Welcome to Expound, our verse by verse study of God's word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Let's pray. Father, we thank you that we have the ability to look into your word and to look into a period of history that for all of us is far removed from our modern environment, far removed from us geographically, culturally, but relevant because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And Lord, we remember that your son said heaven and earth would pass away, but the word of God would never pass away. It's eternal. Jesus said it cannot be broken, and the principles that we read here are always relevant.
Though some in their immediate context have passed away in a different generation, the overarching principles are there for us to glean and to learn and to grow. I pray, Lord, that we would become familiar with the scripture. The more we read it and heed it, the more benefit we would see in our own lives. Give us a hunger to know the things of the spirit, and to apply them to our lives and to walk in the spirit, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Every time a young man marries a young woman, they sign a contract. Now, they're not really thinking much about that contract when they are giving their vows. In fact, honestly, I could do most weddings and completely forget to sign the marriage license and most couples would be OK with that, because they just don't think about that. I know that it's something they have to do. They go and they get all the legalities, but it's not a contract that binds them together.
Yeah, they say vows to each other, for better or for worse, richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish 'til death do us part. It's a solemn vow. But at that point, at their wedding, they're not even held together by the vow. They're held together by a higher law, the law of love. They are madly, deeply, in love with each other, and they can't even think of a time when it would ever be other than how they're feeling at that moment.
Later on they decide to have children. Now there are laws in our country about caring for your kids. You can't neglect your children. You could be accused of criminal neglect. You could be prosecuted for child abuse if you didn't feed your child. But I've never met a parent who wakes up in the morning and goes, oh, we better feed them, bathe them, take care of them. We don't want the police coming knocking on our door, hauling us away to jail.
Are you kidding? Most parents are bound by a higher law, the law of love. It's a joy. Yes, it's an investment. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it never ends. My mother worried about me 'til the day she went to heaven. But it was out of love. And the higher law of love is also found in the Old Testament, the old covenant.
In Leviticus, Chapter 19-- I know we're not in that, but you'll recognize this-- it says you shall not bear a grudge against the children of your people, nor take vengeance. But you shall love your neighbor as yourself. That's the law of love. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Well here, in the plains of Moab, perched on the eastern side of the Jordan River, Moses with the children of Israel is considering how the law of loving one another works itself out in very, very practical ways. And you see, love must be practical. Love must have an out working.
In the New Testament, in 1 John 3, John writes, if you have this world's goods and you see your brother in need, but you shut up your heart against him, how can the love of God abide in you? It is human nature, however, to get busy with our schedule, our agenda, our work day, our work week. We got to go from here to here. We gotta do this. We all know what that's like.
So that if we see someone along the way in need-- a homeless person, someone with a flat tire-- you know, some of us just say, Lord, just minister to them. Send somebody to help them. Surely it can't be me, Lord, because I have a schedule to keep. It is human nature to turn inward and not outward, and to ignore the need. So written into the laws of God is the law of love.
And Moses sort of summarizes that, giving a practical out working of that to a new generation in Chapter 22. You shall not see your brother's ox, or his sheep going astray, and hide yourself from them. You shall surely bring them back to your brother. And if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it to your own house. And it shall remain with you until your brother seeks it. Then you shall restore it to him.
You should do the same with his donkey. And so shall you do with his garment. With any lost thing of your brother's, which he has lost and you have found. So shall you do likewise, you must not hide yourself. You shall not see your brother's donkey or his ox fall down along the road and hide yourself from them. You shall surely help him lift them up again.
We have a saying, don't we? Finders keepers, losers weepers. That doesn't seem to be a biblical injunction. We like it. It's convenient for us. Here at the church we have a lost and found. And some of you guys have really cool stuff that you've lost, like cool designer glasses, really nice Cambridge bibles. And I've noticed sometimes the staff goes in there and goes oh, those are nice glasses. If somebody doesn't claim them, I'd like them.
OK. Fair enough, but don't pick it up the first day. Give it a while. Let them go on a search for it. And then if they say, have you found these Persol custom sunglasses, oh yes, I've kept them for you. Instead of, aw man, I was hoping that you'd just go away, but then I'd have them. So it's this idea of concern. If you know and if you don't know. If you see your neighbor's dog run away, there's the name tag. If you don't know whose it is, you bring it home, you take care of it until somebody claims it.
You know, back in the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President FDR, he initiated a policy called the Good Neighbor Policy. Similar overtones in that administration's ideas, the Good Neighbor Policy. And the pundits back then, the newspapers back then, all hailed it as some innovative, wow, cutting edge-- this is what America needs, this has never been done before-- type of a thing. It's like, it's as old as Moses. And he was old. He was 120 when he said it. And that's thousands of years ago.
Or in more recent administrations, the Bush and the Obama administration, the idea of volunteerism. It's been touted in The New York Times as something new. It's not new. It's as old as the heart of the Lord toward his people, loving one another. Now here's what you need to know. The Bible talks about two different categories of sin. One is the sin of commission, the other is the sin of omission. Commission is when you commit a sin against someone. Omission is when you fail to do something you could to help someone.
