God’s instructions through Moses have a common theme for the most part–to purge evil from among them. To me, that speaks volumes. God not only acknowledges evil, but he calls it out. His warnings were clear. We also know God created us with minds to make our own decisions. Despite having sound advice from God in the form of his laws and decrees, we often overlook them thinking we know better than God.
It happened in Bible times and it happens now. We have wisdom and truth available to us in God’s word, yet we still try to figure it out our own way. As an example, think of your childhood. Did you obey everything your parents told you? After all, we are to obey our parents according to God. I don’t think I was the only wild child that pushed the envelope, tested the boundaries, and tried doing things my way. Did I get into trouble? Sometimes. Did I learn that I wasn’t that smart, and that I should rely on the wisdom of others who had gone before me? Absolutely!
Moses continues to put specific laws in place for God’s people. It may be helpful to review the verse from Romans 10:4 that I quoted in our last reflection. Remember Paul’s words, “For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.” That’s not to say what we read here doesn’t have wisdom. It does. It came from God, after all.
Did any of these particular laws resonate with you? I was struck by verse 23, “But once you have voluntarily made a vow, be careful to fulfill your promise to the Lord your God.” No where does it say we must make vows or promises to God. In fact, to the contrary. It is not a sin to not make a vow. But we do find ourselves at time making claims that may or may not be doable. Keep in mind, too, that the text is referring to vows to the Lord.
This whole idea of being unclean seems a little foreign to us today. It would be easy to say being unclean is when people need a shower or forget their deodorant. We may even picture a vagrant on the street who hasn’t changed their clothes in weeks. But in Biblical terms, being unclean was a state of being “unworthy” of being in God’s presence due to some circumstance, action, or lack of action, etc. When you were unclean, you were not allowed access to God and often shunned by the community.
It was interesting to see the different things that Moses declared deemed you unclean. Eunuchs, illegitimate children (and their descendants), Ammonites and Moabites (and their descendants), and men having wet dreams. This was the short list. Clearance and exclusion from this list were the Edomites and Egyptians. But the Ammonites and Moabites were also distant relatives of the Israelites, being from the family of Lot (Abraham’s nephew). But the promise to be God’s people was given to Jacob, several generations beyond.
Sexual purity is the topic today. I’ll never forget my “birds and the bees” discussion with my mother. Awkward to be sure! It was no easier having the “talk” with my own daughter. There was a common thread in both, to “save yourself for marriage.” Now, I understand it was a Biblical thing that God ordained for his people. Although today’s reading suggests it was serious business.
Again, I am in awe of our God who is so thorough in his protection. He truly cares for us and wants the best for us. I would have to say that in this day and age, it is harder and harder for young girls to stay pure until their wedding day. And, when virginity is lost, it is not a life or death situation, at least in the culture I was raised in. There was disapproval, and girls had a “bad reputation” when they were promiscuous outside of marriage, but death did not result.
Wasn’t this an interesting collection of things to do or not do? As I’ve been reflecting on them, I’m not sure I can categorize them other than to say, pay attention! God obviously has his reasons for wanting things this way for his people. Kindness may be a common theme. Yet, who are we to question God?
Was there anything on this laundry list of items that surprised you in any way? For me, it was the birds. I remember recently seeing a bird’s nest outside our door at church. It was fun to watch the progression. The parent birds were busy for days creating a home for their family. Then the babies hatched. In the days that followed, those babies were so crowded in the nest (like sardines). Their chirping got to be so loud I had to turn my microphone up (just kidding)! I was thrilled when the momma bird pushed the babies out because they were ready to fly. But why would there be a promise of a long life if you took the babies away from their mother? Interesting!