t work. In these next few chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses continues to unpack the 10 Commandments. This time, the “love your neighbor” part.
“Love your neighbor as yourself,” was Jesus’ 2nd great commandment. But, what did that mean for the people back then? What does it mean for us, today? I pray that these words of wisdom and common sense resonate in your lives as God would want them to. Let’s dig in….
Deuteronomy 19 – Sanctuary Cities
Yes! God invented sanctuary cities, but not for illegal immigrants. He called them “cities of refuge”.
“When the Lord your God destroys the nations whose land he is giving you, you will take over their land and settle in their towns and homes. 2 Then you must set apart three cities of refuge in the land the Lord your God is giving you. 3 Survey the territory, and divide the land the Lord your God is giving you into three districts, with one of these cities in each district. Then anyone who has killed someone can flee to one of the cities of refuge for safety.
4 “If someone kills another person unintentionally, without previous hostility, the slayer may flee to any of these cities to live in safety.Deuteronomy 19:1-4 NLT
Concern for Justice
14 “When you arrive in the land the Lord your God is giving you as your special possession, you must never steal anyone’s land by moving the boundary markers your ancestors set up to mark their property.
15 “You must not convict anyone of a crime on the testimony of only one witness. The facts of the case must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
16 “If a malicious witness comes forward and accuses someone of a crime, 17 then both the accuser and accused must appear before the Lord by coming to the priests and judges in office at that time. 18 The judges must investigate the case thoroughly. If the accuser has brought false charges against his fellow Israelite, 19 you must impose on the accuser the sentence he intended for the other person. In this way, you will purge such evil from among you. 20 Then the rest of the people will hear about it and be afraid to do such an evil thing. 21 You must show no pity for the guilty! Your rule should be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.Deuteronomy 19:14-21 NLT
Jesus brought this up in His Sermon on the Mount…
38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.Matthew 5:38-39 NLT
The Israelites were going into hostile territory, so God wanted Moses to give them a little pep talk…
Deuteronomy 20 – Regulations Concerning War
“When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you! 2 When you prepare for battle, the priest must come forward to speak to the troops. 3 He will say to them, ‘Listen to me, all you men of Israel! Do not be afraid as you go out to fight your enemies today! Do not lose heart or panic or tremble before them. 4 For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!’
5 “Then the officers of the army must address the troops and say, ‘Has anyone here just built a new house but not yet dedicated it? If so, you may go home! You might be killed in the battle, and someone else would dedicate your house. 6 Has anyone here just planted a vineyard but not yet eaten any of its fruit? If so, you may go home! You might die in battle, and someone else would eat the first fruit. 7 Has anyone here just become engaged to a woman but not yet married her? Well, you may go home and get married! You might die in the battle, and someone else would marry her.’
8 “Then the officers will also say, ‘Is anyone here afraid or worried? If you are, you may go home before you frighten anyone else.’ 9 When the officers have finished speaking to their troops, they will appoint the unit commanders.
10 “As you approach a town to attack it, you must first offer its people terms for peace. 11 If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor. 12 But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town. 13 When the Lord your God hands the town over to you, use your swords to kill every man in the town. 14 But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the plunder from your enemies that the Lord your God has given you.
15 “But these instructions apply only to distant towns, not to the towns of the nations in the land you will enter. 16 In those towns that the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession, destroy every living thing. 17 You must completely destroy the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, just as the Lord your God has commanded you. 18 This will prevent the people of the land from teaching you to imitate their detestable customs in the worship of their gods, which would cause you to sin deeply against the Lord your God.
19 “When you are attacking a town and the war drags on, you must not cut down the trees with your axes. You may eat the fruit, but do not cut down the trees. Are the trees your enemies, that you should attack them? 20 You may only cut down trees that you know are not valuable for food. Use them to make the equipment you need to attack the enemy town until it falls.Deuteronomy 20 NLT
The Hebrew term for “destroy” used here refers to the complete consecration of things or people to the Lord, either by destroying them or by giving them as an offering.
