Promises and Secrets
A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.
Bible: Always Obey?
Some call Christians hypocrites because we do not do everything the Bible says to do. They use Deuteronomy Chapter 13 and ask if we are willing to put our son to death if he suggests worshipping strange gods.
The Bible contains a set of rules that believers understand were given to us by God.
What do you think?
God gave us rules to live by.
If God gave us a rule to follow, it is a safe bet that our lives will be better if we follow it. But, how do we handle a rule that tells us to kill one who wants us to blatantly sin with him against God? I know, I know, but think about that statement. What does it mean to you? Do you think the commandments He gave to us are arbitrary and exist only because He wants to make sure we don't have any fun? Many people think exactly that.
Back then, God was starting out fresh with His chosen people. They were newly escaped from slavery in Egypt and were starting with a fresh slate. "Here are the rules", He said. Since they were starting clean, they could easily identify anyone who disregarded the rules. Punishment was easily dispensed because everyone participated in the punishment of an obvious disregard for the rules. To prevent contamination of the community, and to teach important lessons quickly, punishment was severe.
What would happen if...
Now, before we go on, think about what would have happened if the blatant disobedience occurred and God told the people to do nothing. The message would be out that He was not serious about obedience and disobedience would increase. You know, kind of like today when disobedience to God, even that done by those in the congregations, is not punished as the Bible says it should be. People get the idea that God is pleased with their congregations and get comfortable in their sin. Well, the punishment is still coming, just not right away as in the Old Testament.
What did your parents do when at first you continually disobeyed and gave them the impression you did not think the rules applied to you? Hopefully, you got a spanking when you were young. However, as you grew older, the punishment changed form - from spanking to "time outs" (whatever that is), then to grounding or suspension of privileges. Once you were old enough, society began to determine the means of punishment - jail, prison, execution - depending on the severity of the sin.
What were they doing wrong?
One of the "other gods" worshipped by outsiders was Molech (Moloch, Molec, etc.). The most memorable of the sacrifices to this god was the placing of your child on a bed of fire (called passing through the fire) to appease Molech. Now, if your son has learned to do this and asks you to join him in that worship service, is he not practicing murder and soliciting you to become a murderer? Even in today's society, murder is punishable by death. We can take this a step further by comparing this sacrifice to the practice of abortion (especially late third-term abortion) which has taken the lives of millions of babies since 1972. However, man has now made something "legal" that God calls murder. Hmmm.
Train up a child in the way he should go...
Look at the opening statement - "God gave us rules to live by." If you go to Exodus 20:12 and read the commandment about honoring your father and mother, what does it say about why you should honor them? So you can live long in the land! At first, this may seem an odd statement. However, if you think about the job all parents have regarding raising their children, it begins to make more sense. If our parents trained us properly, we will take care of them when they grow too old to take care of themselves. (My 86-year-old mother came to live with us 7 months ago.) If we do not honor them, we will send them to an old folk's home to live in "someone else's land".
How do we "go bad"?
If your parents had not done their jobs correctly, you would likely have had too much freedom to do the things you and your friends wanted to do instead of the chores and schoolwork you needed to grow strong and wise. While that is not always a bad thing, a great majority of the time kids will go "bad". "Bad" leads to poor or risky decisions, and these can lead to dangerous actions, which leads to pain for someone, somewhere. Of course, there are always exceptions, but look around you at the way the youth of today treat their bodies, each other, their property, and their parents. What do they appear to "worship"? Is there a chance that undisciplined actions of disrespectful youth will shorten their lives?
So, honoring your father and mother, people with much more experience in life and mistakes than you have, can make the difference between a useful life and a wasted one. Later, when you grow up, if you ignore their advice, what kind of parent are you going to be? With that in mind, do you think God put that commandment there so you could not have any fun growing up?
Can't we figure it out on our own?
Need another example? How about Exodus 20:15
You shall not steal.
? Why do you think He told us not to steal? Because He didn't want us to have "fun"? When a person steals, it causes someone else pain of some kind. If one gets caught during the stealing process, the possibilities for pain increase tremendously. Consider the person from which the item was stolen, the friends of the thief, the parents of the thief, the employer of the thief (if this person has a job at all), guilt, shame, prison and, most of all, the future of the thief (if he survives the encounter with the owner of the item he is trying to steal).
Now, to address the issue of whether we should "always" do what the Bible says. If my son came to me as a murderer and wanted me to join him, I would definitely turn him in to the authorities (cast the first stone) and let him go through the courts (get the community involved) and administer punishment as determined by the findings of the community (punishment of death determined by the rules of a Godly society). Of course, I am speaking of a society that believes in God and does what He says to do for our own good. As a rule, today's America does not believe in God, at least enough to follow His Word, and is so lenient in the administration of punishment that murderers are released into society on a regular basis. So, my answer to the question is - once you understand the purpose of the rule - YES.
Can this be misused? Yes. Today we are leery of radicals (think "some Muslims") who think that people who believe differently from themselves should die. Is this from the Bible? No. This is a twisting of "revelation" to a violent man (Muhammad) who was largely misinterpreted by radical "believers". However, if one reads the Bible enough to begin to understand that God is letting us know how to live meaningful and peaceful lives, we will see the reason for the rules and follow them to our advantage.
But, what about Deuteronomy 13?
The 13th chapter of Deuteronomy speaks of an issue that seems less drastic than murder, but requires the same penalty. While the opening describes a prophet, the rest of the chapter speaks of close relatives and troublemakers living in towns "your God is giving you to live in" have "risen among you". This admonition appears to apply to people in their own group that have evidently turned against God and are enticing others to join them. These troublemakers are enticing people to "worship other gods". The text goes on to say that if this is verified by investigation, and the troublemakers were successful in converting the town, the whole town must die and the town must be destroyed permanently. We don't see this happening today, even in Israel, so what does this mean to us today?
How do we handle this today?
While it seems right that we are not to kill everyone who tries to get us to "worship other gods", we are still to avoid being sidetracked by those who try to change the meaning of the Bible - both Old and New Testaments. To show you what I mean, there is a great article at 119Ministries called The Deuteronomy 13 Test.
The gist of the article is that, in the same way the Pharisees falsely accused Jesus and Paul of rejecting the Law of Moses (because they misunderstood the real message), most of the Jews of today are rejecting the evangelism of today's "Christian" message, but this time because they know better than what they are being told. The message from typical Christianity today is not the message Jesus and Paul taught. It has been so twisted that it is virtually unrecognizable. It actually says that the law of God has been discarded and changed, which is totally unacceptable, as it should be, to any Jew or Gentile who actually reads the Bible. This article does a much better job of explaining what I mean, but you should recognize the issues immediately if you believe the Bible and what it actually says.
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Always Obey? - Opposing View
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