Deuteronomy 21-22, “What We’re Saved From”

Posted: November 1, 2008 in Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy 21 (NKJV)
1 “If anyone is found slain, lying in the field in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess, and it is not known who killed him, 2 then your elders and your judges shall go out and measure the distance from the slain man to the surrounding cities. 3 And it shall be that the elders of the city nearest to the slain man will take a heifer which has not been worked and which has not pulled with a yoke. 4 The elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with flowing water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and they shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley.

A. So far, God has already dealt with murder (10 Commandments), death in warfare (Ch 20), unintentional manslaughter (cities of refuge) – but what about the cases that aren’t so obvious? What if you don’t know how a person died? Our own culture doesn’t have a method to deal with it at all (it’s an ‘unsolved mystery’) – but God gave Israel a way to address it.
B. Why the sacrifice? Because regardless how the person died, he still died. And death is a result of sin… (Genesis – the Fall)
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5 Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister to Him and to bless in the name of the LORD; by their word every controversy and every assault shall be settled.

A. Ministry of the Levitical priests…served to show the judgment of God in the matter. Note: God chose them – God has a purpose for them – God uses them to spread truth. Knowing that we are a priesthood of believers (), there’s a lot of NT parallel here:
__a. God chose you! We love Him because He 1st loved us (1 John 4:19).
__b. God has a purpose for you! He equips you to serve in the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:7).
__c. God uses you to proclaim truth! That’s exactly what we do through the Great Commission.
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6 And all the elders of that city nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley. 7 Then they shall answer and say, ‘Our hands have not shed this blood, nor have our eyes seen it. 8 Provide atonement, O LORD, for Your people Israel, whom You have redeemed, and do not lay innocent blood to the charge of Your people Israel.’ And atonement shall be provided on their behalf for the blood. 9 So you shall put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD.

A. Innocent blood needs to be atoned for; it cries out from the ground (Gen 4:10). Thus the innocent heifer was killed in response to the sin that took place – this was the work of “atonement”. Atonement = turning the wrath of God away…a covering over of sin. … This is what Jesus does for us! We are forgiven only because we are covered by the innocent blood of Jesus Christ, who became sin for us. (2 Cor 5:21)
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10 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God delivers them into your hand, and you take them captive, 11 and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and desire her and would take her for your wife, 12 then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails. 13 She shall put off the clothes of her captivity, remain in your house, and mourn her father and her mother a full month; after that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. 14 And it shall be, if you have no delight in her, then you shall set her free, but you certainly shall not sell her for money; you shall not treat her brutally, because you have humbled her.

A. Like we’ve done so many times, we need to take off our 21st Century mindset & consider what this meant for a culture 1500 years before Christ. When all the men of age in your city have been killed in war, as a woman – what are your options for survival? Other cultures would have encouraged their men to rape the women & leave them for dead – with no means for future provision if they did survive. If you were taken as a slave (which was the least that could happen with a war with Israel – Deut 20:14), you were best off being a slave of the Hebrews as God gave very specific rules for how to treat slaves. But even then, you’re still a slave. Thus in His grace, God gives an option for a slave woman to be taken as a wife – with time to mourn & all the rights of being a Hebrew wife…fully provided for. … …
__a. Christianity isn’t a religion just for men – it’s a religion for everyone! In every culture that Christianity has gone, women have been historically lifted up & treated better… … Why? Because once we are in Christ, everything changes – all our previous statuses disappear & we become one in Him. Galatians 3:26-28 (26) For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (27) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. []
B. Given a full month – not just for mourning, but as a time to separate herself from her previous culture. Her hair is shaved & nails are trimmed & clothes are changed in a symbolic ‘starting over.’
C. After the month, the man still has the option not to marry her, and if he does, he apparently has guidelines regarding divorce. (More details in Ch 24) There may not be a family for her to return to, but God still protects the woman by not allowing her ex-husband to profit off of the divorce & throw her back into slavery…
__a. Keep in mind that although God provided regulations regarding divorce, God hates it (Mal 2:16) – it’s allowed due to our hardness of heart (Matt 19:8).
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15 “If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and they have borne him children, both the loved and the unloved, and if the firstborn son is of her who is unloved, 16 then it shall be, on the day he bequeaths his possessions to his sons, that he must not bestow firstborn status on the son of the loved wife in preference to the son of the unloved, the true firstborn. 17 But he shall acknowledge the son of the unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.

