“Holy Love” – Deuteronomy 14

September 24th, 2017

Dt. 14:1-21

“Holy Love”

Aux Text: Mark 7:6-23

Call to worship: Psa 99

 

Service OrientationFaith in Jesus makes us God’s children.  We should be reminded to gladly embody the family DNA and be holy like our Heavenly Father is holy.

 

Bible Memory Verse for the WeekBut just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;  for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” —1 Peter 1:15-16

 

Background Information:

  • (v. 1) Non-Israelites believed the deceased continued to exercise both beneficent and malevolent power over the living, and that the favorable influence of departed ancestors could be secured through mortuary rites. However, the present prohibition seems not to allude to the ancestor cult but simply to rites of mourning.  Moses hereby insists that the taboos extended beyond contact with corpses to contact with the “vital forces” of the deceased.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 344)
  • (v. 1) Because of this verse, some Jewish men have refused to shave their beards and sideburns. While the prohibition continues against using a razor to remove facial hair, Jewish religious authorities have generally permitted men to use scissors, clippers, or electric shavers to trim or remove their facial hair.  Many of the strictest Jewish sects, however, such as Hasidic Jews, still refuse to trim their sideburns at all, which accounts for the dangling side curls or earlocks on some teenaged and young adult Jewish men.  (Mark E. Braun, The People’s Bible: Dt, 123)
  • (v. 1) In later years, at least, they did not all obey this injunction; for further prohibition is given in Jer 16:6, and certain Israelites are said to have cut themselves while in mourning (Jer 41:5). The prohibition of shaving the forehead was a particular practice for mourning.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 3, 100)
  • (v. 3ff) The rationale for the boundaries described here is not clearly understood. Scholars have proposed a variety of theories for taboos on unclean food: cultic (they were associated with Canaanite religious practices), aesthetic (they are loathsome or repulsive), hygienic (they cause illness), sociological (they have ambiguous form and lack physical integrity), and didactic (they illustrate/teach wrongful behavior).  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 345-6)
  • (v. 21) the sojourner. (NIV – alien) The resident alien in Israel, who has dependent status in the country.  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 476)
  • (v. 21) a foreigner. Someone not permanently settled in Israel, either trading in the country or just passing through.  Such individuals were economically better off than sojourners and could support themselves (cf. 15:3).  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 476)
  • (v. 21) Here we have the curious ordinance that the Israelite may not eat unclean food, but he may give or sell it unto an alien. This was of course common Oriental practice.  Its motive was not just a narrow patriotism that saw no harm in hurting a stranger.  Uncleanness was religious uncleanness.  One abstained from unclean food because he was set apart to Yahweh. The stranger, not so set apart, was not prohibited from receiving or purchasing the unholy thing.  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol 2., 424)
  • (v. 21) The last part of verse 21 has a puzzling command: “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”  This command appears twice in Exodus in festival contexts (23:19; 34:26).  In Deuteronomy, too, it comes just before a festival-related passage.  It seems to have been something that the neighboring nations practiced and that the Israelites were tempted to practice, especially at feast time.  This prohibition may have been given to demonstrate that the people are to be different from others.  But it may also “reflect the principle that what is designed to give life [milk] should not become a means of death.”  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 394)
  • (v. 21) The reason for this prohibition, which is unclear, has created a considerable body of literature. The most reasonable conjecture suggests that such a practice was a pagan ritual of the Canaanites.  Support for this idea is found in the observation that the restriction appears in two other places, both of which are associated with religious festivals (Ex 23:19; 34:26).  God insisted that practices associated with paganism form no part of Israel’s religious life.  (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 182)
  • (v. 21) The rejection of the practice, whether in Israel of elsewhere, may derive from a sense that the cooking of the kid in the milk, which was intended to give it life, infringed a natural boundary, and was an unacceptable mixing of the spheres of life and death. (J. G. McConville, Apollos OT Commentary: Dt, 251)
  • (v. 21) The proscription on boiling a kid in its mother’s milk remains a riddle. Scholars have proposed a variety of explanations for this regulation, but three commend themselves above all others.  (a) The ordinance may arise out of a humanitarian concern, similar to that underlying the prohibition on killing a mother bird and taking its young or its eggs at the same time (Dt 22:6-7; cf. Ex 22:30[29]; Lv 22:27-28).  (b) Boiling a kid in its mother’s milk may represent a fundamental and perverse violation of natural law–that which is intended for nourishment is used as an instrument of death.  (c) Given the prohibition of eating animals from which the blood has not been drained, this proscription may be concerned with avoiding all appearance of the consumption of blood.  Linking this taboo with others that forbid the slaughter of an animal less than eight days old, we note that in the first few days after giving birth, a mother animal’s milk is rich in colostrum, often giving it a reddish color.  Eating the meat of a kid cooked in its mother’s milk may be considered eating meat with blood.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 350)

 

The question to be answered is . . . Why does the Bible so often encourage believers to be holy?

