Deuteronomy 22 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
We come to another section of the Bible that will be difficult to understand why certain things are prohibited. So, where we find sections that are not clear why God prohibits certain practices, we should proceed with a measure of caution and humility.
These verses are hard to understand and therefore difficult to apply. Here are some of the ways you will hear them explained. 1) Loan word. In verse 11, the word for mixture is an Egyptian word. So, the theory goes, this refers to something done in Egypt. 2) Health or safety. The parapet in v. 8 makes perfect sense if you think of health or safety. This may be an expression of what it means to love your neighbor. Other examples include pigs being unclean because of trichinosis. This makes sense but we wonder, “is that why pigs are considered unclean.?” We are not told. 3) Good stewardship. It seems the prohibition in v. 6ff, is proper management or stewardship of food resources. But is that the reason this was included? 4) Refusal to be like one’s neighbors. Is this what vs. 9-11 is about? We cannot establish good reasons for why a human being should not wear linen and wool. But is that what the surrounding nations did for religious or sexual reasons? Read the commentaries and theories abound. Do we need a New Testament Scripture to tell us why something is wrong before we can categorically decide on why certain things are wrong?
We are not likely to find our neighbor’s ox or sheep wandering in your back yard as verse 1ff addresses. Yet can we find truth to apply? God has given us property and relationships that we should cherish with gratitude. My neighbor’s things are not mine. I should not envy my neighbor’s possessions or wife, children, job, car, home, etc. I have some level of responsibility to help my neighbor recover his lost possession. I have an obligation to the community. I should act toward others in a way I would like them to act toward and for me.
There are always those who twist the Bible, so some teach that God accepts sexual perversions. God, through His Word, is and has been clear about his laws regarding sexual relations. One of the serious sins against God is homosexuality. Even crossdressing is “an abomination to the Lord your God.” We have seen how the Bible does not like mixing things. There is no question that homosexuality is a serious violation against God. This prohibition stands out because God calls this an abomination. We have other Scripture where God tells us that our gender is binary: male or female. Yet if God has said something is wrong, there is always a voice or voices to teach the opposite.
In vs, 6-7, is the point that the mother’s life is preserved to produce more birds? But if we take just the young, the species can be preserved. Is there something deeper here about live and allowing other species to flourish? Is the commandment not to kill imply a certain protection for life as well?
In v. 8, the owner of a new home has a responsibility to keep family, friends, and visitors safe. I remember in China; we would be riding our bikes at night alongside the street and there would be manhole covers missing. You had to watch carefully because there were no flashing lights or cones left out. This is the opposite of that. The owner is to think about his responsibility toward others. This is one way to love our neighbor. Sometimes loving our neighbor costs us money.
In vs. 9-11, notice the aversion to mixing things. As we mentioned in the first paragraph, we are not told why these mixings are wrong. If we don’t know the rationale behind these prohibitions, it makes it difficult to apply.
In verses 13ff, we have laws concerning sexual immorality. In the first section, vs. 13-21, there are two examples of harm to the community and to individuals. The first is when a man marries a woman and thinks she has been unfaithful prior to the wedding day. Her parents are her defender. The father is to bring evidence (blood on a cloak or “sheet”) and whip him and fine him, but he cannot divorce her ever. The second example is when the man’s suspicions are correct. Then she is stoned. Since a woman does not always bleed during her first intercourse there must have been allowances for this.
In v. 22, two married people found lying together were to be stoned. This was an evil that had to be purged. Then in v. 23, a betrothed woman and a single man were to be stoned if they lay together in the city. I would also assume considerations would be made if there were places even in a city where someone could not hear a woman screaming. But if this act takes place in the country, only the man must be put to death.
In v. 28, if a man seizes a woman and lies with her, he must marry her and pay the father 50 shekels and he can never divorce her. These seem like tough consequences for women in these situations. Finally, we read of not marrying one’s stepmother (we assume stepmother).
We admit it is hard to understand why these laws were given to the nation of Israel. So, applying these laws without the inspired comments of the New Testament may leave us a bit baffled. There is a sense for all believers that we won’t be able to understand all of Scripture. While we must keep trying and never give up, we also admit we don’t have to understand all the verses of Scripture.
Lord, You gave laws for a just administration of Your nation. We admit that we find it hard to understand why You included certain laws and therefore we are puzzled on how to apply what we don’t understand. Help us to balance a desire to study and know with a humble trust in Your Fatherly love and justice. Help us to suspend judgment when these laws do not make sense to us. By Your Spirit, open our eyes so we can see Christ throughout the entire Bible. In Christ’s most glorious name. Amen.