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Deuteronomy 20





SCRIPTURE:  Deuteronomy 20

BY: Josh Boles

Much like yesterday, Deuteronomy chapter 20 is one of those chapters that is hard to read and understand. This entire chapter is devoted to showing the guidelines for first, war inside the Promise land, and also war outside the promise land. A simple theological truth is that God desires to show grace and mercy to all people. This is a fact, but it is also what makes text like this hard to interpret. If you have already read the chapter, you will remember that even if the Israelites did not completely annihilate their enemies,  they were to force them into labor.

So we have to ask ourselves, how does this fit into God’s plan of redemption and grace? Sometimes in order to understand things you have to zoom out a little bit. This is where we run into problems sometimes when we wrestle with these hard text, and I can assure you that there are harder text than this concerning war to deal with. Even through we read of noting but war in this chapter, the statement that God desires to give grace and mercy to all still stands.

When we read passages like this, we have to read them in context of the larger story. If we go back to Genesis 17, God enters into a covenant relationship with Abraham. This, essentially is the beginning of the nation of Israel, God’s chosen nation. Even Genesis 17 is surrounded by the continuous cycle of God’s grace followed by mankind’s rebellion, followed by more grace, and then more rebellion. This cycle of rebellion is what has lead us to this point in chapter 20. If we read this story as a stand alone context, then God is nothing but vengeful and just. God is just, but God also has abundant grace to give, and has given it every so abundantly all throughout the Old Testament thus far.

Another principle that we have learned several times in our journey through Deuteronomy is that the Lord is always fighting for His people. This is another truth statement that helps us to understand Deuteronomy 20, and really, the entire Old Testament. The sad reality in the Old Testament is that there are a lot of nations that have rebelled against God and His people, and that sin must be met with judgement. Sin must be atoned, that is always true, even today. The difference is that we have Jesus to stand in the gap for us, and what a beautiful promise that is! If it were not true, and we still lived in pre-resurrection times, we would likely be the ones rebelling against God and his people. We are gentiles after all.

One more thing that we can learn from this is that we will always have an enemy, and our enemy is always closer than we think. The Israelites always had an enemy. There is not a time that I can recall that the nation was not in direct conflict with another people. They often faced great nations, just like Moses was preparing them for in Deuteronomy 20. The fact of the matter is that it did not matter how great the enemy was, the Lord was with them. Moses did not minimize the size of the Canna army. He mentions that they had horses and chariots, but what Moses emphasizes more than anything else, along with Priest’s encouragement we see here, is that the Lord’s “fear not,” is what every believer needs to hear when confronting an enemy.

We need to know that we have an enemy, and he is constantly prowling around looking to devour us. Just go read  1 Peter 5:8. We also need to know that we should fear not, because God is fighting for us. Just as we have already learned, if God is fighting for us, victory is a certain thing. God has given us abundant grace. We must give him love and devotion in return.

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Deuteronomy 19




SCRIPTURE:  Deuteronomy 19

BY: Josh Boles

Deuteronomy is one of those chapters that make you go hmmm. If you have not read it already, here is the gist of the story. Remember, they have not yet entered into the promise land so everything Moses is telling them is preparation to enter the Promised Land. Here, for the most part of 19, we see rules for people who have accidentally killed other people. My version calls them “manslayers,’’ which sounds nicer than murderer, doesn't it?

Moses tells them in verse 3, the they are to measure the distance to three cities that will be cities of refuge for these people. I think it is important to note that these cities are not for people who “accidentally” kill somebody, heavy on the quotation. Take a look at the example Moses gives in verse 5.  This example is pure incidental.

The chapter goes on to give more rules and regulations on this. It really is a quite interesting story so I encourage you to read the whole chapter. There is one thing however ,that I would like to draw your attention to. Think about the three cities that would have been measured out to be equal distance from anywhere else in the land. This means that a city of refuge might be within reach to everybody in the land.

The Old Testament always points us to Christ. At the center of every book, chapter, and sentence is Christ. Christ is the fulfillment of the Law, and the only way anybody ever gets into heaven. This helps us to draw the bridge of Deuteronomy 19, to us. Christ after all, is our refuge, and he is always at reach to anybody who calls on His name! Christ does not come to us at a distance. Take a look back at verse 6. Moses makes it clear here than the family members of the deceased might chase after the manslayer. This is why the cities had to be close enough for people to escape to, otherwise nobody would ever make it. 

So always remember that Christ is near to us. Because He is near to us, He is near to others. I would imagine that if an accident happened like this, the suspect would not immediately take off to the city. He would probably go gather his things and say his goodbyes. I also imagine that friends and family members would aid him in his journey. So let me ask you this. Who are you leading to the ultimate place of refuge? Remember, Christ is near to us, but some people probably need a little, or perhaps a lot, of help getting there. Our mission is to point people to Jesus in everything we do. Be a beacon of light to the world today Church! Lead somebody to Jesus! He is our refuge, and our strength!

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