The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time to Learn the Law
(note: the following was a sermon I gave at the Feast of Tabernacles in Antigua, Guatemala in 2006--which I mainly gave in English, though I did read some portions in Spanish--though only English is in this article).
Are we at the Feast just to have a vacation from work or school? Or are we here to learn the plan of God or the ways of God? While there are many things that we should learn from the Feast, today, I would like to focus on the law.
But first, let us notice what Mr. Meredith wrote in his The Holy Days - God's Master Plan booklet:
The millennial reign of Christ is definitely the time prophesied by Jeremiah: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put MY LAW in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Jeremiah 31:31–33).
For God’s magnificent spiritual law, the Ten Commandments, has NEVER been done away! But they have been "magnified" by Jesus Christ and made even more binding, so that we are to keep, not only the letter but the spiritual intent of God’s law. So we do not merely refrain from murder, we refrain from enmity and hate and the attitude of murder (Matthew 5:21–22). We are taught not only to forsake adultery, but not even to "look on" a woman to lust after her! (vv. 27–28).
During the Millennium, God’s laws are to be written in the hearts and minds of His people all over the earth. For God’s laws expresses His very CHARACTER—the character He demands that we develop in order to be kings and priests forever in His Kingdom! This blessing will be afforded ALL MANKIND during the wonderful "Feast of Ingathering," the 1,000-year reign of Christ here on this earth. Revelation 20 tells us: "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (v. 6).
Christians who observe this festival believe that part of the reason that there will be peace is that people will all be taught the law of God, as teaching the law of God was an important part of this feast during the days of the children of Israel. Look at Deuteronomy chapter thirty-one, beginning with verse ten:
"At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess" Deuteronomy 31:10-13).
Which laws are to be taught during the Feast of Tabernacles?
The ones that God gave through Moses. Let us look at Deuteronomy chapter four, beginning with verse forty-four:
Now this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel. These are the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which Moses spoke to the children of Israel after they came out of Egypt (Deuteronomy 4:44-46).
Because this is a Spanish-speaking feast-site and my Spanish is not very good, and because we are to learn the law of God at the Feast, that perhaps we would all benefit from me reading many of the laws and statutes from the Version Reina-Valera Bible.
I figured that by reading this that most would be able to read along and therefore understand what I am saying. Plus, I figured that I would make less mistakes in Spanish grammar if I read from the translation that most of you are familiar with.
So turn in your Bibles to Deuteronomy, chapter 5. We will begin in verse 1.
5:1 And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them. 2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3 The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive. 4 The LORD talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire. 5 I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD; for you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up the mountain. He said:
6'I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
7'You shall have no other gods before Me.
8'You shall not make for yourself any carved image--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 9 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 10 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
11'You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
12'Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall not do any work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you. 15 And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
16'Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
17'You shall not murder.
18'You shall not commit adultery.
19'You shall not steal.
20'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
21'You shall not covet your neighbor's wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.'
22 "These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly, in the mountain from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and He added no more. And He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me (Deut 5:1-22).
Notice what God said would happen if the people would obey these laws:
Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever! (Deuteronomy 5:29).
Therefore you shall be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess (Deuteronomy 5:32-33).
Even carnal people must realize that if no one stole, no one murdered, no one lied, that this will increase wealth throughout the world. And while that would lead to massive abundance today, it is guaranteed to happen during the millennium. And this wealth and abundance, which is essentially guaranteed if all people would keep the commandments of God, is part of what we picture when we keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
Continuing with chapter six, beginning in verse one:
1 Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, 2 that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you--'a land flowing with milk and honey.'
4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:1-5).
Mr. Meredith wrote:
Most professing Christians think of their religion as just occupying a corner of their lives. But in all fairness and love, we say that the day will come when they will realize that that type of religion is false religion and false worship! What is the most important thing God commands you to do? When Jesus Christ your Savior was asked this question, He answered: "‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37–40). (Ten Commandments booklet).
Now let us go to chapter seven, starting with verse six:
6 "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. 7 The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; 8 but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; 10 and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face. 11 Therefore you shall keep the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them.
12 "Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the LORD your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. 13 And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. 14 You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock. 15 And the LORD will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you (Deuteronomy 7:6-15).
Notice how consistent this is with the message of the Feast of Tabernacles: those who keep God's law will be blessed, and will be freed from terrible diseases.
Let's look at chapter eight, starting with verse eleven:
11 "Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, 12 lest--when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end-- 17 then you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.' 18 "And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish (Deuteronomy 8:11-19).
