“Love Doesn’t Pervert Creation” – Deuteronomy 22:9-12

December 31st, 2017

Dt. 22:9-12

“Love Doesn’t Pervert Creation”

Aux Text: Proverbs 3:1-8

Call to Worship: Psalm 16

 

Service Orientation: There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25)

 

For the wise men of old, the cardinal problem of human life was how to conform the soul to objective reality; and the solution was wisdom, self-discipline and virtue.  For the modern man, the cardinal problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of man, and the solution is a technique.  (C. S. Lewis; The Abolition of Man)

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. — Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25

 

Background Information:

  • (v. 11) According to later Jewish tradition, the blue threads were wool, whereas the others were linen. This is confirmed archaeologically by tassels found in the Dead Sea caves that date from the Bar Kokhba period (ca. A. D. 135; cf. Milogrom 1983, 65).  If this was true also in the biblical period, then the present law constitutes an exception to the prior law disallowing clothing of mixed blends (Tigay).  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 624)

 

The question to be answered is . . . What are we to learn from these 4 strange verses?

 

Answer: I’m not sure the specific lesson God (Moses) has for us.  But through these verses we are reminded that 1)- We are not to profane by mixing that which God desires to remain holy, 2)- Beware of perverting God’s created order, and 3)- Remember to never lean on your own understanding . . . trust in the Lord.

 

The words printed on the pages of my Bible give witness to the living and active revelation of the God of creation and salvation, the God of love who became the Word made flesh in Jesus, and I had better not forget it.  If in my Bible reading I lose touch with this livingness, if I fail to listen to this living Jesus, submit to this sovereignty, and respond to this love, I become arrogant in my knowing and impersonal in my behavior.  An enormous amount of damage is done in the name of Christian living by bad Bible reading.  Careat lector; let the reader beware. — Eugene Peterson

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Trust

 

What does God want us to learn from these 4 verses?:

I-  We are not to profane by mixing that which God desires to remain holy (separate).  (Dt 22:9-11; see also: Lv 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; 21:6; Nm 6:5; Dt 7:2-3; 23:14; Zec 14:21; Mt 16:6-12; Mk 8:15; 1 Cor 5:6-9; 15:33; 1:2; 2 Cor 6:14; Gal 5:9;  Eph 1:4; 5:6-11; 1 Tm 4:7; 2 Tm 3:5; Ti 3:10; Heb 12:14; 1 Pt 1:15-16)

 

Perhaps the Lord used these three examples as “object lessons” to illustrate a larger truth:   He wanted his people to remain separate from the nations around them.  In Leviticus 19, God told Israel, “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy,” and he interspersed a long list of laws with the reminder, “I am the LORD” (Lv 19:2, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 25, 28, 30-33, 36, 37).  The Savior God set himself apart for Israel’s good, and so he wanted Israel to remain committed to him in every part of their lives, which sometimes meant to remain separate from what was around them.  To combine seeds, fabrics, or beasts of burden would be a symbolic way of violating the “purity” of those objects.  God wanted to keep Israel committed to him so they could be a light to the nations and, finally, become the vehicle to bring his Son into the world.  (Mark E. Braun, The People’s Bible: Dt, 199-200)

 

The reason for these rules (cf. Lv 19:19) may lie in their symbolic value as “badges” of Israel’s distinctiveness from the nations.  This is certainly the rationale behind the clean/unclean distinction, and we know from the criteria listed in Lv 11:1-8 that the ox was clean and the donkey unclean, though it was eaten in dire emergency (2 Kgs 6:25).  In other words, even at everyday levels, Israel was to be reminded of the importance of not “mixing” with paganism.  (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 242)

 

Moses warned Israel against the principle of adulteration.  Wearing clothes of wool and linen woven together would not destroy a person morally; nor would mixing two kinds of seed in a vineyard.  However, mixing the truths of Scripture with the viewpoints of pagan culture will always prove deadly.  Israel was not to yoke herself into the same theological plow with the surrounding cultures and become defiled.  Instead, the nation was to take pains to wear the symbols of her distinctiveness.  (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 261-2)

 