You could do it, but I'm not going, I'm not going to get involved. That could be a sin of omission. In James, Chapter 4, it says, for him that knows to do good and does it not, to him it is sin. That's the sin of omission. So you can do misdeeds, that's the sin of commission, or you can miss deeds, and that's the sin of omission. You can miss doing deeds for other people.
And you know, if you could just-- if we could just live our lives with our eyes open, come into a situation and think this, how could I serve that person? How could I help this person? How could I encourage this person? Your day, I guarantee you, the end of your day, when people say how did your day go? You wouldn't go, oh man. You'd go, it was awesome. It was awesome. It will do something for you when you look around on how you can help and serve and minister and bless. The law of love.
Verse 5, miscellaneous laws continue. A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment. For all who do are an abomination to the Lord your God. That's a very, very strong word in the Hebrew. It is used in the book of Leviticus. I believe it's Chapter 18, where God uses the same language detesting homosexual behavior. He says, it is an abomination to the Lord.
Now this commandment here isn't about fashion as much as it's about practice that was common to paganism. Did you know that in some of the ancient temples in antiquity, priests would dress like women for certain festivals. According to a Greek writer named Plutarch, a historian of the Greeks, on the island of Kos, in the temples of Hercules, the Herculean priest would dress like a woman to perform their functions of priesthood. Also in the cult of Dionysus, which was a sensual feast, and they worshiped the god of wine.
So there's lots of intoxication and sensuality. Same kind of a thing. They would wear women's clothing and performing saccerdotal-- priestly-- functions, sacred functions. And so God is saying, I don't want you to be like pagans. I want you to be different. And there is a created order of male and female. God created them, and he wants to maintain that order. Doesn't want us to copy anything the world does. He wants us to be different, to be separated, and not to mix with that kind of behavior.
If a bird's nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall surely let the mother go and take the young for yourself, that it may be well with you, that you may prolong your days. So you're walking down the road, you see what looks to you to be lunch. I can have fried chicken, or whatever that bird is, osprey let's say, and cooked eggs.
It's a full meal deal. I got a whole meal here, thank you Lord. Now, it's OK for you to eat. You go to Chick-fil-A, you eat chicken, you order eggs. It's OK to do that. But it's interesting that God would have a law about birds and eggs. Don't you find that interesting? Now here's what Jesus said in Matthew, Chapter 10. He says, not a sparrow falls to the ground without the will, apart from the will of your Father in Heaven.
It's a beautiful verse to me. I mean, we pass that up and we usually apply that to, look how God cares for us. But the point is, God cares for birds. And if he cares for birds, how much more does he care for you, made in the image of God. But the fact that there is an environmental law built into God's Tora-- don't lose sight of that-- is God's environment. And he says, care for it.
Now, I'll tell you what the heart of the law here really is. If you were to take the mother and the young, the eggs, and kill all of them and eat all of them, then you've cut off a food source for yourself. If you let the mother go and just eat the eggs that are in the nest, she's going to lay more eggs. She's going to have more young. So that's the idea behind that you may prolong your days that it might be well for you.
Don't be stupid. Don't cut off your food source. Use this as a future investment. Yeah, part of it you can take, but for future sustenance, this law was put here. Here's another one. When you build a new house-- now God's into building codes. When you build a new house-- this also is the law of love-- then you shall make a parapet for your roof. If you have a flat roof here in New Mexico, I'll guarantee you, you have a parapet.
It's part of the building codes here, that you may not bring guilt of bloodshed on your household if anyone falls from it. According to the rabbinical teaching, some of the rabbinical scholars, it was to be two cubits, or 36 inches. And that is about, I think, it's probably between 24-- I don't know what the building code is here. But there's one on my roof, because I've been up on it to inspect where the water is leaking into my house. I found it right at the parapet, that little wall that comes up from the very edge.
Now the idea here is quite simple. In the Middle East, like here in New Mexico, a lot of the roofs-- in fact, most of them back then were all flat-- they were adobe construction. It was flat. And there was typically a staircase that went up the side of the house to the roof. The roof outdoors was seen as a separate room. It would be like a deck today, or a patio today. And the family would retreat there in the summer. On hot summer nights you'd sleep out on the roof.
Sometimes you'd put a little enclosure over part of it. Elijah stayed on a rooftop. A little lean-to was built for him on top of a house, sort of as a convenience quarters. When he was in the area he could go up top. But because so much time was spent on a roof top, you don't want anybody walking off. You don't want your child or a neighbor walking off it. And somebody might say, well, it serves them right, you know, if they can't see where they're going. But they may not be able to see where they're going.
