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Everyone Is Our Neighbor

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Today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 23-25:19; Luke 10:13-37; Psalm 75:1-10; Proverbs 12:12-14

God gives Israel some laws regarding who can serve Him as a leader in Deuteronomy 23:1-8. This included men who had been emasculated (either deliberately or by accident) and those of illegitimate birth. This latter term perhaps meant (among other things) by incest as verses 3-6 prohibit Ammonite and Moabites from becoming leaders in Israel. These people were descendants of Ammon and Moab – the two sons born to the daughters of Lot after their incestual relationship with him (Genesis 19:36-38)

God does not want us to offer him money we have earned in an illegal or immoral way (Deuteronomy 23:18).

If we make a vow or promise, we should fulfill it quickly (Deuteronomy 23:21) as someone else may be dependent on it.

Divorce was never intended by God but He knows the hardness of our hearts and how unforgiving we can be when we are hurt by someone else. Even though God does not want us to divorce, He realizes we will do it so He gives some regulations in Deuteronomy 24 so that both parties keep their dignity.

Note that a newly married man could not go to war for the first year of his marriage. I think this is pretty cool. It gave the couple time to be together and, perhaps, to have a child.

Various other laws are given in the rest of this chapter in including not taking advantage of people who are desperate for work (Deuteronomy 24:14).

In verses 19-22 God orders Israel not to worry about harvesting every single thing from their fields or orchards. Whatever is missed should be left for widows and the poor. These people would enter fields and pick the grain, vegetables, and fruit that was left over – a process known as gleaning. God doesn’t want those of us who have more to be so greedy that we don’t think about those who have less. Note that if the farmers obeyed this rule God would bless them in all they do (Deuteronomy 24:19).

More case law is presented in Deuteronomy 25. These were not be all-inclusive laws but were “cases” upon which decisions could be made for similar situations.

Note that one requirement God gave was for the brother of a deceased man to marry his childless widow and give her a child. This child would legally belong to the deceased brother. This law was given to take care of childless widows who would have had a very difficult life in this society without a husband or son to take care of them. Back in Genesis 38 we read the story of Onan, a man who had married his brother’s widow for just this reason. But God killed him because he (Onan) just wanted the fun of having sex without the responsibility of raising someone else’s child. We see here how seriously God took these laws as well as how seriously God takes it when we make a vow.

In Luke 10:13-14 Jesus states that towns and cities that see His miracle yet still reject Him have a much worse date with destiny than even the most sinful cities like Tyre and Sidon that were well known for their debauchery. Apparently God will go a bit easier on those people who die without hearing the truth about Him. But those people who do hear about God and reject Him will suffer more in hell. This is one of several places in the Bible where we see that there will be different degrees of suffering in hell and pleasure in heaven.

Whenever we talk to someone about Jesus and they reject us – make fun of us or tell use we are fools – we have to remember that it is not us that they are rejecting. It is Jesus. (Luke 10:16). Although we have to be careful not to add anything to Jesus’s message. What Jesus said is enough. If we still to His message then any rejection of that message is a rejection of Him and not a reflection on us at all.

Jesus did a lot of cool things on earth. But He also saw a lot of cool things before coming to earth. This would have included the birth of the universe and the creation of all things. It also included witnessing the battle between Satan and God (Luke 10:18).

Through Christ we have power over Satan (Luke 10:19). This is really tough to keep in mind, at least for me. Its easy to give into the sin and temptation that Satan puts before me. But since I am truly saved I have God Himself living in me in the form of the Holy Spirit. Because of this I have authority over Satan. God created Satan and, hence, has authority over Satan. That very same authority is transfered to me and any other believer. If we could truly live with this in mind we could really do a lot of good in this world.

What should make us the most happy? Not any talent or skill that God has given us. What should make us most happy is knowing that our names are registered in the book of life that resides in heaven. Our joy should come from the assurance that we are going to heaven someday.

God enjoys using the weak and powerless to make the strong and powerful look like fools (Luke 10:21). Those on this earth who claim to be experts and to know how the world works are wrong. But God doesn’t tell them that. He lets them keep on thinking it. And the longer He does the more foolish they become.

The famous story of the Good Samaritan closes our reading in Luke today. Jesus told this story to an alleged religious expert who asked Him who he should consider his neighbor (since God commanded us to love our neighbors). This man was probably expecting Jesus to define neighbor as a Jew who was not a “sinner”. But as usual, Jesus gives an unexpected answer.

Through this parable Jesus explains that our neighbor is anyone we come in contact with. Anyone. Even if we don’t know them. Even if they are from the “other side of the tracks”. In the parable a Jewish man was left for dead. Two high-ranking Jews come across his body but do not help him. But then a Samaritan – a Gentile – finds the man’s body and helps him. He even spends his own money to make sure the man is taken care of. (The impact of this story is lost on us today but back then Jews considered Samaritans to be the most despicable of all Gentiles.)

This is how God wants us to approach life. We are to sacrificially help anyone needing assistance no matter if they believe what we believe, look like we look, or even if we despise them. Everyone is our neighbor. And everyone should be shown mercy. What a different world we would live in if everyone lived this way.

Things are really bad on this earth due to the terrible decisions that people have made throughout history. But they could be worse. The reason they are not is because God has his hand on things. He is preventing things from getting out of control (Psalms 75:3).

In heaven people will not have sin natures so everything will be perfect. God will lead us lovingly by giving of Himself. We will do likewise. However, hell will be even worse than earth because God will not be there to moderate events. Everyone will be under the rule of Satan who will rule selfishly – for his own benefit and no one else’s.

Proverbs 12:12 points out that thieves desire what they do not have because they are insecure. So they increase themselves by devious means.  But those who live by God’s word are securely rooted. They do not have to steal to obtain. They produce results organically – from within – through the power of the Holy Spirit.

When we speak well of others, tell the truth, and work hard we will benefit (Proverbs 12:14).

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post

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