 

Answer:  Because our Father God is holy and He loves us with a holy love.

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Holy

 

 

Why does God encourage us to be holy?:

I-  God is holy.  We’re made in His image and likeness. (Gn 1:26-27; 5:2; Lv 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:24-26; Isa 6:3; Eph 1:4; 1 Pt 1:15-16; Rv 4:8)

 

God is holy and He has made holiness the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe.  Sin’s temporary presence in the world only accents this.  Whatever is holy is healthy; evil is a moral sickness that must end ultimately in death.  The formation of the language itself suggests this, the English word holy deriving from the Anglo-Saxon halig, hal, meaning, “well, whole.” (A. W. Tozer; The Knowledge of the Holy, 106)

 

Because God is holy He hates all sin.  He loves everything which is in conformity to His law, and loathes everything which is contrary to it.  (Arthur W. Pink; The Attributes of God, 43)

 

He is righteous, he hates sin, and he will punish sin.  Do you not have a feeling that this in the one thing that this modern world of ours needs to know?  This world that feels that it can dismiss God, and laugh at him, and break all his laws with impunity.  My friends, is not this the thing we need to preach to the world, that God is holy, that God is righteous, that he hates sin with an eternal hatred, and will punish sin.  That is his own revelation of himself.  (David Martyn Lloyd-Jones; Revival, 232)

 

In the NT, Paul warns the Corinthians not to defile the body, which he calls “a temple of the Holy Spirit within you” (1 Cor 6:19).  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 464)

 

To fear God means to be struck with awe in His all-consuming, holy presence; to stand always and forever in breathless exaltation of who He is and what He has done and how vastly and infinitely His greatness overshadows our brief, vaporous existence.  (David Jeremiah, Searching for Heaven on Earth, 311)

 

Man was created in the image of God and can only know his true identity when he is rightly related to God.  Schizophrenia or having multiple personalities, is perpetuated by a frustrated sense of identity.  The schizophrenia of man is increasing as he moves farther from the One in whose image he was made.  Conversely, as we draw closer to Him, we come to know clearly who we really are.  As we draw closer to Him, we will become the most consistent, decisive, stable people the world has ever known.  External situations and social pressures will no longer end us and shape us.  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 41)

 

Therefore we lure people to God by portraying him week in and week out as infinitely superior to all the fleeting pleasures of sin.  We cultivate in our people’s souls a thirst for God, and then satisfy it each week with refreshment from His Word.

This will make Him supreme, and this will make our people holy. (Leadership, Spring 1999, 42)

 

Fellowship with the Father and the Son, that intimate, holy, and unceasing communion, is the reason for man’s creation.  That fellowship has been restored to us in Christ Jesus. (Andrew Murray, Receiving Power from God, 42)

 

Now, it is this acquaintance with God that brings us into the knowledge of his character as a holy, loving, and faithful God; and it is this knowledge of his character that begets love and confidence in the soul towards him.  The more we know of God, the more we love him; the more we try him, the more we confide in him.  (Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul, 98)

 

II-  By faith in God we are God’s children.  We should live like it.  (Dt 14:1-2, 21; see also: Lv 11:44-45; 19:2, 27-28; 20:7, 24-26; 21:6; Lk 20:36; Jn 1:12-14; Rom 8:14-25; 9:8; Gal 3:26; 5:1; 1 Cor 1:2; Gal 5:16-26; Eph 4:17; 5:8Phil 2:15; 1 Thess 4:13; Heb 12:14; 1 Pt 1:15-16; 2:1-10, 16; 1 Jn 3:1-10)

 

In the end we admit that the OT never spells out the reasons for the boundaries.  They may seem arbitrary to modern readers, but Yahweh’s covenant with Israel is a suzerainty covenant–the terms are not negotiated and need not even make sense to the vassal.  They are simply to be accepted because they represent the will of the divine Lord.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 346)

