Moses instructs Israelites what they can eat — clean animals — and what they can't eat — unclean animals.

Day 75 (March 16): Idolatry warning, clean/unclean animals, tithes, treatment of debtors, slaves, firstborn male animal sacrifices, Passover, Festivals

Credit: Wong Chim Yuen

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Deuteronomy 13-16:17
(1406 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (13:1-18): In this passage, God speaks out against those who lure others into idolatry and those who are lured.  That was then, I’m sure we will learn in our NT reading — when we get there much later this year — what God or Jesus says about dealing with others pushing idolatry.  I certainly don’t think the OT will say, “stone them.”  And, we certainly don’t do that today.  We are more of a “coexist” society today.  I wonder what God thinks of that?  I can only imagine that He’s not too happy with it.

A. One big difference between then and now is that God is establishing a pure nation set apart from Him, and a big part of what He was trying to do was keep the Israelites from worshipping other gods.  Today, these boundaries (between Jew and Gentile, between Christian and Muslim) make it very difficult to keep any such society “pure” in the sense that was being described in the text.  The NT in particular will talk about being at peace with those around you, especially those who do not share your God.

Q. (Deuteronomy 13:1-18): At first, I read this and thought that God purposely luring us to other gods or idols to test us just sounds sneaky.  But then, I thought, I guess he does need to test them to find out their heart.  Someone could get easily lost in the crowd, grow up with followers of God, but not really have felt the love in their heart for God or been tested of their faith.  So, tempting them is one way to weed out the unbelievers.  And, it doubles in getting rid of all of those who do the tempting, for they also fail to have God in their heart.  Is this an accurate assessment of this lesson?

A. I can certainly see some wisdom in your description, and I think you’ve hit upon part of it.  I also think it is worth mentioning that people change over time, and the call to remain faithful to God is part of what this is about.  God is calling the people to be ever vigilant against the corrupting forces of false religions and idols.

Q. This may seem like a dumb question, but there are no dumb questions, right?  Anyway, I have always used the names God and Lord interchangeably.  But, do the two words have different meanings, in reference to our God?

A. No.  They are two different names given to God, where many names are used.  The most reverent name in scripture (to Jews anyway) is the true name of God: Yahweh, represented by the four letters YHWH (called the Tetragrammaton), printed Hebrew does not have vowels.  Whenever you see the use of LORD in all caps, it is a translation of YHWH, which in our version for this study is just rendered God.  But there are other words for God as well, and when Jews refer to God, since Yahweh is such a reverent name, they used the name Elohim or AdonaiElohim is usually how you see the word God presented, and Adonai means “lord,” so when you see only the first “L” capitalized (Lord, not LORD), the translation is referring to Adonai.  So the differences are actually harder to see in the NLT, but are fairly clear in some other Bibles.  Hope that helps.  If not, check this out: http://www.gotquestions.org/LORD-GOD-Lord-God.html

Q. (14:3-4): I thought the ceremonially clean/unclean requirement was lifted?

A. Nope.  Observant Jews keep the dietary laws (kosher) to this day.  What we were looking at yesterday, which is what I think you are referring to, is the idea that people could consume their own herd animals or certain animals that they caught, such as deer and gazelle.  But the rules about what animals they could eat did not change.

O. (14:22-23): I finally got it and won’t ask about sacrificing (here tithing) again.  It’s not about gruesome slaughtering, it’s about giving their best to the Creator.  It serves two purposes: sacrificing their best stuff or giving it up and honoring God.

Q. (16:10): This is the first time I have seen the request to bring “a voluntary offering in proportion to the blessings you have received from him.”  Most of the time, God has been very specific about what he wants to be offered or sacrificed.  Also, I know I have commented on the amount of offerings, gifts, sacrifices to the Lord and what a heap of stuff it must be.  Rob, I don’t think you had a definite answer of what happens to all of the gifts?

A. The implication of these verses is that they were shared among the people, including the Levites and the poor in the various community centers where sacrifices were to be brought.  The sacrifices at the Tabernacle, brought to make atonement for sin or other purposes, were either consumed by the priests or burned completely.

For further reading: More explanation of the Festivals, https://tabletalkmagazine.com/article/2022/02/jewish-feasts-and-festivals-2/

Shop: Jesus makes offers more concise laws and was a role model for living the out perfectly! https://livinlight.org/product/teacher-t-shirt/

Tomorrow’s reading: Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

Golden Calf people sacrificed burnt offerings, ate, drank and started a wild, noisy party worshipping the golden calf.

Day 42 (Feb. 11): The golden calf, Moses pleas for Israel, Lord’s glory shines on Moses, Covenant x 2

Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Exodus 32-34
(1464 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Exodus 32:1): The Israelites seem to be so impatient.  But, 40 days does seem like an eternity.  I guess with that many people, the unrest would spread rampantly.  But, I am surprised that Aaron caved so quickly.