Now while we think that sometimes we do not need to hear the messages of the Holy Days as they are similar year to year, notice that God tells us that we need to remember, especially when we are doing well financially. It amazes me how much those who were once part of the old Worldwide Church of God and who accepted many of the changes have forget ten so much so soon. The God who made humans understood that we would forget without being reminded.
The ten commandments were, and still are, a major part of the law. Notice that they are once again discussed in Deuteronomy. We will continue with chapter ten, verse one where Moses is talking:
1 "At that time the LORD said to me, 'Hew for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to Me on the mountain and make yourself an ark of wood. 2 And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke; and you shall put them in the ark.' 3 "So I made an ark of acacia wood, hewed two tablets of stone like the first, and went up the mountain, having the two tablets in my hand. 4 And He wrote on the tablets according to the first writing, the Ten Commandments, which the LORD had spoken to you in the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly; and the LORD gave them to me (Deuteronomy 10:1-5).
Let's go to verse twelve which again explains that God wants us to keep the ten commandments and to teach them to our children:
12 "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good? 14 Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it. 15 The LORD delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day. 16 Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer. 17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. 18 He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. 19 Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 20 You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name (Deuteronomy 10:12-20).
Notice that God again promises blessings to those who keep His commandments and cursings to those who do not, in chapter eleven, verse 13:
13'And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. 15 And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.' 16 "Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, 17 lest the LORD's anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you (Deuteronomy 11:13-17).
Statutes and Judgments
So far we have mainly discussed the commandments. The statutes and judgments are given in chapter 12. We will begin with verse one:
1 "These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. 2 You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. 3 And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. 4 You shall not worship the LORD your God with such things. 5 But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go. 6 There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. 7 And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the LORD your God has blessed you. 8 You shall not at all do as we are doing here today--every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes-- 9 for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the LORD your God is giving you (Deuteronomy 12:1-9).
I noticed that verse eight provides a warning to not be a Laodicean. Laodicea comes from two Greek words which basically mean people and decide. Combined, the two words mean something like "the people decide" or "justice of the people". And that is what Laodiceans do, they exist within the church of God yet they do whatever is right in their own eyes--they do not have the same work as the Philadelphians do.
The observance of the Feast of Tabernacles appears to be the subject of some of the verses in this chapter. Let's begin with verse twelve:
And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion nor inheritance with you (Deuteronomy 12:12).
Now going to verse fifteen:
15 "However, you may slaughter and eat meat within all your gates, whatever your heart desires, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, of the gazelle and the deer alike. 16 Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it on the earth like water. 17 You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or your new wine or your oil, of the firstlings of your herd or your flock, of any of your offerings which you vow, of your freewill offerings, or of the heave offering of your hand. 18 But you must eat them before the LORD your God in the place which the LORD your God chooses, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all to which you put your hands. 19 Take heed to yourself that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live in your land (Deuteronomy 12:15-19).
Furthermore, there are ways that God does not want to be worshipped. Notice beginning with verse 31:
"You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. 32 Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it (Deuteronomy 12:31-32).
False religious leaders are also the subject of chapter thirteen. We will start with verse one:
1 "If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods'--which you have not known--'and let us serve them,' 3 "you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
Notice that the false teacher is trying to turn the people away from the way of God's commands. All of us have run into those type of teachers, even if they do not claim to be a prophet or dreamer of dreams.
In chapter fourteen, God tells us not to eat detestable things and lists the meats that we can and cannot eat. Notice beginning with verse three:
3 "You shall not eat any detestable thing. 4 These are the animals which you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, 5 the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the mountain goat, the antelope, and the mountain sheep. 6 And you may eat every animal with cloven hooves, having the hoof split into two parts, and that chews the cud, among the animals. 7 Nevertheless, of those that chew the cud or have cloven hooves, you shall not eat, such as these: the camel, the hare, and the rock hyrax; for they chew the cud but do not have cloven hooves; they are unclean for you. 8 Also the swine is unclean for you, because it has cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud; you shall not eat their flesh or touch their dead carcasses.
9 "These you may eat of all that are in the waters: you may eat all that have fins and scales. 10 And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you.
11 "All clean birds you may eat. 12 But these you shall not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, 13 the red kite, the falcon, and the kite after their kinds; 14 every raven after its kind; 15 the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the seagull, and the hawk after their kinds; 16 the little owl, the screech owl, the white owl, 17 the jackdaw, the carrion vulture, the fisher owl, 18 the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe and the bat. 19 Also every creeping thing that flies is unclean for you; they shall not be eaten. 20 You may eat all clean birds.