I’ll just share highlights of this chapter. You can read it for yourself here. Here Moses covers what to do if…
- One finds a murdered body.
- A man marries a captive woman.
- A man has 2 wives – the first born son gets the largest inheritance.
Dealing with a Rebellious Son
18 “Suppose a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or mother, even though they discipline him. 19 In such a case, the father and mother must take the son to the elders as they hold court at the town gate. 20 The parents must say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of his town must stone him to death. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you, and all Israel will hear about it and be afraid.
22 “If someone has committed a crime worthy of death and is executed and hung on a tree (or impaled on a pole), 23 the body must not remain hanging from the tree overnight. You must bury the body that same day, for anyone who is hung is cursed in the sight of God. In this way, you will prevent the defilement of the land the Lord your God is giving you as your special possession.Deuteronomy 21:18-23 NLT
This is why the Jews had a problem with the cross. They couldn’t comprehend how or why their Messiah would be cursed by God. But, Jesus was cursed because He took ALL of our sins, past, present and future, upon himself. He who was sinless, innocent — not worthy of death.
Deuteronomy 22 – Be a Good Neighbor and Respect Creation
“If you see your neighbor’s ox or sheep or goat wandering away, don’t ignore your responsibility. Take it back to its owner. 2 If its owner does not live nearby or you don’t know who the owner is, take it to your place and keep it until the owner comes looking for it. Then you must return it. 3 Do the same if you find your neighbor’s donkey, clothing, or anything else your neighbor loses. Don’t ignore your responsibility.
4 “If you see that your neighbor’s donkey or ox has collapsed on the road, do not look the other way. Go and help your neighbor get it back on its feet!
5 “A woman must not put on men’s clothing, and a man must not wear women’s clothing. Anyone who does this is detestable in the sight of the Lord your God.
6 “If you happen to find a bird’s nest in a tree or on the ground, and there are young ones or eggs in it with the mother sitting in the nest, do not take the mother with the young. 7 You may take the young, but let the mother go, so that you may prosper and enjoy a long life.
8 “When you build a new house, you must build a railing around the edge of its flat roof. That way you will not be considered guilty of murder if someone falls from the roof.
9 “You must not plant any other crop between the rows of your vineyard. If you do, you are forbidden to use either the grapes from the vineyard or the other crop.
10 “You must not plow with an ox and a donkey harnessed together.
11 “You must not wear clothing made of wool and linen woven together.
12 “You must put four tassels on the hem of the cloak with which you cover yourself—on the front, back, and sides.Deuteronomy 22:1-12 NLT (bold emphasis mine)
You may have heard the term, “unequally yoked”. That’s what verse 10 is talking about. When you have two animals pulling a wagon, they need to be matched up — same size and weight. Otherwise, one will pull stronger than the other and you won’t get anywhere. Paul uses this analogy warning about relationships…
14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?2 Corinthians 6:14-15 NLT
That goes for both marriage and business!
The next few verses deal with marriage and I’ll let you read them here.
Deuteronomy 23 – Regulations Concerning Worship
2 “If a person is illegitimate by birth, neither he nor his descendants for ten generations may be admitted to the assembly of the Lord.
3 “No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants for ten generations may be admitted to the assembly of the Lord. 4 These nations did not welcome you with food and water when you came out of Egypt. Instead, they hired Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in distant Aram-naharaim to curse you. 5 But the Lord your God refused to listen to Balaam. He turned the intended curse into a blessing because the Lord your God loves you. 6 As long as you live, you must never promote the welfare and prosperity of the Ammonites or Moabites.
7 “Do not detest the Edomites or the Egyptians, because the Edomites are your relatives and you lived as foreigners among the Egyptians. 8 The third generation of Edomites and Egyptians may enter the assembly of the Lord.
9 “When you go to war against your enemies, be sure to stay away from anything that is impure.Deuteronomy 23:2-9 NLT
He then goes into miscellaneous regulations and you can read them here.
