September 12, 2019

Make the Right Turn

Deuteronomy 21

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Atonement for Unsolved Murders

“If in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess someone is found slain, lying in the open country, and it is not known who killed him, then your elders and your judges shall come out, and they shall measure the distance to the surrounding cities. And the elders of the city that is nearest to the slain man shall take a heifer that has never been worked and that has not pulled in a yoke. And the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with running water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and shall break the heifer's neck there in the valley. Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come forward, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister to him and to bless in the name of the LORD, and by their word every dispute and every assault shall be settled. 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, and they shall testify, ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it shed. Accept atonement, O LORD, for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and do not set the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of your people Israel, so that their blood guilt be atoned for.’ So you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD.

Marrying Female Captives

10 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, 11 and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, 12 and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. 13 And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament 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 But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.

Inheritance Rights of the Firstborn

15 “If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him children, and if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved,1 16 then on the day when he assigns his possessions as an inheritance to his sons, he may not treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn, 17 but he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his.

A Rebellious Son

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, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

A Man Hanged on a Tree Is Cursed

22 “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.

Footnotes

[1] 21:15 Or hated; also verses 16, 17

Make the Right Turn



Key Verse | Deuteronomy 21:18, 21

"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, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, . . . all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear."

Bio | Lyn Pollard

I've made a lot of wrong turns in my life. They took me down a path toward destruction. But, by the grace of God, I chose to turn to Christ. I believed what the Bible said was true and decided to finally and fully follow Him. As a result, God placed me on the right path. I am amazed daily by the resiliency and faithfulness of my two beautiful kids (ages 16 and 14). And, as I continue to pray for reconciliation with my precious husband, God is faithful to use separation, divorce, and singleness for my good and His glory. 

 

Central Truth

God wants us to turn to Him in the middle of our sin—no matter how dirty, worn out, and wretched we may be. Making this right turn leads to abundant life in Christ. Choosing not to turn leads to death.

Devotional | Deuteronomy 21

Raise your hand if, when you first read Deuteronomy 21, you were like, "For real? God's people had to do stuff like that back then?" This section of Deuteronomy includes a list...

Raise your hand if, when you first read Deuteronomy 21, you were like, "For real? God's people had to do stuff like that back then?" This section of Deuteronomy includes a list of specific instructions Moses gave the nation of Israel as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. The main goal of this particular section of Scripture was to remind Israel of legal parameters they needed to live within for the protection of themselves and God's community.

While many of the instructions in Deuteronomy 21 merit both a second take and in-depth study, Deuteronomy 21:18-21 includes an ending so drastic, I was left scratching my head. Stoning the rebellious son? What about grace and reconciliation?

Being familiar with the Prodigal Son parable from the Gospel of Luke, I always thought the only way a prodigal Bible story could end was with a bear hug, tears of joy, a big feast, and a jealous brother. And, even though I had read Deuteronomy several times, I had not taken time until now to study the context or understand the significant contrast between Deuteronomy 21:18-21 and Luke 15:11-32. Here's what I've learned:

The similarities: Both sons were rebellious, stubborn, sinful, and determined to live life their own way. The parents in both stories likely had applied discipline, tough love, and certainly long-term prayer to the situation. There was nothing left to do but trust God. Both sons were allowed to come to the end of themselves—and both did.

The differences: One son, finding himself in a pit of despair, chose to repent, come home, and seek forgiveness from his father. One did not. One son enjoyed a heart-felt reunion, forgiveness, and reconciliation. One did not. One son realized the grace, mercy, and unconditional love of his father. The other saw the wrath and justice of the men of his community ordained in God's law and experienced the death and destruction of one separated not only from his family, but likely his God also.

Both sons chose the path to death, but one ultimately chose to make the right turn. That turn toward grace made all the difference.

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Discussion Questions

1. Are you on the path to destruction, or have you made the right turn—to Christ? What will it take for you to decide to turn fully toward Christ and follow Him? What is keeping you from making that turn today?

2. Read Luke 15:11-32. What additional similarities and differences do you find between the two prodigal sons? Between their parents' actions? How does this help you understand the significance of what Christ did for you on the cross?

3. Notice in Deuteronomy 21:18-21 the task of stoning the unrepentant son was given to the community of believers. They were commanded to protect the purity of their people by "purg[ing] the evil from your midst." While we may not be asked to pick up a rock and stone unrepentant believers in our community, how are we asked by God to take tough stands to protect the purity of our believing community? Give some examples of what this looks like in today's Christian culture.

