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April 15, Day #106 – Overcoming Divided Hearts

As we come to Deuteronomy 21-22, we recognize that today’s readings are filled with incredible truths about which we must meditate thoughtfully - if we truly want to understand and practice them. In Deuteronomy 21, God provided a means in the law for dealing with and atoning an unresolved murder with its related problem of “not knowing.” For the benefit of all Israelites, the elders and the Levites - who did not know how such a death might have occurred - would still be responsible for purging the national guilt of bloodshed from the land. They would need to make atonement for the people by killing a heifer (verses 3-9). As Israel later put to death its Messiah, – shedding His innocent blood – an atonement was necessary. The heifer foreshadows Christ in His substitutionary role for them (and for us). In spite of our ignorance and our division, as we trust and do God’s Word and His will, our guilt is placed upon Christ Who died for our sins and in our places - thus securing our atonement. This chapter also addresses taking a wife from among the captives in war, the rights of firstborn sons within polygamous marriages, and the manner by which a “rebellious and profligate” son was to be punished (verses 18-21). Verses 22-23 relate to the burial of a criminal – which foreshadows Christ’s death on the cross (cf., Galatians 3:13). Chapter 22 focuses on the legal aspects that require brotherly love, neighborliness, and good conduct in everyday life – returning a stray ox to its owner (verses 1-4); wearing gender-specific clothing as a means to support and preserve the sanctity and distinction of the differences between men and women, as established by God (verse 5); and even showing respect to animal life as created by God – as well as establishing safety and security in and around the home (verses 6-12). These practical principles – codified in the law – illustrate God’s solemn concern for the way we live our lives. The chapter concludes with a number of different marriage laws that govern propriety in marriage. These regulations are serious matters before God; three times, He repeats, “You must purge the evil from among you/Israel” (cf., verses 21, 22, and 24).

Earlier, we saw in Proverbs 9, the contrast between wisdom and folly (cf., April 11, Day #102). Today, in verses 13-18, we see that folly is “unruly” and “simple,” – she is a disordered and disgraceful woman - whose only thought is to entertain those just like her (i.e., “the simple”). However, the sage explains that she “knows nothing” (verse 13), and that being the case, Ms. Folly is wholly incapable of directing herself (Jeremiah 10:23), much less improving anyone else. She is the classic example of how dangerous we are to ourselves for failing to know what we should know. Here, it is evident that foolishness and disregard for the truth/wisdom leads to death. Ms. Folly’s guests are already dead; those who listen to her join them. This should frighten us enough into walking away from things we know are bad for us, and it should convince us of the disaster that we can be to ourselves.

In Luke 16:1-18, Jesus illustrates this same contrast and warns us of the dangers of a heart that is divided. Here, we see that the Pharisees openly “sneered” at Jesus’s words about their “love of money” (verse 14). Jesus pinpointed the root of their problem and identified their “master” (verse 13), and they knew it. We should take this teaching to heart - remembering that what lasts is not money or possessions – which do not matter at all. What really matters is that which we offer to God. Ever since the Fall, we have all struggled with this powerful weakness that renders our “values detestable in God’s sight” (verse 15). We must learn to overcome our divided hearts by single-minded service to Jesus Christ.

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