Tag Archives: Parents

Choices Always Have Consequences (Deuteronomy 24-27)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 24-27

Moses continues his final challenge to Israel in today’s scripture reading, and his speech covers nearly every aspect of life in the new land.

Deuteronomy 24

Marriage and divorce are the subject of the opening verses of Deuteronomy 24, and we are reminded that divorce was never God’s will. God’s plan from creation was that man would be the husband of one wife (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:8). The principles on divorce stated in this passage were given to stress the solemnness of marriage and the sobriety of divorce (24:1-5).

Various life principles follow (24:6-22)

1) Never take a pledge of indebtedness against a man’s “millstone,” meaning his means to grind wheat and provide bread for his family (24:6). Stated in a different manner: Don’t take from a man his livelihood and means to provide for his family.

2) Don’t engage in “man stealing” (the 21st century describes this as “human trafficking” and its victims are often children). The penalty of such is death (24:7).

3) Never oppress the poor by taking advantage of their impoverished state (24:10-15). In ancient times, the sole possession of a poor man might have been nothing more than the robes he wore. Explanation: While a poor man might offer his outer robe to secure a loan and the lender take possession of it during the day, the debtor was not to be denied the warmth and comfort of his robe at night.  That principle is timeless!  While people should not assume debts, they cannot pay; neither should lenders be harsh in charging usury, seeking justice, and restitution.

4) Employers are to pay employees their due (24:16).

5) Everyone was to bear the punishment for their own sin and not another in their stead (24:16).

6) Compassion for the poverty of the orphan, widow, and foreigner was a burden shared by Hebrew society (24:19-22).

Deuteronomy 25

Because justice is essential for the peace and well-being of a society, corporal punishment that fit the crime was to be administered, but within reason and without excessive harshness (Deut. 25:1-4).

Even the ox that labored in the field was to be an object of compassion and allowed the reward of eating some of the grain as it labored (25:4; 1 Timothy 5:18).

Hebrews were expected to be men of integrity in business, and weights and measurements used in commerce were to be “perfect and just” (Deut. 25:13-16).

Though commanded to have compassion on a foreigner in other passages, Israel was not to appear weak or trivialize offenses an enemy’s (25:17-19).

Deuteronomy 26

Because the LORD had chosen Israel and blessed the people, Moses reminded them they were to demonstrate their gratitude by bringing the first fruits of the harvest to the sanctuary (26:1-15).

A special tithe was given every third year accompanying the tither’s confession he had honored the LORD’s commandments and obeyed them. The third-year tithe was used to meet immediate needs in one’s community and to support “the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled” (26:12-15).

Reminded of their covenant with the LORD, Israel was to promise to “walk in his ways, and to keep His statutes, and His commandments” (26:16-17). In response, the LORD promised to promote Israel above all the nations of the earth (26:19).

Deuteronomy 27

Lest the people forget, a memorial pillar of stones was to be inscribed with the law and raised up on the west side of the Jordan River as a reminder of the LORD’s promises and commandments (Dt. 27:1-2).  An altar was to be built to sanctify the place and the LORD’s covenant with Israel (27:2-10).

Admonishing the people “Choices have Consequences”, the elders of the twelve tribes were charged to remind them obedience to the Law brought the LORD’s blessing, and disobedience His curse and judgments (27:14-26).

A series of twelve curses were pronounced, and the tribes affirmed they accepted the LORD’s covenant (Dt. 27:15-26).

1) Idolatry, a violation of the first and second commandments is cursed (27:15).

2) Dishonoring one’s parents is cursed (27:16), a violation of the fifth commandment (Ex. 20:12).

3) Stealing the property and possessions of another is cursed, a violation of the eighth commandment (27:17; Ex. 20:15).

4) Taking advantage of the infirmed or disabled is cursed (27:18).

5) Unjust treatment of “the stranger, fatherless, and widow” is cursed (27:19; Ex. 22:21-24).

The sixth through ninth curses address sexual impurity, a violation of the seventh commandment (27:20-23; Ex. 20:14).