What does Scripture mean by these riddles?  That it is not right for evil and virtue to grow together in the same soul.  Nor is it right, dividing one’s life between opposites, to reap thorns and grain from the same soul.  Nor is it right for the bride of Christ to commit adultery with the enemies of Christ or to bear light in the womb and beget darkness.  (Gregory of Nyssa:  On the Christian Mode of Life)  (Thomas C. Oden, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Vol. 3, 313)

 

The Mishnah (Kil. 8:2) notes that the ox is a clean animal used for temple sacrifice, whereas the ass is an unclean animal.  The rabbis went on to teach that a just man should therefore not enter into a partnership with a rascal (cf. Sir 13:17).  The Mishnah (Kil 8:3) states in addition that one caught leading a pair of unequal animals will get forty lashes.  Paul warns Christians not to be “unevenly yoked” with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14), which Derrett (1978) calls a midrash on the present verse.  Lv 19:19 replaces this law with one stating that cattle must not be allowed to breed with a different kinds of animal.  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 624)

 

It might indeed be objected, that when God forbids animals to be used promiscuously, so that those of different kinds should not be forbidding the fields to be sown with divers seeds, and garments to be woven of divers materials, He would prevent frauds.  But the more simple explanation is, that the people were thus retained in purity, lest they should accustom themselves to corrupt habits, and lest they should bring in strange rites from various quarters, or seek, with depraved curiosity, for mixtures which might at length invade the worship of God.  For if animals of different species are joined together, the integrity of nature is corrupted, and an adulterine offspring is produced, which degenerates from the institution of God; but, if various kinds of seed should be mixed together, or if a garment should be woven of linen and wool, there would be no danger of deception of fraud in so manifest a matter.  It is probable, therefore, that the end which, as I have said, was proposed by God was, that, by cultivating natural and simple habits all their life through, they should keep themselves pure and uncorrupted from every strange vice.  On this account Scripture compares strange doctrines to leaven, since by their additions or curtailings they corrupt the pure word of God.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, vol. II, 48-9)

 

It was a small matter to interweave a thin thread with a thicker one, and perchance such a process would have been profitable for their general advantage; in some fields, too, a better crop is grown, if the seed is compounded of pure wheat, and some other sort of grain (siligine), as also the union of the horse and ass has been approved of, since thus mules are produced.  But God would not allow these things amongst His ancient people, lest, sinking by degrees to greater license, they should at length addict themselves to the practice and customs of the heathen.  He therefore uses this preface:  “Ye shall keep my statutes,” (Lv 19:19); from whence we gather that the people were surrounded with fixed barriers, lest they should defile themselves with foreign vices, and imitate the nations, from which they had been separated.  Wherefore this is the sum, that they should abide in God’s statutes.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, vol. II, 49)

 

II-  Beware of perverting God’s created order.  (Dt 22:9-11; see also Dt 4:40; 5:16; 6:3; 22:7; Jer 7:23; Eph 6:3)

 

  1. This law is to prevent yoke-mates of unequal strength, which can impose a hardship on either or both of the animals–the ox because it is left to do most of the pulling or the ass because it is forced to work harder than it is able. (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 623)

 

Since wool and linen are both agricultural products, this taboo fits logically with the taboo on mixing crops and mixing draft animals.  Moses does not justify this taboo, even though it contradicts the prescriptions for the fabric of the tabernacle and the high priest’s garments.  While forbidden for lay-persons, wearing garments of mixed fabrics was reserved for those who served in Yahweh’s presence.

In general, it seems that all these prohibitions were intended to guard against boundary violations that defy the order of the universe (Gn 1).  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 515)

 

Few Christians today heed Moses’ prohibitions on mixing different varieties of plants in a single plot of land or wearing two different fabrics.  However, underlying these commands is a profoundly theological concern for order.  The blurring of boundaries symbolizes chaos.  The lives of the redeemed should be characterized by order and resistance to everything that causes disintegration of that order in one’s life.  Everything about our external conduct and appearance reflects on the name and reputation of our God.  To claim the name of Christ (=Yahweh) and to live in a chaotic environment is to misrepresent the one whose name we bear.  (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 518-9)

 

Any deviation from the God ordained created order is a form of idolatry in one way or another.  —Pastor Keith

 

The Devil seeks to interject duplicity, division and disunity into the singularity of the Created order established by a God Who defines Himself by Divine Revelation as “One” and “I AM”.