9 Comments available

Jay Caruso 2 months ago

Thank you Lyn!!! This was a wonderful thought out devo “F]or the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory." Sal great stuff keep charging to our lord Jesus. Also my brother is going through a tough rebellious step son he I pray for him everyday because he is not fully devoted to out lord

Cal Caylor 2 months ago

I surrender to his majesty

I surrender, yea; He’s the one for me

I surrender, Jesus is His name

I surrender; my soul can’t take more pain

All the anger and rebellion that’s been sowed

Has now become such a heavy load

Gonna take it from my heart

And give it to Him

It’s the only way

Gonna try it again

I surrender to his majesty

Yea, I surrender; He is the one for me

I surrender, Jesus is His Name

I surrender, with Him there is no shame

I made the right turn

Started talking to Him

Got on the highway

Started living again

So if you wondering which road to take

Take the high road; for Jesus sake!

I surrender to his majesty

I surrender; Yea, He’s the one for me

I surrender, Jesus is his Name

I surrender; my heart is His to Claim

Michael Scaman 2 months ago

Joshua hung 5 kings on trees in one battle (Joshua 10:26) and the king of AI in another (Joshua 8:29).

“cursed is he who is hung on a tree” A strong foreshadowing of Jesus work on the cross. (Gal 3:13)

Don Freeman 2 months ago

Amen

Sue Bohlin 2 months ago

Thank you, Lyn. Praying with you for reconciliation.

My heart is drawn to the plight of captive women taken as wives for Israelite men. (And realizing that this command is for women allowed to live–since the pagan “Ite” women were supposed to die!) I have a hard time imagining what it would be like to be dragged into a man’s home against my will, knowing I have to marry him since women had so few rights in that culture.

But God cared.

I appreciate the command to give a month for grieving and acclimating to a new home and new husband, which would also give the man an opportunity to decide if he wanted to move forward with marrying the captive. But if she lost favor with him, God provided dignity and respect for her if he were to divorce her. Thank You Lord for Your compassion!

Lindsey Driscoll 2 months ago

Q3- Verse 21:21 says “you must purge the evil from among you.” It’s interesting in this law regarding rebellious children, it’s clear that in verse 18, the first instruction is the parents part to discipline. I see Christ in this passage, that purging sin does not lead to immediate death because of Christ. (Romans 6:23) . For us to purge sin as a community of believers we are first called to discipline our own hearts as people broken and utterly dependent on Christ’s grace. For our sin makes us deserving of stoning, yet we have a great intercessor who stepped in and took the punishment for our sin.

Hugh Stephenson 2 months ago

2 Timothy 3:16 - Again I see God stress purity, atonement, obedience and justice. Purity in the treatment of a dead person whose slaying is unsolvable. Even this person merits the atonement of a perfect sacrifice. Knowing the guilt of the slayer, God demands its purging and that no defilement take place.

Even more I see myself in the stubborn, rebellious, gluttonous, drunkard of a son. Even though I am fully deserving of stoning, Jesus stepped in-between me and the crowd, offered Himself to an unimaginable death – the full and complete separation from His father.

This passage is amazing. In every instance, God demands purity in atonement. This fact links me directly to the absolute purity of Jesus and the unimaginable chasm between Him and me.

Father, may I seek to know you so well that my heart mirrors the repentance of David, (Psalm 51) and the Prodigal Son.

greg jones 2 months ago

I’ve got my hand raised.

Looking for Jesus in Deuteronomy21 I see him a lot. Two that stand out-the older son inheritance, and the drunkard glutton Luke7:34 adds to it “friend of tax collectors and sinners”

Luke15:1-2 Jesus teaching tax collectors and sinners, Pharisees, teachers of the law are mumbling bout his friends. They probably just finished teaching on Deuteronomy21.

This is what Jesus says to the Pharisees/teachers of the law in first century Jewish context. How you judge others concerning the law, this is how the law of inheritance judges you. You being righteous wrecks the law.

A harsh version of the law taught to draw people to the Father is the irony of the parable.

That view does not invalidate our view of the prodigal story today. We were not a part of those debates in that day with their perspectives. So we have our own meaning.

Michael Scaman 2 months ago

“…he may not treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn, 17 but he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his…”

The firstborn cannot lose his rights. The church is referred to as the firstborn ones in Hebrews where it speaks of 'the church of the firstborn (plural in the greek)"

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