 

If we obey God only when His commands meet our approval; then we are not really obeying God but merely affirming His Word.  — Pastor Keith

 

God wanted His people’s actions to reflect a different attitude toward death.  Other nations symbolized their mourning the loss of loved ones by cutting themselves, drawing their own blood (cf. Jer 16:6; 41:5; 47:5; 48:37). (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 184)

 

Because Israelites are the holy people of Yahweh, the meat in their diet must be like the food that God “eats” in the sacrifices offered to him.  Through everyday observance of the dietary boundaries, Israelites declared to one another and to outsiders their unique proximity to Yahweh.  By eating at his table they declared their sanctified status as his covenant people “in every encounter with the animal kingdom and at every meal.”  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 345)

 

No Israelite could eat without realizing that in every area of his life he was to be consecrated to God.  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 186-7)

 

The most important thing for God’s people to know in order to face life in the 15th century B.C. or in the 21st century A.D. is:  Remember who you are!  Remember whose you are!  (Mark E. Braun, The People’s Bible: Dt, 122)

 

Just as from among all the nations of the earth God had chosen only Israel, so from among all the animals Israel must choose only those deemed clean for eating.  The food laws were thus a daily reminder to Israel of their status and role in God’s purpose and of the consequent call to holiness in other more morally significant areas of personal and social life.  Holiness was woven into everyday life.  Every meal should have reminded the Israelite family of God’s commitment to them and their commitment to God.  A God who governs the kitchen should be not easily forgotten in the rest of life.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 182)

 

From a human standpoint, God’s rules made no sense.  Therefore, according to this explanation, this was a higher test of obedience.  To obey this command meant no sacrifice or hunger since many good meats were allowed.  Here then was a true test of whether Israel would simply obey God’s word.  It was not the observance of the food laws per se that distinguished Israel as holy, but an attitude of total and willing allegiance to God in love and obedience.  This obedience transcended human reasoning; it relied not upon outward conditions.  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 188)

 

Covenant commitment and distinctiveness are also important matters for Christians, but Christians, from the earliest NT days, have considered themselves no longer bound by the OT laws on clean and unclean food.  Why is this?  Mark records Jesus as having explicitly abrogated the distinction between clean and unclean food by declaring that moral distinctions matter more:  what counts is not what goes into the mouth but what comes out of the heart (Mk 7:14-23).  The OT itself, however, taught the greater priority of moral issues over purely ritual ones (e.g., 1 Sm 15:22; Hos 6:6; Ps 51:16ff.), so it was not this perception alone that led to the abrogation of OT food laws in the NT.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 182)

 

If you have any conditions to your obedience to Jesus then Jesus is not your King and you are not in the Kingdom.  Because the thing that is the basis of your “if” or “when” of your salvation is your salvation and King.  You cannot say “I’ll follow you Jesus if . . . or “I’ll follow you Jesus when . . .” because the thing that is the “if” or “when” is your king and Lord . . . not Jesus. — Tim Keller

 

The line between clean and unclean was based solely on God’s arbitrary choice–made in the same way as his choice of Israel was made.  In the NT, God declared all foods clean; he did not make all foods clean:  “[Deceivers] forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.  For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tm 4:3-5).  (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 181)

 

The people are not merely holy and separated to Yahweh; they are children of God.  The full implication of the fatherhood of God was slowly discerned.  At first it meant only that Israel was more closely identified with Yahweh than was any other people.  But the germinal notion had explosive power and in time became the basis for the full Jewish-Christian doctrine of man.  In Christian thought it comes to imply full spiritual affinity with the Spirit of the living God.  The little child as soon as he knows anything knows who his father is.  The day comes, however, when he perceives the larger meaning of sonship.  Then, if he is properly trained, a new dignity fills his relationship with his parent, a new sense of responsibility never to betray or shame his heritage.  So when in spiritual maturity we cry, “Abba, Father,” a new world opens out to us.  “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Rom 8:16).  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol 2., 422)

 

No disfigurement is to be permitted in mourning the dead (cf. Lv 19:27-28; 21:5 [for priests only]; Jer 16:6), which would imitate Canaanite rites and those of other neighboring peoples (Isa 15:2; Jer 47:5; 48:37).  As it turned out, Israelites did this anyway (Hos 7:14; Jer 41:5).  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 464)

