Moses shares the dividing lines of who can and can’t enter God’s Temple. God has a GOOD memory and does not easily excuse the wrongs done to His children.
The Tabernacle was made as a special place where God would meet with His children. His presence would dwell there among His people. His Tabernacle is holy and those who enter it have to be holy.
In God’s original Tabernacle He didn’t include a place for Gentiles. The inner sanctuary was for the high priest and the Levites who tended the lamps and the table. The Holy of Holies was for His presence and the high priest once a year. The outer court was for His people to come and bring Him their offerings. Later, in the Temple of Herod the court of the Gentiles was added where those who were not part of God’s family could come to give homage to Him too.
I’m not certain if the restrictions God is giving specifically applies to those who serve in the Temple or includes those who come to worship there too. I have a feeling He means the outer courts too because Moses states that they may not enter “the assembly of the Lord” instead of saying the Tabernacle or Temple. This appears to be an all-inclusive statement. It may even include being counted in the camp or attend the “all camp” gatherings.
God forbids children “born of a forbidden union”, Ammonites and Moabites from entering “the assembly of the Lord” “even to the tenth generation.” I was thinking about this and I got off on a tangent. It started me thinking about Native Americans and “blood quantum” measures.
In the United States to be included in the majority of the Native American Tribal Roles the person has to have a high percentage of Native American blood. It ranges from a 1/16th minimum to a 1/4th minimum depending on the tribe. This requirement seems to operate in the exact reverse of what was going on in our reading.
By the tenth generation the original blood quantum from the forbidden parent would have faded to nearly nothing. Unless another infusion of the forbidden blood reentered somewhere along the way. If so, I would expect that they would have to start counting again from the new infusion.
God DIDN’T say these people were cursed or not allowed to live with the people. I’m pretty sure that if they chose to follow His Laws He would permit that too, up to the point of entering His assembly. He didn’t hate the individual people but He was adamant that Israel remember the treatment they received at the hands of these people along the way. One of the greatest things He wanted them to remember from the Moabites was how they turned Israel away from Him.
By the time ten generation had passed their practices that pulled the people away would have passed away too. He would not take a chance of bringing their detestable practices into His assembly.
Until the time Jesus completed His work for ALL men God had to maintain separation. Some degrees of separation were more severe than others but all were separate from the line of Israel. The nations that welcomed the children of Israel were treated to less separation than those who openly refused them.
God made exceptions though for those whose hearts honestly turned to Him. In Jesus’ genealogy we have Ruth who was a Moabite woman. She left all she had, including her gods, to follow Naomi home to Israel. She married Boaz and they had a son named Obed. He was the grandfather of king David. We KNOW that David was part of the assembly of the Lord even though he was only three generations from a “forbidden union.”
The bottom line here is that God looks at the hearts of the people; then and now. We are all welcome to come to Him so long as it is done in spirit and in truth. He doesn’t take halfhearted followers into His holy places. He is either your Lord or He is not. There is no straddling the fence with Him. He will grow and deepen your relationship with Him but He won’t share you. All the things that try and take His throne in your heart have to be put down, sometimes more than once. But as long as your heart is seeking after Him He will continue to draw you closer. No “watered down” faith. No “I’ll try this and see if it works out.” “Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Father God, thank You for not excluding me. I have no idea my deep physical ancestry. My spiritual ancestry is 100% a child of my King. Thank You for keeping Your stories alive so I can learn from the past. I want to remember an NOT make the same mistakes Israel did while walking with You all those years ago. I DO NOT want to try on ANY OTHER gods! I don’t want to put You to forget Your miracles. I don’t want to have the “what have You done for me lately” attitude.
I know I disappoint You more times than I can imagine but You still love me and forgive me. One of the amazing things that You do for me is “forget” my sins. I KNOW You have an infinite memory and held the memory of all the events and nations that mistreated Israel as You were shaping them. I have NO doubt that if You wanted to You could recall each and every one of my sins; but You chose not to. You chose to pardon me completely. THANK YOU for that pardon and for allowing me into Your presence. I’m SO glad I don’t have to face the “DO NOT ENTER” sign when coming to You.