21 "You shall not eat anything that dies of itself; you may give it to the alien who is within your gates, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner; for you are a holy people to the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk (Deuteronomy 14:3-21).
Beginning in verse twenty-two, it tells us to save our second tithe so that we can rejoice every year at the Feast of Tabernacles:
22 "You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. 23 And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. 24 But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the LORD your God has blessed you, 25 then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses. 26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. 27 You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you (Deuteronomy 14:22-27).
In chapter fifteen the statutes related to debts and slaves is discussed.
In chapter sixteen, the Holy Days. Let's look at the first few verses:
1 "Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover to the LORD your God, for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night. 2 Therefore you shall sacrifice the Passover to the LORD your God, from the flock and the herd, in the place where the LORD chooses to put His name. 3 You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life. 4 And no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the meat which you sacrifice the first day at twilight remain overnight until morning (Deuteronomy 16:1-4).
Notice that Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles is also mentioned, as are offerings. Let's go to verse ten:
10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the LORD your God blesses you. 11 You shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide. 12 And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.
13 "You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. 14 And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. 15 Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice. 16 Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you (Deuteronomy 16:10-17).
All of us here have been observing the Feast of Tabernacles in La Antigua. And we were all given an opportunity to heed the command to provide an offering on the first day of this feast.
Now chapter seventeen deals with other statutes. Let us begin with verse two:
2 If there is found among you, within any of your gates which the LORD your God gives you, a man or a woman who has been wicked in the sight of the LORD your God, in transgressing His covenant, 3 who has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded, 4 and it is told you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel, 5 then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones. 6 Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness. 7 The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil person from among you (Deuteronomy 17:2-7).
You do not need to turn there, but Jesus confirmed this idea that two or three witnesses are needed when He said in Matthew eighteen, verses sixteen and seventeen:
But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' (Matthew18:16-17).
Skipping down to verse eleven in Deuteronomy seventeen we learn that God expects His people to listen to His leaders. To accept the governance that He has established:
1 1 According to the sentence of the law in which they instruct you, according to the judgment which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left from the sentence which they pronounce upon you. 12 Now the man who acts presumptuously and will not heed the priest who stands to minister there before the LORD your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So you shall put away the evil person from Israel. 13 And all the people shall hear and fear, and no longer act presumptuously (Deuteronomy 17:11-13).
In chapter eighteen, God once again prohibits pagan practices. Let us begin with verse nine:
9 "When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. 14 For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you (Deuteronomy 18:9-14).
Chapter nineteen referred to establishing cities of refuge for those who killed someone accidentally. Starting with verse fifteen it also discussed aspects of judicial law:
15 One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. 16 If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, 17 then both men in the controversy shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. 18 And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, 19 then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. 20 And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you. 21 Your eye shall not pity; but life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot (Deuteronomy 19:15-21).
Chapter twenty deals with how God expected the Israelites to handle aspects of warfare.
Chapter twenty-one discusses justice and warfare, then bad children. Let us begin with verse eighteen:
18 "If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. 20 And they shall say to the elders of his city, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.' 21 "Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.
22 "If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God (Deuteronomy 21:18-23).
In chapter twenty-two we see a variety of statutes which apparently are some of how we are to treat our neighbor as well as ourselves. Let's start in verse one:
1 "You shall not see your brother's ox or his sheep going astray, and hide yourself from them; you shall certainly bring them back to your brother. 2 And if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it to your own house, and it shall remain with you until your brother seeks it; then you shall restore it to him. 3 You shall do the same with his donkey, and so shall you do with his garment; with any lost thing of your brother's, which he has lost and you have found, you shall do likewise; you must not hide yourself.
4 "You shall not see your brother's donkey or his ox fall down along the road, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely help him lift them up again.
5 "A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God.
6 "If a bird's nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; 7 you shall surely let the mother go, and take the young for yourself, that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days.
8 "When you build a new house, then you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring guilt of bloodshed on your household if anyone falls from it.
9 "You shall not sow your vineyard with different kinds of seed, lest the yield of the seed which you have sown and the fruit of your vineyard be defiled.
10 "You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.
11 "You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together.
12 "You shall make tassels on the four corners of the clothing with which you cover yourself (Deuteronomy 22:1-12).
The next several verses discuss sexual purity and strongly urge virginity among the unmarried women in Israel--of course the unmarried men are also expected to exercise sexual control and some of that is also alluded to in this chapter.
Chapter twenty-three has some of the same type of statutes that previous chapters have, so let us start with verse nineteen:
19 You shall not charge interest to your brother--interest on money or food or anything that is lent out at interest. 20 To a foreigner you may charge interest, but to your brother you shall not charge interest, that the LORD your God may bless you in all to which you set your hand in the land which you are entering to possess.
