Life of Moses
Severely Protected Compassion and Worship
9/14/3; ed. 8.23.15
Why do are some indiscretions more severely dealt with than others? How or on what basis does a person or community decide to punish some crimes worse than others? And if this is true in life, why would this not be true within God’s OT law? Are you able to discern why God chooses to punish some behaviors worse than others?
Moses, led by God, is leading the children of Israel, perhaps as many as 2-3 million strong, away from Egypt and closer to the land promised to their forefathers seven centuries before. Their journey has not been without its problems. Having overcome food, water and leadership issues and a threatening military foe, God’s people have reached his mountain–the same place where Moses was called by God to lead Israel out of Egypt.
There, Israel, having physically and spiritually purified herself, has taken her vows before God. Yahweh now through Moses begins to spell out the contract or covenant in more detail. In other words, if you are going to be my people and represent me to the world, these are the rules you must live by. These are the rules that will set you apart and above the world.
These are the rules that will set you apart and above the world’s godless din.
These rules are commonly called the LAW or the Mosaic Law or the Mosaic Covenant, since quite obviously, Moses mediated the covenant between Yahweh God and his bride, the children of Israel.
The first ten rules, vows or commands were referred to as the TEN COMMANDMENTS. They involve exclusive faithfulness to God as opposed to all other gods or idols, as well as, relational commands with respect to getting along with one another within the covenant community. They begin with the honoring of one’s aged parents, as well as commands not to kill, steal, bear false witness, covet or commit adultery against one another.
With these rules, and God as their king, Israel has a government—a theocracy—and has become a nation.
Following the first Ten Commandments the Law very quickly turns its attention to addressing and raising the ethical/legal/moral bar concerning the ancient institution of how does one treat another person whom they own—the custom or practice of slavery, an institution capable of great inhumanity. Following these commandments on dealing with how to treat someone you own, the Law, by taking into consideration such things as intent, personal responsibility and what is fair?, demonstrates very quickly, that it is capable of handling the most complicated of human indiscretions directed intentionally or unintentionally at another.
Read Passage several times…
16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.
Why would a man seduce a virgin? To have sexual relations with her?
Can a man be referred to as a virgin? Did the law only go one way? Why? Did this have something to do with the culture and men caring for their wives? What if he had another wife?
Was this law to prevent people from having premarital sexual relations?
What if the virgin did not like the man? Did that even make any difference then? Should she have said no? Was there a reason she allowed herself to be seduced? Did she want to marry?
Was the law seen as something shameful or was it just the natural next consequence…if you have had sex, there will be a marriage, or at least a bride price paid for that sexual encounter?
The couple had sex. Now they get married, with or without the ceremony?
Was this a disgrace to the family? Is this a disgrace today? Why do so many people have sexual relations before marriage, and why would the Law either discourage it or make it tantamount to becoming married?
17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.
So the virgin had some legal built-in protection as for as not having to marry the person she had just had sexual relations with? But then, did this burn her as a future bride? Was this the scarlet “x”? Do you go ahead and get married to someone you might not really care about or have your reputation tarnished? Obviously this law served as a natural incentive either to not having sexual relations before marriage, or if one did, then marriage served as a kind of secondary bail out or cover for the indiscretion.
18 “Do not allow a sorceress to live.
What was a sorceress? A witch? Was her power real? Demonic? Illusion?
19 “Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death.
Why would someone do such a seemingly gross thing? But in search of the sexual high, I suppose some people will resort to anything. God, through his law, and within the world’s pagan cultures at this time, has said it is out of bounds as far as his people are concerned.
20 “Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed.
So premarital sexual relations, sorcery, bestiality and then false worship…what an odd combination of law subjects–are we still in the most important, but not the top ten, section of the law?
21 “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.
“Alien” meaning strangers or non-Israelites? Guests? Other nationalities?
22 “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.
No doubt, the shameful mistreatment of the weak would be a sign of the nation’s heartlessness and lack of moral values, and thus Yahweh God, as promised here, would lower the boom on his children.
25 “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest.
