Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17: Learning to live a blessed life

Blessing and cursing are very important Biblical principles. There are two ways of life, either under God’s blessing or under His curse. Emphasized in the Torah reading כי רְאֵה Re’eh (“see,” Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17) is we want to live under His blessing.

We live under God’s blessing when we read and apply Torah. When we screw up, we still apply Torah to deal with our screwups. We are under God’s curse when we refuse to follow Torah. We all have experienced how bad life is when we refuse to obey God and walk in Torah. God can’t bless us when we are walking in sin. He can only bless obedience. He teaches us like we teach our own children.

What does it mean to ‘follow God’?

Obedience doesn’t mean that we never screw up. It means that when we do screw up, we fix it, we don’t get away with it. We also don’t chose how the issue is fixed. That path is God’s choice. This is the entire Bible in a nutshell.

About 85–90 years after Messiah died, the early Christians came up with three ways of life: obedience, disobedience and Messiah’s love. But that defined God’s love in a way that is not grounded in the Torah that Yeshua kept meticulously.

“’You shall not act like this toward the LORD your God.’” (Deuteronomy 12:4 NASB)

Repetition is a good way to learn something. God doesn’t want us to do for Him what the pagans do for their “gods.” We are to love God according to His instructions not someone else’s.

Our offerings includes praise, singing, dancing, praying, offering food and money for use of the faithful community, etc. When we offer these things, we do them in God’s way, not man’s way. His offerings are to be given to Him, not to other gods.

“’You are the sons of the LORD your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave your forehead for the sake of the dead. For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.’” (Deuteronomy 14:1–2 NASB)

We aren’t to defile our bodies on either the inside or outside. We are to be sons (and daughters of God) by looking to the example of the Son of God, Yeshua the Messiah. This includes what we put in it. Yeshua did not eat pork-chops, go fishing for lobster, etc.

We also are to be careful of what comes out of our bodies. When we use our tongues to speak evil, that is even worse than eating a pork chop. Yeshua never defiled His speech. He never spoke evil.

“’If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free.’” (Deuteronomy 15:12 NASB)

We aren’t to defile our fellow human beings either. In Exodus 21, we read that Hebrew male slaves are set free after six years, but Hebrew female slaves aren’t.

The instruction in Deuteronomy elaborates on this point, fine-tuning it, not contradicting it. Exodus talks about young women who are sold for the purpose of becoming a wife to either the master, master’s son or another man in the master’s household. Deuteronomy is talking about a bondwoman, not a daughter being sold for a father’s debt.

The bondwoman herself owes some kind of debt that she needs to pay and the court has decreed that she needs to be sold to pay it off. The bondwoman is sold as a worker, a laborer, not as a potential member of the master’s household.

These are judgements, not decrees. When we say we are Torah-observant, we are trying to apply Torah principles to our lives. There are many Torah laws that we can’t apply literally, yet we can apply them spiritually.

Clean vs. unclean foods

What birds are clean and unclean?

There’s some controversy in regards to birds and waterfowl. Flamingo is listed, but neither are chickens and turkeys.

The only “types” of birds that are explicitly listed as clean are doves and quails.  There is a world of differences between pelicans and swans, for example. So some, to error on the side of caution, said that any waterfowl is not unclean.

I can’t say whether they are right or wrong. If you believe a duck, goose or swan is clean, then there’s nothing to prove you wrong. If you believe a duck, goose or swan is unclean, then there’s nothing to prove you wrong. That’s one of the issues Messiah will straighten out in His time.

There are three things to look for when evaluation birds:

  1. Eating: if they eat while standing still, they are most likely clean. If they can eat while flying, they are most likely unclean.
  2. If the bird has a gizzard, they are most likely clean. The gizzard acts similar to the “eating the cud” we see in animals such as cows. If the bird does not have a gizzard, it’s most likely unclean.
  3. Birds of prey: if they hunt and stalk prey and if they eat dead animals they are not clean.

On clean vs. unclean and other teachings, we need to hold closely to what is explicit (written in the text) and hold less closely to what is implicit (interpreted from the text).

Eating blood: How thoroughly should meat be cooked?

Blood itself is very red, but blood is not the only thing that makes muscle red or pink. So as long as the animal was properly bled, it’s fine to cook the meat any way you see it. If you really, really want to make sure every drop of blood is gone, one can put salt on the meat to help suck out the remaining blood. Even after all that, the meat will still look red or pink regardless.

Who is the Bride of Christ?

Christ is the Groom; the Bride of Christ is Jerusalem, the New Jerusalem. Many of their friends will be invited to be with them. The strangers will be outside. We don’t want to be outside. We want to be inside, whether we are numbered with the Bride or Groom, we want to be participants in the wedding, not outside weeping and gnashing our teeth.

Summary: Tammy.

Banner Image: Decisions (Photo by de Bruin)




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