Wow, what a chapter.
Here we have Moses having a chat to the Israelites about going across the Jordan, and in the land on the other side of the river, are several nations: the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanaites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.
“And when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.” ~ Deuteronomy 7:2.
Destroy them totally, get rid of them completely.
Two main reasons come out in this chapter.
First: “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” ~ Deuteronomy 7:6.
Second: “You must destroy all the peoples the LORD your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.” ~ Deuteronomy 7:16.
This chapter brings an exceptional parallel to our own lives, and the way that we live our lives. A friend of mine made the statement today that they are no longer going to drink alcohol, and part of the discussion that ensued included a comment about how “compromise can sneak in so easily.” It’s true, too.
As our Father’s children, as members of the Church that Jesus came to build, as warriors in God’s army, we are called to live a holy life. We are called to be a people holy to the LORD our God. Part of that, therefore, is demonstrating holiness to those who bear witness to us. Now I’m certainly not saying that we should go killing Jebusites or Perizzites or Hivites; but we should be eliminating and destroying sin, and eliminating it especially from the places where we dwell.
Canaan was to become the Israelites home, and as a holy people, their home needed to be pure and clean. First, because they were a holy people, but secondly, so as not to become snared.
Compromise really can sneak in so easily. It may not be a sin to drink, but we are told not to be drunk. For some people, all it takes is that first drink and they just can’t stop. I know that in my life, on occasions when I’ve gone out drinking, I’ve let things get out of hand; and that’s coming from someone who does, in most situations, maintain a reasonable level of composure and sobriety when drinking. If it’s easy for me, who rarely drinks to excess, to fall into that place then how much easier is it going to be for a person to whom it’s a regular occurrence?
So therefore we must eliminate it all together.
And it’s not easy, I know that – and so did God.
“You may say to yourselves, ‘These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?’ But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.” ~ Deuteronomy 7:17-18.
Remember what the LORD did. This was the reminder to the Israelites, and it is the reminder to us today, too. When we’re struggling, when we don’t think we can defeat a temptation, when we feel like we’re too weak, too small, too much of a failure to succeed in defeating sin, that’s when we need to remember what Jesus did. He defeated death, and he paid the price for sin. We are no longer bound by it, we are no longer subject to its power, because Jesus has bought us and set us free from that bondage.
We can’t defeat it. We can’t resist it. We are too weak – but we are bought by someone who can, and he will give us the power and strength to survive. Just as through God’s strength and power the Israelites knew they could defeat the Canaanites and Hittites and Girgashites and so on, so through God’s strength, we can defeat the temptation to sin.
It’s funny how hard it is to change your mindset.
I had a terror of a morning today. I walked into work and the internet was down, we’d get access for thirty seconds or so and then it would die off again. Not good at all, especially when our entire business basically relies on internet access to function (which is sadly a state of most businesses these days. No computers, no work.)
So I ended up on the phone at 8:20 this morning, only five minutes after I’d walked in the door, to our IT company. They thought it was a server issue, so were trying to fix it, only to find that they couldn’t connect. So off I went to contact our Internet Service Provider – who told me that the problem wasn’t with them but with Telstra. Telstra in turn told me the problem wasn’t with them it was with our ISP, and so on and so forth, around in circles I went.
Anyway, what I found was myself just desiring everything that I’ve cut out of my life in the past five months or so. I wanted a cigarette, and a beer, and a coffee – I don’t know why I wanted a coffee as well – beer and a cigarette I can understand, but coffee? Oh well, the point is that even after several months, my brain still starts reaching for those things when things get tough. The difficulty level is higher, and the craving is less, but the desire is still there.
So I went to church instead!
When I finally had a few minutes where I didn’t need to be on the phone, I just said I was going for a walk. One of my workmates told me to remember to come back. I was exceptionally stressed out.
The first place I wanted to be, though, was with God. I know that I don’t have to be in a church to be with God; but I’ve found in the city that entering a cathedral that’s open during the day does allow me to just feel slightly separated from everything outside. It’s like a sanctuary; there’s still something about the physical ‘house’ of God.
So I went and prayed, just asked God for comfort and peace, and sure enough, he gave it. It was really like one of those moments of knowing that he’s Abba father; daddy; the caring father figure whose lap we can just curl up on. When we need him to give a hug and comfort, he’s more than happy to come through for us.
I really like this chapter. As I read through the conditions imparted onto the priests of Israel, I’m reminded of some of the things that Jesus said.
The priests are told that they are not to make themselves unclean for anyone other than the most immediate relatives. If a person died, then touching the dead person was to make oneself unclean. I’m guessing there was even more to it than that too. As I read this, I almost feel like God’s actually saying not to grieve for the people who are not most immediate to them. Parents, siblings and children were the exceptions.