6) Incest with one’s stepmother is cursed (27:20; Lev. 18:8-9, 17; 20:11).

7) Bestiality is cursed (27:21; Lev. 18:23).

8) Incest between siblings and parents is cursed (27:22).

9) Incest with one’s mother-in-law is cursed (27:23).

The sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13), is the subject of the tenth and eleventh curses (Dt. 27:24-25).

10) Intentional murder of one’s neighbor is cursed (Dt. 27:24).

11) Hiring an assassin to kill another is cursed (Dt. 27:25).

The twelfth and final curse is addressed to any child of Israel who failed to affirm God’s Law and Commandments (Dt .27:26).

When the people were asked to affirm they accepted the LORD’s covenant, they answered, “Amen” (27:26).

In case you are tempted to believe the law and commandments have no application to you, I remind you:

1 Peter 1:15-16 – “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Moral Foundation of Societal Laws (Deuteronomy 21-23)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 21-23

We find in today’s scripture reading the basis from which we derive our societal views on the sanctity of life, compassion, and decency. Signs of moral decay are around us; however, there are glimpses of compassion, rightness, and a sense of justice that continues to prevail.

Our neighbors may be ignorant of the source of their outrage when animals are mistreated, the weak are abused, or women are victims of violence. In today’s scripture you will discover the moral basis of justice and our conviction that demands kindness and fairness.

Moral Decency and Compassion (Deuteronomy 21)

Deuteronomy 21 sets forth various laws Israel was to follow. The sanctity of human life is demonstrated in the regard of a slain man whose body was discovered with no witnesses to identify his killer (21:1-9).

The just treatment of an alien woman taken as the spoil of war is addressed and the dignity of womanhood was demanded (21:10-12). Should a Hebrew man take a foreign woman as his wife, she was to be given a season of mourning (21:13). Should the husband later declare he did not desire her, she was to be treated with dignity and not to be sold as a slave. She was to be granted her freedom (21:14).

The birthright of inheritance as a firstborn son was established (21:15-17). The firstborn son’s right of a double inheritance could not be diminished, even if he was born to a least favored wife. He was his father’s firstborn and his privilege could not be reduced.

The nation was to be intolerant of rebellion in its youth (21:18) and a rebellious, stubborn son given to gluttony and drunkenness was to be put to death by the men of the city after due process (21:19-21).

Love Thy Neighbor (Deuteronomy 22)

There are many life principles we follow as a nation that originate in the Old Testament scriptures. What we consider civil behavior has its roots in Old Testament laws.  For example, your neighbors might try to find and return a stray pet to its owner. That compulsion is founded in the Israelite law that a man was required to preserve his neighbor’s property, have compassion on stray livestock (22:1-2), and hold a lost object until it was claimed by its owner (22:3).

A militant movement in the 21st century has attempted to normalize “transsexualism,” but God’s law addressed this aberration of His divine order and demanded the dress and fashion of the male and female to be distinctive (22:5).

Remembering God is Creator and life is sacred, the Israelites were to value and preserve life; even the smallest bird and her nestlings were to be treated with compassion (22:6-7).

Traditional homes in the Middle East were flat roofed and families would escape the interior heat of a home by seeking refuge on the roof at night. Demonstrating the sacred nature of human life, a “battlement” or low wall was required on the roof to prevent accidental falls that would result in injury and death (22:8).

Unlike the heathen, Hebrew women were given protections and the right of due process should their purity and testimony be called into question (22:13-21).  Practical laws and guidelines regarding the sanctity and purity of marriage were stated and adultery and rape were condemned (22:13-30). Incest was prohibited and was an abomination to God (22:30).

Deuteronomy 23

Males who underwent sexual mutilation (23:1), such as what you and I might identify as “sex change” in the 21st century, were to be put out from God’s people.

The rights of inheritance and those prohibited to have any inheritance in Israel are listed (23:2-8). Principles concerning hygiene and sanitation are enumerated, even the use of a shovel to cover human waste was endorsed (23:12-14).

A slave fleeing a foreign master was to be given safe haven in Israel (23:15-16) and female whores and sodomite men were to be excluded from the nation (23:17-18).

