Lent Devotion for March 14
Reader: “Don’t ignore…"
Response: “…your responsibility.”
SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 22:1–4
1 If you see your fellow Israelite’s ox or sheep straying, do not ignore it but be sure to take it back to its owner. 2 If they do not live near you or if you do not know who owns it, take it home with you and keep it until they come looking for it. Then give it back. 3 Do the same if you find their donkey or cloak or anything else they have lost. Do not ignore it.
4 If you see your fellow Israelite’s donkey or ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it. Help the owner get it to its feet.
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
The three chapters for today’s reading cover chapters 21-23 of Deuteronomy. They continue Moses’ instructions from the Lord as to how the nation is to function, and how people are to relate to each other as a community in life and in worship. There are laws considering an unsolved murder, laws regarding marriage, inheritance rights, rebellious children, responsibility to help neighbors (the passage above), a whole list of unique situations, regulations concerning worship and who may attend, and a list of miscellaneous regulations. God’s children were entering a culture wholly different than a godly one. There was clear community responsibility towards fellow Israelites. My guess is that every one of these guidelines was articulated because the prohibitions were a normal part of the culture they were to destroy. Canaanites were basically fertility cults with infant sacrifice, gross immorality, murder, incest, and all manner of evil. The children of Israel had been somewhat isolated for forty years as God endeavored to build a holy nation of people loyal to their God. Now, as they moved into a new chapter and crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, there would be a whole new challenge. Before his death, Moses was walking the people through what was expected and what to watch for. As you read in chapter twenty-two you’ll notice that there is some clear gender distinctions articulated. An ox and a donkey would make an awful team as an ox is infinitely stronger than a donkey and the harnesses would not pull even. Wool and linen were not to be woven together as a symbol that God’s people were to be separate from those around them, they were to be holy, “set apart.” Put simply, God’s people are to live by God’s guidelines and measure their interaction with the world around them by God’s law. Moses’ words, “remain true and walk in God’s path. Do not be lured off course.” Those are the same words we have today. Nothing has changed.
"Be Thou My Vision” by Nathan Pacheco (Watch on YouTube)
Never fail to come to the knowledge of the truth,
Never rest in a system of doctrine, however Scriptural,
That does not bring or further salvation,
Or teach me to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts,
Or help me to live soberly, righteously, godly;
Never rely on my own convictions and resolutions,
but be strong in thee and in thy light;
Never cease to find thy grace sufficient
In all my duties, trials and conflicts
Never confine my religion to extraordinary occasions
But acknowledge thee in all my ways
Never limit my devotions to particular seasons
But be in thy fear all the day long;
Never make piety a dress but a habit,
Not only a habit but a nature,
Not only a nature but a life.
And at last let me enter that world where is no temple,
But only thy glory and the Lamb’s.
- from The Valley of Vision, p.64