We have been going through Deuteronomy for almost two months now and the truth is that it can be hard to do a personal devotional series on the laws when some of them seem so foreign to us. We must remind ourselves that as we finish up Deuteronomy that the laws are not a set of random rules but that at the core of them are a reflection of the nature of God. God lays down these rules to show how He operates because He intends His people to operate in a similar way. Today was tough when I was looking at the passage but the three guiding principles that I found that reflect the nature of God are the following: Honor, honesty, and obedience.
Despite what may seem foreign, the core posture of justice that we must take to reflect God is to seek honor, to be honest at all times, and obey His commands no matter how hard they may be.
NOTES ON THE TEXT
We won’t be going through every single detail but will be touching upon certain laws that were given today to see how honor, honesty, and obedience are the deeper principles that we are to adopt into our lives so that we can reflect who God is.
Honoring the guilty (v.1-3)
The guilty part was to be punished with forty lashes with a stick but no more because in the purpose of punishing someone, they still wanted to preserve the dignity of the guilty. Some, for the sake of justice, degrade the guilty but justice still seeks honor. Granted we are so bent upon seeing justice if we have personally been offended but the posture that God takes is one of honor in the midst of seeking justice. For us, when we seek to see justice here on earth, we must not seek it in such a way where we follow the crowd that seeks to degrade, dehumanize, or even demonize offenders for the sake of justice but seek it with the posture of honor. I realize that restoration is only possible when honor is part of the equation for how can someone rise up from where they are when we keep pushing them down?
Obedience and Obligation to Family (v.5-10)
Now this law seems strange as it was placed in a different time and culture than ours but here is some information in regards to this cultural and biblical command. The ancient Israelites were a community and family based society. Despite our society pushing the idea of family and community more these days, we are still heavily focused on the individual. The purpose of the brother to make children with the deceased brother was so that the promises of God to make many descendants of Israel may continue, the widow will be taken care of as she no longer has the protection of her husband, and loving the deceased brother. The removing of the sandal was a removal of rights and authority over a particular situation as the practice goes back to when someone who took ownership of a land would step onto the soil with their sandal and thus removing it was removing that right of ownership. The spitting on the face… well no one likes getting spit on the face as it is a sign of disrespect.
How can we apply this to our life. The core principle for us in one of obedience to God’s commands for us today and the second one has to do with our attitude and posture to family. The core principle is of taking care of the community and family as a whole over individual desires and for us and our spiritual family, do we just seek our own blessings or the blessings of others? Do we realize that even in our own sin that it is not an individual that is affected but that sin has a corrosive nature that effects everyone!
Honesty in daily life (v.13-16)
The call here is to not be dishonest with our dealings with others. A measure was a way of measuring possessions and or money in the midst of trading. The fact that God calls dishonesty an abomination is really extreme language and I thought about why God would have such strong language towards it. I know that deception is sin and that it is always an abomination to the Lord but one reason I believe that dishonesty is something that God hates the most because dishonesty and deception are the key traits of the greatest deceiver of all in Satan. The cursed condition of the world and the fall of man started because of a deception implanted by Satan unto Eve. That is why I believe that as followers of God that we must be really careful with out words, intentions, and thoughts so as to not deceive others and ultimately deceive ourselves for at times are dishonest with ourselves the most.