Whatever Things are JustOctober 23, 2016 in Bible - NT - Philippians, Bible - OT - Deuteronomy, Bible - OT - Psalms, Judgment, Justification, Meditations
The Bombing in Boston and God’s JusticeApril 21, 2013 in Bible - OT - Deuteronomy, Bible - OT - Proverbs, Hell, Islam, Judgment, Meditations
Fear an Instrument in God’s HandsDecember 12, 2010 in Bible - OT - Deuteronomy, Confession, Faith, Meditations
Deuteronomy 11:25 (NKJV)
25 No man shall be able to stand against you; the Lord your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you.
The book of Deuteronomy has a lot to say about fear – fear of God, fear of men, fear of enemies, and even, as we see in our text today, fear of God’s people. God promises Israel as they are on the cusp of entering the promised land – trust in me, believe in Me, serve Me, fear Me, and I will cause your enemies to fear you and to fall before you.
We witness the fulfillment of this promise in the words of Rahab to the spies that Joshua sent to Jericho. Rahab informed the men that the terror of them had fallen upon the city and that the inhabitants were fainthearted because of them. We see God using fear to bless His people again in the book of Judges. Gideon, for example, sneaks into the enemy camp at night and there hears two soldiers speaking in fear of the way God had raised up Gideon as a deliverer. When we as God’s people fear Him, He grants success to our labors by causing dread to fall upon our enemies.
However, fear is not only an instrument that God uses to bless His people, it is also an instrument he uses to judge us. For if we fail to fear Him, fail to honor Him, to serve Him, to glorify Him, then He causes us to grow fearful of our enemies.
‘And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; the sound of a shaken leaf shall cause them to flee; they shall flee as though fleeing from a sword, and they shall fall when no one pursues. They shall stumble over one another, as it were before a sword, when no one pursues; and you shall have no power to stand before your enemies. (Lev 26:36-37)
What we see, therefore, is that fear is a tool God uses – He is the one who instills the dread of others. Sometimes He uses it to bless His people – making others fear them to the advance of the Kingdom of God. Sometimes, however, God uses fear to judge His people – making them fearful of others that they might be purified and learn to fear Him once again. Both types of fear come from the hand of God – one in blessing, the other in judgment.
So here’s the question: which are we experiencing? By and large, the people of God in America are afraid and our enemies are not. Unrighteousness is on the increase. The attacks on God’s rule are more and more strident. Why? Because the Living God, the One who rules and governs the affairs of men, is chastising His Church for her unfaithfulness. The problem, in other words, is not out there but in here. We haven’t feared God as we ought, we haven’t served the Lord as we ought, and so He has delivered us over to our fears. There is sin in the camp and so God is judging His people so that we will remember to fear Him, to honor Him, to serve Him.
So what is the solution? Confession, repentance, and faith. We must confess our fear, turn from our sins, and put our trust in the Lord, standing firm against our enemies knowing that the Lord is on our side and so we need not be afraid. So let us begin this morning by confessing our sins to the Lord together.
Virgins in IsraelMay 11, 2010 in Bible - OT - Deuteronomy, Children, Ecclesiology, Meditations, Sexuality
Deuteronomy 22:13-19 (NKJV)
13 “If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her, 14 and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, ‘I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin,’ 15 then the father and mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. 16 And the young woman’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man as wife, and he detests her. 17 Now he has charged her with shameful conduct, saying, “I found your daughter was not a virgin,” and yet these are the evidences of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. 18 Then the elders of that city shall take that man and punish him; 19 and they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name on a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days.
This morning we continue our series of lessons taught by young women. As members of the body of Christ, young women have important lessons to teach the rest of us and it is prudent for us to learn these lessons that we might honor our Lord more fully. We have seen that one of the titles by which God’s people are called is the “daughter of Zion” revealing God’s affection, protection, and provision for us.
The text today reveals another title by which young women in Israel were called, the “virgins of Israel.” A virgin, as most of you know, is a woman who has never been sexually intimate with a man. And, in ancient Israel, one of the titles by which young women were called, in addition to the title “daughters of Jerusalem” and “maidens” (which we saw last week), was the Virgins of Israel. None of this innocuous “teenager” language. When God began developing a young man or young woman, He took note of his or her respective treasures. And one of the greatest treasures that a young woman possesses, which she can give only once to one man, is her virginity.
