September 13, 2019

What Is God Like? 

Deuteronomy 22

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Various Laws

“You shall not see your brother's ox or his sheep going astray and ignore them. You shall take them back to your brother. And if he does not live near you and you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall stay with you until your brother seeks it. Then you shall restore it to him. And you shall do the same with his donkey or with his garment, or with any lost thing of your brother's, which he loses and you find; you may not ignore it. You shall not see your brother's donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and ignore them. You shall help him to lift them up again.

“A woman shall not wear a man's garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.

“If you come across a bird's nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long.

“When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your house, if anyone should fall from it.

“You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, lest the whole yield be forfeited,1 the crop that you have sown and the yield of the vineyard. 10 You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. 11 You shall not wear cloth of wool and linen mixed together.

12 “You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.

Laws Concerning Sexual Immorality

13 “If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then hates her 14 and accuses her of misconduct and brings a bad name upon her, saying, ‘I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her evidence of virginity,’ 15 then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate. 16 And the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to marry, and he hates her; 17 and behold, he has accused her of misconduct, saying, “I did not find in your daughter evidence of virginity.” And yet this is the evidence of my daughter's virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloak before the elders of the city. 18 Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip2 him, 19 and they shall fine him a hundred shekels3 of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name upon a virgin4 of Israel. And she shall be his wife. He may not divorce her all his days. 20 But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in 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 an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father's house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

22 “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.

23 “If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets 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 for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

25 “But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes 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; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor, 27 because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her.

28 “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.

30 “A man shall not take his father's wife, so that he does not uncover his father's nakedness.5

Footnotes

[1] 22:9 Hebrew become holy
[2] 22:18 Or discipline
[3] 22:19 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
[4] 22:19 Or girl of marriageable age
[5] 22:30 Hebrew uncover his father's skirt

What Is God Like? 



Key Verse | Deuteronomy 22:3b

"[Y]ou may not ignore it."

Bio | Nathan Wagnon

Husband to Margaret. Daddy to Nate, Miles, and Jules. Jesus is the King.

Central Truth

God cares for and protects the vulnerable.

Devotional | Deuteronomy 22

It's probably not a stretch to say that many are reading through this section of Deuteronomy thinking, "What in the world is going on?" Or, perhaps you're thinking, "I don't have...

It's probably not a stretch to say that many are reading through this section of Deuteronomy thinking, "What in the world is going on?" Or, perhaps you're thinking, "I don't have an ox or donkey or plow or tassels on my shirt, and I haven't violated a marriage, so this passage doesn't apply to me." I can empathize with that and also help a little.

The trick to reading legal passages like this is to understand the laws stated (statutory laws) are not the law itself. They are expressions of what the law looks like in a certain context (think of them as case studies in application), but the actual law is the principle behind the expressions we find written to the ancient Israelite community, and the actual law does not change. What the law does is show us what God is like, what He cares about, and what our responsibility to Him and one another is.

In this section, we learn that God is intensely interested in vulnerable people (someone whose property has been lost or injured; house guests in danger because their wellbeing was ignored; discarded and abused women, etc.). He also cares a lot about holiness and purity (respecting the created order, setting apart daily practice, maintaining marital and sexual fidelity, etc.).

While these character traits expressed themselves in a very unique ancient culture, God's character has not changed. He still cares about the vulnerable. He's still interested in holiness. If we ignore people who are vulnerable or don't come around them when they are in need, we violate God's law. If our selfishness or carelessness endangers or exploits people around us, we violate God's law. If we do not fight for and provide for the abused, we violate God's law. If we discredit our witness by conforming to our culture instead of maintaining an appropriate separateness from it, we violate God's law. If we disregard what God has revealed, we violate God's law.

We cannot blithely gloss over this section as if it no longer applies. It is telling us what God is like. Do not ignore it.

See Comments

Discussion Questions

1. How does this understanding of Deuteronomy 22 change the way you think about God?

2. How should knowing what God is like affect our daily lives?

3. What are some practical ways you should respond to the character and nature of God?

16 Comments available

Kasi Pollock 4 days ago
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Brett, I’m no scholar but as I read it, I see God watching out for women when they are part of the “spoils of battle”. Vv 10-14 give instructions on how to bring her into the new culture, and also give her a month to mourn her old culture without any forced intimacy. If after that month he doesn’t want her, she must be set free- she can’t be sold, killed, etc. I think that preserves her dignity as a human being and keeps her from being treated as just an object.

Alma Barber 5 days ago
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“As my view of God became more accurate my life change sped up. A lot. I saw that Jesus embodied all the characteristics God did. He became my model.“ I so relate to this statement Hugh.

brett archer 6 days ago

This question is from the text of yesterdays journey but it relates to todays also. (Understanding God Character) I desire with all my heart to know God intimately and trust Him fully with my whole life and will. I have been on that journey for a long time. The past few days we have been studying some tough passages about Gods character. He does not seem very loving, kind or considerate of the vulnerable in Dut 21:14 "If you have no longer delight in her you shall let her go where she wants…since you have humiliated her. Why would God permit, allow, condone for a ANY human being to be treated like that? I just don’t get it. Can anyone help??

Shawn Foster 6 days ago

Nailed it Nathan. “If our carelessness endangers people… if we discredit our witness by conforming to our culture… we violate God’s law.” Amen! Far be it from us. Thank you for leading by example. Let’s go church, have a great weekend of worship!!!

