Friday, May 20, 2011

Deuteronomy 22 - Laws for Wholehearted Devotion

LINK: Deuteronomy 22

BACKGROUND

God cared about every detail in society. This chapter covers various laws that promote domestic tranquility.

Loving Your Neighbor (22:1-4; 6-8)

Leviticus 19:18 states:


You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. (NKJ)
This section gives more details about how to live that out. 

Distinctions between Men and Women (22:5) 

The Israelites were to be set apart from the pagan cultures around them. There is much debate about these verses. Some churches tell women and men how they can dress, but we can derive principles from the Old Testament in our New Testament realities. We are not under the Law. The heart of this passage is that there be distinction between the sexes. God created both male and female in His image (Genesis 1:27). They were made for each other and made differently. One sex is not dominant over the other, but we are different. 

Mixing Things (22:9-11)

Keeping various seeds separate is curious. Some commentators have speculated that mixing seed was part of pagan practices:
This also was directed against an idolatrous practice, namely, that of the ancient Zabians, or fire-worshippers, who sowed different seeds, accompanying the act with magical rites and invocations; and commentators have generally thought the design of this and the preceding law was to put an end to the unnatural lusts and foolish superstitions which were prevalent among the heathen. But the reason of the prohibition was probably deeper: for those who have studied the diseases of land and vegetables tell us, that the practice of mingling seeds is injurious both to flowers and to grains. “If the various genera of the natural order Gramineae, which includes the grains and the grasses, should be sown in the same field, and flower at the same time, so that the pollen of the two flowers mix, a spurious seed will be the consequence, called by the farmers chess. It is always inferior and unlike either of the two grains that produced it, in size, flavor, and nutritious principles. Independently of contributing to disease the soil, they never fail to produce the same in animals and men that feed on them” [WHITLAW].(Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Le 19:19))
The ox was a clean animal and the donkey was an unclean animal so they should not be yoked together. Apparently, they also had very different temperaments and body sizes which would have been problematic. One commentator speculates:
Besides, the ass, from feeding on coarse and poisonous weeds, has a fetid breath, which its yoke fellow seeks to avoid, not only as poisonous and offensive, but producing leanness, or, if long continued, death; and hence, it has been observed always to hold away its head from the ass and to pull only with one shoulder. (Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Dt 22:10))
For some reason, that really made me laugh! I will say that my husband has a real life example of a donkey (ass) killing two goats in a farm yard. So, maybe they are not good yoked with any other animals!

Regarding the mixing of linen and wool: 
Observations and researches of modern science have proved that “wool, when combined with linen, increases its power of passing off the electricity from the body. In hot climates, it brings on malignant fevers and exhausts the strength; and when passing off from the body, it meets with the heated air, inflames and excoriates like a blister” [WHITLAW]. (Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Le 19:19))
It also could relate to pagan practices. 

The tassels in 22:12 are not explained but are in Numbers 15:37-41. They served as a reminder for the Israelites to obey God's commands and not follow their deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9).

Personal Purity (22:13-30)

These laws all relate to the seventh commandment: You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14). They deal with sexual purity, adultery, rape, and incest. Sex is a good thing and created by God in the context of marriage. All other forms of sex are not God's design. The punishments here are very harsh. We live under the New Covenant so there will be no stoning, but God loves purity of heart and body. 

REFLECTION

I totally avoided this chapter over the last three cycles of the Bible Book Club. I am in the editing stage now, but I decided to write a background today. I think I avoided it because of the harsh punishment of the Old Testament Law when it comes to all the things connected with the marriage relationship. Sexual purity is important to God, but in our society today, it is so hard to maintain purity.

Pornography addiction seems to be on the rise even among followers of Jesus. These statistics, literally, shocked me and broke my heart today:

Christians Are Not Immune 
Sadly, 47% of all Christians say that they have major problems with pornography.  Even among the discipleship group of the Promise Keepers, 53% of these men viewed pornography in the last week!  An April 6th, 2007 CNN poll revealed that over 70% of Christian men and over 20% of Christian women are already addicted to some sort of Internet pornography.  In the year 2000, Christianity Today completed a shocking survey that revealed 33% of the clergy (pastors and priests) admitted that they had visited a sexually explicit Internet website in the past week.   Fifty-three percent of the clergy had visited pornographic websites several times in the past year.   In a survey of pastors by the National Coalition in Seattle, a full 98% had been exposed to porn while 43% intentionally accessed a sexually explicit website. Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/how-to-overcome-an-addiction-to-pornography-help-for-struggling-christians/#ixzz3VbhThwFJ

Yikes! I see many marriages ruined by it (and the wife always gets blamed when she files for divorce because of her husband's pornography addiction which I think is totally twisted). 

I am left this morning wondering how to change the culture of sexual impurity, and I am at a loss for how that might come about. The article link sited above can help, but I also think deeper listening and inner healing prayer are needed to get to the root of the addiction. 

I have done Theophostic prayer for years, and people have seen great freedom through this. 

I would like to recommend a book that is along the same principles of Theophostic. It is a very good and practical guide to helping you work through the underlying issues. I was a nanny for this man in Spain in 1983:

A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer: Meeting God in the Broken Places by Rusty Rustenbach. 

Please get help for your sexual impurity issues. There is no condemnation here just compassion and desire to see you free to serve God with your whole heart! 

PRAYER


Lord, thank You that You care for every detail of our life. Please free us from anything that is competing with a wholehearted devotion to You. Amen. 
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