And because you love them, you love your neighbor as yourself, you want to do unto others as you want them to do to you, you want to protect them. So a little railing would help. That's the idea. Let me just refresh your memory. In the Book of Acts, Chapter 10, Peter was in Joppa. And he went to the roof. And he got a vision of a giant sheet being let down from heaven with all sorts of non-kosher things on it. And the Lord said, Peter, rise and eat. And he goes, no, Lord, I won't do that. I'm Jewish. It's not cool, it's not kosher.
And the Lord said, what I purify, don't you call common or unclean. But that happened on a rooftop, so it was quite common to spend a lot of time-- no AC in those days-- so you just want to go where it's cool. And typically they would go on the rooftop to get the open air. Now we have laws of separation. And as I mentioned, Israel was to be different. They weren't to mix one lifestyle with another lifestyle. They were to keep certain things separated.
You shall not sow your vineyard with different kinds of seed, less the yield of the seed which you have sown in the fruit of your vineyard be defiled. You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together. You shall make tassels on the four corners of the clothing with which you cover yourself. Do you remember the parable that Jesus gave in Matthew, Chapter 13?
A man went and he sowed wheat in a field, good seed. And at night, an enemy came in and sowed tares among the wheat. And the tares, the darnel, looked so much like wheat as it starts to grow. And the servants say to the master, shall we go in and pull those weeds up? And he goes, no, because you may not be able to tell the difference between the tares and the wheat, and you may pull up some of the good crop. So let it go 'til it's full grown, and then you pull them out.
And then notice something else here. Verse 10, you shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. Now this is the background for that text that you know so well in 2 Corinthian 6. That you are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Remember that one? For what communion has righteousness with lawlessness, and light with darkness? What union has light with darkness? So a believer is not to be unequally yoked together with an unbeliever. It comes from this idea.
If you're going to plow a field, you're not going to get a donkey and an ox. Why? They have a different gate. They walk differently. They have different strength, different temperaments, too. So you would have a tough time getting the work done if you don't have animals of the same species, the same height, the same weight, going in the same direction, the same gate. You want to yoke them together, or tie them at the neck together, if they have that same temperament. So don't mix that up.
And that's the background for the New Testament scripture, don't be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. And we bring this up a lot when a Christian decides to date and get serious about marrying a non believer. Oh, but they're so sweet. And there's a millions of you-- oh, but they're just so amazing. I don't know any Christians like that that are that good. Well, why are you dating that unbelieving Christian man? Well you know what, there's just not any believers around who want to date me. Whatever excuse it might be. And it goes both ways, by the way.
God knows what he's talking about when he says, don't be unequally yoked together. Now some marriages I've seen remind me of tying an ox and a donkey together. They just don't walk quite right. They just don't seem quite right. Oh, they're madly in love at first, but when they start to pull that plow, the weight gets a little heavy. They start getting offset and going in circles a little bit.
So you want to maintain a strong walk with the Lord? A strong gate with the Lord? Get somebody who's going in the same direction that will pull the load and do that work that God called you to do, the same as you. Don't settle for less. Don't undercut or undersell God. These are his principles. He knows what he's talking about. And I can just tell you from a little bit of experience in marrying couples over the years, I've seen so many couples disregard this, only to come back later with their head hung going, oh my goodness. I could have avoided so much pain. And I would have had straighter furrows as well.
And in Verse 12, you shall make tassels on the four corners of the clothing with which you cover yourself. Let me tell you what this is about. This was about giving God's people a reminder of who they are, who they are bound to, who they are tied to.
Tassels were on the four corners. You that are coming to Israel, look for them in Jerusalem. Look for the pious Orthodox Jews who walk up to the wailing walls, and you'll see the little tassels coming out. They wear them, the tzitzit, they're called in Hebrew. The tzitzit are the tassels. Now according to Hebrew tradition, each tassel had eight threads and five knots. Eight threads and five knots, so 13. And the numeric value of the word in Hebrew, tzitzit-- I know that's a hard word to say and to hear, especially if you're trying to write it down, tzitzit-- every Hebrew word has a numeric value.
The numerical value of the Hebrew word tzitzit is 600. So the Jews believe there are 613 commandments-- some positive, mostly negative-- commandments that God gave in the Torah. And so the 600 numeric value of the tassel, tzitzit, and the 13-- eight strands, five knots-- equal to or approximate or point to the 613 laws given in the Torah, to obey God with. According to, I can't remember, Leviticus or Numbers, it says that there will be a blue thread in the tassel. So you have a white tassel, typically with a blue thread.
And the blue thread was to remind them that they're tied to God, that they should have heavenly thoughts. They should think that it's not just here, but it's heaven, it's god, I'm a child of god under the covenant. By the way, your savior and my savior wore a garment that had those tassels on them. It was called the hem of the garment, the tassel of the garment, that Jesus wore.
When he was on his way to the house of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, there was a woman who had an issue of blood for several years. And she thought, if only I could touch that tzitzit, the tassel of that man's garment, I'll be healed. And she touched that tassel and she was made whole. Not because the tassel was holy, but because she released her faith in the one who wore it, the Lord Jesus, and she was healed.