God takes this virginity, this sexual purity, seriously and so he honors young women in Israel by protecting their good name. For example, in our text today, if a man were to marry a virgin, have intercourse with her on their wedding night, and then charge her falsely the next day with failing to be a virgin, he was to be punished by the elders of the city – likely beaten with a rod – fined an enormous sum of money that would be given to the father lest his daughter have to return home, and forbidden by law from divorcing his wife ever for any cause. Why? Notice the rationale: “Because he has brought a bad name on a virgin of Israel” and that’s something you just don’t do.
The seriousness with which God takes this sexual purity is likewise evident in the way that young women who pretended to be virgins and were not were treated. The text goes on to describe what should happen if the charge were true. If a young woman were to contract a marriage on the assumption that she was a virgin and were to deceive her parents and fiancé into thinking she was still a virgin, only to be discovered the day after the wedding night that she wasn’t a virgin, then she was to be stoned to death with stones. Why? “Because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father’s house.”
Young women, God takes your virginity seriously and acts to protect it in His law. So treasure and guard it well. Beware young men who would seduce you. Beware older men who would seduce you. Beware the pressure that will be put upon you to be sexually active by our current culture. You may be told that you haven’t fully experienced life if you haven’t had sex. You may be told that you are prude, naïve, silly. You may be mocked and scorned by the Hollywood crowd. But this is where the Word of God comes to our rescue by speaking very bluntly. What is a harlot? A harlot is a whore, a prostitute, a woman who gets paid to perform sexual favors. If we despise a harlot – which the Word of God says we ought – then how much more ought we to despise a woman who gives her sexual favors away for nothing? Who spreads her legs under every green tree and only demands “love” in return? Such a woman is both a harlot and a fool.
Young women, this is your charge. You are the Virgins of Israel, so be a Virgin of Israel – pure, unsullied, glorious, beautiful. Men, particularly young men, your task is to protect the purity of the Virgins of Israel. In relation to women, there are two types of men in the world: protectors and predators. To our shame, many, if not most, are predators – looking for yet another young woman they can defile, and, when they do, chalking up another victory on their achievement board. But your job is to be their protectors. Defend them and honor them even as Your God does.
And all of us should be reminded by these things the extent to which God values purity and chastity – both outside of marriage and inside. Reminded of this, reminded that we have been impure in our thoughts and often impure in our actions, let us kneel and confess our sins to God.
Deuteronomy 11:26-28 (NKJV)
26 “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.
You’ll pardon me if, for a time, I take a break from our series on the lessons taught by different members of the Christian community. For some reason the decision by a few major universities to ban tobacco products on their campuses has made its way to national news this past week. The University of Montana – of all places! – has become the latest in a series of schools to propose such a policy, to become effective this spring semester. The student body leaders and many of their professors are rejoicing with euphoric glee – ah, we’re finally ridding the earth of that nasty tobacco.
What we as God’s people need to see is the way in which the passing of such policies represents a concession on the part of these schools to an anti-Christian worldview. After all, let us conduct a thought experiment. Imagine that instead of outlawing tobacco products, the university instead passed policies banning sexual fornication or sodomy. Can’t you just hear the hew and cry already? How dare you infringe on my personal liberty? How can you be so judgmental? You’re just a fascist neo-Nazi!
But note, if you will, the incredible inconsistency. Where’s the cry for our poor smokers out there? For the tobacco farmers who are being viciously persecuted and financially ruined? You see the issue is not whether we as a culture will have certain things that are taboo – this is inevitable. The question is rather which worldview will define that which is taboo. Which god or gods will we listen to as a culture? To whose voice will we give heed?
And it is this very challenge that God placed in front of the people of Israel as they were preparing to enter the Promised Land. He set before them quite clearly the blessing and the curse. If you listen to Me, God said, and to My voice, loving Me, serving Me, observing My commandments then you will be blessed. If, however, you follow after other gods, listen to their voice, give heed to them and to their standards, then you will be cursed.
Our calling as the people of God is to cling to God’s standards, to cherish His law, to praise what He would praise and to condemn what He would condemn. And the banning of all tobacco products because they’re “bad for you” is not something He would praise. “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men.” Rather smoke a pack a day than once steal from your neighbor. Rather chew and spit in the spittoon than once fornicate with your neighbor.
Reminded of our abandonment of God’s standards in favor of our own, let us kneel and confess our sins to Him.