Corrections of Abuses
Dr. Joe Temple


Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Deuteronomy. I think it would be wise for us to review the analysis of the book of Deuteronomy, so that you will see exactly where we are.

We have reminded you several times over that every book in the Bible has its own outline placed there by the Holy Spirit if you take the trouble to find it. So we have discovered that the book of Deuteronomy is made up of three discourses. The first discourse, chapters 1-4, represents a review of the past failures of Israel while they were in the midst of their wilderness wanderings and God's faithfulness in the midst of their failures. The second discourse is a repetition of God's law. It began with chapter 5 and goes all the way through chapter 26. This is where the book of Deuteronomy gets its name. It is the giving of the law a second time. We are in a discussion of this second discourse at the present time. Then there is the third discourse, which begins with chapter 27 and continues through chapter 31. It is prophetic not only as far as Moses and Israel was concerned, but as far as we are concerned as well. It is a revelation of the future of the nation of Israel. Then chapter 32 is the song of Moses, and in chapter 33 is a blessing which Moses pronounced upon the twelve tribes of Israel and was prophetic in a sense. Chapter 34, which represents the obituary which Moses wrote concerning his own demise, his own buriel, is a unique piece of literature second to none anywhere in the Scripture or out of the Scripture.

As I mentioned a moment ago, we are in the midst of a discussion of Moses' second discourse and we have already learned that it is divided into three parts. The moral law in chapters 5-11, we commonly refer to as the Ten Commandments . Then there is the ceremonial law, beginning with chapter 12 and going through chapter 16, verse 17. The ceremonial law is a representation of all the laws that were related to religious rites. Ceremonial laws changed; moral law never changed because nature and sin are the same. The judicial law, or civil law, began with chapter 16, verse 18, and concludes with chapter 26; so when I asked you to turn to chapter 24, you can see that we are nearly to the end of our discussion of the judicial law, and consequently, nearly to the end of our discussion of this second discourse.

In our discussion of the judicial law, we have learned a number of things. We have learned that there are some laws that are related to the sanctity of human life. This is one of the bases for believing in capital punishment. We have emphasized to you that though you may not be able to do anything about it, you should not permit yourselves to become a part of any movement that would abolish capital punishment because God has set it up and expects it to continue.

When we were studying the book of Genesis, chapter 9, we learned that one of the things that God is going to judge the world for during the Tribulation is the fact that it has abolished capital punishment. Abolishment is to come in spite of anything we do. Someone says, “Why should we be concerned about it?” We want to be on the right side. We want to be counted with the right people.

We discovered the judicial law was related to the sacredness of little things for God made laws which were related to things as small and insignificant as a bird's nest. You chould not even cut down a tree without making provision for the mother bird and the baby birds. This was God's interest in little things.

Then there were laws in chapter 23 concerning the purity of the congregation, the presence of God and personal integrity. We dealt with those things last week and emphasized to you that because God's presence is always with Israel, Israel was to act in that relationship. As it was true of Israel, so it is true of us. His presence is with us, and as we have suggested to you at other times, all of us as believers need to learn to practice the presence of God.

We want to discuss the judicial law as related to those laws which were given to prevent abuses of existing situations. What we are going to find in Deuteronomy, chapter 24, is not laws related to new things, but laws related to situations which were already in existence. People were abusing those situations, so God laid down some laws that would take care of the abuses.

Basis for God's Demands for Obedience

You will be interested to notice, if you are observant, how many of the abuses were common in that day that are common in our day as well. Before we look at these various laws preventing abuses of existing situations, I think it would be wise for us to notice the basis for God's demands for obedience. Why does God demand obedience in relation to these various things?

The reason that we call it to your attention is that it is emphasized consistently in chapters 24-25. We believe that it represents a principle, a principle that is true in the twentieth century as well as it was in this time when Moses was writing so many years ago.

Unquestioned Authority

The first thing that we would call to your attention is unquestioned authority . Why obey? Because one should never question the authority of God. If you will look at verse 8, you will see the reason for our saying this. Notice Deuteronomy, chapter 24, verse 8:

Deuteronomy 24:

8Take heed in the plague of leprosy, that thou observe diligently, and do according to all that the priests the Levites shall teach you: as I commanded them, so ye shall observe to do.
9Remember what the Lord thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth out of Egypt.

