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Deuteronomy 14:12, 911, 1923; 15:711comment (0)

February 2, 2012

By Dale Younce

Related Scripture: Deuteronomy 14:12, 911, 1923; 15:711

Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

Deuteronomy 14:1–2, 9–11, 19–23; 15:7–11

Few adults want to stick out in the crowd when doing so might result in their being laughed at or shunned socially. Many adults desire to blend in and “go along to get along.” Often, however, the desire to blend in leads to adopting attitudes or practicing behaviors that are self-centered and ungodly. Even Christians can find themselves displaying a lifestyle not consistent with biblical teachings. God expects believers to display a lifestyle reflecting a right relationship with Him.

Maintain a Godly Worldview (14:1–2)
To be “a holy people to the Lord your God” meant being a nation set apart to God for His use. At Mount Sinai, God declared to Israel, “And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6). Israel had the special privilege of witnessing to other nations. All nations were to come to the Lord through its ministry and testimony. Israel, a holy (set apart) people to the Lord, was to demonstrate holiness (uniqueness) by obedience to the Lord. It needed a distinctive lifestyle in the affairs of everyday life.

God warned Israel to avoid attitudes and actions connected with pagan rituals. The surrounding nations had superstitious beliefs and practices about dying and the dead. Two of those practices (cutting their bodies and shaving their heads) were signs of pagan mourning. Since those practices conflicted with faith in the Lord, the Israelites demonstrated their faith by refraining from them. As a holy people, they were not to imitate their neighbors’ wicked practices. Today Christians are to base their views of life and death — as well as their actions based on those views — on the truth God has revealed in His Word.

Choose a Clean Lifestyle (14:9–11, 19–21)
The Israelites, as a holy people, were to demonstrate that “holy” difference in what they ate. Previously they were forbidden to eat meat with blood in it (Deut. 12:16, 23), and now Moses marked a difference between “clean” and “unclean” animals. The ground for this distinction is not clear. It appears to have health concerns as well as holiness concerns. The point is that these dietary laws separated the Israelites from mixing socially with idolatrous people, so that they might not be lured into idolatry. One feature of these dietary laws is that some prohibited creatures were associated with pagan worship, as is the case of boiling a kid in its mother’s milk. These food laws reminded Israel of its unique status before God, and in the presence of Gentiles, an Israelite diet served as a testimony of the Israelite’s relationship to the Lord. Today Christians are to look to God for His description of clean living and make their lifestyle consistent with their relationship with Him.

Exhibit Consistent Stewardship (14:22–23)
The regulations about the tithe of produce (grains, fruits, vegetables and animals) were connected with the preceding food laws. This tithe was to be eaten in a fellowship meal within the central sanctuary. It expressed the Israelites’ unique relationship to and dependence on the Lord. This was the second of three tithes given by the Israelites. The first tithe was given to the Levites to support the priesthood serving in the central sanctuary (Num. 18:21–32). The second tithe was for a celebration banquet in the sanctuary. A third welfare tithe was offered every three years to care for the poor (Deut. 14:28–29). In a similar fashion, Christians demonstrate their reverence for God by consistently giving a proportion of their income to His work.

Keep a Generous Heart (15:7–11)
These verses aimed for a reduction of poverty while stressing the abundance of God’s provision. They were intended to instill a spirit of generosity among the Israelites and thus a freedom from the love of money. The Lord urged His ancient people to always act generously to help the poor. Christians, too, display a godly attitude when they act selflessly and generously to help the needy.

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