 

Israel’s relationship to the Lord as his son, which relationship had been declared to Pharaoh even before the Exodus (Ex 4:22), is highlighted here:  “You are the children” (v. 1).  It was incumbent on all the Israelites to behave themselves according to the injunctions of the Lord.  They were his holy, treasured possession (v. 2).  Moses before had referred to the Lord as Israel’s father and to Israel as his son.  This relationship was indicated by the way he had led them through the desert–caring for them (1:31) and disciplining them (8:5).  He had also said that they were holy to the Lord and were his treasured possession (4:20; 7:6) when he told them that they were to destroy the religious paraphernalia of the Canaanites.  Now, on the basis of this relationship, they were commanded not to follow the ways of mourning for the dead that the nations of Canaan practiced (Lv 19:27-28; 1 Kgs 18:28).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 3, 100)

 

If God gave the dietary laws purely for hygienic reasons, why would Jesus do away with laws governing unclean animals for God’s NT people?  (Mark E. Braun, The People’s Bible: Dt, 127)

 

Faith is a purifying grace:  “Purifying their hearts by faith,” Acts 15:9; “Sanctified by faith that is in me,” 26:18.  It is a principle holy in its nature and tendency; he is most holy who has most faith; he who has least faith is most exposed to the assaults of his inbred corruptions.  If there is in any child of God a desire for Divine conformity, for more of the spirit of Christ, more weanedness, and crucifixion, and daily dying, this should be his ceaseless prayer,–“Lord, increase my faith.”  Faith in Jesus checks the power of sin, slays the hidden corruption, and enables the believer to “endure as seeing him who is invisible.”  (Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul, 72)

 

Archaeological findings during the last century provide a third possible meaning for this verse.  One of the documents unearthed at Ugarit, on the Mediterranean coast north of Palestine, contains a fertility poem used in worship to Baal.  One line reads:  “Cook a kid in the milk, a lamb in the cream.”  This archaeological discovery, also known as the Ras Shamra tablets, shows that at the time Israel entered the land, this magical milk charm seems to have been an accepted way of appealing to the fertility god to grant his blessings.  The Lord told his people not to celebrate as the pagans did, not even to cook their food in such a way that someone might mistakenly consider it to be a part of heathen worship.  (Mark E. Braun, The People’s Bible: Dt, 132)

 

God allowed the eating of some of these foods later in his encounter with Peter in Joppa, which shows that some of these animals were not harmful to health.  When Peter, as a Jew, expressed reluctance to eat this food he was told, “What God has made clean, do not call common” (Acts 11:9).  This gives us a clue as to what made these foods clean and unclean.  They are such because God regarded them to be such.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 393)

 

A people holy to Yahweh must eat only the proper food (cf. vs. 21).  The same motive is given for the keeping of the food laws in the parallel passage in Lv 11:2-23 (cf. vs. 45 and Lv 20:25-26).  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol 2., 422)

 

Moses does not explain why certain foods are classified as “detestable”, nor the consequences of so doing.  Perhaps if the contagion could be contracted by touching abominable artifacts, how much more by ingesting food that Yahweh had declared “detestable.”

Against this backdrop, the regulations regarding edible and inedible food that follows should be regarded as a gracious gift, seeking to protect Israel’s status as Yahweh’s holy people.  Eating foods forbidden by Yahweh involves more than the ingesting of “unclean food” (vv. 7, 8, 10, 11); its association with false religion also represents a breach of covenant relationship.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 345)

 

In some cases, meat from prohibited animals posed a clear danger to health, noted already by Maimonides (I. Klein 1979, 302).  The most obvious case is the pig, which is a known carrier of trichinosis and other diseases (Milgrom 1990b, 175).  Pliny (Nat. viii 206) in antiquity said the pig was particularly liable to disease, especially quinsy (throat disease) and scrofula (tuberculosis).  More recently it has been shown in controlled experiments that meat from three of the quadrupeds prohibited here, the camel, the hare, and the pig, is very toxic, whereas meat from the ox, calf, sheep, goat, and deer, is not (Macht 1953).  Yet all the prohibited animals–even the pig and wild boar–are eaten by other peoples.  In the NT, the distinction between clean and unclean foods is set aside, with all meats considered edible (Acts 10:15; 1 Cor 10:25; 1 Tm 4:4; cf. Mt 15:11).  Only if eating certain foods in another’s presence might have a harmful effect on that person must one refrain from eating those foods (Rom 14:20-21).  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 467)

 

In some of the above cases of prohibited animals we can find a rationale for their designation as unclean.  For example, vultures (14:12) are scavengers who eat animals that die naturally, and eating such is prohibited in verse 21.  This could apply to the birds of prey also (14:12-16).  Some of these unclean animals had associations with Canaanite religions.  Some interpreters have claimed that the unclean foods were regarded as unfit to eat mainly for health reasons.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 392-3)

 

Live well.  Die Better!