A Hebrew was forbidden to charge interest (usury) on a loan to another Hebrew; however, interest was allowed when loaning to a non-Hebrew (23:19-20).

Principles concerning vows are stated: 1) Making a vow is binding and is not to be entered into lightly and when failed is a sin (23:21). 2) In fact, it is better to not make a vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it (23:22-23).

Finally, we notice a lesson in civility and an expression of compassion for others: Strangers were permitted to eat fruit in vineyards and fields as they passed by; however, they were forbidden to employ a vessel to carry more than they could eat at one time (23:24-25).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Baldheads, Charity, Generosity, and Blind Justice (Deuteronomy 14-16)

Scripture reading assignment – Deuteronomy 14-16

Today’s scripture reading covers a wide swath of rules, laws, and regulations Israel was to follow as a nation in the Promised Land.

Outward Signs of Mourning Forbidden (14:1-2)

Deuteronomy 14 opens with an unusual command: “Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead” (14:1).

Shaving one’s head as an outward sign of mourning had been a practice of the Hebrews (Micah 1:16; Amos 8:10; Ezekiel 7:18) and other ancient cultures. Reminding Israel, they were “an holy…chosen…peculiar people unto [the LORD]”, Moses commanded the men to no longer follow that practice when they entered the Promised Land (14:3).

The people were to be different, set apart in their diet, distinguishing between the clean and unclean as the LORD had commanded (14:4-21). They were to remember to give the LORD His tithe, and when the distance to bring tithes of beasts or fruits was too far, they were to sell them and bring the money to the sanctuary (14:22-26).

They were to be a charitable people, supporting the Levites who ministered before the LORD and caring for the poor, widow, orphan, and foreigner (14:27-29) with the promise the LORD would bless them “in all the work of thine hand which thou doest” (14:29b).

Deuteronomy 15 reminded the nation they were to observe the Sabbath year which occurred every seven years.

The Sabbath year was the year debtors would be forgiven their debts (15:1-5) and Hebrews who had enslaved themselves due to their impoverished state were released from servitude (15:12-15).

Permit me to invite you to consider several monetary principles and spiritual truths found in this chapter. The first, a sign of the LORD’S blessing on Israel was His prohibition against that nation ever becoming a debtor nation.  While they might lend to nations, they were to never borrow from them less they become their servants (15:6). Sadly, we as citizens of the United States, now over 20 trillion dollars in debt, find ourselves debtors to our adversaries.

A second truth is the perpetual presence of the poor in the world. We read, “the poor shall never cease out of the land” (15:11). The Hebrews were to be known for their generosity to the poor and needy.

A third principle is the requirement of generosity toward those who served their master or employer faithfully (15:12-18). A Hebrew slave who was given his freedom on the Sabbath year was not to be sent away empty-handed (15:12-14).  The nation was to remember they had been slaves in Egypt and were to extend compassion to their brethren.

Some who had served out their debt, and so loved their masters that they voluntarily accepted a lifetime of servitude, were marked by a hole in their ear (15:16-17). Hired servants were generally obligated to a three-year term; however, some were “double hired,” serving six years and were to be honored with the promise “thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest” (15:18).

Three feasts are recorded in Deuteronomy 16 (Feast of the Passover, Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles) and were given to all Israel to observe. The men of Israel were commanded to observe them each year in Jerusalem (16:1-16). The standard for giving at the feasts was, “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee” (16:17).

I close today’s devotional commentary inviting you to consider the justice system Israel was to implement (16:18).  Knowing the tribes of Israel would be scattered in the Promised Land, it was essential that judges be appointed by each tribe. God valued justice, and judges were to be impartial and not prejudiced by bribes (16:19-20).

The law of God requires impartiality; however, in all fairness, I fear equity has been lost in our world, and the scales of justice weigh heavily in favor of the rich and powerful.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Remember and Never Forget (Deuteronomy 11-13)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 11-13

Memories and experiences shape us and can forever change us.

