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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