Slideshow image

Year 1, Week 21, Day 4

I have a brief observation for today’s reading of Deuteronomy 14-15.

Today’s reading re-presents further details of the Mosaic Law. The second generation of Israelites, as they will soon be entering the Promised Land, are given afresh the requirements for living as the LORD’s covenant people: “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 14:2). Deuteronomy 14 reviews the list of clean and unclean animals before it reflects on a series of tithes that Israel was to use to provide for the Levites, cover the costs of the feasts at the central place of worship, and also to distribute relief to the poor. Deuteronomy 15 focuses primarily on the various things that were to occur in conjunction with the Sabbath Year.

One of the things that struck me in today’s reading was the correlation between Israel being associated with the name of the LORD and how they were to live: “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him.” (Psalm 148:13-14). While many of the issues addressed in today’s reading have been stated in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, these restatements remind Israel that their relationship with the LORD has bearing on what they eat, how they use their wealth, and what they do with their calendar. Belonging to the LORD encompasses all of life. As previously mentioned, this section of Deuteronomy interacts with the Ten Words given at Mt. Sinai. The chapters here in Deuteronomy unpack the implications of Israel’s most essential commandments. While Deuteronomy 6-11 are rooted in the first commandment, and Deuteronomy 12-13 are rooted in the second commandment, today’s reading is rooted in the third commandment: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” (Deuteronomy 5:11). Taking the name of the LORD in vain can certainly be done through our words, but it can more broadly be done in a whole host of choices that we make. Today’s reading orients taking the name of the LORD in vain when those who name the name of the LORD make unfaithful choices in the things they eat, the use of their wealth, and the commitments reflected in their calendars.

The name of the LORD can be profaned in what we eat: “You shall not eat any abomination…For you are a people holy to the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy 14:3,21b). Belonging to the LORD, bearing His name is to be reflected in the food choices that we make. The Old Covenant strictly regulated what foods were clean and what foods were unclean. While the reasons behind such distinctions may not be clear to us, and perhaps they were not even clear to Israel, the foods that the LORD declared uncleaned were to be avoided. Perhaps the only real reason to refrain from them was that God said so. Taking on the name of the LORD informs us that God is to be glorified even in what we eat: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

The name of the LORD can be profaned in the use of wealth: "You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.” (Deuteronomy 14:22-23). The segment of today’s reading either requires three separate tithes or it delineates three particular uses of the tithe. The focus of today’s reading is on the tithe for the feasts as Israelites who traveled far to the central place of worship would just bring money and buy what they needed when they arrived: “then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.” (Deuteronomy 14:25:26). But instructions are given for using the tithe to support the Levites as well as the poor (Deuteronomy 14:27-29).

The name of the LORD can be profaned by the neglect of the calendar for the priority of worship. Today’s reading references the things that were to occur in conjunction with the Sabbath Year, when Israel was to give the Land rest every seven years. Providing for the poor and offering freedom to those who have willingly placed themselves in servitude coincided with the Sabbath Year. These Sabbath occasions were opportunities to reflect the name of the LORD: “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.” (Deuteronomy 15:15). As Israel acted in a manner consistent with how the LORD had dealt with them, they would bring honor to the name of the LORD: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17).

What struck you in today’s reading? What questions were prompted from today’s reading?

Pastor Joe