Corporate Pursuit of Deuteronomy: Week 5 – Our Relationship with Others

This week we come to the half-way point in our corporate pursuit of Deuteronomy using the Life-Study of Deuteronomy. In previous messages we have covered general advice and warnings given by Moses to the second generation of the children of Israel (see Week 3 and Week 4). Before moving on to the section of Deuteronomy that deals with the rehearsing of the general statutes and judgments (14:1-26:19), message 13 of this Life-Study gives a further sobering word concerning division and apostasy.

In the Old Testament, the apostates (people who practice apostasy) turned away from God and followed idols (Deut. 13:1-5). That was a great insult to God who would not tolerate such practices. In the New Testament, the term for apostasy is heresy, which is a denial of the deity of Christ (2 John 7-11). This heresy damages the person of Christ. In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God does not tolerate apostasy or heresy. In addition, God was equally severe with those who make divisions among His people in the Old and New Testaments (see Week 4), because division damages the  Body of Christ (Rom. 16:17), which is the goal of His economy. Whereas heresy insults the person of Christ, division damages the Body of Christ. Therefore, we must heed Moses’ warning to avoid both heresy and division and those who practice them. We can do this by being careful in our contact with others. If someone who comes to speak with us is full of life, then the more they speak, the more we are filled with life. However, if they are heretical or divisive, then the more they speak, the more inwardly or spiritually deadened we become.

Some saints may feel that instead of rejecting the divisive ones, we should receive them and love them. Being kindhearted, these saints may say, “Yes, this brother is wrong, and he is divisive. But why should we reject him? Should we not cover him with love?” However, the crucial matter here is that we should not tolerate what the Lord does not tolerate. (cf. Rom. 16:17).

Because we may contract these germs of apostasy and division through our contact with people, Deuteronomy 14 turns to the matter of having a holy diet, which typifies our contact with others. Just as the children of Israel had to be careful with what kinds of animal they ate, whether they were clean or unclean, so we must be careful with what kinds of people we contact because in our contact we may receive what they are and become like them – we are what we eat. Therefore, we must learn to be discerning in our contact with others in order to be preserved from catching the germs of apostasy and division. (For details on this, please see the Life-Study of Leviticus, message 36, which covering Leviticus 11; free online version).

Deuteronomy 14:21b says, “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” The mother’s milk means the milk of the word of God and the kid to a new believer (1 Pet 2:2; Heb. 5:12-13; 1 Cor. 3:2). We should not use the word of God to kill the new believers, but rather to nourish them. Then Deuteronomy 14:28-15:18 and other passages (26:12-15; 23:15-16, 19-20; 24:6, 10-15, 17-22) speak concerning aid to the needy. From verses 14:28-29 we see that the children of Israel were to offer tithes for the needy ones. If we, for the sake of God, take care of the needy ones, God will surely bless our labor and undertakings. This blessing will be a return to us from God. In 15:7-11, the children of Israel were required to lend to the poor brothers and not harden their heart nor close up their hand. Today, we also should not be reluctant to give to the poor brothers and sisters among us. Rather, we should be happy knowing that God will bless us and return much more to us. We need to realize that we will never suffer loss as a result of giving to the Lord.

In message 15, we come to Deuteronomy 15:12-18 which is a particular section concerning the freeing of a Hebrew servant. The Hebrew servant was to be released in the seventh year of service. However if the servant says “I will not go forth from you, because he loves you and your household, for it goes well with him to be with you; you shall take an awl and run it through his ear and into the door, and he shall be your servant forever” (v. 16-17). This is a type of us as slaves of the Lord Jesus making a choice as a free-will offering to remain in His service forever because we love Him and His household. When we make such an offering to the Lord Jesus, He will always accept it. The “ear” represents us, and the “door” represents God. By being “awled” to the door, we become one with the Lord and have a listening ear waiting at the door for our Master’s command.  Message 15 also covers taking care of an escaped slave (23:15-16), not making a brother pay interest (vv. 19-20), taking a handmill or an upper millstone as a pledge (v. 6), taking a pledge from the borrower (24:10-13), and the wages given to the poor hired servant (vv. 14-15). These all speak of the person of God and His loving and righteous ways toward His people.