If any man takes a wife-- this all gets very interesting, at least it is to me-- if a man takes a wife and goes into her and detests her, now what kind of a scoundrel with that be? Marries a girl, they consummate the relationship, but after a while he's just like, I don't like her. I hate her. I don't want to be married to her. Well, it happens, doesn't it? And charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, I took this woman and when I came to her, I found she was not a virgin.
So now he's making the statement that she didn't keep her promise. Her parents didn't keep the promise. Then the father and the mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman's virginity to the elders of the city gate. Now the evidence of a woman's virginity was the bed sheet or the garment she wore on her wedding night, where there would be blood because of the breaking of that membrane that would cause a certain amount of blood. And that would be evidence.
After the wedding night, it was given to the parents. The parents would display it in the neighborhood. I know you're going, this is horrible. But just hold on. Stay with me here. You'll see why. And by the way, this is still practiced in cultures, in certain cultures, around the world, especially in the Middle East. Still practiced. The parents had that garment. And for this reason, you get a scoundrel dude like this, it could come in handy.
And the young woman's father shall say to the elders, I gave my daughter to this man as a wife and he detests her. Now he has charged her with shameful conduct, saying I found your daughter was not a virgin, and yet these are the evidences of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. I know, you're just saying, this is so gross, and such a private thing to have out in the open. And then the elders of that city shall take the man and punish him.
According to tradition, that was punishing him by beating him 40 times, 40 lashes, 40 whips. And they shall fine him 100 shekels of silver. 100 shekels of silver was double the bride price paid to the father when the young man wanted to marry the daughter. He would give a dowry. He would pay money. And the dowry was sort of like, well, it was earnest money, but it was sort of like alimony in advance. If something like this came up, it could be used for the support of that young woman. But here, now it's not all that much, you have to double the price.
So it's 100 shekels of silver, that's 2 and 1/2 pounds. Modern guess, it's about $500. He would be fined and beaten. And give them to the father of the young woman because he has brought a bad name on a virgin in Israel. And she shall be his wife. He cannot divorce her all his days. And when I read that, I think, that poor woman. I would hope they would reconcile and get things right. OK, let's consider a couple of things.
Number one, in Matthew Chapter 1, Joseph, the husband, the betrothed husband of Mary-- they're not, they're just formally engaged, they haven't come together-- finds out that Mary's pregnant. After wrestling with it, it says he decided that he would put her away privately, rather than exposing her. Because this was the exposure. You make it known. So he decided to do it privately because he did not want to make a public example out of her. That's the kind of love he had for her.
But the idea of making it public is a good-- was considered a good thing, not a bad thing. It was a good thing because the idea of chastity, of sexual purity before marriage, was so high that for parents to display that was to congratulate their daughter, and congratulate this couple. And say look, you know, we've been good parents. We have instilled good values in her. She remained chaste her whole life. And that would be an incentive because the community would know if you were messing around or you were chaste.
So you have a public accountability in your sexual conduct before marriage. And if you weren't chaste, the whole public would know as well. Again, quite an incentive. And some guy comes on, and goes, honey, baby, sweetie, I just can't wait. I love you so much. Yeah? I'm thinking of that sheet being hung in the window of the house. Uh-uh. I want to rejoice. I want it to be a victory flag. Not ashamed. You'll never forget this study, I'm sure.
But Verse 20, if this thing is true and evidences of virginity are not found for the young woman, they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones, to death with stones. Because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father's house, and so you shall put away evil from among you. We find this here in the Torah, the law of God, the Pentateuch.
It also has a parallel in other ancient documents, the Code of Hammurabi from Mesopotamia, that Chaldean region, also from ancient times, had similar laws. Except the Code of Hammurabi was a little different. If a couple did this, they were both bound together. And if there was adultery in the relationship, they were bound together. Or the one who did it, the two who committed the act, bound together and thrown into a body of water, a sea, an ocean, or a lake, and they would die that way.
Some of the rabbis proscribed death by strangulation. I'm just giving you the history. I'm not saying it was better or it was good. At the time of Jesus, it was death by stoning. Hearkening back to this, in John, Chapter 8, they brought a woman caught in adultery. It says, Moses commands that she be stoned. But hold on to that thought, because notice what it says. If a man is found lying, Verse 22, with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die.
The man that lay with a woman, and the woman, so that you put away evil from Israel. Ah, that was the problem, was it not, in John, Chapter 8? They brought a woman to Jesus, and said, this woman is caught in adultery, in the very act Moses commands that she be stoned. The easy answer to that is, where's the dude? Why did you bring me just the woman? It takes two to have a sexual encounter. And you just brought her.
So the Bible says that Jesus bent down and started writing against them-- [GREEK], the Greek word-- wrote a testimony against them. And then he said, whoever is without sin, let him cast the first stone. Now the fact that he wrote something against them, I can only infer that he wrote something that they had done, that they thought nobody knew about. Like a 1-900 number next to somebody's name, or a website next to somebody's name, or a hotel room next to somebody's name.
