March 15, Deuteronomy 14-16

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14 “You are sons of the Lord your God; do not cut yourselves or make a bald spot on your head[a] on behalf of the dead, for you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord has chosen you to be his own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.

Clean and Unclean Foods

“You must not eat any detestable thing. These are the animals you may eat:oxen, sheep, goats,deer, gazelles, roe deer,wild goats, ibexes, antelopes,and mountain sheep.You may eat any animal that has hooves divided in two and chews the cud.[bBut among the ones that chew the cud or have divided hooves, you are not to eat these:camels, hares, and hyraxes,though they chew the cud, they do not have hooves—they are unclean for you;and pigs, though they have hooves, they do not chew the cud—they are unclean for you.Do not eat their meat or touch their carcasses.“You may eat everything from the water that has fins and scales, 10 but you may not eat anything that does not have fins and scales—it is unclean for you.11 “You may eat every clean bird, 12 but these are the ones you may not eat:eagles, bearded vultures,black vultures, 13 the kites,any kind of falcon,[c]14 every kind of raven, 15 ostriches,short-eared owls, gulls,any kind of hawk,16 little owls, long-eared owls,barn owls, 17 eagle owls,ospreys, cormorants, 18 storks,any kind of heron,hoopoes, and bats.[d]19 All winged insects are unclean for you; they may not be eaten. 20 But you may eat every clean flying creature.21 “You are not to eat any carcass; you may give it to a resident alien within your city gates, and he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. Do not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

A Tenth for the Lord

22 “Each year you are to set aside a tenth of all the produce grown in your fields. 23 You are to eat a tenth of your grain, new wine, and fresh oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, in the presence of the Lord your God at the place where he chooses to have his name dwell, so that you will always learn to fear the Lord your God. 24 But if the distance is too great for you to carry it, since the place where the Lord your God chooses to put his name is too far away from you and since the Lord your God has blessed you, 25 then exchange it for silver, take the silver in your hand, and go to the place the Lord your God chooses. 26 You may spend the silver on anything you want: cattle, sheep, goats, wine, beer, or anything you desire. You are to feast there in the presence of the Lordyour God and rejoice with your family. 27 Do not neglect the Levite within your city gates, since he has no portion or inheritance among you.28 “At the end of every three years, bring a tenth of all your produce for that year and store it within your city gates. 29 Then the Levite, who has no portion or inheritance among you, the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow within your city gates may come, eat, and be satisfied. And the Lord your God will bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.15 “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. This is how to cancel debt: Every creditor[a] is to cancel what he has lent his neighbor. He is not to collect anything from his neighbor or brother, because the Lord’s release of debts has been proclaimed. You may collect something from a foreigner, but you must forgive whatever your brother owes you.“There will be no poor among you, however, because the Lord is certain to bless you in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance— if only you obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow every one of these commands I am giving you today. When the Lord your God blesses you as he has promised you, you will lend to many nations but not borrow; you will rule many nations, but they will not rule you.

Lending to the Poor

“If there is a poor person among you, one of your brothers within any of your city gates in the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Instead, you are to open your hand to him and freely loan him enough for whatever need he has. Be careful that there isn’t this wicked thought in your heart, ‘The seventh year, the year of canceling debts, is near,’ and you are stingy toward your poor brother and give him nothing. He will cry out to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty. 10 Give to him, and don’t have a stingy heart[b]when you give, and because of this the Lordyour God will bless you in all your work and in everything you do.[c11 For there will never cease to be poor people in the land; that is why I am commanding you, ‘Open your hand willingly to your poor and needy brother in your land.’

Release of Slaves

12 “If your fellow Hebrew, a man or woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, you must set him free in the seventh year. 13 When you set him free, do not send him away empty-handed. 14 Give generously to him from your flock, your threshing floor, and your winepress. You are to give him whatever the Lord your God has blessed you with. 15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you; that is why I am giving you this command today. 16 But if your slave says to you, ‘I don’t want to leave you,’ because he loves you and your family, and is well off with you, 17 take an awl and pierce through his ear into the door, and he will become your slave for life. Also treat your female slave the same way. 18 Do not regard it as a hardship[d] when you set him free, because he worked for you six years—worth twice the wages of a hired worker. Then the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.

Consecration of Firstborn Animals

19 “Consecrate to the Lord your God every firstborn male produced by your herd and flock. You are not to put the firstborn of your oxen to work or shear the firstborn of your flock. 20 Each year you and your family are to eat it before the Lord your God in the place the Lord chooses. 21 But if there is a defect in the animal, if it is lame or blind or has any serious defect, you may not sacrifice it to the Lord your God. 22 Eat it within your city gates; both the unclean person and the clean may eat it, as though it were a gazelle or deer. 23 But you must not eat its blood; pour it on the ground like water.16 “Set aside the month of Abib[a] and observe the Passover to the Lord your God, because the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night in the month of Abib. Sacrifice to the Lord your God a Passover animal from the herd or flock in the place where the Lordchooses to have his name dwell. Do not eat leavened bread with it. For seven days you are to eat unleavened bread with it, the bread of hardship—because you left the land of Egypt in a hurry—so that you may remember for the rest of your life the day you left the land of Egypt. No yeast is to be found anywhere in your territory for seven days, and none of the meat you sacrifice in the evening of the first day is to remain until morning. You are not to sacrifice the Passover animal in any of the towns the Lord your God is giving you. Sacrifice the Passover animal only at the place where the Lord your God chooses to have his name dwell. Do this in the evening as the sun sets at the same time of day you departed from Egypt. You are to cook and eat it in the place the Lord your God chooses, and you are to return to your tents in the morning. Eat unleavened bread for six days. On the seventh day there is to be a solemn assembly to the Lord your God; do not do any work.

The Festival of Weeks

“You are to count seven weeks, counting the weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. 10 You are to celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the Lord your God with a freewill offering that you give in proportion to how the Lord your God has blessed you. 11 Rejoice before the Lord your God in the place where he chooses to have his name dwell—you, your son and daughter, your male and female slave, the Levite within your city gates, as well as the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow among you. 12 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt; carefully follow these statutes.

The Festival of Shelters

13 “You are to celebrate the Festival of Sheltersfor seven days when you have gathered in everything from your threshing floor and winepress. 14 Rejoice during your festival—you, your son and daughter, your male and female slave, as well as the Levite, the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow within your city gates. 15 You are to hold a seven-day festival for the Lord your God in the place he chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands,and you will have abundant joy.16 “All your males are to appear three times a year before the Lord your God in the place he chooses: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Shelters. No one is to appear before the Lordempty-handed. 17 Everyone must appear with a gift suited to his means, according to the blessing the Lord your God has given you.

Appointing Judges and Officials

18 “Appoint judges and officials for your tribes in all your towns the Lord your God is giving you. They are to judge the people with righteous judgment. 19 Do not deny justice or show partiality to anyone. Do not accept a bribe, for it blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. 20 Pursue justice and justice alone, so that you will live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Forbidden Worship

21 “Do not set up an Asherah of any kind of wood next to the altar you will build for the Lord your God, 22 and do not set up a sacred pillar; the Lord your God hates them.

Why does God have all kinds of laws and regulations from money to animals?  What is He doing by prohibiting all of these things?  God is concerned about His glory. God is concerned about His people devoting themselves to Him. God is also about what is best for His people. In this context, He is setting up rules for how the Israelites should live. 

God wants to receive the glory in all things. Remember Jesus says his burden is easy and his yoke is light. Living by the Bible is not a restriction of freedom, it actually brings about freedom. Give it a try if you have never seen it in that way. 

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