March 12, 2015

Deuteronomy 20-22
When you go to war against your enemy and see horses and chariots and soldiers far outnumbering you, do not recoil in fear of them; God, your God, who brought you up out of Egypt is with you. When the battle is about to begin, let the priest come forward and speak to the troops. He’ll say, “Attention, Israel. In a few minutes you’re going to do battle with your enemies. Don’t waver in resolve. Don’t fear. Don’t hesitate. Don’t panic. God, your God, is right there with you, fighting with you against your enemies, fighting to win.”

Then let the officers step up and speak to the troops:...  When the officers have finished speaking to the troops, let them appoint commanders of the troops who shall muster them by units.

When you come up against a city to attack it, call out, “Peace?” If they answer, “Yes, peace!” and open the city to you, then everyone found there will be conscripted as forced laborers and work for you. But if they don’t settle for peace and insist on war, then go ahead and attack. God, your God, will give them to you... When you mount an attack on a town and the siege goes on a long time, don’t start cutting down the trees, swinging your axes against them. Those trees are your future food; don’t cut them down. Are trees soldiers who come against you with weapons? The exception can be those trees which don’t produce food; you can chop them down and use the timbers to build siege engines against the town that is resisting you until it falls...

When you go to war against your enemies and God, your God, gives you victory and you take prisoners, and then you notice among the prisoners of war a good-looking woman whom you find attractive and would like to marry, this is what you do: Take her home; have her trim her hair, cut her nails, and discard the clothes she was wearing when captured. She is then to stay in your home for a full month, mourning her father and mother. Then you may go to bed with her as husband and wife. If it turns out you don’t like her, you must let her go and live wherever she wishes. But you can’t sell her or use her as a slave since you’ve humiliated her.

When a man has two wives, one loved and the other hated, and they both give him sons, but the firstborn is from the hated wife, at the time he divides the inheritance with his sons he must not treat the son of the loved wife as the firstborn, cutting out the son of the hated wife, who is the actual firstborn.... 

When a man has a stubborn son, a real rebel who won’t do a thing his mother and father tell him, and even though they discipline him he still won’t obey, his father and mother shall forcibly bring him before the leaders at the city gate and say to the city fathers, “This son of ours is a stubborn rebel; he won’t listen to a thing we say. He’s a glutton and a drunk.”
Then all the men of the town are to throw rocks at him until he’s dead. You will have purged the evil pollution from among you. All Israel will hear what’s happened and be in awe....

If you see your kinsman’s ox or sheep wandering off loose, don’t look the other way as if you didn’t see it. Return it promptly.... 

A woman must not wear a man’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing. This kind of thing is an abomination to God, your God....

Don’t plant two kinds of seed in your vineyard. If you do, you will forfeit what you’ve sown, the total production of the vineyard.  Don’t plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.  Don’t wear clothes of mixed fabrics, wool and linen together.  Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you use to cover yourself.

If a man marries a woman, sleeps with her, and then turns on her, calling her a slut, giving her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I slept with her I discovered she wasn’t a virgin,” then the father and mother of the girl are to take her with the proof of her virginity to the town leaders at the gate. The father is to tell the leaders, “I gave my daughter to this man as wife and he turned on her, rejecting her. And now he has slanderously accused her, claiming that she wasn’t a virgin. But look at this, here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” And then he is to spread out her bloodstained wedding garment before the leaders for their examination. The town leaders then are to take the husband, whip him, fine him a hundred pieces of silver, and give it to the father of the girl. The man gave a virgin girl of Israel a bad name. He has to keep her as his wife and can never divorce her.

But if it turns out that the accusation is true and there is no evidence of the girl’s virginity, the men of the town are to take her to the door of her father’s house and stone her to death. She acted disgracefully in Israel. She lived like a whore while still in her parents’ home. Purge the evil from among you.

If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both must die. Purge that evil from Israel.  

If a man comes upon a virgin in town, a girl who is engaged to another man, and sleeps with her, take both of them to the town gate and stone them until they die—the girl because she didn’t yell out for help in the town and the man because he raped her, violating the fiancée of his neighbor.... But if it was out in the country that the man found the engaged girl and grabbed and raped her, only the man is to die, the man who raped her. Don’t do anything to the girl; she did nothing wrong. 

When a man comes upon a virgin who has never been engaged and grabs and rapes her and they are found out, the man who raped her has to give her father fifty pieces of silver. He has to marry her because he took advantage of her. And he can never divorce her.  A man may not marry his father’s ex-wife—that would violate his father’s rights.

Galatians - When men and women get their hands on religion, one of the first things they often do is turn it into an instrument for controlling others...It is little wonder that people who have only known religion on such terms experience release or escape from it as freedom.  The problem is that the freedom turns out to be short-lived...

Through Jesus, Paul learned that God was not an impersonal force to be used to make people behave in certain prescribed ways, but a personal Savior who set us free to live a free life.  God did not coerce us from without, but set us free from within...

After setting up churches in Galatia, Paul learned that religious leaders of the old school had come into those churches, called his views and authority into question, and were reintroducing the old ways,  herding all these freedom-loving Christians back into the corral of religious rules and regulations...

Paul was furious with the old guard for coming in with their strong-arm religious tactics...but he was also furious with the Christians for caving in to the intimidation.  Paul helps them understand that freedom is a delicate, and subtle gift easily perverted  and often squandered.

Galatians 1 - ...my authority for writing you...comes directly from Jesus, the Messiah, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.  I’m God commissioned.  And so I greet you with the great words, GRACE & PEACE!

I can’t believe your fickleness--how easily you have turned traitor to him who called you by the grace of Christ by embracing a variant message!...

Those who are provoking this agitation among you are turning the Message of Christ on its head...If anyone, regardless of reputation or credentials, preaches something other than what you received originally, let him be cursed.  

Do you think I speak this strongly in order to manipulate crowds? Or curry favor with God?  If my goal was popularity, I wouldn’t bother being Christ’s slave.  Know this - I am emphatic here, friends, this great message I delivered here is not mere human optimism, I didn’t receive it through the traditions and I wasn’t taught it in some school.  I got it straight from God, received the message directly from Jesus Christ....

Paul shares his earlier life of being against the church and stating how ..."even then God had designs on me.  Why, when I was still in my mother’s womb he chose and called me out of sheer generosity!  Now he has intervened and revealed his Son to me so that I might joyfully tell non-Jews about him."  

Immediately after my calling...I got away to Arabia.  Later, I returned to Damascus, but it was three years before I went up to Jerusalem to compare stories with Peter.  I was there only 15 days- but what days they were.  Except for our Master’s brother James, I saw no other apostles.

 Then I began my ministry in the regions of Syria and Cilicia.  After all that time and activity, I was still unknown by face among the Christian churches in Judea.  There was only this report: “That man who once persecuted us is now preaching the very message he used to try to destroy.”  Their response was to recognize and worship God because of me!