 

III-  God sees us as His treasured possession and wants us to remember to always obediently rest in His holy love. (Dt 14:3-21; see also: Ex 19:4-6; Lv 20:24-26; Dt 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; Ps 135:4; Mal 3:17;  Rom 14:2-6, 14; Gal 5:16-26; 1 Pt 2:1-10)

 

Reveling in the goodness of God who had provided such things was part of learning to revere the LORD.  (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 183)

 

We must remember that the overriding theme of this passage is that Israel is a people holy to God, separated from the rest of the nations because they had a unique covenant relationship with God (14:1, 2, 21).  God, because of his sovereign will, called Israel to be holy even though they had no intrinsic qualifications of their own for this.  For these holy people he determined that some foods were acceptable and others were not–not because they are intrinsically good and bad but because that is what he willed for his chosen people.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 393)

 

Uncleanness signified sin.  Refusing to eat unclean food or to sacrifice an unclean animal would signal an inner attitude of hatred for sin and the desire to turn away from what God had labeled unclean in every area of life.  Modern Jewish commentators propose that the person who’s been trained to resist forbidden foods may be strengthened in his resolve to refrain from forbidden sexual relationships or unethical business practices.  (Mark E. Braun, The People’s Bible: Dt, 128)

 

God tells them, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.” “Treasured possession” is the phrase a groom would call his bride.  More wedding language.  (Rob Bell; Sex God, 132)

 

The sense of belonging is a very important aspect of one’s identity and of the security and significance that one feels.  Cults exploit this by challenging people to exclusiveness in return for the security of belonging to a supposedly warm and caring community.  May we do all we can to lead people to the joy of belonging to God and his people, which will give them the strength to be faithful to him in a world that is hostile to his ways.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 390)

 

Strive to get beyond mere pensive longing.  Set your face like a flint and begin to put your life in order.  Every man is as holy as he really wants to be.  But the want must be all-compelling.  (A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 40)

 

An American doctor conducted a series of experiments to determine the levels of toxicity in the unrefrigerated meat of the animals, aquatic creatures, and birds mentioned in Dt 14.  He discovered that the various types of prohibited meats contained a higher percentage of toxic substances than those which were permitted.  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 186)

 

True obedience is on God’s terms, not ours.

 

  1. Stanley Jones declared, “Death is the anesthetic God uses while His children pass from one life to another.” (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 184)

 

Worship Point:  The all powerful, all knowing, ever present God of the Universe sees us as His treasured possession.  Worship should be automatic in recognition of this privileged status.

 

Should not we, who know the mercy of redemption, be filled with more praise than the angels who have worshiped since the beginning of time?  God recounts how all the “morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7).  How much more should we, who have been forgiven, redeemed, adopted, and made heirs of His kingdom, praise Him and shout for joy?  Indeed, the heavens are filled with praise (Rv 19:5-7), and the inanimate is moved before Him (Isa 6;4; Lk 19:40).  This demonstrative worship is the environment of God.  Heaven is filled with prayers and praises, and our eternity will be spent singing and rejoicing in His magnificence.  (Elyse Fitzpatrick, Idols of the Heart, 198)

 

“After a week of perplexing problems and heated contest, it does so rest my soul to come into the house of the Lord and worship, and sing, and mean it, “Holy , Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,” and to know that He is my Father and takes me up into His life and plans, and to commune personally with Christ.  I am sure I get wisdom not my own, and a superhuman strength for fighting the moral evils I am called to confront.   —Theodore Roosevelt.

 

If there is no wonder, no experience of mystery, our efforts to worship will be futile.  There will be no worship without the Spirit.