 

The wider principle is that, in a divinely ordered society, all must work together, for the good of all, as the description of the Church as the “body” of Christ makes clear (1 Cor 12:12-27; Eph 4:12-16).  (David F. Payne, The Daily Study Bible Series: Dt, 124)

 

  1. This law prohibiting “mixed blends” appears also in Lv 19:19. The reason for the prohibition is given in Josephus (Ant. 4.208; cf. m. Kil. 9:1):  mixed blends are reserved for priests alone (Ex 28:6, 15; 3(:29; cf. Milogrom 1991, 548-9).  Ezekiel, however, disallows garments of mixed blends for the Levitical priests because wool causes sweat (Ez 44:17-18).  (Jack R. Lundbom, Deuteronomy, A Commentary, 624)

 

Verse 9 declares that when vines and other plants are mixed, both the grapes and the other crop are “defiled” (“become holy,” and so “untouchable”) and no longer permissible for personal use.  The aim of the legislation again seems to be to maintain the natural distinctiveness of certain objects of Creation by keeping them separate from one another.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 3, 136)

 

The shifts in the deuteronomic laws compared with Exodus and Leviticus, however, also seem to have sexual connotations (vineyard, Song 8:11-12; ploughing, Sirach 25:8; cf. Carmichael 1974, 159), a point reinforced by their proximity to the following laws on adultery.  The particular mixture of wool and linen may have been worn by prostitutes (Carmichael 1974, 164-5).  The word for mixture (11) is not Hebrew, and is thought to be Egyptian.  (J. G. McConville, Apollos OT Commentary: Dt, 338)

 

III-  Remember to never lean on your own understanding . . . trust in the Lord.  (Dt 22:12; see also: Ex 28:12, 29; 39:7; Nm 10:9-10; 15:37-41; 31:54; Dt 6:8-9; 16:3; Prv 3:1-8; Lk 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24-25)

 

By attaching four tassels to the garment worn most frequently, an Israelite would be reminded often of God’s law and of the need to obey it.  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 243)

 

In Dt 6:8-9, the Israelites are commanded to keep God’s Word visually in front of them so that they will have no excuse for forgetting it.  In this verse of Deuteronomy, tassels are used in this way as a visual reminder.  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 243-4)

 

In a secular society, what reminders do we have that keep our minds on Christ?  I know one person who keeps a small cross in his pocket.  Whenever he reaches into it for his keys, he feels the cross and remembers who he is and what Jesus did for him.  The celebration of the Lord’s Supper is another time to reflect upon our relationship with God.  We observe Communion in remembrance of Him.  (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 244)

 

The wearing of tassels on the corner of the garment is also commanded in Nm 15:37-41, where it is made a reminder to keep the law.  That thought is not expressed here (Deuteronomy has other visible tokens of this; 6:8-9).  The more mundane point in this case is apparently to weigh down the garment so that it should not display the persons’ “nakedness.”  The garment is literally “your covering with which you cover yourself,” the idea of covering being emphasized by the repetition.  (J. G. McConville, Apollos OT Commentary: Dt, 338)

 

It is upon the inward heart that the divine law ought to be engraved; yet any outward device that helps to do that is eminently defensible.  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol 2.,  465)

 

I was thinking today (8-25-97) each one of us has what I would call limited perspective.  That is we can perceive the truth about ourselves, our world and God from our point of view only.  BUT WE CANNOT PERCEIVE THE WORLD, OURSELVES AND GOD FROM ALL POINTS OF VIEW.  That means we all suffer from an inadequate and limited perspective on these three critical areas of human existence.   How arrogant of us to think that we can single-handedly know ALL TRUTH about any of these three.    We should learn to trust God and His perspective Alone as He ALONE has the ability to see omnisciently, omnipresently and omnipotently.   We see as if in a mirror dimly and when we see HIM we shall see all things as they truly are and not as we perceive them to be  (1 Cor 13:12; 1 Jn 3:2) — Pastor Keith

 

 

Divine Authority by Molly Marsh

 

Giving God authority

Ought to be a commandment,

But it’s already our first.