Linda Green 6 days ago

Thank you, Nathan, for helping bring clarity to this passage, by helping me see Moses explaining the heart of God to His people. As a parent, verse 5 helps me see the importance of maintaining boundaries in how we allow young and older children to dress. Praying today for those who are struggling to value the gender that God made them.

Jay Caruso 6 days ago

Nathan thank for your to the point devo !!! The conduct that our God wants from use is very clear. ALL of us need to be more accountable for our actions. This society is lacking in faithfulness grace trusting in our God and know what he has done for everyone. The Old Testament is tough but we must obey the law he has put before us

Michael Scaman 9 days ago

It looks like some of these laws are practical righteousness like safety issues - putting a fence on your roof to prevent accidents

It looks like some are symbolic. Not mixing seeds. Not mixing types of cloth. Not mixing may represent purity and godly character.

Scott Jones 9 days ago

Oddly enough this week I was driving out the road at our lake house and saw my neighbor’s goat on the road. I got out and as I approached she darted through a gap between the gate and the fence. I was able to secure the gate with a chain so that she could not get out again.

More seriously, I have been thinking a lot about domestic abuse recently. This passage certainly reveals God’s heart for the weak and vulnerable. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 commands us to “help the weak”. I find myself questioning whether I as an individual, and we as a church are doing enough to protect the victims of domestic abuse.

Michael Scaman 9 days ago

The laws “children obey your parents” and “don’t eat the mother bird along with her eggs” both carry a promise of long life in the land.

Obey your parents so that “…it may go well with you, and that you may live long…” The first commandment with a promise says the New Testament have another

“If you come across a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long.

Matthew Henry says that this was to remind us of the importance of keeping the law from the least to the greatest part

Michael Scaman 9 days ago

No finders keepers losers weepers here. Your house becomes the lost and found place

“You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray and ignore them. You shall take them back to your brother. 2 And if he does not live near you and you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall stay with you until your brother seeks it.

greg jones 9 days ago

Excellent devotional. Applied the trick to verse 30, it got a little weird, so I focused on the principle rather than the expression.

Genesis3 there’s a difference between naked/unashamed and nakedness/ashamed.

Genesis9 Noah, drunk, sleeps naked. Unashamed? I’m not sure. Ham sees his fathers nakedness and tells his brothers. Unashamed to see his father’s nakedness? I’m not sure. Noah knows about it. Because he woke up covered? Not sure. Knows Ham has seen his nakedness. Noah curses youngest of Ham’s four sons Canaan.

It has taken awhile but we are about to see the consequences of Noah’s curse and Ham’s sin.

Nathan Wagnon 9 days ago
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Hugh, I love hearing the correlation between the transformation of your image of God and your own personal growth. For sure there is a direct link. I think if we train ourselves to look past the surface what we will find throughout all Scripture is a God who loves us beyond our ability to comprehend, and pursues us at all costs.

Grateful to be following Jesus with you!

Hope Harris 9 days ago

GM JTJ. Nathan great to see you on the journey today.

I am pondering verse 5:

this post will be talking points as my time and word count are limited.

Looking beyond wearing the opposite genders clothes, Christ Followers in 2019 are challenged to understand transgender issue. Time magazine boldly states that the transgender movement is equal to the Civil Rights movement.

We must be equipped with not only the Biblical authority of scripture, know science, and exhibit compassion on this subject.

Biblically we know God is intentional in his created order. In Genesis on we see he created sun and separated out day and night same is true for male and female.

Not only is God intentional but has meaning purpose for His Creation, God is trustworthy and does not make mistakes.

Hope Harris 9 days ago

Point two: Science demonstrates while one can alter their outward appearance through surgery and medication. We know that our chromosomes and pelvic structure can’t be altered.

So while a person can present act like a member of the opposite gender at their core they are still the gender God created them to be.

To offer compassion and empathy we must understand the person who struggles with gender identity deals with confusion. They have been deceived by the enemy of their soul. Falsely affirmed by the culture at large and enabled to live out a false identity by the medical and psychological fields. We must pray that God makes a way for us to speak true and love to transgendered people. That is prayer focus today

Sue Bohlin 9 days ago

Nathan, BAM! Whoa, brother, way to peel back the surface issues and explain what’s going on at the heart level of passages like this! When I saw you were the devo writer, it reminded me of your mind-blowing Equipping podcast with guys from Pillar Seminary, which made me read the passage looking for way deeper meaning and connections than I ordinarily would.

Particularly with the recent buzz about people repudiating “Purity Culture,” I wondered about the importance of a woman’s virginity. Then I remembered that Paul reveals how earthly marriage is a picture of the relationship of the heavenly marriage of the Lamb and His bride, the church. Since we are still in the betrothal period, Jesus wants us to remain pure and virginal in our devotion and behavior to our Bridegroom, awaiting the consummation of the marriage in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

Hugh Stephenson 9 days ago

GM Nathan!! Love this devo. These types of passage do require a lot of reflection. I find myself getting more out of them than I expected.

I have been taught to seek to know the goodness and kindness of God as that is key to His nature and character.

Years ago I did a group exercise on mother-father wounds. There are many out there on the internet. The basic lesson is to compare various experiences, impressions and lessons from parents. Then compare those to your view of God.

I was stunned at the comparison. It completely changed how I looked at God. My view changed from distant, uninvolved, inconsistent and authoritative to deeply connected, intensely caring, unchanging and lovingly correcting.

As my view of God became more accurate my life change sped up. A lot. I saw that Jesus embodied all the characteristics God did. He became my model.

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