If God can be understood and comprehended by any of our human means, then I cannot worship Him.  One thing is sure.  I will never bend my knees and say “Holy, holy, holy” to that which I have been able to decipher and figure out in my own mind!  That which I can explain will never bring me to the place of awe.  It can never fill me with astonishment or wonder or admiration.  (A. W. Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship?, 85)

 

I suppose every Christian goes through springs, summers, autumns, and winters, various cycles of ups and downs in their attitudes toward private worship.  But the person in whom it is always winter in their desires for private worship is a person with a cold, dead soul.  When there are no longings month after month, year after year, for regular communion with God, obviously there is no life from God or life with God.  In Gal 4:6 the Bible explicitly describes the desires for communion with God on the part of those who are children of God, who have his Holy Spirit:  “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba!  Father!’”  Without such a heart cry to draw near to God, there is no Spirit of God in the heart.  And without the presence of the Spirit of God there is no relationship with God.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 313-4)

 

Gospel Application:  We enjoy being treasured co-heirs with Christ, and adopted children of Father God on the merits of Christ alone.   There is nothing we can do to earn this privileged status.  (Acts 10:10-16; 15; 1 Cor 1:2; Col 2:16-17)

 

The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.  (C. S. Lewis; Mere Christianity, 154)

 

“At the cross in holy love God through Christ paid the full penalty of our disobedience himself.  He bore the judgment we deserve in order to bring us the forgiveness we do not deserve.  On the cross divine mercy and justice were equally expressed and eternally reconciled.  God’s holy love was ‘satisfied.’

I am running on too fast however. The reason why many people give the wrong answers to questions about the cross, and even ask the wrong questions, is that they have carefully considered neither seriousness of sin nor the majesty of God.”  (John R. W. Stott; The Cross of Christ; 89)

 

Several NT texts suggest Jesus’ coming signaled the end of Israel’s food laws.  According to Mk 7:19, all foods are clean–though in context the point is that defilement is caused primarily by actions arising out of the heart rather than ingesting food.  In Acts 10:10-16 God reveals to Peter that in the post-resurrection community of faith, the dietary boundaries of the OT community of faith are erased (as are the walls between Israelites and Gentiles).  Paul declares in Rom 14:14, the old objective criteria for clean and unclean have been replaced by subjective perceptions.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 351)

 

But those who do have the Holy Spirit and are now capable of worshiping in spirit do not worship in spirit if they do not worship in holiness.  “Worship the LORD in holy array,” says Ps 29:2.  The holy array that God required of the OT priests was that they dress in a very particular way and prepare themselves in minute detail before presenting their sacrifices.  Likewise the priests who come before the Lord today–that is, all believers in Christ (1 Pt 2:9)–must also come in holy array.  First and foremost, our holy array is the holiness of Christ.  God receives our worship based upon Jesus’ having already offered to him the perfect sacrifice–himself–on our behalf.  And all our subsequent worship of the Lord is received, not because we are now so sincere, but because the blood of the high priest Jesus has made it acceptable to God.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 310)

 

Perhaps the formula that Luther used that is most famous and most telling at this point.  And if any formula summarizes and captures the essence of the Reformation view, it is this little formula.  It is the word from which we get the English word simultaneously.  Or, it means ‘at the same time.’  It is the Latin word for just or righteous. And you all know what  is the past tense of the verb ‘to eat.’  Have you et your dinner? No, you know that’s not what that means.  You remember in the death scene of Caesar after he’s been stabbed by Brutus he says, “Et tu, Brute?” Then fall Caesar. And you too Brutus?  It simply means and.  Peccator means sinner.

And so with this formula Luther was saying, in our justification we are one and the same time righteous or just, and sinners. Now if he would say that we are at the same  and in the same just and sinners that would be a contradiction in terms.  But that’s not what he was saying.  He was saying from one perspective, in one sense, we are just.  In another sense, from a different perspective, we are sinners; and how he defines that is simple.  In and of ourselves, under the analysis of God’s scrutiny, we still have sin; we’re still sinners.  But, by imputation and by faith in Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is now transferred to our account, then we are considered just or righteous.  This is the very heart of the gospel.

Will I be judged in order to get into heaven by my righteousness or by the righteousness of Christ?  If I had to trust in my righteousness to get into heaven, I would completely and utterly despair of any possibility of ever being redeemed.  But when we see that the righteousness that is ours by faith is the perfect righteousness of Christ, then we see how glorious is the good news of the gospel.  The good news is simply this, I can be reconciled to God, I can be justified by God not on the basis of what I did, but on the basis of what’s been accomplished for me by Christ.