Deuteronomy 24 – Treating People with Dignity, Common Sense and Taking Care of the Poor
“Suppose a man marries a woman but she does not please him. Having discovered something wrong with her, he writes a document of divorce, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house. 2 When she leaves his house, she is free to marry another man. 3 But if the second husband also turns against her, writes a document of divorce, hands it to her, and sends her away, or if he dies, 4 the first husband may not marry her again, for she has been defiled. That would be detestable to the Lord. You must not bring guilt upon the land the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession.
5 “A newly married man must not be drafted into the army or be given any other official responsibilities. He must be free to spend one year at home, bringing happiness to the wife he has married.
6 “It is wrong to take a set of millstones, or even just the upper millstone, as security for a loan, for the owner uses it to make a living.
7 “If anyone kidnaps a fellow Israelite and treats him as a slave or sells him, the kidnapper must die. In this way, you will purge the evil from among you.
8 “In all cases involving serious skin diseases, be careful to follow the instructions of the Levitical priests; obey all the commands I have given them. 9 Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam as you were coming from Egypt.
10 “If you lend anything to your neighbor, do not enter his house to pick up the item he is giving as security. 11 You must wait outside while he goes in and brings it out to you. 12 If your neighbor is poor and gives you his cloak as security for a loan, do not keep the cloak overnight. 13 Return the cloak to its owner by sunset so he can stay warm through the night and bless you, and the Lord your God will count you as righteous.
14 “Never take advantage of poor and destitute laborers, whether they are fellow Israelites or foreigners living in your towns. 15 You must pay them their wages each day before sunset because they are poor and are counting on it. If you don’t, they might cry out to the Lord against you, and it would be counted against you as sin.
16 “Parents must not be put to death for the sins of their children, nor children for the sins of their parents. Those deserving to die must be put to death for their own crimes.
17 “True justice must be given to foreigners living among you and to orphans, and you must never accept a widow’s garment as security for her debt. 18 Always remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you from your slavery. That is why I have given you this command.
19 “When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all you do. 20 When you beat the olives from your olive trees, don’t go over the boughs twice. Leave the remaining olives for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. 21 When you gather the grapes in your vineyard, don’t glean the vines after they are picked. Leave the remaining grapes for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. 22 Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt. That is why I am giving you this command.Deuteronomy 24 NLT
Deuteronomy 25 – Justice
I’m skipping down to verse 13. You can read the beginning part here.
13 “You must use accurate scales when you weigh out merchandise, 14 and you must use full and honest measures. 15 Yes, always use honest weights and measures, so that you may enjoy a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you. 16 All who cheat with dishonest weights and measures are detestable to the Lord your God.
17 “Never forget what the Amalekites did to you as you came from Egypt. 18 They attacked you when you were exhausted and weary, and they struck down those who were straggling behind. They had no fear of God. 19 Therefore, when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your enemies in the land he is giving you as a special possession, you must destroy the Amalekites and erase their memory from under heaven. Never forget this!Deuteronomy 25:13-19 NLT
I’m going to finish off with this quote from Spoken Gospel…
What makes the good news of Jesus so good is not that these requirements are taken off of us. It’s not that we no longer have to treat one another with dignity and defend the defenseless. If anything, Jesus intensified these commands (Matthew 25:42).
The good news of Jesus is that he does both the purifying and the protecting, the cleansing and the caring. Like Israel’s atoning sacrifices, Jesus’ blood makes us completely pure. Even though we deserved to be excluded from his assembly because of all our uncleanness, Jesus cleans us up once and for all (Hebrews 10:22).
But he also gives us his Spirit to move us toward the widow, the orphan, and the slave (John 13:34). This is why the New Testament can say that it is God who wills and acts within us for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
Jesus saves us by his blood and then uses us to act out these laws to our own communities. Our actions aren’t the cause of his purification, his purification is the cause of our actions.“Jesus in all of Deuteronomy” by Spoken Gospel
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…
Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!
Top image by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-SA 3.0)