What is suggested to us in this particular statement? God said, “There are certain things that I have laid down by way of laws in connection to the disease of leprosy.” Those laws were given to us in the book of Leviticus and the book of Numbers, and we will not take the time to review them, but briefly, the man who was leprous was to be set apart from anybody else and everybody else. This was God's way of protecting the people from the contagious disease to which they all would be exposed. Nobody was to question that.

The leprous person might very well say, “I don't have this disease very bad and I don't see any reason to be separated from everybody involved in this particular community.” Others might say, “I don't think there is any real need for this at all,” and decide that it shouldn't be done. Then there would be disobedience, and then the next step would follow. “Who has the right to tell us what to do anyway?” Does that sound familiar? That is the kind of society in which we are living today.

What was it God said to these people through Moses? “Whenever you are tempted to disobey the laws related to the disease of leprosy, remember Miriam.” You know, memory is a good thing and reminders of God's strictness in relation to a number of things is good. That is why the Lord Jesus Christ gave a sharp pungent statement: “Remember Lot's wife.” Here God said, “Remember Miriam.”

Do you remember what happened to Miriam? She decided that Moses and Aaron didn't need to take so much upon themselves. She and Korah got together and decided that Moses and Aaron didn't need to take so much upon themselves. They said, “Who do they think they are anyway? Do they think they can run our lives? Do they think they can tell us what to do? We are not going to listen to them. We know as much as they know.” The ground opened up and swallowed Korah and Miriam was striken with leprosy, and she would have died if Aaron had not interceded to Moses and Moses had not interceded to God in her behalf.

God said, “This is a serious thing Miriam has done to question My authority.” Then He said something concerning a practice that doesn't sound very nice to us today, but it was a practice that was in use at that particular time. He said, “If her father had spit in her face, she would have been unclean seven days. If her earthly father had spit in her face, for seven days she would have to stay outside the camp. She has questioned My authority. I'll listen to your prayer, Moses, and I won't let her die; but she is going to stay outside of the camp seven days that she and all others must remember forever that My authority must never be questioned. My Word must never be doubted.”

What I am saying to you is that God demands obedience in relation to the laws at which we are going to look, as well as others, on the basis of the fact that His authority should never be questioned. The moment the authority of God's Word is questioned, that moment spiritual anarchy begins. The Devil knew that. That is why the very first thing that he said to Eve was, “Hath God said?” Remember? She said, “God said we can't eat of that tree in the midst of the garden.” She exaggerated and said, “He said we can't even touch the tree,” and the Devil said, “Hath God said? Did you really understand Him right?” The moment he sowed seeds of doubt in relation to the Word of God, he knew that he had her on the downward trail. We would suggest to you that when due recognized authority is brought into question, then anarchy is the next step whether it is spiritual or physical.

Mark what I tell you. The society in which we are living is going to be in an increasing state of anarchy. Destruction is going to be on the increase because authority has been questioned and nobody has come to the foreground to insist that authority be recognized. You might as well prepare yourselves for a hot summer. We are going to have it, and I am not speaking of the weather, for no one, yet, has gripped the ear of the nation with the idea of respect for authority. As much as we would like to see it, as much as we hope for it, we have been disappointed.

God's Open Ear

Let me just suggest another basis for God's demand for obedience. For want of a better way to express it, I have called it God's open ear. I just said to you that no one has gotten the ear of the nation. I speak out against this thing, but who hears me? Nobody pays much attention to me. Others have spoken out against this thing, but they don't have the ear of the nation. We need somebody to get the ear of the nation on this subject. We don't have it, but thank God, we have God's open ear ready to listen, and ready, if you please, to work. Notice verses 14-15 of Deuteronomy, chapter 24:

Deuteronomy 24:

14Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates:
15At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee.

This particular basis of which we speak grew out of an abuse that was common in that day—the withholding of the just wages of the labor at the close of the day. We express it a little differently in our society. We speak about wage and hour laws. Wage and hour laws under which we are living have some undesirable things about them, but one of the reasons they have come into existence is there have been abuses along this line. Yet these abuses are not related to the capitalistic system, so-called. They are not related to the our century. They were in existence in the day when Moses gave these regulations.

Did you notice the reason I refer to this basis as God's open ear ? Look again at the latter part of verse 15:

Deuteronomy 24:

15…lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee.

