“The Family of the Unsandalled”….what path are you on ?

19 04 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE : Deuteronomy 23 v. 1 – 25 v. 19; Luke 16 v. 19 – 17 v. 10; Psalm 45 v. 10 – 17

DEUTERONOMY
Exclusions – certain people are forbidden from ‘entering the assembly of the Lord’:
no-one who has been emasculated (ouch!!), or who was born into a forbidden marriage (as far down as the fifth generation….); no Ammonite or Moabite or their descendants (punishment for the way they had behaved when the Israelites were in need); however, they are not to hate either Edomites or Egyptians because of shared experiences – third generation Edomites / Egyptians may enter the assembly.

Uncleanness – mmm. Rules about a man’s ‘nocturnal emissions’ – he must leave the camp, wash himself and only return at sunset; rules about pooing, too !! For health and hygiene purposes, poo outside the camp in a hole, then cover it up (carry your little spade with you at all times). The camp must be kept clean and holy for God to move around amongst the people.

Laws – a refugee slave (as asylum-seeker) must be granted safety and not be returned to his master; no prostitution is allowed (unlike the temple prostitutes), and no dealing with money earned that way; don’t charge interest on any loans to a fellow Israelite (but you can charge a foreigner); honour quickly your vows made to the Lord; you can pick and eat grapes from a neighbour’s vineyard (but not go overboard, collecting basketful), or corn from a neighbour’s field (but not go overboard, harvesting large quantities).
A man is forbidden from remarrying a wife he’s previously divorced, if she has subsequently remarried and divorced (‘she has been defiled’ – what about the men ?). God’s clear intention is for marriage to be life-long – it’s the hard-heartedness (and cruelty) of humanity which ruins this pure intention.
A man who has just married is free from being in the army for a year, ‘to bring happiness to the wife he has married’.
Don’t take someone’s livelihood (e.g. a millstone) as security for a debt.
Kidnapping a brother Israelite, forcing someone into slavery, is punishable by death.
If someone is leprous, follow the priest’s instructions to the letter.
If you lend, do not trespass into the person’s home to get his pledge, or if he’s poor, don’t keep his pledge too long – he needs it back. This will be regarded as a righteous action and he will be grateful.
Don’t mistreat a poor hired man (whether Israelite or foreigner) – pay him promptly.
Fathers cannot pay the death penalty for a child’s sin, nor vice versa.
Treat foreigners, orphans and widows justly and generously.
When harvesting (wheat, olives or grapes) don’t go over the field a second time, leave some for the foreigner, orphan or widow.
Disputes ultimately must be decided by the judges in court – the guilty may receive up to forty lashes (but no more), as fits the crime.
Oxen must not be muzzled whilst it is ‘treading out the grain’.
If brothers and their wives live together, and one brother dies son-less, the surviving brother must marry his sister-in-law, and if she bears a son, that son shall carry on the family name of the deceased brother. If the surviving brother refuses to marry his sister-in-law, even after appearing before the elders, his widowed sister-in-law (in front of the elders) can go up to him, remove one of his sandals, spit in his face, and pronounce his family line to be ‘the Family of the Unsandalled’.
If a wife comes to the rescue of her husband who is in a fight with another man, and she seizes his assailants ‘assets’ (private parts), she must have her hand chopped off (what a crazy scenario !!).
There’s a rule about integrity with weights and measures – be accurate and honest in all your dealings.
The Amalekites are to be destroyed (blotted out), for the sin they committed against the Israelites, and consequently the Lord God Himself.

Although an interesting a crazy mix of various laws, the common themes are, once again, a serious (and ruthless) approach to holiness in the community, and a protection and care for foreigners, widows, orphans, wives and husbands….taking good care of the family lines.

LUKE
Rich Man and Lazarus – Jesus tells a story, to illustrate the consequences of our life choices, and the need to live compassionately.
A rich man (unnamed), used to fine living, expensive tastes, luxury, regularly passed a beggar (named Lazarus) at his gate, poor, hungry and full of sores. When poor Lazarus died, the angels took him to ‘Abraham’s side’. When the rich man died, he found himself in hell. From the heat of hell, he could look up and see Lazarus in heaven, and complains. He asks that Lazarus might come and bring him cool refreshing water to ease his suffering, in the blazing heat.
Abraham speaks to him across a chasm which is fixed and cannot be crossed, and reminds him that he had everything he desired in life, whilst Lazarus went without – now it is time for Lazarus to be comforted, and the rich man to experience agony.
Even the rich man’s request for a warning to be given to his brothers is refused – his brothers have every opportunity to respond to the teachings of Moses and the Prophets – if they won’t listen to them, they won’t listen to anything / anyone.
‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead’ (how true that will be seen to be, even when Jesus, Himself rises from death). 

Sin, Faith and Duty – Jesus warns His disciples to be on the lookout for those ‘things that cause people to sin’. Those responsible for causing sin in others would be better off with a millstone around their necks at the bottom of the sea. ‘So watch yourselves’, so that you never cause another’s sin.
A sinful brother who repents must be forgiven, even if he does the same thing seven times a day!
The apostles ask Jesus to gift them greater faith.
Jesus reminds them that even a tiny mustard seed size of faith can uproot a tree from land to sea.
A little story about a servant and master – even after a full day tending sheep or working the land, the servant is to prepare his master’s meal, and not seek thanks. The role of a servant is to be a good and faithful servant.

PSALM
continuing the song for the wedding of the king / prince – this section addressing the princess-to-be :
“The king is enthralled by your beauty; honour him, for he is your lord….
all glorious is the princess within her chamber, her gown is interwoven with gold…
Your sons will (be) princes throughout the land…the nations will praise you for ever and ever.”

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