My grandparents’ generation experienced the Great Depression of the 1930’s, and frugality was their lot and practice to their graves. The bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 was an event that catapulted the United States into World War II but also birthed at the close of the war a prosperity the world had never known.

The extraordinary terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 introduced my generation to the horrific nature of militant Islam as we faced our own vulnerability and witnessed the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York City.

Like our parents and grandparents, I fear we fail to pass on to our children the deep, heart-felt emotions and wisdom life experiences has afforded us. Moses understood the children born during the wilderness journey would not appreciate all the LORD had done for Israel. Moses observed,

I speak not with your children which have not known” (11:2), “but your eyes have seen all the great acts of the LORD which He did” (11:7).

There is a wisdom that comes to those who “walk the walk.” Moses challenged Israel: Remember both God’s deliverance and His judgments, “keep all the commandments…be strong” (11:8). Moses promised the people, “keep all these commandments…to do them, to love the LORD your God… There shall no man be able to stand before you” (11:22-25).

God’s People Are to Be Intolerant of Sin (Deuteronomy 12)

It was not enough to conquer their enemies and take possession of the Promised Land. Israel was to destroy their idols and places of worship lest they be tempted to worship (12:1-3).  One place was to be holy to the LORD, and there the people were to bring and offer their sacrifices (12:4-14).

Remembering the abominations committed by the heathen, in particular, sacrificing their sons and daughters “in the fire to their gods” (12:31), Israel was admonished, “Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them” (12:30).

Warning: Don’t be dismissive of Deuteronomy 13 and its principles.

Moses warned the nation to not be ensnared by false prophets (13:1-5). So grave was his concern, he warned the people to be intolerant of the enticements of family and friends who would draw them away from the LORD (13:6-11).

False prophets are a constant presence in the 21st century. Many come under the guise of spiritual leaders; however, there are politicians, teachers, and media personalities who constantly promote a false narrative that is atheistic and baseless.

Shut out the clamor and noise of the world. Love the LORD, obey His law, heed His commandments, and rest in His promises.

1 Peter 1:14-16 – “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15  But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

God’s Amazing Grace: “The Lord Loved Them” (Deuteronomy 5-7)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 5-7

Moses summoned the people, and he began to rehearse the covenant the LORD had established with the nation and their corporate obligation to “hear…learn…keep, and do” all He had commanded them (5:1).

After reviewing the Ten Commandments (5:6-21), Moses reminded the people that the LORD Himself “wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me” (5:22).  He promised He would bless the nation; however, His promises were conditioned on their fearing Him and keeping His commandments (5:29).

Knowing the future of the nation was dependent on the people’s fearing and revering the LORD (6:3),each generation was to communicate the statutes and laws of the LORD to their sons and daughters (Deuteronomy 6:1-2).

When Jesus was asked which of the commandments was the greatest (Matthew 22:36-37), He quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 as the sum of the Law: “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”

After rehearsing the past providences and promises of the LORD (6:20-25), Moses challenged the people to be confident in Him.  The God who delivered them out of Egypt would drive the heathen nations out of their land (Deuteronomy 7:1). They were to be intolerant of the heathen: “smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them” (7:2).

Antagonists of Christianity take the commands given to Israel in Deuteronomy 7 out of historical context and foolishly equate them to our day.  Some deride the Bible as a violent book and intimate Christianity is as evil as militant Islam.  Those who assert such are either disingenuous or ignorant.

It is true the LORD commanded Israel to not covenant with other nations or tolerate intermarriage of their children with heathens (7:3-4), as was the custom of enemies who sought peace through marrying and giving in marriage their sons and daughters.  However, the LORD is jealous of His people, and He knew well the influence idol worshippers would have on their hearts (7:4).

We find the New Testament equivalent of amazing grace in Deuteronomy 7:6-8. The LORD had chosen Israel and commanded them to be a “holy people” (7:6); however, it was not because they were deserving of His favor. Israel was chosen because “the LORD loved” them (7:8), and because He loved them, He promised to bless them “above all people” (7:7-14)!

God’s love for Israel was unconditional; however, His promise of blessings was conditioned on Israel’s trusting Him and purging the land of its idols and those who worshipped them (7:15-26).