And they just put their stones away, see ya, I gotta go do something. And they left, because it says bring both of them. If a young woman who was a virgin is betrothed to a husband, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both to the gate of the city. You shall stone them to death with stones. The young woman because she did not cry out in the city. And the man because he humbled his neighbor's wife. So you shall put away evil from among you.
So if it's in a city-- and back then the city is not like today. When you live next door to somebody, you live like two feet away from them. I mean, maybe four feet. I mean, the alleyways if you go to Jerusalem, you'll see, they're very, very narrow. And you hear everything. And if there was a rape going on and a woman's scream, it would be heard by lots of neighbors in those ancient cities.
But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the countryside, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman. There is in the young woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against his neighbor and kills him, even so in this matter. So he waited to get her out away from the city where even if she were to scream, nobody could hear her. So he dies.
For he found her in the countryside, and the betrothed young woman cried out, but there was no one to save her. If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin who is not betrothed-- now remember, a betrothal was an advanced engagement. Let's call it an engagement on steroids. You could not separate once you were betrothed, unless you went through a formal legal divorce proceeding.
Even though the couple has not come together, they have not had sex together, have not consummated the relationship, they're not living together, they're spending a year of betrothal really getting to know each other on the best possible terms before there is a wedding, but they are legally bound and could only be separated by a legal divorce. So that's a betrothal. It's a one year period.
If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin who was not betrothed and seizes her and lies with her, and they're found out, then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman's father 50 shekels of silver. And she shall be his wife. So he has humbled her. He shall not be permitted to divorce her all of his days. So this young couple see each other, they have premarital sex, he has to pay dad 50 shackles and keep her as a wife forever.
Parents, when you talk to your kids, you may want to tell them something like this. If you're going to have sex with that young woman, welcome to your wife. It's going to put a lot of people-- oh, but you know, I want to try several partners before I really know-- no, you don't. It's going to cause lots of problems. Every single study that is available where there are multiple partners in premarital sex, read about the problems people have when they get married.
Read about them. The statistics are undeniable. So this young couple goes out, and they oh, they have starry eyes, and they lay with each other. Dude, you're married to that woman. That's how you bring honor back to her. You dishonored her and her family. I'm liking some of these laws. A man shall not take his father's wife nor uncover his father's bed. Chapter 23, he who is emasculated-- I know you're going, what kind of a Bible study is this? What happened to John 3:16? Hey, it will surprise you what you find in the Bible. Lot of fun to read this whole thing, isn't it.
He who is emasculated by crushing or mutilation shall not enter the assembly of the Lord. One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the assembly of the Lord, even to the 10th generation. None of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord, an Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord, even to the 10th generation. None of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord. The assembly of the Lord were God's people getting together around the Tabernacle at first, and then the temple, eventually.
Those who would constitute the public worship life of Israel. It doesn't mean these people can't live around them, or be in their society or be in their city. But this is the assembly of the Lord. Now the reason I believe this law exists, in Verse 1, is because in pagan temples, in antiquity, part of the prerequisite for the worshipper, the priest, was a castration, was to be emasculated. And so again, don't mix. Don't be like them. Don't copy the ways of the pagan world.
Now this law, interestingly enough, in Verse 1, the rabbis came along and extended its meaning. They are very good at that, I've discovered. They take the meaning, but then they just really push out the boundaries and make it mean something it really didn't mean. But here's what they take it to mean. The rabbis eventually took Verse 1-- this idea of mutilation, castration, emasculation-- to include wine, oil, flour, and wood. You're going, I don't get it. Yeah, we're on the same page. I don't get it either.
But what they thought is, if God was this concerned about the assembly of the Lord with people, that must mean he only wants the best articles, the best implements, to be used in his worship. So the best wine, the best flour, the best oil, the best wood. So they even prescribe wood that had no wormholes in it, when you're going to burn it on, for the altar of sacrifice, it has to be perfect. It has to be not mutilated wood, or any of these things. But as pure as they could be.
Now as time went on and the Christian church was developed, and it spread throughout Europe and Northern Africa, a movement developed within Christendom called the monastic movement. That's a broad term for people who join monasteries. And many men joined monasteries simply because they found that the brothels of Europe and North Africa were such, and there was such an open temptation in the cities around them that they needed to retreat from the world, and be separated in a monastery.
The only problem with that is when you go to a monastery, you have to take you with you. You are wherever you are. Wherever you go, that's where you are. Isn't that profound? So you may not have those outward temptations, visible temptations, staring at you in the face, but you've got a sinful heart and inclinations that are still in that monastery with you. So we have interesting stories about people who were tempted, and they would throw themselves, in monasteries, into thorn bushes. Throw themselves into thorn bushes, monks would do that, because that would take their attention away from the lustful thoughts.
