Just in Your Judgment

My Parshah Journal Paul Ikonen
29 July 2010

Portion: ‘Evev Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 Have you sensed the extended theme of Deuteronomy yet? God is making it as clear as He can that this isn’t a game of “cosmic simon says” or an “eternal green light, red light”. Israel’s actions matter, it matters if the doubt, it matters if they complain, and it sure matters when they stray into the arms of another god. Over and over again God says things like “pay attention”, “be careful”, “hear, O Israel”; He also gives warnings that if you forget, these things will happen. It’s always a choice to follow His commands, either to follow which is called “life” or to not follow which is called “death”. The final verses of chapter seven, Moses is continually encouraging the people, speaking of the faithfulness of God, even in the face of giants and seeming unstoppable enemies. As with most promises though, it ends with a warning, and here Moses is speaking of the sacred objects of the people they are to dispossess. He warns:

“Do not bring a detestable thing (sacred objects of the pagans) into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.” (7:26)

Through Moses, God is saying that there are things, items, that are set apart for destruction, even people seem to be of these designated items. But, people have the

choice if they are set apart for destruction. God is saying “or, you WILL be”, there is the option of choosing to be set apart for God. I look around my house and wonder if I’ve brought some of these detestable things in, I look at cable television, even network TV now, and wonder if this would have been abhorred in that day, certainly the blatant sexuality and brutality would have been considered such but there is always the choice whether to watch it. That’s true but if we look at the verse again, it says “Do not bring (it) into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction”, Is there something to our desensitization that makes us more fit for destruction rather than for God? Are sacrificing some of our godliness when we are no longer affected by the images we see? I look at so many young woman and they are less and less concerned about proper dress and I have to think that they are looking more like the wicked nations than the people we are called out to be. “Do not bring it into your house…” Chapter eight is another opportunity God takes to remind the people of where they came from and who brought them to this place. One of the reasons for remembering is that the generations following you will be depending on the tradition to guide them. God says to remember that your children were not there when this or that happened, you were so remember the story! It is our job to impress this history on them so that they continue in the path God has marked out. Chapter nine is unique in that I am given an answer to the question I’ve had for a long time now. My question is this: Why would God endorse the dispossessing of the land from these people? Why does God send Israel to attack and show no pity? Why would God allow this when it seems so unjust? Well, chapter nine seems to give answer

to that. First God is quick to tell the people that it is not because of the righteousness that they are exhibiting. He says that it is because of the wickedness of these peoples. Their way of living is so far from what is good and right that God is sending Israel to put a stop to their behavior. I look at it this way, for me I look at the atrocities in places like Somalia, utter darkness and chaos fills that land. I heard a story the other day that a young man was caught with a stolen cell phone, because of it his right hand was sawn off, not chopped off in one swoop, but sawn which took minutes. Because of the pain the young man passed out. What’s more is that because it was a cell phone, which represented Western Society, the young man’s left foot was also sawn off; his right hand and left foot, gone because of a simple act. Marginalized in a harsh environment, this young man has no future. I look at that situation and think, sure, there is an environment that is so far from what is good and right that if God decided to send a people in and dispossess the leaders, I would understand that. (One thing I must say though is that God would have to very much do the sending, I consider myself a pacifist, I think that peace can be won with conversation and compromise, not with a sword.) Moses tells the people that it is not because of their righteousness and more than that he gives them examples of how their actions are by far not the reason. He says things like “From the day you left Egypt until arrived here, you have been rebellious against the LORD”, and “I have seen this people, and they are a stiff-necked people” and finally “You have been a rebellious people against the LORD ever since I have known you.” Chapter ten and eleven continue in these same themes, God is going to fight for you, do not be afraid, remember the LORD your God, do not fall for false gods, choices

of blessing and cursing. I’d like to close this journal entry with a few verses from this week’s Parshah, they are beautiful in their description of God and His love for His people.

“To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt. Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Your forefathers who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.” -DEUTERONOMY 10:14-22

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