Sunday, May 15, 2011

Deuteronomy 16 - Three Big Feasts and Impartiality of Judges

LINK: Deuteronomy 16


BACKGROUND


Again, the LORD reviews the importance of three feasts: Passover (lumped together with the Feast of Unleavened Bread), Weeks, and Booths.


You can find more information on the Passover in the Exodus 12 post.


The Feast of Weeks is named after Moses' command to count off seven weeks from the time they began to harvest the grain in March-April. It was also known as the "Feast of Harvest" and "day of first-fruits". Later it was given the named "Pentecost" based on the Septuagint's translation of the "50 days" in Leviticus 23:16. See more details about this feast in the Leviticus 23 post.


The Feast of Tabernacles is also called the Feast of Booths because the Israelites were to live in "booths" constructed of tree branches and foliage after the fall harvest. It is also called the "Feast of Ingathering" and is explained in the Leviticus 23 post. It was to recall the journey through the desert after Israel came out of Egypt. (This is my FAVORITE, fun feast, by the way!!!)


You can also look at the Feasts Chart  for more details about all the feasts, and their relation to The Scarlet Thread of Redemption. 

All three of these feasts were for remembering God's gracious dealings with them in their flight out of Egypt and wilderness period. It was a time for consecration and celebration.


It is also significant that all the males were to appear before the LORD during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks, and Feast of Booths.


The last part of this chapter deals with the responsibilities of the judges and officers to maintain pure worship in the Promised Land and to administer justly by not being partial, "Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you" (Deuteronomy 16:20).


Asherah and Sacred pillars


Wooden Asherah poles were symbolic of Asherah, the goddess of fertility and consort of Baal. Sacred pillars were stone pillars symbolic of male fertility. There was no place for these things in the sanctuary of the LORD! If the priests could not prevent this impure worship, the ultimate responsibility for making sure this did not happen rested on the judges.


REFLECTION

In the last part of this chapter, Moses talked about impartial judges. My mind immediately went to James 2:1, "My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism." James goes on to explain how it is discriminatory to give favor to those who are rich over those who are poor because those who are poor in the eyes of the world have been chosen to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom. James quotes what Jesus called the second greatest commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39).
Often we treat a well-dressed, impressive-looking person better than someone who looks shabby. We do this because we would rather identify with successful people than with apparent failures . . .the rich find it difficult to identify with the Lord Jesus, who came as a humble servant. Are you easily impressed by status, wealth, or fame? Are you partial to the "haves" while ignoring the "have nots"? This attitude is sinful. God views all people as equals, and if he favors anyone, it is the poor and the powerless. We should follow his example.
Why it is wrong to show favoritism to the wealthy? 
1) It is inconsistent with Christ's teaching (Love your neighbor as yourself). 
2) It results from evil thoughts. 
3) It insults people made in God's image. 
4) It is a by-product of selfish motives. 
5) It goes against the Biblical definition of love. 
6) It shows a lack of mercy to those less fortunate. 
7) It is hypocritical. 
8) It is sin.  (Life Application Bible, p. 2247)


A while ago, I saw partiality and favoritism in a big way among Christians toward a powerless person. It was all about money, power plays, and manipulation. The people or judges in charge did not "judge impartially." It grieved my heart, but it made me realize the infallibility of leaders, and my need to pray for them to be impartial judges. We should all do the same.


APPLICATION

The questions in the Life Application Bible quote above are very good:
Are you easily impressed by status, wealth, or fame? 
Are you partial to the "haves" while ignoring the "have nots?
Dialogue with God about this. Remember our hearts are deceitful above all else (see Deuteronomy 10 & 11 post). Our human nature gravitates toward status, wealth, and fame! So, be honest with God about it. There may be a "have not" out there that is a beautiful person you need to get to know!!!!


Also, you may have responsibility to appoint or elect wise and just officials in your church, school, job, or government. Take this responsibility seriously, and choose leaders who uphold justice and godliness.


Finally, remember to pray for your leaders that it may go well for you:
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings, and for everyone who has authority, so that we might lead a quiet and peaceful life with all godliness and dignity. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
PRAYER

Lord, we pray for our leaders in our churches and local, state, and national governments to judge righteously. We ask that if there are those who are not doing so, that You would put people in those positions who will! Thank You for being our Righteous Judge! Amen.
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