But at the heart of the gospel is a double-imputation.  My sin is imputed to Jesus.  His righteousness is imputed to me.  And in this two-fold transaction we see that God, Who does not negotiate sin, Who doesn’t compromise His own integrity with our salvation, but rather punishes sin fully and really after it has been imputed to Jesus, retains His own righteousness, and so He is both just and the justifier, as the apostle tells us here.  So my sin goes to Jesus, His righteousness comes to me in the sight of God.  —R. C. Sproul

 

Spiritual Challenge:  Never forget we will enjoy the life that is truly life to the extent we choose to live who we are:  A holy God’s child, co-heirs with Christ, and His treasured possession; Who loves us with a holy love.  (Lv 20:7-8; 21:8, 15, 23; 22:16, 31-33; Zec 4:6; Mt 3:8-10; 7:16-20;12:33; Mk 7:6-22; Lk 6:43-44; Jn 15:2-5 Rom 1:16; 14:2-6, 14:2 Cor 5:21; Gal 5:16-26;  Eph 1:4; Phil 3:9;1 Thess 4:3, 7, 8; 1 Tm 6:11-19; Ti 2:13-14; 1 Pt 2:1-10; 1 Jn 3:1)

 

We said above that these food laws were given to Israel to remind them of the fact that God had graciously called them to himself so they would be thankful and also so they would not conform to the lifestyle of their neighboring nations.  These implications of God’s call–thanksgiving and nonconformity to the world–are relevant to Christians, too.  Gordon Wenham points out, “Though the Christian is so much more privileged than ancient Israel, it is easy to take for granted the grace that has been given him and fail to acknowledge it.  The ancient food laws were designed to curb such forgetfulness.”  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 394)

 

The Lord’s Supper plays this role admirably.  Like many of the food regulations, a scientific study will not reveal any particular significance in bread and wine.  But spiritually it reminds us of the grace that made us who we are and what Christ did to make that possible.  Similarly, each time someone is baptized, we can remind ourselves of this grace and of our position in Christ.  The food laws then remind us of the need to take special steps to help us live in keeping with our unique call and identity.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 394)

 

As the chosen people of God–chosen “out of all the peoples on the face of the earth” (v. 2)–and as his holy, treasured possession, Israel was to follow God’s injunctions to distinguish themselves from the surrounding peoples, because the pagan Canaanite culture was inimical to the holiness of the Lord and to the holiness required of his people.  As Kaiser (OT Ethics, 140-1) has said, “In the last analysis that was what distinguished Israel from the nations:  Their call to holiness had separated them from the nations and from all that was ‘common’ or ‘profane.’”  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 3, 100-1)

 

Though we do not follow these dietary laws, there are some lessons we can learn from this OT practice.  First, we learn that holiness encompasses all of life, even what we eat.  We must consider eating as something we do for God.  Paul said, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31).  Excessive spending on food, eating unhealthy food, overeating, and gluttony are practices that go against the Christian ethic and so are sins against God.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 393-4)

 

Kingdom obedience is kingdom abundance.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 312)

 

Man’s natural inclination is to unknowingly create hell.   It is only the image of God in man and the Spirit of God restraining man that prevents Satan’s will from being done here on earth as it is in hell.    — Pastor Keith (9-22-14)

 

The reason, then for these injunctions is basically spiritual, though there may be other reasons growing out of psychological and sanitary considerations as well.  Some of the unclean animals, etc. had associations with Canaanite religions.  Some of the unclean creatures appear as reprehensible and others dangerous to the health of any who ate them.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 3, 101)

 

The work of making us holy is the Lord’s (Lv 20:7-8; 21:8, 15, 23; 22:16, 31-33), it is not up to us (Zec 4:6).  It is by faith in Christ that we become the righteousness of God (Rom 1:16; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9).   But we must, by faith, repent, confess and manifest a change in our thinking and behavior to show our salvation is genuine and sincere (Mt 3:8-10; 7:16-20;12:33; Lk 6:43-44; Jn 15:2-5).  God calls us to live pure and holy lives (1 Thess 4:3, 7, 8; Eph 1:4; Ti 2:13, 14).  Not lives that are compromised with the sins and ways of the world.  —Pastor Keith

 