Overkill maybe, but they would get the point. And they got a lot of points, a lot of fine points in that gesture. And they thought that would keep them from doing it. Now one of the church fathers from North Africa, named Origin-- because Jesus said, if your eye offends you, pluck it out, if your hand offends you, cut it off-- took that so literally that he had himself emasculated, castrated. Because of sensual temptation, he wanted to avoid that, so we had himself emasculated. That's just history. That's just-- let's move on.
One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the assembly of the Lord. The word that is used here, in Hebrew, is found only one other place in the whole old testament, Zachariah, Chapter 9. And it speaks of those who are the product of a sinful union, like prostitution or incest. It's an illegitimate birth brought on by prostitution or incest, a very, very strong Hebrew word, momzer. And so if you have an illegitimate birth, you don't enter the assembly of God. Let me just give you a little principle based on this.
Jesus said, if you want to enter the kingdom of heaven, you must be born again. There are people who think they are going to heaven, they're illegitimate. They won't enter the assembly of the Lord. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews. He was a pharisee. He was very religious. He wore phylacteries. He did religious things. He was illegitimate. Jesus said, Nicodemus, unless a man is born again, he will never see the kingdom of God.
Well, how can a man be born when he is old? Can he crawl back a second time into his mother's womb where he was born? You must be born from above. Jesus went on to explain it. By trusting and believing in Jesus, a man is born again. There are many people who are nothing more than baptized pagans. They go to churches, they think they're going to heaven, but they're illegitimate, because they're not born again.
I've had so many people say, well you know, I'm a Christian, but I'm just not one of those born again ones. Well friend, you are not a christian unless you are born again. You have to be a born again one. Those are Jesus' words. The only way to get into heaven is to fully trust in him, not your religion, not your work's, not your deeds. Not you. The new birth, the legitimate birth for the Assembly of God, is slowly trusting in Christ alone by faith.
That's how a person is born again. An Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter the assembly. You're going, shoo. I'm glad I'm not one. Even to the 10th generation. Now Ammonites and Moabites were the product of an incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters. And also it was the Moabites, when the children of Israel were going from Egypt toward the promised land, the King of Moab, named Balak, decided he wanted to hire a spiritual man, a prophet named Balaam, to curse the children of Israel. What I find interesting about that story is I really got to hand it to Balak. He understood a principle. If you're going to fight a spiritual people, you better use a spiritual person.
Because a spiritual person perhaps could do against these people what people couldn't do in fighting them with physical warfare. So to fight a spiritual people, I need a spiritual warfare, spiritual weapon. So he hired a spiritual person named Balaam to curse them. He couldn't do it. God wouldn't let him do it. But he was on to something. Because Balaam said, I can't curse these people. But I know how they can be cursed. They can curse themselves. God will bring a curse on them.
If they start worshipping with your idols, if your young women go into the camp and seduce them, and bring out their idols during that common practice of your worship, God will bring a curse on them. So Balak had a very interesting understanding of how to bring down God's people.
So an Ammonite, a Moabite, shall not enter, because they did not meet you with bread and water on the road when you came out of Egypt. And because they hired against you Balaam, the son of Beor, from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. Nevertheless, the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam, but the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you. You shall seek their peace-- you shall not seek their peace, nor their prosperity, all their days forever.
Now let me tell you another little insight here that just sort of ties bows, I hope, for you. The Hebrew construction of the Ammonite or Moabite refers to a male Ammonite or Moabite. Because why's that important? Because later on, there will be a Moabitess by the name of Ruth, who says to mother-in-law, where you go, I will go. Where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my god. And she is admitted into Israel. And she even gets land inheritance. And is in the Genealogy of King David and the Genealogy of Jesus Christ. Isn't that precious?
When the army goes out against your enemies, then keep yourself from every wicked thing. If there's any man among you who becomes unclean by some occurrence in the night, then he shall go outside the camp. He shall not come inside the camp. But it shall be when evening comes, he shall wash with water. And when the sun sets, he may come in to the camp. This is believed to be some nocturnal emission for a male, or perhaps urination in the camp, which would render him unclean.
It's interesting that certain Jewish commentaries say that this refers to a Levitical encampment, which sometimes went out to battle with the army. And there's no way to tell. Again, this could be the spinning tale of a rabbi, or it could be legitimately passed on. Also, you shall have a place outside the camp where you may go out. And you shall have an implement among the equipment. And when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse.
You understand this, right? I don't really have to go into this and explain this, right? So God wanted a clean camp. And the next verse explains why. You will have a place outside the camp, an implement, for the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and give your enemies over to you. Therefore, the camp shall be holy, that he may see no unclean thing among you and turn away from you. So this is the latrine that you have to have outside the camp.
Now this would be very inconvenient, would it not? Have a camp, you have thousands of people, millions of people. Gotta go outside the camp to do your business. If you've ever had an outhouse, you might think at first, oh, this is cool. In the wintertime, not so cool. Well, it is very cool. But my parents, when they were young, had outhouses where they lived.
