The Laws that Govern the Future Deuteronomy 4:44-26:19, cont’d.
Deuteronomy 16:18-18:22 Laws Concerning Leaders, cont’d.
Deuteronomy 16:18-17:13-Laws concerning Judges, (cont’d)
Deuteronomy 16:21-17:7-Guidelines for Judges concerning: The worship of false gods. Anyone found to be worshipping another god is to be stoned.
Deuteronomy 17:8-13-Guidelines for Judges concerning: If there is a case that is too difficult for the local judge to make a decision, then they are to bring it before the priest in Jerusalem. He will make a decision and they are to abide by it.
Deuteronomy 17:14-17:20-Laws concerning Kings
Deuteronomy 17:14-15-He cannot be a foreigner.
Deuteronomy 17:16-He cannot profit from his position.
Deuteronomy 17:17-He cannot be polygamous.
Deuteronomy 17:18-20-He will keep a copy of the law of God with him continuously, read it, and abide by it.
Deuteronomy 18:1-8-Laws concerning provision for the Levites
Deuteronomy 18:9-14-Laws concerning false prophets (religious leaders and teachers)
Do not follow the religious practices of the people who inhabit the land...do not practice witchcraft or divination...be blameless before the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 18:15-19-Laws concerning true prophets
God will raise up a prophet like Moses who will lead them strictly according to what God tells him (Moses was a type of the Messiah).
Deuteronomy 18:20-22-Laws concerning how to identify a true prophet
How to determine if they are from God, or not. If what he says does not happen, then he is not from God.
Deuteronomy 19:1-26:29 Laws Concerning Human Relationships
Deuteronomy 19:1-13-The law concerning cities of refuge and the manslayer
Initially there were 3 cities, then 3 more as their control of the land spreads.
Question: "What were the cities of refuge in the Old Testament?"
Answer: The cities of refuge were part of the distribution of the Promised Land among the twelve tribes of Israel. Only one tribe, the Levites, was not given land to develop. Instead, they were to be the priests of the Lord and the overseers of the tabernacle and all its rites and furnishings. Only the Levites could carry and set up the tabernacle (Numbers 2:5-13). As the Levites were to have no territorial domain allocated to them like the other tribes on the conquest of Canaan, they were to be distributed throughout the land in certain cities appropriated to their use. Part of their inheritance consisted of forty-eight cities spread throughout the land (Numbers 35:6-7). Of these forty-eight cities, six were designated as cities of refuge. The cities were Kedesh, Shechem, Hebron, Bezer, Romath, and Golan (Joshua 20:7-8).
The Mosaic Law stated that anyone who committed a murder was to be put to death (Exodus 21:14). But for unintentional deaths, God set aside these cities to which the murderer could flee for refuge (Exodus 21:13). He would be safe from the avenger—the family member charged with avenging the victim’s death (Numbers 35:19)—until the case could go to trial. The congregation would judge to find if the attacker acted unintentionally. If he did, he would return to the city of refuge and live there safely until the death of the high priest who was in office at the time of the trial, at which point he could return to his property. If the attacker left the city of refuge before the death of the high priest, however, the avenger would have the right to kill him (Numbers 35:24-28).
The establishment of those privileged sanctuaries among the cities of the Levites is probably traceable to the idea that the Levites would be the most suitable and impartial judges, that their presence and counsels might calm or restrain the stormy passions of the blood avenger. By their consecration as priests, the Levites were mediators between the Israelites and God. As such, they would have been gifted to calmly mediate between the attacker and the victim’s family, ensuring that no further bloodshed would occur.
The cities of refuge are types of Christ, in whom sinners find a refuge from the destroyer of our souls. Just as the guilty person sought refuge in the cities set up for that purpose, in the same way we flee to Christ for refuge from sin (Hebrews 6:18). We run to Christ to escape the danger we are in from the curse and condemnation of the law, from of the wrath of God, and from an eternity in hell. Only Christ provides refuge from these things, and it is to Him alone that we must run. Just as the cities were open to all who fled to them for safety, it is Christ who provides safety to all who come to Him for refuge from sin and its punishment.
Deuteronomy 19:14-The law concerning property lines
To change your property line so that it appeared that your property extended onto your neighbor’s was equivalent to stealing (cf. 27:17; Job 24:2; Proverbs 22:28).
Deuteronomy 19:15-21-The law concerning witnesses
There must be two or three witnesses in a case. If a man falsely accuses someone and his deception is discovered, whatever punishment would have been made towards the accused man, will instead be made on the false witness.
"19. …then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother… 21. Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."
This means that whatever the judge would have decided to be the punishment for the accused man (if he had been found guilty)…will be the punishment of the man who made the false accusation. The intention was to provide for just, appropriate punishment that would not exceed the punishment that would have been applied if the accused man had been found guilty. This did two things. First, it discouraged people from making rash, false accusations against someone else because they knew that if it was discovered they would wind up being punished, themselves. And second, it kept the falsely accused person from then being able to get inappropriate revenge against the false accuser.
This is referred to as “lex talionis”. For a more detailed explanation see:
Prayer: Lord, help me to see people through Your eyes. On occasion, I have been hurt and let down by other people. Men and women have behaved in manners that have deeply disappointed me. But help me to respond not out of my hurt…but out of Your grace. Help me to always seek reconciliation…both to You and to myself. Please forgive me when I think more of myself than I think of others. Even those who have harmed me.