Picking up in Chapter 14 of our continuing study of the book of Deuteronomy, we pick up where we left off in chapter 13 with the explanation of the necessity of faithfulness and truth.
Scripture and Summary
Israel was in a unique situation compared to other nations. The other nations may have had gods that were over them, but they were not chosen, they had not been created, they had not been rescued by their God. Here Yahweh establishes the context for their relationship to him, not merely as king to subject, but as father to son. This relationship required that they did not behave like the other nations.
As they had a special relationship with their God, they were to honor him by careful observance of dietary standards. As in the ritual codes of Leviticus, the people were called to observe both what and how they ate. The law is careful to distinguish between the Israelite and any who might live among them: only those covenanted to God were obligated to observe the laws in regard to diet.
The tithe law is set forward directing its purpose. Those who lived close enough were to bring their offerings to the designated place while, in future anticipation, those who lived too far away so that it would be impractical are directed to convert the direct offering to cash so that when they come they will be able to purchase what is necessary for worship. The purpose of the tithe is to provide for the Levites both at the designated place and those who live locally because they would have no direct source of provision.
Relationships have responsibilities. From the most personal to the most extended, the relationship determines the level of responsibility. These responsibilities are defined by the relationship and the relationship is dependent upon the willingness to meet those responsibilities. God’s desire was to be close to his people, and so his people demonstrated their desire for this relationship by adhering to laws that demonstrated this.
In dress, in diet, in worship, their obedience demonstrated a desire to be close to God. The problem with these assumptions is that they merely become mechanical. We often falsely assume that because we don’t do something that we are right with God. Not drinking, smoking, or associating with those who do says nothing about the relationship of a person to God anymore than associating with them. Further, doing all the right things says nothing about the heart. This is why righteousness comes by faith and not works.
Believing loyalty alone determines whether or not doing something or not doing something is meaningful, because the relationship is what is important. Behavior, therefore, flows from the desire to remain in consistent contact within the boundaries of that relationship.