God continues to expound upon His statutes and rules. He leaves nothing to chance with His children. They will KNOW His will for them.
When I turned 18 my father suddenly stopped giving me input on my decisions. This didn’t last forever but at that moment in my life I was facing a big decision for me. I wanted his input. Thinking about it all this time later I realize that what I wanted was his blessing to do what I wanted. MY chosen direction did not line up with what he had taught me for the previous 18 years and I knew it. But I wanted him to say that my choice was alright. Fortunately for both of us I fell back on my years of training under his care and made the decision I knew he wanted me to make.
God is training up His children. He has been working with them in some fashion since Adam’s first breath. But they haven’t been listening too well for a LONG time. Now it’s time for God to spell it out to them. He gave them the Ten Commandments and has been expounding upon them for a while but some things weren’t covered by the “Big Ten.” What God covers is not totally out of left field because everything that He shares is tied together. But these are scenarios that might be muddy without His instructions.
I know that not every piece of instruction here links directly with one of the commandments. I don’t see how haircuts correlate, nor do I fully understand why mixing fabrics is forbidden. So here is what came to me while thinking on these issues. When God called His people to be separate and unique He meant it. He gave Abraham circumcision as a sign. This was reconfirmed when the people left Egypt. God’s words are calling for His people to demonstrate their singleness in their everyday lives. Be unique while being uniform. Be different from the rest of the world and show a unity with your brothers by conforming to one standard.
God didn’t say that they couldn’t have different breeds of cattle or different kinds of fabrics. What He was saying was to keep a separation between them and their uses just as He did with His children and the rest of the world. God wasn’t abandoning the rest of the world when He chose Israel as His own. He had a purpose they alone would fulfill that would benefit the WHOLE world one day. But until that day, they had to remain “pure” and “set apart.”
God addresses two “sexual” areas in our reading today. The first concerns a slave woman who was violated by another man. I don’t know if this was a “consensual” uniting or not but the fact that she was a slave makes her permission moot. She is not free to refuse. She is the property of another. I DO NOT AGREE with this practice but it was a fact of the times. The man, however, is guilty of sin. His sin is against her and HE has to deal with it before God.
The second “sexual” issue is when God tells the people not to “profane” their daughters by making her a prostitute. This is another practice that was not unheard of in those times. But God hated it as much as I do, probably you too. In bible times fathers had the right to direct their daughter’s futures. Not all fathers chose well for their children. God KNEW this and put His foot down on it.
One area that I KNOW ties directly to God’s “Big Ten” is the issue of mediums, necromancers, fortune tellers, interpreters of omens, and cuts and tattoos for the dead. All these things look to a source or try to curry favor of a source outside of the Lord. YES, He can speak with the dead and even raise them if He so chooses, but HE is our source; no other. All these other “sources” use Satan and his earthly forces as the power behind them. HE is their source, and ours! NO OTHER gODS BEFORE ME!
God also addresses “honor your father and mother” and “love your neighbor as yourself” again. The sojourner and the elderly are both singled out by God for special treatment. With age comes wisdom and experience and the sojourner is symbolic of Israel’s own beginnings.
The command that hits me out of nowhere is the one regarding the fruit trees. This command doesn’t apply to trees that are already in existence in the land. It only concerns the ones Israel will plant later on. The first four years of this tree’s life, whatever fruit is produced does NOT get to be eaten by the people. I’m wondering if this is because it takes several years for a tree to actually produce fruit. Mature trees are not planted, only saplings. They take time to mature to the point where they can bear fruit. Was God calling for their first three fruit bearing years to leave them untouched or their first three years of life in their permanent home? The fourth year’s fruit, regardless of the distinction, belonged to God. I believe this was a way of offering Him thanks for the tree’s survival. If your tree makes it four years you are pretty sure it will continue on, especially if it has been bearing fruit during those years. Thanks is definitely due Him for this gift!
Father God, thank You for giving examples of how You want Your people to walk. I’m SO thankful that I am not under the strict dos and don’ts of the law because of the work Jesus did. But I AM still supposed to honor the things that You taught me in “my youth” through Your word. Consulting the stars or mediums or even tattoos for the dead are not written in stone for me today but having NO other god besides You still applies. Thank You for showing me Your heart and giving me some inkling into Your purposes behind all the dos and don’ts. Help me honor YOUR heart with my ways. Thank You that my salvation is not dependent on that list; only on Jesus’ blood.