Get the picture. Here is a man who has worked hard all day long. He needs the money to buy some groceries to feed his family that night, and the man for whom he has worked says, “I am not going to pay you today. I will pay you by and by.” The man had no recourse, or did he? Yes he did. He had a recourse that is greater than any court of the land. He had a recourse that is greater than any legislative body. He had the ear of God.

Moses said, “If you continue this abuse, this man may cry unto God against you; and if he cries unto God against you, then you will be in trouble because he will be calling to the attention of God your sin.” Turn in your Bible to the epistle of James, chapter 5, for it is an interesting thing for me to notice that in this portion of the book of James, which is prophetic, it is referring to the last days. It is referring to that time in which we are living at the present moment, a time that will increase in intensity as far as the characteristics are concerned. It is interesting to notice that the same conditions are existing in the end of the age as were existing in the beginning of Israel's sojourn in the land of promise. Notice verse 1:

James 5:

1Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
2Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
3Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days, [literally, in the last days].
4Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
5Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.
6Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.
7 [now a word to the oppressed] Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord…

Let's face it, as I ask you to go back to Deuteronomy, chapter 24: The only thing that is going to solve the problems of our present society is the coming of the Lord, for these conditions are still existing. Of course, we are not speaking of men who know the Lord, for because of their Christian integrity, they could be expected to do what is right in relation to their help. Beloved, God said to the rich men who were unjust, “You are reaping in the last days what you have sown.”

I have said repeatedly, and I want to emphasize it again, because I do not believe people can intelligently pray about the situation before us unless this thought is kept in mind. The unrest which is abroad in our land today is the harvest of the seed that was sown a long time ago, and we are not going to be able to do anything but reap the harvest and ask God for mercy.

We don't have the ear of the people, but thank God we have God's ear. What I am intersted in knowing is whether or not you are using it. Are you crying unto God about this thing? Are you asking Him to have mercy? Are you asking Him to hasten the return of the Lord? Someone said to me the other day, “Isn't it selfesh to wish that the Lord would come back just to get you out of the situation you are in?” What in the world do you want Him to come back for? Do you want Him to continue the same situation we are in? What would be the point in His coming if things remained in the mess they are in now? Isn't this what we read in James, chapter 5? “Be patient therefore brethren unto the coming of the Lord.” The coming of the Lord is the only thing that is going to change the situation.

Israel's Debt to God

In relation to Israel, another basis for demanding that obedience is Israel's debt to God. The reason I call it to your attention is that the Spirit of God emphasizes it in these chapters here. Look at Deuteronomy, chapter 24, verse 18:

Deuteronomy 24:

18But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing.

Then in verse 22, the same subject is repeated:

Deuteronomy 24:

22And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.

God is asking for obedience on the basis of gratitude. “Don't forget the sad condition in which you were, and I rescued you out of that. Because I rescued you out of that, your obedience should be a natural thing.” When you are tempted to disobey God and His Word, remember, as someone has put it, the pit from whence you have been digged . As you remember the pit from whence you have been digged, remember that no demand that God makes upon you is too binding or too strict in relation to God's redemptive process. For though in this particular portion of the Word we are speaking about Israel, we have a perfect picture of our own redemption. Remember that God reached down into the mire and found us. He set our feet upon a rock, and He put a new song in our mouth, and our debt of gratitude is great. We will never get it paid, but in view of the fact that He has done so much for us, we should not think any demand He makes of us is too great.

The Blessing of God

The last basis for the demand that God makes for obedience, I have termed the blessing of God . You say, “Aren't you talking about the same thing?” The answer is “No.” What we are talking about now is the fact that obedience results in blessing, and that is what God would have us notice here in verse 19, when He said:

Deuteronomy 24:

19When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: [now notice carefully] that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.

Then notice over in chapter 25, verse 15, where we read:

Deuteronomy 25:

15But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

What is He saying? “Obedience results in blessing.” In chapter 24, verse 19, He said, “If you do what I ask you to do, then I will bless thee in all the works of thy hands.” He said, “If you will obey and do what I ask you to do, then your days will be lengthened upon the earth.”

We are aware of the fact that people die young when people die before their time, but we must recognize that God blesses with long life those who obey Him if for no other reason than to be at peace with the Lord is to be at peace with one's self.

Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Proverbs, chapter 19, and notice a declaration from the wise man concerning this very thing that we are talking about. What was it we were reading there in Deuteronomy 24? God said, “If you have a field of grain and you forget a sheaf of it, don't go back and get it. Leave it there.” Maybe God lets you forget because He knew that some person coming along would need that particular sheaf of grain, and you would be expected to meet the need.

The natural reaction to that is, “I can't afford it. I had better go back and get that sheaf of grain. I will go broke if I do this very often.” Will you? Not if you look upon it in the manner that is described here in Proverbs, chapter 19, verse 17. Notice the words:

Proverbs 19:

17He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.

Isn't that an interesting verse? “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth to the Lord, and the Lord will pay the debt.” You know, the interesting thing about it is He always pays back the money with interest. It is one thing for you to charge interest when you lend to the Lord. That is wrong, but God always pays it because He will not be in debt to any individual.

Turn with me to the Gospel according to Luke, chapter 6 and notice something the Lord Jesus said about this matter of giving, about this matter of lending, about this matter of being afraid that if you do what your heart tells you to do in certain instances you might go broke. Look at verse 38, where we read:

Luke 6:

38Give, and it shall be given unto you…

That is what we have learned thus far. That is what the wise man said in the book of Proverbs: “Give and God will pay you back.” But the Lord Jesus Christ amplified it here as you can see, and said:

Luke 6:

38Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

God is able to give you measure plus, pressed down, running over. Somebody may be quite ready to say, “Well, I don't know about that,” and my answer is, “Have you tried it to see?” How about trying it and see what would happen. You are aware, are you not, of Philippians, chapter 4, verse 19? How often we have quoted that verse, and how often we have rested upon that verse, but did you know it will not work for everybody? Did you realize that? You know what Philippians, chapter 4, verse 19, says:

Philippians 4:

19But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Someone says, “I have tried that verse and it just doesn't work for me.” Well, I wonder why. Do you know for whom it is God supplies every need? The person who has used what he has to supply the need of other believers. You see, these folk had given to the need of the Apostle Paul and they gave out of their poverty, and he said, “I appreciate it and God appreciates it and God is going to meet your need because of it.”

God is not going to supply your need while you have money in the bank, but if you have used that money in just ways (I don't mean you have to put it all in the offering plate. God expects you to live. He expects you to take care of your family. He expects you to do the things that are necessary for livelihood.), then you can expect God to meet your needs. Though it is rather foolish for you to have money in a savings account drawing interest and say, “Lord, I don't want to touch my savings. Will you meet this particular need that I have?” He is not going to do it because He expects you to trust Him.

You may not particularly appreciate this, and you may misinterpret what I am saying, and you may even misquote me somewhat and say that I said that you ought to give everything away, not have insurance, not have any money in the bank, and all that sort of thing. I am not saying that. I am saying to you that God has promised to meet your need. He hasn't promised to make it possible for you to lay up for yourself on earth riches where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break through and steal.

I would love to see some of you accept God's challenge in relation to giving. Some of you have, but I would love to see some of you accept God's challenge in relation to giving to the extent that you gave because you were moved of the Spirit of God to give, and you didn't know after you gave where your next meal was coming from. That is a thrilling way to live. Not everybody lives that way, and I don't know that God wants everybody to live that way because each man has his own gift, but I can tell you from experience that it is a thrilling thing to listen to the voice of God, obey Him, give where He tells you to give and not have one penny left and then watch Him meet the need, watch Him fill that empty pocket, watch Him fill that empty palm. These are the bases upon which God asks for our complete obedience.

I would like for us to look at the laws which God laid down to correct various abuses that were already in existence—situations already prevailing which God made laws to prevent abuses related to them. Will you keep in mind that the nation of Israel was a nation who had lived in Egypt, and they were taking into the promised land many customs which they had picked up in that land. These customs needed regulating because they were not going to be changed. God laid down the laws which He did to correct the abuse.

A Bill of Divorcement

The first one to which we call your attention is related to the matter of divorce. Notice Deuteronomy, chapter 24, verses 1-4:

Deuteronomy 24:

1When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
2And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.
3And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;
4Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

Notice first the last statement of verse 4: “Thou shalt not cause the land to sin which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” He says, “God has given you the land of Canaan. I don't want you to bring your sin into the land of Canaan. Therefore, I am issuing a regulation. The regulation is called a bill of divorcement.” Divorce was practiced in the day in which these folk lived, and it was practiced with many abuses, wherefore God told Moses there should be a bill of divorcement.

Many people say, “This means that God approved of divorce.” That is what they said in the day of Christ, but the Lord Jesus Christ said, “No, this does not mean that God approves of divorce.” You can read this when you have time in Matthew, chapter 19. “Moses permitted this bill of divorcement because of the hardness of your heart.” The bill of divorcement was simply recognizing an existing situation and attempting to alleviate it somewhat. The Lord Jesus said, “From the beginning it was not so. God wants one man for one woman for life.” That is God's rule, but in these days, they were sending their wives away on the merest pretext if they found some uncleanness in her. It had reached the place where if they didn't like the way she cooked the meal, they could send her away. This abuse had to be corrected, so God said through Moses, “Don't send any woman away just on the merest pretext. You write down why you are sending her away and you take it to the judges. If they don't approve of it, you can't send her away.” You see, God is not issuing permission for divorce; He is attempting to prevent the errors and the injustices that were related to it.

You are probably wondering about this statement here that if she lose one husband and marries another and he sends her away, if he died that she can't go back to her first husband again. I have been asked, “Would you marry a man to a woman after he had divorced her if she were his first wife?” I would. “Why would you in the light of this passage of Scripture here?” Because of what God teaches in the book of Hosea. When a woman leaves a man because of sin and then repents of her sin, that man should take her back. It would take much grace to do it, but he should, for that is what God instructed Hosea to do. But this woman was not at fault. The man was the one who sent her away. It was a matter of the man's changing wives to suit his fancy, and God said, “This is an abomination. It will bring uncleanness into the land and I simply am not going to have it. So if there is any divorcing, this is the way it is going to be done.”

Are you following me? God is not putting His stamp of approval upon divorce. He was regulating the errors and the evils related to an existing situation.

The Draft

We have another thing to suggest to you and we have referred to it as the draft because this is a word which was familiar to most of us in this particular day and hour in which we live. Our men were drafted before they had an opportunity to finish their education. They were being drafted before they had an opportunity to even begin to live. Some of them, because they had not been properly grounded and properly trained, rebelled against it, thinking of its unfairness, and refused to accept what was laid down before them. But God had a rule concerning draft. In verse 5, He said:

Deuteronomy 24:

5When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.

In the day of which we are speaking, men were pressed into the army—that is, they were not given the privilege of volunteering. They were drafted in a sense, but there was no excuse of any kind considered, no extenuating circumstances at all; so God was taking care of the extenuating circumstances by saying, “If this special case arises, then it should be taken into consideration.”

Let us recognize that we are dealing with principles, and if God would excuse from the draft on the basis of one extenuating circumstance, then other extenuating circumstances should be taken into consideration when it comes time to draft young men for the service. Perhaps if we were more conscientious about working God's method of dealing with these things into our way of dealing with these things, there would have been fewer problems than there were.

One thing I would like to emphasize, and it is not really related to the draft, but when we read here that a man shall cheer up his wife, we do not have a very accurate translation of the original text. Actually, what it says is, “He shall enjoy happiness with his family for one year.” The thing that impresses me as I think about this is how much better off all of our families would be if the husbands and the fathers, when they got home, were not charged with any business.

How many husbands and fathers are there that take their business home with them? They are so preoccupied with their business around the supper table that it is not even an enjoyable time with the family. How many husbands and fathers take their business home with them and are so preoccupied with it to such an extent that they don't even have time for the ordinary, innocent prattle of little children because it gets on their nerves? How often have mothers had to say to the children, “Let's not be too noisy. Daddy has a lot on his mind tonight.” Maybe it would be better if Daddy left those things at the office and enjoyed life with his family, not for one year, but enjoyed life with his family. I wonder if some of the problems that folk face today might not be so real if this were true.

A Pledge

The next thing that we want to think with you about, we are using the word pledge to describe because that is what the Scripture uses. Notice verse 6, please, where we read:

Deuteronomy 24:

6No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man's life to pledge.

The word pledge here is a guarantee for a debt. Somebody owes you some money, God says, “Don't you take the upper and the lower millstone with which he grinds his grain because if you do, he might not have anything to grind his grain to make his cakes that he eats that night, and he could well die of starvation.”

