Day 75 (March 16): Idolatry warning, clean/unclean animals, tithes, treatment of debtors, slaves, firstborn male animal sacrifices, Passover, Festival of Unleavened Bread, Festival of Harvest, Festival of Shelters

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.  Take the challenge.  You won’t regret it.

Deuteronomy 13-16:17

Questions & Observations

Q. (13:1-18): In this passage, God speaks out against those who lure others into idolatry and those who are lured.  That was then, I’m sure we will learn in our NT reading — when we get there much later this year — what God or Jesus says about dealing with others pushing idolatry.  I certainly don’t think the OT will say, “stone them.”  And, we certainly don’t do that today.  We are more of a “coexist” society today.  I wonder what God thinks of that?  I can only imagine that He’s not too happy with it.

A. One big difference between then and now is that God is establishing a pure nation set apart from Him, and a big part of what He was trying to do was keep the Israelites from worshipping other gods.  Today, these boundaries (between Jew and Gentile, between Christian and Muslim) make it very difficult to keep any such society “pure” in the sense that was being described in the text.  The NT in particular will talk about being at peace with those around you, especially those who do not share your God.

Q. (Deuteronomy 13:1-18): At first, I read this and thought that God purposely luring us to other gods or idols to test us just sounds sneaky.  But then, I thought, I guess he does need to test them to find out their heart.  Someone could get easily lost in the crowd, grow up with followers of God, but not really have felt the love in their heart for God or been tested of their faith.  So, tempting them is one way to weed out the unbelievers.  And, it doubles in getting rid of all of those who do the tempting, for they also fail to have God in their heart.  Is this an accurate assessment of this lesson?

A. I can certainly see some wisdom in your description, and I think you’ve hit upon part of it.  I also think it is worth mentioning that people change over time, and the call to remain faithful to God is part of what this is about.  God is calling the people to be ever vigilant against the corrupting forces of false religions and idols.

Q. This may seem like a dumb question, but there are no dumb questions, right?  Anyway, I have always used the names God and Lord interchangeably.  But, do the two words have different meanings, in reference to our God?

A. No.  They are two different names given to God, where many names are used.  The most reverent name in scripture (to Jews anyway) is the true name of God: Yahweh, represented by the four letters YHWH (called the Tetragrammaton), printed Hebrew does not have vowels.  Whenever you see the use of LORD in all caps, it is a translation of YHWH, which in our version for this study is just rendered God.  But there are other words for God as well, and when Jews refer to God, since Yahweh is such a reverent name, they used the name Elohim or AdonaiElohim is usually how you see the word God presented, and Adonai means “lord,” so when you see only the first “L” capitalized (Lord, not LORD), the translation is referring to Adonai.  So the differences are actually harder to see in the NLT, but are fairly clear in some other Bibles.  Hope that helps.  If not, check this out: http://www.gotquestions.org/LORD-GOD-Lord-God.html

Q. (14:3-4): I thought the ceremonially clean/unclean requirement was lifted?

A. Nope.  Observant Jews keep the dietary laws (kosher) to this day.  What we were looking at yesterday, which is what I think you are referring to, is the idea that people could consume their own herd animals or certain animals that they caught, such as deer and gazelle.  But the rules about what animals they could eat did not change.

O. (14:22-23): I finally got it and won’t ask about sacrificing (here tithing) again.  It’s not about gruesome slaughtering, it’s about giving their best to the Creator.  It serves two purposes: sacrificing their best stuff or giving it up and honoring God.

Q. (16:10): This is the first time I have seen the request to bring “a voluntary offering in proportion to the blessings you have received from him.”  Most of the time, God has been very specific about what he wants to be offered or sacrificed.  Also, I know I have commented on the amount of offerings, gifts, sacrifices to the Lord and what a heap of stuff it must be.  Rob, I don’t think you had a definite answer of what happens to all of the gifts?

A. The implication of these verses is that they were shared among the people, including the Levites and the poor in the various community centers where sacrifices were to be brought.  The sacrifices at the Tabernacle, brought to make atonement for sin or other purposes, were either consumed by the priests or burned completely.

Hope you enjoyed today’s reading.  See you tomorrow.

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