21 "When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. 22 But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you. 23 That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.
24 "When you come into your neighbor's vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes at your pleasure, but you shall not put any in your container. 25 When you come into your neighbor's standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not use a sickle on your neighbor's standing grain (Deuteronomy 23:19-25).
Notice that the above rules define stealing a bit differently than human governments do.
Chapter twenty-four begins by discussing divorce, and this is something that we recall Jesus said was only in their due to the hardness of the people's hearts.
But notice verse five:
5 When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken (Deuteronomy 24:5).
Notice that the husband has a biblical obligation to devote the first year of his marriage to focus on his wife's happiness and not go to war or to be preoccupied with business. This most certainly is not understood by many in the world today.
Continuing with verse six:
6 "No man shall take the lower or the upper millstone in pledge, for he takes one's living in pledge.
7 "If a man is found kidnapping any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and mistreats him or sells him, then that kidnapper shall die; and you shall put away the evil from among you (Deuteronomy 24:5-7).
Skipping down to verse notice that not only is oppression of the poor and weak prohibited, but that God's people were to allow the poor to glean in order to be better able to help themselves:
14 You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates. 15 Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the LORD, and it be sin to you. 16 Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.
17 "You shall not pervert justice due the stranger or the fatherless, nor take a widow's garment as a pledge. 18 But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this thing.
19 "When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. 21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow (Deuteronomy 24:14-22).
In chapter twenty-five it teaches that not all is fair in disputes and punishments. Verses one through eleven limit punishments. Now let's read again beginning in verse thirteen where cheating is prohibited:
13 "You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. 14 You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. 15 You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, that your days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. 16 For all who do such things, and all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 25:13-16).
The end of the third tithe year prayer is listed beginning with verse twelve of chapter twenty-six:
12 "When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year--the year of tithing--and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled, 13 then you shall say before the LORD your God: 'I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them. 14 I have not eaten any of it when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for any unclean use, nor given any of it for the dead. I have obeyed the voice of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that You have commanded me. 15 Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us, just as You swore to our fathers, "a land flowing with milk and honey." ' (Deuteronomy 26:12-15).
This is a prayer that my family and I normally do together at the end of our third tithe years.
Blessings, Cursings, and the Death of Moses
At the end of chapter twenty-seven, various curses are listed beginning with verse fifteen:
15'Cursed is the one who makes any carved or molded image, an abomination to the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.' And all the people shall answer and say, 'Amen!' 16 Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 17 Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor's landmark.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 18 Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 19 Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 20 Cursed is the one who lies with his father's wife, because he has uncovered his father's bed.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 21 Cursed is the one who lies with any kind of animal.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 22 Cursed is the one who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 23 Cursed is the one who lies with his mother-in-law.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 24 Cursed is the one who attacks his neighbor secretly.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 25 Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to slay an innocent person.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 26 Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' (Deuteronomy 27:15-26).
Now chapter twenty-eight begins with a variety of blessings. We will read a few:
1 "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God: 3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country (Deuteronomy 28:1-3).
The chapter ends by discussing various cursings.
In chapter twenty-nine, God reminds His people that they have seen His miracles and they and their descendants need to obey.
In chapter thirty, God explains that His ways are not that hard and that they lead to life. Let's begin in verse eleven:
11 For this commandment which I command you today, it is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 13 "Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 14 "But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
15 "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess (Deuteronomy 30:11-16).
Notice that verse nineteen states:
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Part of the reason that God wants His people to know the law now, and to live it later, is that living God's way leads to life.
Chapter thirty-one discusses that Moses will die and be replaced with Joshua.
Chapter thirty-two is a song of Moses.
Chapter thirty-three is one of blessings and apparently prophecies for the children of Israel.
And in chapter thirty-four Moses dies and is buried.
The Feast of Tabernacles pictures a time of abundance. An abundance that will come as everyone keeps the laws of God. The Feast of Tabernacles is an opportunity to come together as God's people and learn His ways--to appreciate and obey His laws. It is an opportunity to better understand why the Kingdom of God is what this world now needs.
The commandments, statutes, and judgments were given to provide life to God's people. The Feast of Tabernacles is an opportunity to reflect on them even today. During this Feast will you?
Articles of related interest may include:
Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? Did they? Did Jesus?
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today's Christians?
Millenarianism (a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth, often called the millennium) was taught by the early Christians.
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time to Learn the Law This article in Spanish.
Last Great Day study paper Was Jesus speaking about the 7th or 8th day of the Feast in John 7