A Holy Nation (3): Deuteronomy 22-24.4 (1)
Opening Prayer: Psalm 133.1
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
Psalm 133.1, 3
(Trygarre Kan Ingen Vara: Children of the Heavenly Father)
O, behold, how sweet, how pleasant, when the brethren dwell together:
All in unity abiding find God’s blessing there presiding.
Today’s Text: Deuteronomy 22.1-12
1. How do these verses teach us to care for our neighbors?
2. How do they instruct us in caring for God’s creation?
Here are a few more of the “civil laws” which are given to illustrate applications of the Ten Commandments. These civil statutes are not intended to be exhaustive. Rather, while they may have a specific application as indicated, they embody larger principles that must be understood and practiced in a wide range of situations.
For example, if you find your neighbor’s wallet or credit card, you need to return it (vv. 1-3). If your neighbor is struggling to fix a flat tire, lend a hand (v. 4). Don’t mislead your neighbor or in any way deceive him (v. 5). If you have a pool in your yard, fence it, so that no one accidentally falls into it (v. 8). And so forth.
We also love our neighbors by properly caring for God’s creation. By not taking the progeny-producing mother bird, but only the eggs or chicks, you are practicing a form of conservation (vv. 6, 7). Thus, there will be food for your neighbor as well as for you. Be wise and prudent in your gardening (vv. 9, 10). Don’t plant things that won’t grow well together – so that you end up losing more than you should. And don’t wear out your “equipment” by using it improperly (v. 10).
Finally, at all times remember that God’s Law speaks to all of life, creating paths and landmarks to keep us in the way of blessing. The tassels God’s people put on their garments were meant to remind them that the Law of God covers it all – north, south, east, west, length, breadth, depth, and height (cf. Num. 15.37-41). What do you do to remind yourself to bring every aspect of your life under the governance of God’s Word?
Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
A certain lawyer tested Jesus with the question, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” After Jesus told him that he must love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love his neighbor as he loved himself, the lawyer wanted more qualification: “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus then proceeded to tell the parable of the good Samaritan; and Jesus referred to the victim as “a certain man.” He was not identified as family, a friend, a co-worker, a fellow church member, or even a distant acquaintance. Merely a “certain man” (Lk. 10.25-37). In Deuteronomy, God speaks about the kindness we must show to our brother. “And if your brother is near you, or if you do not know him…” (Deut. 22.2). What? Our brother but we don’t even know him? Nor even where he lives? It seems rather all-encompassing, doesn’t it? And the truth is, these are the people in our “neighborhood.” Everybody deserves our care and concern. Jesus finished His parable with this question: “So which of these three [priest, Levite, or Samaritan] do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And the certain lawyer responded, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, and to us, “Go and do likewise.”
1. Why is it so important that we practice love for our neighbors?
2. What might you be able to do to take better care of God’s creation?
3. Can we love our neighbors well if we do not love God supremely? Explain.
God’s providence extends itself to the smallest affairs, and his precepts do so, that even in them we may be in the fear of the Lord, as we are under his eye and care. Yet the tendency of these laws, which seem little, is such, that being found among the things of God’s law, they are to be accounted great things. If we would prove ourselves to be God’s people, we must have respect to his will and to his glory, and not to the vain fashions of the world. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Deuteronomy 22.5-12.
Thank You, Lord, that You have marked out the path of blessing for me today, so that I…
Closing Prayer: Psalm 133.2, 3
Pray for the people in your Personal Mission Field, that God will give you an opportunity to show many of them His love today.
Psalm 133.2, 3
(Trygarre Kan Ingen Vara: Children of the Heavenly Father)
Like the precious oil of blessing flowing down on Aaron’s vestment,
God’s anointing rests forever where His people dwell together.
Like the dew of Hermon’s fountain falling down on Zion’s mountain,
So the blessing of the Savior dwells where unity finds favor.
T. M. and Susie Moore
Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).