A. Yea, this isn’t Aaron’s best moment.  He caves to the pressure quickly — some extra-biblical traditions say his friend was murdered or his family was held hostage, etc. — but there is no excuse for his sin.  Worse yet, he lies to Moses about it when Moses comes down: really, the calf formed itself.  Sure it did…

Q. (32:9-14): It seems like I always here that our Lord is exact, true and unwavering.  But we have seen several times where His chosen have pleaded with him to spare His people.  The conversation sounds like two old friends who confide in one another.  I always thought of God’s directions as final, “It’s my way or the highway.”  But, God makes exceptions.  Last Sunday, our minister talked about giving God some of your time — not just making a date for 15 minutes, saying “Hi, how are you?, the kids OK, and here’s my list of requests, gotta go, amen.”  He said to give him an hour, a half day, even a whole day and just walk with Him.  In these passages, Moses spend days with Him.  Our lives don’t really make room for such a long visit, but we should give him the time.  He is here to help us, counsel, listen and just talk to.  When we spend more time with something meaningless as TV than God, that has to hurt His feelings.  Rob, can you comment on God changing His mind and on how he has, to me, almost human emotions?

A. There is, as one might expect, a lot of discussion about whether God really changed His mind in the sense we are familiar with, but there are important things we can derive from this passage.  To me, God appears to test Moses as He tested Abraham, except this time, there was a whole nation in the balance.  God tells Moses, “go away so I can get angry and kill them,” but Moses is quick to speak up for his people.  They screwed up, Moses says, but its not in your character to wipe them out, you don’t really mean what you’re saying, right God?  It appears Moses was willing to be bold even to God in fighting for his people.  No wonder the writer proclaims Moses and God talked as friends!

Q. (Exodus 32:27-28): Moses just told God to spare the Israelites.  Then, he goes down from the mountain and commands the Levites to kill everyone.  They only killed 3,000.  Can you explain these two conflicting statements — the sparing and not killing everyone?

A. It appears that Moses and the Levites killed in order to re-establish order among the ranks and stop the madness.  That had to be done, or there would be no chance of making amends with God.  What God was suggesting was the wipe out the ENTIRE nation and start again with Moses.  So while Moses’ actions seems violent, it certainly was more desirable then losing the whole nation.

Q. (32:34): What is the Lord referring to when he says, “when I come to call the people to account, I will certainly hold them responsible for their sins.”

A. It appears to be directly tied to the plague that strikes the people in the next verse.

Q. (32:3): From earlier Exodus reading, it sounded like God wanted to reside among the Israelites when he was giving the particulars of the Ark and Tabernacle construction.  Now, he has changed his mind because of the Israelites actions?

A. Like the decision to destroy the nation, God will heed Moses’ pleading to not abandon His people and will travel with them.  Hang on for the end of the story: it’s really cool.

O. (33:16): LOVE THIS VERSE: Moses says, “For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”

Q. (33:21-23): We have talked about this before, but can you remind us of the differences between God talking to Abraham and to Moses.  God appeared as a traveling man to Abraham, but here God says he is too glorious to be seen.

A. Moses is asking for the full deal: he wants to see the full extent of who God is.  And God tells him, you’re asking too much for any person.  God chooses to reveal himself in different ways to different people — I’m thinking of Isaiah, Joel, and Ezekiel, among others — throughout His story, so it is clear that people do, in some form, see the Lord, but they do not see the full weight of who God is.  That is the implication to me about what would be “too much” for poor Moses to handle.  Still, Moses appears to be able to handle a lot of seeing most of God truly is — as close as any person ever has according to the text.  This is a big part of the reason that he is such a revered figure in Judaism, even bigger than Abraham.

Q. (34:7): I don’t understand “I forgive iniquity, rebellion and sin.  But I don’t not excuse the guilty.”

A. Actually, I think that this is a profound statement of God’s mercy and grace (what He desired to share with Moses about His nature).  I like the way that NIV renders it: “forgiving…rebellion and sin.  Yet, He does not leave the guilty unpunished.”  I think they “yet,” rather than the “but” of NLT, makes the message more clear: God is willing to forgive our sins, but the sins themselves often come with natural punishment that God does not prevent us from suffering.  As we talked about some days ago, it is often children who suffer the worst consequences for the sins of their parents, which is what the end of the verse talks about.  So in this profound statement, God is basically saying, “you and I can be reconciled” by Me forgiving you, but you must still deal with the consequences of your actions.  To me, this points to the reality of God’s grace, but also that God does not wink at sin and say, “oh well, boys will be boys” or whatever.  God takes our sins very seriously — mostly because of their deadly effect on us — even when He grants us forgiveness.

For further study: What are you idolizing today? See the 10 top items that are “worshipped” today: https://www.rethinknow.org/idol-worship-today/

Shop: If you Live for the Lord, He will be at the top of your priority list.  https://livinlight.org/product/live-for-the-lord/

Tomorrow’s reading: Exodus 35-36