A. Jacob may have been a Patriarch, but he could have learned a lot from Moses. Rachel & Leah were constantly pitted against each other & their children reflected it with how they treated Joseph.
__i. The Bible never approves of polygamy; it only acknowledges it. God’s perfect plan is for a monogamous husband/wife lifelong marriage. When divorce or other extra-marital affairs get in the way, children always suffer as a result…the command here would help lessen the blow to the 1st born.
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18 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. 20 And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.

A. Rebellion at home… Interesting that this section would follow the instruction regarding the rights of the 1st born. Fathers are instructed not to provoke their children to wrath (Eph 6:4); treating them as less than their true son would definitely do that!
B. Is this too harsh of a punishment? Not for the crime; remember, this is the 5th Commandment… No record that this punishment was ever carried out. Either the culture ignored this rule, or the possibility was severe enough that sons didn’t rise to this level of rebellion.
C. Compare this with the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15)…
__a. Did Jesus give the wrong ending? Should the son have been killed? Yes – according to the law. … But according to grace, the son was not only shown mercy; he was brought back into the family in a tremendous display of grace. Luke 15:20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. [] Even beyond receiving him back into the family, the father demonstrated tremendous grace by running (which a patriarch didn’t do) & meeting him at the outskirts before anyone else could lay hands on him.
__b. Keep in mind that even in the gospel, the son is still killed – only that the death belongs to the Son of God. This is the glorious idea behind the substitutionary atonement – OUR punishment was put on Jesus…what should have happened to us happened to Him…
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22 “If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.

A. “Hanging” isn’t the idea of strangulation; it’s one of exposure… Definitely a harsh form of punishment! But even here, there’s mercy that’s evident. The body isn’t left up on the pike to be devoured by animals or rot; one day’s worth of humiliation was enough. The land was not to be defiled, so the body was removed & given a proper burial afterwards.
B. Direct application to Jesus! Galatians 3:13-14 (13) Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), (14) that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. []
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Deuteronomy 22 (NKJV)
1 “You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray, and hide yourself from them; you shall certainly bring them back to your brother. 2 And if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it to your own house, and it shall remain with you until your brother seeks it; then you shall restore it to him. 3 You shall do the same with his donkey, and so shall you do with his garment; with any lost thing of your brother’s, which he has lost and you have found, you shall do likewise; you must not hide yourself. 4 “You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fall down along the road, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely help him lift them up again.

A. Mutual responsibility… When we willingly allow our brother to suffer, we’re sinning by omission (as opposed to sinning by commission).
B. Love your neighbor as you love yourself…(Matt 22:39) Interesting that we have to have “good samaritan” laws now…some of these things should be common sense to us in helping our neighbor.
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5 “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God.

A. Transvestitism… Why is this important to God? Because God created genders! We were knitted together in our mothers’ womb – and although situations in life may confuse people, God didn’t make a mistake in anyone’s birth. To say, “I don’t want to be a man/woman” is rebellion against God Himself & demonstrates a fundamental lack of trust in God.
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6 “If a bird’s nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; 7 you shall surely let the mother go, and take the young for yourself, that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days. 8 “When you build a new house, then you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring guilt of bloodshed on your household if anyone falls from it.

A. Examples of merciful provision:
__a. Take the eggs, but leave the mother alive. Ensured ongoing food & encouraged human treatment of animals.
__b. Build a protective wall/fence around the rooftop. People spent a lot of time up there & that would stop people from falling off.
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9 “You shall not sow your vineyard with different kinds of seed, lest the yield of the seed which you have sown and the fruit of your vineyard be defiled. 10 “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. 11 “You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together. 12 “You shall make tassels on the four corners of the clothing with which you cover yourself.