I close with two spiritual lessons from today’s study.

1) Moses challenged Israel to remember the LORD’S promises and providences, and we should do the same. We need to remember and never forget how the LORD saved us from the curse and bondage of sin through Christ’s sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 3:23-28).

2) The second lesson is, obedience bears the promise of God’s blessing.  Moses challenged Israel to obey the LORD’s instructions, assuring the people their God was intimately invested in the “good [of Israel] always” and their preservation as His chosen people (6:24).  It is that same assurance Paul gives believers when he writes,

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Memorial to the LORD’S Faithfulness (Deuteronomy 1-2)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 1-2

Our chronological journey through the Bible continues today with the book of Deuteronomy, the fifth of the first five books of the Bible known as the Pentateuch.

While Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers chronicled Israel’s journey through the wilderness, the book of Deuteronomy begins at the journey’s end and the threshold to the Promised Land.  With the exception of three men, Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, the generation from twenty years and above that departed Egypt has perished along the way.

Deuteronomy is a record of Moses’ final instructions and exhortations to a people he had shepherded for forty years.  We read:

Deuteronomy 1:3 – “And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them.”

It was important for Moses to rehearse with that generation who they were, from whence they came, and God’s plan for their future as a nation (1:8).  Moses realized his days were numbered, and he wanted the people to know not only their physical lineage, but more importantly, their spiritualheritage as God’s chosen people.

The men and women who were 19 years old and younger when Israel exited Egypt were now in their late fifties, and Moses feared their children and grandchildren might be tempted to turn back from the challenges of the new land. Many were too young to know the hardships of Egypt or remember when the people rebelled against the LORD.

Concerned the youth lacked an understanding of what faithlessness had cost their parents and grandparents, the aged and wise leader rehearsed the tragic consequences of their disobedience.  Moses made certain they understood the challenges they would soon face.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Gender Roles and Spiritual Synergy (Numbers 35-36)

Scripture Reading – Numbers 35-36

Twelve tribes have been assigned their portion in the Promised Land (34:16-29); however, the priestly tribe of Levi was not assigned an inheritance in the land.  Instead, forty-eight cities in the midst of the lands apportioned to the other tribes were allotted to the Levites (35:1-5).

Of the forty-eight cities assigned, six were to serve as cities of refuge to which a man accused of slaying another might flee to seek justice (35:6-34).

The Book of Numbers ends on an interesting note as a concern arises regarding the matter of inheritance when a man would die and have no son to be his heir.

Though often maligned by secularists and assailed by militant women, the Scriptures prove in Numbers 36 the LORD’s sensitivity to justice and fairness in a family, and in this instance, two unmarried daughters whose father had no son to be his heir (36:1-4).

There was concern what would become of tribal lands when a man had no son. It was argued the lands assigned to a tribe would be lost should a man’s daughters marry outside their tribal bloodlines. The dilemma was solved by requiring daughters who were heirs to marry within the tribe of their father (36:5-9), thereby keeping the land within the tribe.

Numbers 36 concludes with the “daughters of Zelophehad” being assured of their inheritance in the land and their submitting to the LORD’s will that they marry men within their tribal bloodline, securing the inheritance for future generations of their tribe (36:10-13). The context of the matter of a man’s heirs and the rights of his daughters began in Numbers 27 and concludes in Numbers 36

The decision that a daughter had a right of inheritance in the absence of a son was a radical one for ancient times since women were viewed as less than men in matters of culture and inheritance.

As late as the 20th and early 21st century, the majority of women lived in oppressive conditions in the world; however, such was not to be the case among God’s people.

Lesson – The church and believers must recognize that, though gender roles differ, there is to be a spiritual synergy between male and female, husband and wife.

When a man accepts that woman was created, not as his servant, but as his helpmeet (suitable helper), and companion (Genesis 2:18; Ephesians 5:25) and the woman recognizes her role is fulfilled in following her husband’s lead (Genesis 3:16; Ephesians 5:23-24), there is harmony, respect, and peace in the home and the church (Ephesians 5:31-33).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith