Sunday, October 5, 2014

Deuteronomy 14

Today's reading in our daily plan is Deuteronomy 14. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)

  • Cutting yourselves and shaving the front of your head for the dead were practices performed by another religion at the time. God wanted His people to be distinct and not to follow the practices of other religions.
  • In verses 3-21 God forbids the Israelites from eating certain foods. There are likely different reasons He did so. The Israelites were not to eat blood or animals they found dead, so they weren't to eat animals who did so. Some of the animals may have been used in the religious practices of other religions.
  • God lifted these prohibitions later in the Bible (in Acts 10:9-16) so we no longer have to follow these laws about food.
  • God commands the Israelites to tithe - that is to give the first ten percent of everything they brought in back to God. Some of the uses of their tithes were to take care of the Levites (the people who gave their lives to serve God and God's people, and to provide for the poor.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)

  • Though we no longer need to follow the laws about not eating unclean food, being holy (set apart for God, living a distinct life for Him) is still a priority for every believer.
  • Though we no longer have Levites, tithing is still a priority for every believer. In fact, tithing existed long before the Levites (see Genesis 14:17-20), and Jesus commended tithing long after the Levites (see Matthew 23:23.) In fact, in the New Testament, God calls people who had always tithed to the higher standard of now being "generous" in their giving (see, for instance, 2 Corinthians 9:5-11).
  • We learn throughout the Bible that the money and crops brought in through tithing were primarily used to meet the needs of the Levites and the poor, but tithing also met essential needs in the life of the person doing the tithing. The primary purpose of tithing is to teach us to put God first in our lives. (For instance, see Proverbs 3:9-10). (This is why the tithe is repeatedly called "firstfruits"). And when we do, God promises to bless us for it (see Malachi 3:8-12, Proverbs 3:9-10, Matthew 6:19-20, Luke 6:38, Luke 12:33, 1 Timothy 6:17-19).

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • Where are you at with your giving back to God? Are you at the traditional "minimum" amount of giving back the first ten percent of the income you bring in? Or have you gone past that and started to give "generously"? Or are you still struggling to even get up to ten percent? No matter where you're currently at, take some time to pray about it. Ask God to give you a grateful and content heart, and the faith to trust Him and give back generously to Him.