A. Examples of purity. Some have seen various benefits in single-seeded fields, the way donkeys & oxen work together, etc. But most likely, these were practical ways of demonstrating their commitment to the Lord & His commandments, and demonstrating the purity that God alone brings.
B. Definitely NT application here. Don’t be unequally yoked…seems to be what Paul was referring to – 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 (14) Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (15) And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? [] Whether we’re talking about business arrangements, marriage, or whatever – we don’t want to be so closely joined to an unbeliever that they would pull us away from God.
C. Tassels – (Num 15:37-41) Used to remind believers of the commandments of God. Perhaps used as a memory aid; primarily used as a physical visible reminder that they were set apart unto God (holiness).
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13 “If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her, 14 and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, ‘I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin,’ 15 then the father and mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. 16 And the young woman’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man as wife, and he detests her. 17 Now he has charged her with shameful conduct, saying, “I found your daughter was not a virgin,” and yet these are the evidences of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. 18 Then the elders of that city shall take that man and punish him; 19 and they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name on a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days.

A. [Context for custom] Still practiced in some Middle Eastern cultures today.
B. Again, this is protection for the woman. It definitely would not be desirable to be married to a man who “detests” her – but it would be worse to be divorced & likely left without prospects for marriage for the rest of her life. …
C. Note the public shaming for the man – not only is he brought before the elders, he’s likely whipped (“punish”), and has to pay a large fine to his father-in-law (due to the accusation against her family)…this would have been a powerful deterrent from falsely accusing her.
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20 “But if the thing is true, and evidences of virginity are not found for the young woman, 21 then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father’s house. So you shall put away the evil from among you.

A. Should she be guilty, she’s subject to the death penalty. It may seem harsh, but it’s a rough equivalent of dealing with a rebellious son. In this case, the woman would herself have broken the 5th Commandment by bringing dishonor on her parents.
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22 “If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel. 23 “If a young woman who is a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry out in the city, and the man because he humbled his neighbor’s wife; so you shall put away the evil from among you.

A. Dealing with adultery…even though the wedding hasn’t yet taken place, a betrothal carried the same legal weight as marriage. Breaking this brought a stiff punishment, but it’s an obvious violation of the 7th Commandment.
B. The famous contrast is with John 8 & the woman the Pharisees brought to Jesus. Jesus never told the people the law commanding her death was incorrect; but He rightly pointed out that they were ALL deserving of death under the law – and it highlighted the fact they didn’t even follow this law correctly in that they only brought the woman & not the man.
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25 “But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter. 27 For he found her in the countryside, and the betrothed young woman cried out, but there was no one to save her.

A. Dealing with rape…treated as serious as murder (rightfully so).
B. Note the emphasis on the innocence of the woman. Too often, women are blamed – but rape is a crime of violence; the punishment belongs to the rapist alone.
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28 “If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days.

A. Like Shechem & Dinah (Gen 34)… Again, this would be unthinkable today; but we live in a completely different culture than they did. For a culture that treated its women little better than livestock, this commandment would ensure that a raped women would be provided for all her life, rather than tossed aside.
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30 “A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor uncover his father’s bed.

A. Dealing with incest – the instance doesn’t necessarily refer to a man’s mother, but likely his step-mother (which is still incest).
B. Corinth dealt with the same issue (1 Cor 5:1-2). We should know better! These are things that even the heathen don’t do… Paul instructed Corinth to (1) stop bragging about how ‘tolerant’ they were, (2) cast out the sinning member, (3) wait for his repentance…
__a. God calls us to a life of purity & holiness! Not that we can ever be sinless; but if we are in Christ we should “sin less”. His work in us as new creations should create a distaste for sin & a desire to live as He calls us to live.

Conclusion:
Murder, rebellion, adultery, rape, incest…a lot of sin dealt with in these two chapters. Why does the Bible have so much to say about it? Because this is exactly the stuff Jesus Christ saves us from! Before Christ saves us, we’re wallowing in sin – nothing restraining us except the witness of our own conscience against us. We may not physically kill someone, but we all get away with murder (so we think).

But in Christ, everything’s different! He’s the innocent heifer killed for our unknown sin. He’s the innocent Son of God that took the sin of the rebellious son. He’s the Holy Messiah who bore the dishonor of the promiscuous daughter. And yet He’s also perfectly just, Who will judge every rape & murder – both solved & unsolved.

What a glorious Savior we serve! He’s absolutely righteous & absolutely merciful! He’s saved us from so much – may we be empowered by the Spirit to live for Him & not go back to the way we were before.

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