Is this a principle that should still be employed today? I have heard some say this means not to charge “high interest” for the use of one’s money?
26 If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it to him by sunset, 27 because his cloak is the only covering he has for his body. What else will he sleep in? When he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
As a pledge for what? Did the neighbor borrow something?
Was using one’s “cloak” as a pledge to make sure the one borrowing something eventually returns what they have borrowed so that they can get their cloak back, much like leaving one’s driver license with the clerk until one comes back with the money to pay for whatever they have purchased, or when one puts up the car one is borrowing the money to buy in the first place, in case one defaults on the car payments?
So even if, the neighbor has not paid you back or returned what is borrowed, you can’t keep his cloak, right?
Then why lend to him in the first place, if you have to give him his cloak back that evening? Because, he is able to secure the monies or payment before the end of the day? No doubt this law would curb out-of-control borrowing and lending, and therefore, high indebtedness. If you can’t pay for it quickly, don’t borrow it, right?
The toga worn by Romans was essentially a cloak worn over a sleeveless tunic. The toga was worn mainly by the upper classes. When a 16-year old was presented with his first toga virilism , it was important rite of passage. Romans carefully draped they folds of their toga over their shoulders and gave them a lot of attention sort of like Indian women in saris. [Source: “Greek and Roman Life” by Ian Jenkins from the British Museum]
Slaves and laborers found togas restricting, and they preferred wearing just a tunic when they worked. Workers were often called tunicati after the simple knee-length tunic the wore. Slaves often wore only a loincloth.
Women wore a long Ionic tunic made of linen with a girdle, or zona , around the waist. The tunic was made several centimeters too long and pulled up over the girdle, which gave it a skirt and blouse effect that remains with us today.
28 “Do not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people.
Respect God, respect God’s ruler?
29 “Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats. “You must give me the firstborn of your sons.
Was this the law that had to do with the last plague of the Exodus where all the firstborn of Egypt died so that Pharaoh finally released the children of Israel from Egyptian slavery, and so in return the Israelites had to recognize this act of favor by buying back or redeeming their firstborn from God (See Ex 13)?
30 Do the same with your cattle and your sheep. Let them stay with their mothers for seven days, but give them to me on the eighth day.
So the same true for the animals too? Could they also be redeemed or bought back? No doubt, this law served to remind the Children of Israel of their historical roots, as well as, recognizing who it was that they were worshiping because of his many protections?
31 “You are to be my holy people. So do not eat the meat of an animal torn by wild beasts; throw it to the dogs.
Because it could carry a disease of the wild animal? Did they even know about germs or bacteria back then?
• The price of premarital sex is marriage or the cost of marrying someone 16-17.
• Witchcraft carries the death penalty. 18
• Bestiality carries the death penalty. 19
• Sacrificing to other gods carries the death penalty. 20
• Immigrants or non-Jews were to be treated kindly. 21-24
• When a brother had a need, you were not to take advantage of him, but give him a break…no or low interest on money borrowed and his cloak returned by evening. 25-27
• Respect God and his leaders. 28
• Pay offerings to God and redeem firstborn male children and animals from him. 29-30
• Don’t eat meat torn by wild animals? 31
Summary…If you go out of bounds, there are consequences. For the common practice of sleeping together before marriage, the cost of marriage. So make sure you are certain of who you are going to have sexual relations with.
Witchcraft, bestiality and pagan worship all carry the death penalty.
If immigrants were treated badly, your family would be treated badly.
Be compassionate in caring for a brother in need. Help him pick himself back up.
Be careful of disease.
Bottom line…Pay attention to the boundaries. These laws are intended to protect you both physically and morally.
Why? (What truths do I learn about God, man, people, myself, life?)
• God is fair, and he wants us to be fair too…and even more than fair– compassionate.
• There are serious sins for which there is no tolerance, such as witchcraft, out of bounds sex, and false worship. (You have to understand the context that Israel was coming out of in Egypt and heading into the Promise Land—it was a world that was out of moral and physical-bounds. There were few boundaries, and only the strong survived. God was creating a new moral, legal and social culture. One not tied to idolatry or polytheism, rather one tied to ethics, not only as they pertained to the worship of a monotheistic God, but to one another. God was elevating culture.)
