Day Fifty, More Various Verses from Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy
Today’s reading covers laws against false spiritualists, laws against blasphemy, laws requiring dedications, laws requiring tithing, special instructions for conquest, and laws regarding the Sabbath.
God makes it clear that He doesn’t like witchcraft or sorcery. Those who practice that should be put to death. Those who claim to be prophets but speak of their own accord are also to be put to death. God says a test is to see if what the prophet predicted comes true. If it doesn’t happen, then the prophet is to be put to death. The key here with death as the penalty for almost everything is a command for the Israelites to “purge the evil from among you.” As God’s holy people, sin cannot be tolerated.
God also makes it clear the His name is to be revered, not blasphemed, “for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.” The penalty for blasphemy was also death.
God required the first and best of everything be given to Him. The firstborn male sons were to be dedicated to God, as were the firstborn of all the cattle and sheep. The best of the firstfruits of the soil were to be given to the Lord. He also required a tithe, or a tenth of everything, be given to Him.
God gives instructions for the Israelites after they cross over into the promised land. They are to dedicate to the Lord a portion of the firstfruits of the land the Lord is giving them. They are to remember what God has done for them in bringing them out of slavery and into a land flowing with milk and honey, and they are to be thankful to Him.
Sounds demanding, but Scripture says the purpose of all this is “so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always.” And reverence it is that one feels toward God, when he realizes that every good thing comes from God and he realizes just how much the Lord has blessed him. Has a way of humbling a person to realize that God has blessed him beyond what he deserves. Reminds me of one of my favorite passages at the end of I Chronicles, when David is making preparations for the Temple that his son Solomon is to build, and the Israelites have brought gifts for building the Temple.
David, the sweet singer of Israel prays a prayer of praise to the Lord in the presence of the entire assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.”
This reading also included rules for the Sabbath, the last day of the week, on which the Israelites were to do no work, “for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He abstained from work and rested.” They were to keep the Sabbath holy, as the Lord was holy. Reminds me of one of my favorite little commercials that I hear on KLOVE radio on the weekends, where they encourage people to spend some time in worship on the weekend and to relax, refresh, and recharge, because, as they say, “taking a day off was God’s idea in the first place.”