Remember the prophet of God came to the widow who had a little oil and a little meal, and he said to her, “You make a cake for me.” She said, “I only have enough grain and oil for myself and my son. If I make you a cake, I won't have enough for us.” Of course, he was testing her faith. “You make it for me first and you will see,” and she did, but that is what this is talking about–individual utensils related to eating. Now notice verse 10:

Deuteronomy 24:

10When thou dost lend thy brother any thing, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge.
11Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee.
12And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge:

That is, if somebody owes you some money, you can't go in his house and take the best thing he has. If the only thing he has to give you is his outer garment (This is referring to a man who had an outer cloak and he rolled up in it at night. That is the only way he kept out the chill.), God said, “If you should take such a thing from a man for a pledge, then you be sure and get it back to him before the night falls because he needs to sleep in it. It wouldn't be right for him to be suffering the cold while you kept the pledge.” Look down in verse 17:

Deuteronomy 24:

17Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow's raiment to pledge:

“If all the widow has for the debt she owes is the clothing she wears, don't take it,” God said. You see, these are situations already existing and God is presenting laws to take care of the situation.

Household Punishment

Another that we look at is referred to as household punishment and it is brought to our attention in verse 16, where you read:

Deuteronomy 24:

16The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

The reason it was necessary for God to say this is that the coutries round about in which Israel had lived and with whom she had contact, if the father committed a crime not only did he die but all of his sons died too. You will remember the story of Esther, how Haman had in mind to slaughter all the Jews and Queen Esther. When she was asked by the king what request she had, she said, “I want to see all ten of Haman's sons hung on a tree, all ten of them.” Now, that was terribly unjust. Haman was the only one who had committed the crime, and there was no need at all for all of them to die, so God said, “Stop that. You may have been doing that in Egypt, but you are not going to do it in the land of promise.”

Welfare Programs

Then you will notice another situation with which God dealt. We call it welfare programs . You are familiar with the phrase hand outs. We have already referred to this in a sense when we talked about the blessing of God if you remember the poor, but you will notice there in verse 19:

Deuteronomy 24:

19When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it…

This was God's way of taking care of the needs of the poor. Verse 20:

Deuteronomy 24:

20When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
21When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
22And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.

If this is teaching anything at all, it is teaching that the matter of meeting the needs of the poor should be on the basis of individual responsibility. Do you know who we have to blame for the federal handouts for which we all pay? Ourselves, we Christians, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. If the Church had done what she ought to have done in relation to the poor, this would have never been necessary. but we relinquished our right. Somebody else had to take it over, and it always costs more money to pay somebody to do something than it does for you to do it yourself.

In the first two verses of Deuteronomy, chapter 25, verses 1-3, God deals with the matter of excessive punishment. If a man did something wrong, according to this passage, he was to be beaten with forty stripes—that is, forty licks from the whip. But he said, “You be sure that you don't give him more than forty because if you do, I will deal with you.” So the Jews followed the practice of giving forty stripes save one. Remember, Paul said that he was beaten forty stripes save one. They always stopped at thirty-nine just to make sure they didn't overdo it. God does not expect excessive punishment even in our day.

In verses 5-10, there is a rather unique passage of Scripture that sounds strange to our western ears, but was a natural practice in eastern times and particularly in the nation of Israel because of the right of inheritance. If a man died leaving a wife but no children, his brother could have children by his wife and that child or children could receive his inheritance and his name could be continued in the nation of Israel. If this law had not been written down when it was, the geneology of the Lord Jesus Christ would not have been kept perfect as it was. For verification of that, read, when you have time, the story of Ruth.

Unjust Measures

Another sad situation which God had to deal with is what I have referred to as unjust measures . You find it described for you in verses 13-16 of chapter 25. The practice was simply that you carried a bag with you. In the bag, you had a light stone and a heavy stone. Suppose for purposes of illustration that they both were supposed to weigh 16 ounces. The heavy stone weighed more than 16 ounces, but you called it a 16 ounce stone. And the light stone weighed less than 16 ounces, but you called it a 16 ounce stone. You carried around with you in a bag. When you bought something for yourself, you used the heavy stone. That made sure you got more than you bought. But if you sold something, you used the light stone. That made sure that you cheated the person to whom you sold the stuff. He said, “Don't have these in the bag. Don't even have them in your house. The very idea of this deceit is an abomination to the Lord.” Notice verse 13:

Deuteronomy 25:

13Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small.
14Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small.


This should establish a principle worthy of all our consideration and that is that any of us are subject to temptation. You might not think that you would cheat, but you might. You are subject to it, so the best thing to do is not give place to the devil by making it possible to cheat. It is good to keep that in mind in many ways.

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