• Worshiping and loving God and his people, within moral boundaries, in the end, is not as much a sacrifice as it is our salvation. It keeps God’s children accountable and thus not slowly drifting off into an immoral lala land along with the rest of an untethered contemporary society and culture.
This Week’s Application…
Struggle…I woke up early this morning after a strange, but not so strange dream. I drove down to an old down town. Something was going on up ahead. There had been an accident. Just beyond the downtown was a bridge that I could not see. I was worried about Amanda. Finally I could see her rag/red bandanna on her head. She was shaken. Jordan told me that she had been in the accident and the car was totaled, but that she was okay. The bridge had given way or something. I had all kind of second thoughts for having allowed her to go out. Then I remembered she couldn’t drive. She was not old enough. She had not been driving. But I was still shaken and awakened.
Someone she has met at school as invited her to her sleepover birthday party next weekend, and I don’t know the girl. We did pick her up and take her to the game with Amanda. The girl seemed fine. Poor. Nothing fancy. I found myself wondering…is my daughter too trusting?
She has met a friend, but who is she hanging with? In fact, she has never really has hung out with the moral popular kids at school, and in fact, it never really seemed that important to her.
She doesn’t do the athletic thing, which can kind of masquerade as the social thing.
Jordan was not much different. In the end, he did have the athletic thing going on, but just didn’t hang with most people, except a few very nice gals.
I felt more secure with his judgments.
But what about Amanda?
Does she have Jordan’s discernment?
No. She is far too trusting.
Why does she not have a relationship with our kids from church or even other kids or families we know?
Why have my kids tended to be more loners? Is this because of me? Rhonda?
Is this because we have not had kids over or our kids don’t ask other kids over, so they don’t get asked over either?
Is this because of our kids being pastor’s kids?
Most pastor’s kids I have known can be real brats.
Mine have not been that.
Overall, they have tended to be very respectful of authority and polite.
Is this something I even care about? Other kids, and many of their parents seem incredibly attracted to or supportive of building these “peer” friendships.
So, do we allow Amanda to learn for herself in this situation?
Or do I allow her to be possibly “shaken up,” but hopefully “uninjured”?
Do I talk to her about this friendship? Do we talk about this sleepover? Where is the boundary line as far as a parent’s judgment?
Do we talk with the other girl’s parents?
Truths…From this passage, I see the potential for seduction or vulnerability. I see a father perhaps refusing to give his daughter over to her seducer. I see severe boundaries at times, balanced by laws of compassion, respect, worship and physical protection.
Application…I kind of see Amanda like the girl in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and me as the protective father. I don’t apologize for that. I would rather err on the conservative side than the liberal side. After all, she is my daughter. God has given me an obligation to raise and protect her. I think it is a bit different with girls than boys, with most of this having to do with the sex thing.
I think this one may require some more prayer, thought and talk…with Amanda, with Rhonda, possibly with our small group home church.
For those that don’t have a home church or no place or person to share your struggles with, or don’t have time to share those struggles and therefore, get immediate feed back, I feel deeply for you.
In my home church, we talk about our kids almost every week. How to raise them? What to do in specific situations?
I can’t imagine doing this alone. Proverbs tells us that there is an abundance of wisdom in many counselors. I thank God for all my counselors. They certainly make the journey much more palatable.
Joseph M. Cross
2015 Update and Thanksgiving…This situation described above twelve years ago turned out to be okay. Apparently, Amanda, or the other girl figured it out. The relationship was short term, and there were no more sleepovers, either way.