Finally, in Deuteronomy 24:17-22 is a word concerning remembering the need of a sojourner, an orphan, or a widow. If when the children of Israel reaped the harvest in their fields, they forgot a small portion or amount that was left in the field, they were to leave it there for the sojourner, the orphan, and the widow. This signifies that as we are doing our business, we should remember the needy ones among God’s children and have a heart toward them. If we have a heart to care for the needy ones, spontaneously we would set aside a portion for them. God would see this and in a secret way would come in to bless our work. May we be those who contact others with discernment, who protect our spiritual children, who have a listening ear in our service to the Lord, and whose heart and hand are always open to give something to help the needy ones!

3 thoughts on “Corporate Pursuit of Deuteronomy: Week 5 – Our Relationship with Others

    1. It is so important that we be careful in our contact with others because not all people whom we contact to are healthy. ( Much like our present pandemic crisis of Covid-19 ) If we are not very careful we may contract these deadly virus of apostasy and division (Deut.13:1-5, Rom. 16:17) through our contact with them. That is why Deuteronomy 14 turns to the matter of having a holy diet, which typifies our contact with others. Just as the children of Israel had to be careful with what kinds of animal they ate, whether they were clean or unclean, so we must be very careful with what kinds of people we contact because in our contact we may receive what they are and become like them – We Are What We Eat. Therefore, we must learn to be discerning in our contact with others in order to be preserved from catching the deadly virus of apostasy and division.

  1. My personal testimony,
    Now I exhort you, brothers, to mark those who make divisions and causes stumbling contrary to the teaching which you have learned and turn away from them…. (Romans 16:17)
    In the early years of my church life, the churches invited regularly anyone who came to visit from other localities especially those who were well known in other churches because of their eloquence, bible knowledge and preaching but it was not long after that some of the seeds they were sowing were not building up the church but caused great distress, upheaval and a rebellion that eventually led to a division. Many of the new believers including myself who were not deeply rooted and grounded in Christ were tossed like waves to and from so as to know what to do and who to follow but one brother I went to for advice asked me if I had a spirit, and I said Yes, I have received Christ as the life giving Spirit into my spirit and he said to me to listen to Him, follow Him in your spirit. It was one of the best advices I received from this brother and from that day on I followed the Lord by letting the arbitrating sense of the Spirit of life and peace to arbitrate within my heart. By letting the sense of life and peace of Christ arbitrate into my spirit soul and body I was able to discern of what to do and who to follow.
    Many of the young people in these days were damaged and left the fellowship of the church but after several years one young brother I knew came back and I asked them what brought him back to the fellowship of the church? The young brother mentioned that he had continued to read the life study messages of the Living Stream Ministry and that the Lord kept on speaking to Him trough the word of the ministry concerning His recovery of Christ and the Church in the local churches and he had no other option except to listen to the Lord’s speaking within. The speaking of the Lord in the life study messages kept on imparted the Lord’s burden, vision and life into this brother and preserved him. Upon his return to the meetings and joining in the fellowship of the local churches he later he attended the full-time training and went to serve the Lord in Russia. Today this brother is still pursuing and serving the Lord in with his whole heart today here in Canada. This brother obeyed the Lord to follow the vision that He had imparted into him and was faithful to continue work out his own salvation with fear and trembling while God continued to operate within him both the willing and working for His good pleasure enabling him to all things without murmurings and reasonings. (Philippians 2:13-14)
    Furthermore, I enjoyed the testimony and fellowship of one elder sister who at the time of the division amongst us encouraged me to go on with the Church and not to rely upon my natural concept, likes or dislikes but to continue follow the leading of the Peace of Christ within. After the division of some of the responsible brothers who started a meeting elsewhere, this elderly Sister kept on coming to the church meetings. The elderly sister at the early stages of the division met with those brothers who followed the division. She personally told me that whenever she went to meet in the division the Lord’s presence was grieved within her spirit but whenever she went to meet with the Saints on the ground of oneness the Spirit was present and she felt at peace with the Lord within her heart. She also had learned the secret to follow the inner sense of life and peace and felt that she was righteous with God and men living in the reality of the Kingdom of God. (Romans 14:17). She was faithful to follow the Lord by keeping and following the inner sense of life and peace and able to decide where to meet and continue to be integral part of the building work of the Lord for the perfecting of the Saints unto the work of ministry for the building up of His Body.

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