Chapter 14 – 16
A personal relationship with God is reflected through our unique lifestyle. Some of the animals were prohibited from eating because they had not been ritually slaughtered. In some cases some animals may have been sued in other worship systems. They may have been restricted because of dietetic reasons. The most important reason that these restrictions were implemented was that it demonstrated to whom the Israelites belonged. By their refusal of food that was incompatible with the holiness of God, they retained their relationship with the Lord. Such views today are primitive but the principle can still be affirmed today with integrity. Persons in a relationship with the Lord are to maintain the sanctity of that fellowship.
This chapter focuses on the uniqueness of the Israelite people. This uniqueness was because of their relationship with the Lord. “You are the sons of the LORD your God.” It is on this presupposition that this chapter rest. The fact that they are the people of God imposes its own set of demands. How was this uniqueness to find expression? These answers are given. Avoiding pagan mourning rites, (1-2) unclean foods, (3-21) and pagan ritual. (21)
The Holiness of Worship Structures
For the purity of worship the worship structures must be preserved. In the Old Testament it was far less important for later biblical religion. But throughout the Bible the way in which one worshiped is important.
Although the worship structures mentioned in Deuteronomy is not all-inclusive, they present excellent principles. First the worship structure provided for one dedication of possessions. (14:22 to 15:23) Whether it was the giving of tithes, (14:22-29) granting release to those who were bound through indebtedness or other forms of servitude, (15:1-18) or dedicating the first born to the Lord, person confronted unique opportunities of worship in the expression of their faith.
The worshiper demonstrates the giving of himself by the giving of his possessions. Second is the dedication of life which was achieved through the calendar year in the festival celebrations. Passover, (16:1-8) Pentecost, (16:9-12) and Tabernacles. (16:13-17) These festivals recalled the historical events of their religious pilgrimage. They affirmed the goodness of God’s gift of the earth and productivity, they praised God for His providence which had brought them through the sea and wilderness. In these moments of worship they are both proclamation and response. They remember and proclaim what God has done and give appropriate praise for His grace through their pilgrimage.
Third was justice. Justice was an integrated component of Israel’s worshipping community. At the conclusion of the writers narrative on festivals there is an added call to justice. In all the towns there were to be appointed judges, and people were not to pervert justice by showing partiality towards some or taking bribes to be swayed in judgments. “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue.”
How does one maintain the holiness of a worship structure? He dedicates himself through his possessions, he proclaims and responds to God’s gracious gifts. There is equal justice for all in the community, as that too is a form of worship.
Purge the Evil
Sin is so abhorrent to God that it cannot coexist with Him. The same would be true for His people. God is holy, and He expects His people to reflect His holiness. (Leviticus 11:45; Leviticus 19:2)
God required severe measures to remove sins and sinners from the covenant community. God offered forgiveness, but only for the truly repentant; those who hardened their hearts could expect God’s judgment – a devouring fire, a purging process that devours sinners and their sins and leaves nothing behind. (Isaiah 33:14; Hebrews 12:28-29) Such cleansing is meant to heal the community of believers and deter others from rebelling against the Lord.
Early in the Old Testament, God’s judgment amongst His people was often immediate. (Numbers 11:1-3; Numbers 16:1-50; Joshua 7:1-26; Acts 5:1-11) God made His people aware of His demand for obedience and of the penalty for those who did not comply.
God’s retribution is now reserved for the future Day of Judgment, which the sins of the unrighteous and the saints will be exposed and judged. (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27; 1 Peter 4:5) However, some instances of calamity can be understood as God’s judgment on His disobedient children. (1 Corinthians 11:27-30; James 5:19-20) It is still a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)