What was interesting was that Amanda was involved in a couple of auto accidents seven or eight years later, and one was on an overpass, but north of downtown. And she was rooming with a very questionable roommate at the time. In the end–it just took a bit longer to play out–she was too trusting, but fortunately, by God’s providence, I trust, that second accident did get her Spiritual attention. Can she still be too trusting? Perhaps. I hope not as much. She is certainly much more wiser and savvier, and she loves God. In fact, her Spiritual significance and safety is certainly locked in her Savior’s costly sacrifice for her, and this certainly, as it should for every believer, drives her existence, joy and purpose. In fact, she settled this several years back while she and I drove back from the Passion Conference down in Atlanta. At the time, she thought she wanted clarity as far as life direction, but what she gained was peace in the moment. It is a peace she still carries about her even to this day. Oh what joy!
It’s been fun studying the third of the five divine promises that Christ promised to his disciples, and by extension, his church, the night before his sacrifice for the sins of the world, that is, if they remained within his divine vine…i.e. trusting his life-giving and saving atonement for their sin as the Son of God, as well as, learning to sacrificially love others as he had sacrificially loved them. And what is this third divine result or promise for trusting and loving? Joy. Divine Joy. And after examining over 130 NT references to the NT’s main Greek word for joy, chara (noun) or chairo (verb), I feel strongly it has something to do with both Christ’s Spirit now, and his divine kingdom in the future. Absolute joy is being the real presence of Christ, without any fear, needs or concern. Absolute trust and peace. The kingdom of God. His disciples had it after his resurrection and as they began his church. That is clear. And in fact, despite great suffering, sacrifice and trials, they carried this divinely-imparted joy with them as they began to carry his story of sacrifice and his message of God’s love to the ends of the earth.
So in essence, this joy has something to do with God’s Spirit and his future kingdom. So how does one appropriate this Sustainable Joy even now, in between Christ’s resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost and Christ’s future return?
For me I would describe the formula somewhat like this: Joy = Kingdom = Spirit = Church. And what does this divine formula look like today?
Once again, the Spirit of God residing within, building, uniting, empowering, encouraging, teaching, challenging, convicting Christ’s church. And in fact, that is what Christ will teach his disciples in John 16, and this is what does take place, beginning in the Acts of the Apostles. Thus joy, perhaps not ultimate joy, but joy that seeks to approach ultimate joy in Christ, has something to do with Spiritual community. I just read the book of Ephesians where Paul makes the case that since we are a holy one in Christ, through the Spirit, this is how to are to practically become a holy Spiritual one, and in so doing, not only be Christ’s church in the world, but in a way, foreshadow both his future reigns–his messianic reign and his reign with Triune Godhead within the New Heavens and Earth…life with God, back in the garden of God. Perfect joy. Perfect peace. Perfect contentment. Perfect fellowship. Perfect love. No fear. No evil, at least within the New Heavens and Earth. Joy.
Struggle…Was somewhat concerned about the memorial that Fellowship is hosting tomorrow, but I think God has given me a direction as to how to handle things or what to say or how to encourage people. There is always a bit of challenge for me when it comes to memorials. A bit of performance pressure arises. You want things to go well, and you don’t always know the people attending. You want to make a good impression, perhaps attract a few people closer to God, but you never know…
Still concerned about Red and Donnie, and hoping their adopted daughter/granddaughter is taking care of things. Haven’t heard from either of them, and there is no answer. Donnie is struggling with dementia and Red is wearing out as an 87 year old care-giver. God help guide us through on this one. Red has been there beside me for thirty years. I know he is tired.
Truth… I see clear, obvious and severe legal and moral boundaries balanced by laws of compassion, respect, the exclusive worship of God and wise, physical hygiene.
Application…As I rethink this application with a few days of sleep, rest and thoughtful incubation, I think what seems somewhat buried within my consciousness, is this idea of caring for the needs of the flock or the body.
Paul writes that apart from all the physical sufferings he has endured for the gospel, “There is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?” 2 Cor. 12:28-29.
I would like to rest and not worry or be concerned about the church, or others, or how well we watch out for one another, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t think about it often…constantly. It never leaves me. Sometimes I can escape from it, but often times, it is more like a battle…what do I do, not do, pray for, how to pray, make a call, a visit, what to say, wait, trust God etc. It constantly challenges will or am I acting out of my instinct or flesh vs. my instinct or flesh being retrained, led, inspired or convicted by God?