 

We cheat ourselves of Divine

Beauty, Blessed Assurance,

Because we want control.

 

This is a real paradox:

How can we gain for ourselves

When we give .. .  To God, our will?

 

Satan’s laughing up his sleeve,

Since the Garden of Eden

When he sales-pitched, “Think your way”.

 

Control freaks miss much of life,

Don’t know why they’re unhappy,

Can’t see the trees for the forest.

 

When we give God our control,

It’s open sesame!

To a new world of living.

 

We become more than humans:

When God’s LOVE flows through us . . .

We become Divine humans.

 

Give God your authority:

Find freedom rings throughout you.

Let Jesus show you the way.

 

‘The arrogance that would make God an object and impose our laboratory conditions upon him is incapable of finding him.  For it already implies that we deny God as God by placing ourselves above him, by discarding the whole dimension of love, of interior listening; by no longer acknowledging as real anything but what we can experimentally test and grasp.  To think like that is to make oneself God.  And to do so is to abuse not only God, but the world and oneself too.’ (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2008, p. 37)  (David Robertson, Magnificent Obsession–Why Jesus Is Great, 16-7)

 

Worship Point:  Worship the God of the Universe Who created us and this wonderful world that has the ability to heal itself from our sins if we don’t continue to intervene and booger it up.

 

Gospel Application:  Our salvation is by grace from God through faith and not of ourselves (Rom 5:8-10; Gal 3 & 4; Eph 2:8-9).   We need to learn to trust in the Lord for our salvation (Acts 4:12).

 

Spiritual Challenge:  Employ wisdom which demands that we learn when to take dominion and fulfill the mankind’s creation mandate and when to take our hands off of things and let God be God (Bks of Prv & Eccl).

 

The prohibition against sowing unlike seed in a vineyard, harnessing unlike animals to a plow, or wearing cloth of wool and linen, represents an ancient and widespread Semitic taboo.  Possibly the taboo itself arose from the obscure feeling that what God has made distinct should remain distinct.  The Deuteronomist was unready to throw off this primitive concept.  But unless religion does cast off such encumbrances from the dead past, progress is stifled.  (George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol 2., 465)

 

We hear arrogant people proclaiming the present generation as the most intelligent in the history of mankind.  What nonsense!   This is a grievously ignorant age.  We cover ourselves with filth and pretend we are clean.  We murder the unborn by the millions and spend colossal sums of money trying to save a single infant from some devastating disease.  We treat morals as dung and filthy speech as if it were a world-class treasure.  We forbid the display of the law of God in public places and then groan because of the growing lack of morality.  We arrest a patriot for flying an oversize flag and make a national hero out of a profligate who burns the flag.  We teach and encourage our children to disregard the Ten Commandments and then pretend to be outraged against the evils that result.   We destroy the family and yet wish to be known as a caring society.  How long can we expect God to overlook our times of ignorance?  (Owen Roberts; Repentance, 215)

 

So What?: God empowered us with the ability to charge ahead without understanding and wisdom and destroy both ourselves and planet earth.  But God has also empowered us with the ability to charge ahead with understanding and wisdom and to usher God’s Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.  This wisdom and understanding is available ONLY to those who are in Christ and possess and follow the Word and Spirit of God.  (John chps 14-16; Rom 8:1-17; Gal 5:22-23)

 

As we are so prone to forget God’s commands, the more aids we can find to remember them and motivate obedience the better.  Our greatest battle in life is the battle for obedience.  Disobedience is the only thing of which we can be legitimately afraid.  God is greater than everything we face, and he can lead us victoriously through each challenge.  The one time he will not give us his triumph is when we forfeit it through disobedience.  Therefore, we should give serious attention to how we can be obedient, and we should find creative ways–today’s equivalents of tassels–to help motivate us along the path of obedience.  (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 512)

JESUS:

UNMIXED, HOLY, RIGHTEOUS

 

 

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