By having rituals that give adequate expression to our response to the death of a person, we avoid giving the impression that we have dishonored the dead.  But most important for Christians would be the task of presenting the hope of the resurrection, which is the most glorious thing about the death of a Christian.  A hearing is won by adequate ritual, and this could open the door to a powerful witness to the gospel by appropriately presenting the good news of Christ’s victory over death.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 391)

 

So What?:  Holiness means living in conflict to the world, the flesh and the Devil.  But it is well worth the cost.  (Jn 15:19; 16:33; 17:14-16; Gal 5:17)

 

It was imperative that broad distinctions between Israel and the nations round about be maintained, and the food laws helped fulfill this purpose.  The Canaanites lived a coarser, more animal-like life.  Animal passions were fostered by the glutting of the appetites.  The food laws brought discipline into the Jewish eating habits.  The gluttonous habits of others were not to be the standards by which God’s people should measure their own conduct.  This was a visible means of their desire and effort to “not be conformed to this world.”  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 186)

 

The key to this whole passage is the need to affirm our identity as Christians.  We need to always remember and our friends and family members need to know that our identity as Christians brings with it some principles that mark us out as different from the world.  Unlike the theocratic nation of Israel, where violations of the covenant were dealt with severely, in multi-religious societies we should politely explain our convictions, especially when the religious practices of people are involved.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 395)

 

Many conform to the world because they feel that this is the way to acceptance by others and thus to significance.  They are looking for a sense of belonging.  But there is a much more powerful influence on them–the sense of belonging to God as his children.  If they grasp this, they will realize that it is not necessary for them to sin in order to belong.  In fact, sin would be below their dignity as God’s children.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 388)

 

As his treasured possession we are invested with rich value and significance.  What folly it would be to compromise our commitment in order to succeed and gain acceptance in a world that is so unreliable.  But people do this.  Therefore, we constantly need to remind ourselves of our position in Christ.  This gives us security by assuring us that God is greater than all the forces that can harm us and that God delights to give us all we need.  Such security is a springboard for the joy and peace of salvation, which is the greatest treasure we have on earth.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 389)

 

If Israel is to please the Lord fully, they will live lives that are as distinctive among the nations as their Lord is different from pagan deities.  (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 179)

 

The principles underlying the original classifications into clean and unclean categories are unclear, as they must be, to an extent, in view of the uncertainty about identifications.  A number of observations may be made.  1.  Some of the unclean creatures were apparently used in the worship of other gods (Isa 65:4; 66:3, 17; Ezek 8:9-10).  2.  Several of the prohibited species are scavengers or meat-eaters.  This may make them unacceptable either for hygienic reasons (Albright 1968; 154-5), or because they consumed blood (G. R. Driver 1955; 5ff.) and/or fed on carrion, which would cause those who ate them to infringe cultic prohibitions of these things.  3.  There is some correspondence between (on the one hand) permitted animals and (on the other) animals used in sacrifice and other well-known animals in Israel’s environment that were useful for food (such as the gazelle and deer).  (J. G. McConville, Apollos OT Commentary: Dt, 249)

 

Dietary laws were set aside in the early church, with Peter being told in a vision not to refrain from eating animals, reptiles, and birds considered by Jews to be unclean (Acts 10:9-16).  Paul, too, said that no foods were unclean in and of themselves; one should simply refrain from certain foods if eating them became a stumbling block to someone else (Rom 14:13-23; cf. 1 Tm 4:3-4).  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 477)

 

A people holy to the LORD are Yahweh’s and are not their own.  Their holiness means that Yahweh has loved them particularly, but it also means that there are certain acts they may not do.

Any people consecrated to the Lord, and thus separated by religious profession, comes under restrictions of conduct.  These restrictions cover what is morally sinful as well as what may be simply inexpedient for the full impact of religion.  While marriage is morally right, said Paul, still some ought not to marry (1 Cor 7:22-40).  While some can without harm to themselves eat meat that has been offered to idols, to do so might often injure a weaker brother (1 Cor 10:28).  We bear burdens not our own because we are separated, called to be Christians (Gal 6:2).  Always there will be amusements from which the Christian abstains, places to which he will not go, drink of which he will not partake.  The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the Hebrew law of the clean and the unclean, but not from the law of holiness.  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol 2., 423-4)

 

 

 

JESUS:

GOD’S HOLY SON

 

 

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