I have made several unreturned phone calls to Red, his daughter and granddaughter. I have done my own research as to the costs of skilled one nursing facility. Do I need to make a visit to Red and Donnie to see for myself? Will they be at church tomorrow? What will I find out? And what about the many others?
Prayer…O Lord, continue to teach me how to loyally, wisely and accountably love, be attracted to, concerned for and serve others, as you would love, be attracted to, concerned for and serve them. Serve them through me, your fallen, imperfect, but hopefully, maturing vessel. And continue to raise up other Spiritual children that are persuaded that this is their life purpose and that Spiritually seek to love, be attracted to, concerned for and serve others better than me.
And how does all this relate to the above-mentioned assorted Old Testament Laws?
Spiritual community. The Law was intended, I believe, to be practical day to day mechanism for living in what could be described as a unified Spiritual community, a Spiritual community that was intended to foreshadow not only Christ’s Spirit-inspired church and later the millennial kingdom of Christ, but eventually, the New Heavens and Earth, or man dwelling in peace with himself, God and one another in the Garden or Paradise of God again.
So the Spiritual evolution of all this kind of looks like this:
1) Man and Creation have perfect fellowship, love, peace and joy with God in the garden, but 2) via all things humanly imperfect, including naivete to the devastating effects of mistruth, doubt, arrogance and deceit, man and Creation loses its unique and perfect relationship with its Creator.
3) Man and Creation descend into a self-destructive, immoral abyss, 4) from which its Creator, by severely purging or cleansing it of most its evil, graciously and momentarily, delivers it from its own greater self-annihilation.
5) Eventually the Creator chooses one man, who is willing to trust and obey God, albeit not perfectly, in which to formulate a new plan to restore perfect intimacy lost between Creator and Creation.
6) This new plan begins to take shape with not only a) the Creator’s gracious redemption of this one man’s many captive descendants—Israel—but also b) by choosing to enter into a covenant with Israel, via a system of laws that not only govern how Israel is to connect with Creator, but with one another as well—i.e. the beginning of Spiritual community.
7) This early, more primitive legal plan for reconciliation, in the long term perhaps predictably runs aground due once again to the creature’s natural flaws which have not been fully addressed.
8) But then the plan takes a gigantic leap forward when the one ruler who could almost make the plan work by himself comes not to attempt to make the plan work yet, but instead, via his sacrificial death and resurrection, lays down the redemptive ground work and basis for all future reconciliation.
9) As he departs and awaits his return to govern the next to last stage of Spiritual reconciliation and community, he gives his Spirit to birth, empower, strengthen, establish, inspire, guide and protect the next major foreshadowing of Spiritual community, his church.
Note: as opposed to the previous older and legal system of laws and rituals by which Israel or man was to construct Spiritual community, the Spirit guides and directs this New Covenant with Spiritually-empowered, authorized and gifted leadership which in beginning this new dimension of Spiritual community, will leave Spirit-inspired writings to this new Spiritual community that will serve as an ongoing and later guide for continuing to build, renew and maintain this new Spiritual community.
10) Eventually this new Spirit-inspired Spiritual community—Christ’s church or ekklesia–will be replaced by the real deal—the Messiah will return, defeat Satan and hold him captive, allowing Christ a thousand year run at ruling the planet in perfect peace and prosperity (Rev. 19-20).
11) But in the end, because humanity has still not been fully redeemed and is still capable of choosing not to follow, trust or obey God or God’s Messianic ruler, the Christ, as we are told (Rev. 20), when Satan is momentarily freed once again, humanity is also once again led astray and true Spiritual community, despite having God’s ruler in its very midst, is once again shattered, proving humanity’s forever vulnerability to evil.
12) Finally, and for all time, evil is defeated, conquered, judged and destroyed, a New Heavens and Earth replaces the former, and a now fully redeemed man dwells in a Paradise of perfect Spiritual community with other created beings and the Triune Creator of the Universe.
Your student’s struggles?
Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version‚ NIV‚ Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.