Deuteronomy 14 Commentary
Do not eat anything you find already dead. You may give it to the foreigner residing in any of your towns, and they may eat it, or you may sell it to any other foreigner. But you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. Deuteronomy 14 verse 21.
Ceremonial laws were flexible. Others could indulge while Israel was specifically forbidden. We can tell from here that ceremonial laws were ‘second-layer’ laws. We know that first-layer laws were absolute and universal. Murder was murder regardless of the sinner. However, ceremonial laws did serve a purpose and the LORD demanded obedience.
This chapter begins with an instruction to Israel concerning a pagan practice of mutilating oneself for the dead. This scripture is in line with the main instruction to ‘don’t do as they do’. Today the saint may have to look at events and ceremonies that have pagan origins and decide based on these instructions.
We have food laws that may appear strange to the New Testament reader. Generally the LORD forbade the consumption of animals which had certain general features. Dirty animals like pigs do not represent the required holiness. Birds and animals of prey are forbidden as they thrive on death.
Feeding habits as well as appearance or behavior of animals that appear to misrepresent the beauty of creation are specifically singled out for exclusion. We may also think of these ‘less appealing’ animal traits as representing something to be hated and therefore resisted. A pig’s dirty environment should be a constant reminder of man’s need to stay clean. His hatred for ungodly conduct should be enhanced by his hatred of dirt that the pig so amply represents.
The instruction to eat the tithe may sound contradictory but the thought to share and ensure that priests are covered still remains. Importantly the chapter retains the thought that tithe is a moment of celebration rather than a moment of sadness because of ‘loss’ on that part of the giver. It conveys the thought that the giver must have joy in separating tithe for the LORD. It’s a beautiful picture the LORD gives that eventually our gifts are meant for our enjoyment. Let there be no pain as we give to the LORD.
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