My grandfather was a settler in Laramie County, Wyoming, with the Act where you could have your own-- The Homestead Act. That's it, The American Homestead Act. Senior moment, Homestead Act. And so they lived in quite primitive conditions. But God is interested in their sanitation. By the way, wherever Christians go on the mission field, it's one of the first things they do. And they're always noted for it. When Christians go into primitive cultures, one of the first things they do is show people how to separate water sources from waste.
And you would be surprised around the world how that is not known. It is not known in practice. But I've been in very primitive areas with Christian missionaries who teach hygiene and sanitation like this, and separation. And the church, God's people, ought to be known for cleanliness. It was John Wesley, by the way, if you want to know who first said, cleanliness is next to godliness, it was John Wesley. And John Wesley said that, and he said, the men and women of God should be clean physically, should be clean spiritually, should be clean morally, in all areas God is interested in them.
OK. Really quick, before we finish this up, and we'll finish it up quickly, when we go to Israel, we're going to go to a city called Bet She'an. Bet She'an is a Roman city. It was there at the time of Jesus. It was the capital of the Decapolis. And every year they keep finding stones-- and it was destroyed by an earthquake-- and they keep building it up to what it used to look like, 2000 years ago. So you can sit today in the huge Roman amphitheater. You can walk down the main street called the Cardo Maximus, the other street, first street, or Cardo Minimus, and these great columns.
But what you find is a very interesting building. Now this was upscale Rome, this was like the elite, where it's a room that is a public toilet. And you will see carved out a stone these seating places on a long bench, and holes cut into the rock where water flowed underneath. And at that time, it was public, men and women would sit together. And it was in the social center of town. I'm not making this up. You'll be with us in Israel. You can sit on the stones if you'd like.
But it was, men and women would sit there and have conversations together. And from what our guides tell us, you could even sit there for a prolonged period of time, and you could sort of like order room service. They would bring food in. I'm not kidding. And this was like living high. You know. And there are other factors about it. I think I'll spare you tonight. You'll get it when we're on our tour. But you'll see it with your own eyes. You may not believe it now, but you'll see it with your own eyes.
Verse 15, you shall not give back to his master the slave who has escaped from his master to you. He may well with you in your midst, in the place which he chooses, within one of your gates where it seems best to him. You shall not oppress him. Now this is thought to be a non Israelite slave running away from a Canaanite master coming to an Israelite home for refuge. You don't turn him back. You keep him. You nurture him. You love that foreigner. You love that person. You treat that person with dignity and respect.
As time would move on, and we get to the Greco Roman culture, if there was a runaway slave, by law you had to return the slave. The slave would be branded, physically branded, sometimes on the forehead, with a brand that said fugitivus, a runaway, a fugitive. And he would be scorned. He would have to bear that shame forever, wearing that sign, emblazoned into his own flesh. So we have an interesting story in the New Testament, in the Book of Philemon.
The Book of Philemon is a little book based on this whole concept. There was a runaway slave from Philemon named Onesimus, and Paul writes a letter to his friend Philemon, and he says, Philemon, your slave ran away and I have him here in Rome. And he's a blessing to me. And Onesimus means faithful. And he says, he's been unfaithful to you, but he's been faithful to me. Or it means profitable. He's been unprofitable for you, but he's been profitable in ministering to me.
So I am sending him back to you that you will receive him not as a slave, but as a brother. And if you want to send him back to me, I want you to do that. But I want you to do it not because you have to, but because it's in your heart to do so. I could really use his service. The whole letter is based upon this letting a slave go back, and reconciling the owner and the slave out of love. Verse 17, there shall be no ritual harlot of the daughters of Israel, or a perverted one of the sons of Israel.
You shall not bring the wages of a harlot, or the price of a dog-- that would be a male prostitute-- to the house of the Lord your God, for any vowed offering. For both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God. Because it's a vow of worship, of Thanksgiving. You don't want to use the money that was taken from an activity like that. You shall not charge interest to your brother, interest on money or food, or anything that is lent out of interest. To a foreigner you may charge interest, but to your brother you shall not charge interest, that the Lord your God may bless you in all what you set your hand in the land to possess that you are entering now.
Other scriptures tell us that this has nothing to do with a commercial loan, but this is loaning somebody in deep distress, because they're entering into poverty, enough money to get out of that. You don't charge interest for that. If it's a commercial loan, you can charge interest for it. But for distress situations, you do not. When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it. For the Lord your God will require it of you, and it would be sin to you. If you abstain from vowing, it shall not be a sin to you.
That which has gone from your lips, you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth. You don't have to make a promise. But if you do, you keep your promise. So when that young couple who was at the altar, who thought, we don't need a contract, we love each other. 10 years down the line, when they're in the counselor's office or the pastor's office-- they're in my office-- and she's not looking at him like this. Nor is he going, wow. They're kind of cold shouldered.