Unless you were the high priest. Then you were not to actually make yourself unclean no matter who died. Not even to enter a place where there was a dead body.
To me, I don’t see this as anything negative. I see it as a recognition that as a priest, these people were those who went between the people and God. They were set apart, even from the people who were set apart from the nations. They were not to be troubled by things such as death.
Perhaps that’s why I view it that way. I don’t fear death; I didn’t even before I came back to God. I don’t want to die any time soon; but at the same time I’m not afraid of it. It doesn’t really trouble me. It’s a part of life, a natural part of our physical existence.
These priests weren’t to be troubled by the difficulties of physical life. They were to be so focussed on the spiritual that death in the physical was not something that they troubled themselves with. Their lives were to be lived in the spiritual realm, in the realm closer to God.
A holy life is still lived in the physical world, but it is not troubled by the struggles of the physical world.
“Regard them as holy, because they offer up the food of your God. Consider them holy, because I the LORD am holy – I who make you holy.” ~ Leviticus 21:8
Well, I have one less thing to worry about.
Those who know me, or anyone who’s read a few of my older blog entries in the past will likely know that I’m passionate about politics.
I’ve therefore been reasonably actively involved in politics on an administrative level for a while now. Tonight, I finally let it go; which was actually a lot tougher to do than I thought it was going to be.
I hadn’t really thought about it too much of late. Since the Federal Election, everything had been fairly quiet and even stagnant; so I didn’t really have to think about it. Just over the past few weeks, though, there’s been a bit of action stirring back up and I started getting my mind involved all over again.
It was just in the past few days that God reminded me of the choice I made a while back. Back when I was first coming back to him, and decided to go to Kazakhstan and give my life to the Kingdom cause rather than to other causes. The main choice that I had at that point, was Missions or Politics, putting my gifts, talents and abilities into the Kingdom of God, or the Parliament of Australia, so to speak. I chose God.
But with the rising up of all the politics again, God had to pull me aside and just remind me of that. I’d kind of forgotten about it a little, so I had to actually make it public and official tonight that I’m letting go of the politics. I’m not able to do everything, after all, and I’ve been worried about that. As hard as next year’s going to be, I’ve been worrying about the very basic points, where it looks like I just won’t have enough time in the week to do everything that I’d like to do and God’s wanting me to do. Well, now that we’re getting closer to that line in the sand that I talked about the other night, he’s starting to filter some of those things out so I can narrow down the priorities.
Which is good. I’m looking forward to it.
In other news – I have two days of work left, and then holidays. Hobart, Melbourne and Perth… I’m so excited. Not sure how much internet access I’ll have while I’m in Perth, though, so things might not be as on schedule as I’d like them to be.
Although – I can actually schedule blog posts to come out in future. Maybe I’ll just write ahead!
Wow! What a feast!
And how grateful am I that God made clean what was unclean.
I’m a big bacon fan. Although rabbit and badger I’m not so partial to.
There’s a veritable smorgasbord of different foods here. Much more of which, it would seem, cannot be eaten than what can be. I certainly would never have thought that locusts and grasshoppers were kosher.
Still, it’s an interesting list of foods.
I was talking to a friend recently about some of the law in Leviticus, and one of the things that he pointed out was that the law actually separates into Civil, Ceremonial, Food and Moral law in Leviticus and the Old Testament in general. It’s not hard, really, to tell that this is the food law, but it makes me wonder why. Why was it okay to eat beef, but not pork? What was wrong with bacon? Why not camels or rabbits? Why not sharks (Which, if I’m correct, have fins but not scales)?
Why did God actually need to specify that they don’t eat vultures, or geckos?
I’m willing to try most things, but I don’t know. If someone put a plate in front of me and said it was baked gecko, I might maybe choose that moment to be full or unwell.
Why were these animals unclean? I’ve heard people talk in the past about the hygiene. Food spoiled easily, and perhaps animals like pigs and rabbits were susceptible to particular illnesses that others weren’t. I can see that being the logic, especially for a lot of the birds – I think all of them are meat-eating birds. The same with rats and other rodents like that.
“I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.” ~ Leviticus 11:45
All these animals the Israelites weren’t supposed to eat, at the heart of it, made them unclean. Even touching the carcass of the animals they could eat, if the animal died (rather than being slaughtered, presumably), then touching it would make them unclean. As obviously ‘food law’ as this chapter is, it also demonstrates a significant element of the ceremonial law that was required when holiness was dependent not on grace, but on actions. The Israelites were really expected to live to an extremely high standard of purity and cleanliness.