Deuteronomy: The Law Then and Its Impact Today

     There is little doubt that the fifth book of the Pentateuch is a fascinating one. It is fascinating on many levels particularly in light of the fact that Moses is found rehearsing the law just prior to his death. The fact that Moses is rehearsing the law brings much to light about what Deuteronomy truly is. It is not a record of a dying man just getting some burdens relieved from his chest rather it is the work of a man of God providing focus to a new generation of followers.

 

     Before the new followers of God are brought to the forefront it needs to be noted that Moses, from an early age, was welcomed into Pharaoh’s house. He was taught by the best and dined well. Yet over a period of time Moses came to realize that he really did not belong to Pharaoh but that he had a much longer and sure history with the Hebrews; that is the Israelites. God used Moses to lead His people from the hands of tyrannical leadership that refused to let the Israelites worship God. After much ado the children were allowed to leave the house of bondage which was Egypt. After the release the people of God became rebellious and stiff-necked.  Unthankfulness was the order of the day even while God continued to provide for and protect His people.

 

     Because of their rebellion the Israelites, with Moses, wandered in the wilderness for a generation. During this time God provided Moses with the law the Israelis were to abide by. Meanwhile the older and rebellious people were dying in the wilderness leaving the younger people unfamiliar with the entire law. It is for this reason that there had to be a reiteration or a repeating of the Law. This is what “Deuteronomy” loosely means. It is a repeating or restating of the law. With this the new generation of God’s followers had to be instructed in the Law which is what prompted Moses to give a series of three speeches revisiting not just the law but also the very nuances of it.

     Moses, in chapter four provides distinct a warning in respect to the Word of God, or the Law. His warning was “Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you.  Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” The reason for this warning was to prevent what happened to the older generation who chose not only to rebel against the Law but often served other gods as is evidenced in Exodus 32:4. And while the term “law” is not used in the text the Law is most definitely referenced with the term “Commandments” and these commandments are from the Lord.

     The Law was to guide the people while the more important matter of the Law was to present a holy people before a holy God. The Israelites were to be separate from the world in every aspect of their lives. This is why the nuances of the Law were so important as laid out by Moses.  The people of God were to be holy from the onset and they were to see themselves as “an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6) The people of God were never to be like other peoples and had to be separated from things that were an offense to God. This is what holiness is about and this is what the Law sought to do- keep the people of God separate and apart from ungodly offenses.

     In order to maintain holiness the people of God were not to alter the Law in any form. It was to remain intact without exception. This can be furthered by the fact that because God is holy His Word must also be holy. This is why it cannot be altered and must be honored in whole. Revelation 22:18-19 repeats the very idea mentioned in Deuteronomy. The text reads, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:  And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Clearly the first freed generation of Israelites was caught in certain plagues because they chose not to adhere to the holiness of God’s Word.

     With this it is important to know that the Law (Word of God) was put in place for the holiness of a people. While it is evident that the Law was directed to the Israelites present day followers of God have been grafted into the Tree of Life (Romans 11). That Tree of Life is Jesus who came not to destroy the Law rather He came fulfill the Law. Matthew 5:17 makes this point abundantly clear. The Law, while the ceremonial aspects of it are not in use today, is directive for the holiness of a people. Moses, during his speeches, pointed the people to holiness. Jesus in His life lived holiness. Christians today need to take the Word of God and hide it in our hearts so that the impact of the law will be holiness. The fact is that without holiness no man shall see God yet with a life of holiness man walks with God. The Law then was pointing to holiness; the impact now, a life of holiness.

 

 

 

Diametrically Opposed

There are just some things that have to be taken personally. For instance, when one goes on to marry another it is not for the benefit of the population at large rather marriage is a matter that is personally relative to those involved. Marriage is a matter of personal relationship and dedication between one man and one woman. It is a matter of personal choice to which both parties should be diametrically opposed to interference from any and all other forces. This is much like the relationship between Christ and the Church.

The relationship between Christ and the Church becomes even more personal considering the relationship between Christ and the individuals that make up the Church. It is a choice made by the individuals and Christ. It is a matter of personal choice. Yet there seem to be many that would like to intrude on the relational aspects enjoyed by Christians with Christ. With this, I must make it personal because I am diametrically opposed to those that choose to tell me how I should celebrate my Saviour and those that think it OK that I should condone things that are clearly challenges to my relationship with Christ.

One such matter is that of abortion. The Word of God clearly states that there should be no taking of innocent life (Proverbs 6:16-17; Deuteronomy 5:17). How much more innocent can anyone be than the unborn? I am diametrically opposed to the murder of those that never had the opportunity to defend themselves yet they are continually being snuffed out. Yes, I have heard all the arguments even while Planned Parenthood and like agencies really should be renamed Murder on Demand.

I know that my opposition to abortion may get some feathers ruffled so I might as well continue to ruffle feathers. My stance against sexual immorality is just as strong. I could outline a number of sex sins such as premarital sex, extra-marital sex, gender reassignment, and pedophilia but I will limit this discussion to the hot button issue of the day which is same-sex marriage. While I have absolutely no agreement with homosexual interactions I am diametrically opposed to the very notion of same-sex marriage. The very term is a paradox but that is an issue for another essay.

Yes, I have heard the bleeding hearts say things along the lines of a person’s inability to choose who they love. While I could easily take issue with that very statement I will further this discussion by saying that just because you love a person does not mean that you have to have sex with them. Nor does it mean that you have to marry them. The fact of the matter is that the Word of God clearly provides instructions stating, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). It is interesting that at no point is there a suggestion that people of the same gender should marry. Further, I Corinthians 7:2 further advises “to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” I am diametrically opposed to same-sex marriage because it tears at the very heart of Christianity. It tears at the very relational aspect of marriage between Christ and the Church.

But these are not the only contemporary matters to which I am diametrically opposed. There are some, even some so-called “Christians,” that think it OK to lie as long as it is for a good reason. Yet the Word clearly shows that “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). And the list of things to which I am diametrically opposed goes on right to the idea that all “religions” are basically the same as long as you believe in some abstract “god.” Well, once again there must be a simple reading of the Word of God which shows that there is “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:5-6). Additionally, Jesus stated, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

The thing is that I am growing weary of what some would like to see as an “anything goes” Christianity. There are some remarking that they have evolved into believing that wrong is right while right has become wrong. Others declare that the Christian, standing on the Word of God, has no compassion even though compassion is rooted in the truths of the Word of God. It is these truths to which I lay my allegiance and causes me to be diametrically opposed to anything that positions itself against the Word.