I remind them, nobody forced you to make that vow, when you said, 'til death do us part. But you made that vow. Now keep it. When you come into your neighbor's vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes. What a great law. At your pleasure-- notice that-- but you shall not put any in your container. This isn't harvest day for you. But if you're hungry right now, grab some grapes. Grab some fruit. Isn't that a great law?
You're walking down the road, there's a vineyard. Nobody is going to shoot you. Take an apple, take grapes, take whatever you need. Take grain. But you don't take it home. It's just for that immediate need. When you come to your neighbor's standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not use a sickle on your neighbor's standing grain. Who did this in the New Testament? Jesus and his disciples. And the Pharisees were there in the grain fields, which I find humorous. Because the grain fields are sort of, you're out in the country now, and Jesus is all alone.
It's a surreal moment. There's music playing in the background, right, like the movies. And Jesus is out there. They're harvesting grain. All of a sudden these Pharisees pop up out of the grain fields. Ahh. What are you doing? I'm thinking, what are you doing here? You follow us to the grain field, but it was because they were doing it on the Sabbath. That was their contention. Not that they were doing it. The law permitted them to do it. But because they were doing it on the sabbath, they were guilty of winnowing and harvesting. That's how they saw it, because they were so legalistic.
We covered two chapters. I think that's just, that's awesome. That's awesome. For me, that's doing good. As we close, I just want to leave you with this thought. And we'll pray, and we'll sing, and we'll leave our fellowship. Are you born again, or are you one of illegitimate birth? Are you resting on you, on your goodness, on you doing your best to get to heaven and be a good boy or girl? Then you're trusting the wrong thing. You must be born again. You must wholeheartedly trust and lean on Jesus Christ and what he did, has done for you.
And that's where you come to a place where you turn-- the Bible calls it repent-- you turn. You turn to him. You turn from what you know is wrong. From even a religious experience. From all of that past and you turn to Jesus Christ and you personally receive him as your savior. Let's pray. Father, we thank you for all of these laws. We thank you because though some are repeated in principle form in the New Testament, others are omitted because the covenant was with Israel and not with the Church.
Yet we see the overarching principle of a God who loves and wants his people to love their neighbor as themselves. And so we thank you, Lord, that these are put in place because of your care and your concern. You even care for birds, much more do you care for us. But Lord, like the Old Testament, one of illegitimate birth was not to enter the assembly of the Lord. So it is in the Kingdom of God, unless a person is born again, born from above as a spiritual rebirth, there is no enjoyment. There's no entrance into your kingdom. There is no heaven in store.
I pray for anyone here who has trusted in themselves or their religious experience or their own goodness, but not in Jesus yet. I pray for those who have come, maybe for the first time, maybe they've come over and over again. But at times like this, they have not been the one to raise a hand and say yes to Jesus, even though they've never personalized it. I pray for others, Lord, who have wandered away from you, and they sense that great distance between heaven and earth. I praise as you draw near to them, Lord, it's because they have drawn near to you and invited Jesus into their hearts.
As we close this service, if you're here tonight and you have never given your life to Jesus, or you need to come back to him, I want to pray for you. As our heads are bowed, mine will be open. Would you raise your hand up in the air, and you're saying yes to Jesus. You're saying, Skip, tonight I want to pray and receive Christ as my Lord and Savior. I'm going to give my heart to him. God bless you, and you on my left, toward the back. Anyone else? Raise that hand up so I can see it. On my right, toward the back. In the balcony.
Father, thank you for these people that you love. And I pray, Father, that-- I pray that, Lord, that as new life takes place in them, that you would put a joy. I pray, Lord, that you would fill them with a peace that they've never known, a peace that passes human understanding, as they walk out of here tonight after praying to receive Christ, knowing their sins are blotted out. In Jesus' name, Amen. Let's stand.
As we sing this last song, if you raise your hand, would you get up from where you're standing? Even if you're in the balcony, come down the stairs and walk down the nearest isle and stand right up here where I'm going to lead you in a prayer. Right here to receive Jesus Christ as your savior, as we welcome you into the assembly of the Lord, into his kingdom tonight. If you raise your hand, we're going to give you an opportunity.
You just come. Come right now. Don't be afraid. Others will stand with you. Though show you where to stand. Come right on up here. Come right on up here. Our counselors will come as well, but you come. If you're in the balcony, come down those steps. If you're in the back, come on up front. That's right. Awesome. Praise the Lord. Come right on up. Awesome. Beautiful. Praise the Lord.
The power and presence of God are here tonight to save you. Is there anyone who will take that offer and say yes to him? Anyone at all, just come up, whether you raised a hand or not. Those of you walked forward, so glad you're here. So glad you're here. I'm going to pray out loud. I want you to pray out loud, after me, from your heart. Let's pray.
Lord I give you my life. I know that I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe that Jesus died for me. That he spilled his blood for my sin. And that he rose from the grave for me. And that is alive right now. I turn from my sin. I repent of it. I turn to Jesus Christ. I embrace him as my Savior. I want to live for him as my Lord, every day, in Jesus' name. Amen.
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