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Text: Deuteronomy 22:1-8
We believe in “All of Christ for all of life.” So what should you do if you come across a bird’s nest on ground with the mama bird protecting her eggs? And you haven’t had breakfast, and you’re really hungry. Deuteronomy 22 says that how you respond will dramatically impact your life. Perhaps you have not faced the nest quandary, but you’ve found something lost or seen a car stuck in a snow bank or live in a culture of cross-dressing men––all are opportunities to faithfully live as Christians and apply wisdom from Deuteronomy. This morning, we look at a selection of wise laws that God gave to his people for good living, for faithful living. The underlying principle of these laws is a value and respect for all life. Christians are to value life because that is what God does.
Lost Wallet Law (vs. 1-4)
Deuteronomy 22 begins, “You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray and ignore them. You shall take them back to your brother.” The fence breaks. The harness comes untied. The wallet is dropped. And you come across come across something your brother lost. What should you do? You can’t ignore it. You can’t keep it. You act and return it. This command prevents the playground policy, “Finder’s keepers, losers weepers.” The biblical rule is, “Finder’s returners.” If you find something lost, you have a responsibility to restore it. You’re ready to help. And this applies to more than helping with lost items.
“You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and ignore them. You shall help him to lift them up.” A car swerves of the road. You need to stop and help. Your neighbor is high-centered on the snow berm. You need to help push him over. Don’t pass by and ignore him. This is the story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus told against the Sunday-church-going Christian. Jesus asked, “Which of these, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said, “You go and do likewise” (Luke 10:29-37).
You go and do likewise because this is what Jesus did for the lost sheep and broken people. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned––every one––to his own way” (Is. 53:6). And Jesus did not ignore us, or hide himself from our danger. He has compassion on us and restored what was lost. Remember what happens when that which is lost is found? Rejoicing. Celebration. Gratitude. Flourishing of life.
No Gender Confusion (vs. 5)
The biblical emphasis for the flourishing of life backs the next command, “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.” This verse prohibits gender confusion by prohibiting two things.
The first is transvestitism––a man cross-dressing like a woman. Our culture wants to blur the lines so that men dress more like women. But this verse shows that God cares which kind of clothes men wear and women wear. God cares about fabric and cut and colors and hemlines. God cares about the distinctions between men’s clothing and women’s clothing. And so should we. If there’s confusion in clothes, then this can lead to confusion in gender. This is not crazy. This is our culture.
The second prohibition in verse 5 is that women are forbidden to wear, not the clothes of a man, but the gear of a man. The phrase keli geber refers to weapons, tools, and other things particularly masculine (Gen. 27:3). This phrase keli geber is regularly translated as “armor-bearer,” the guy with the shield and sword and all the ammo draped around his neck. One application of this is that God forbids women to engage in combat roles in the military.
Whether we are talking about a man in fishnet stockings, or a woman armed as a soldier, we need to recognize that God finds it loathsome. So should we. What happens to that which is an abomination to the Lord? It is judged, it is removed from the land, it is destroyed. What if the Canaanites thought a certain abomination was cool or fashionable or sexy? Would you follow them?
Long-term Thinking (vs. 6-7)
Now we get to the mama bird and the nest. Again, we see the emphasis on the preservation of life, which requires some long-term thinking. What do you take to eat? The answer is the eggs/young but not the mother. This is good stewardship of the land and that which survives on the land. The principle is that if you take care of the land, then the land will take care of you. Generational thinking. If you are harsh and greedy, then you’ll strip the produce of the land (and leave nothing for you or yours later on).
Biblical Building Code (vs. 8)
A final passage is that God calls his people to biblical building codes that aim to prevent accidents. Verse 8, “When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your house, if anyone should fall from it.” There are lots of applications to our own lives to prevent accidental harm. Put a railing up around a second story deck, or tree fort. Don’t leave faulty wiring alone that can burn down your house. If you’re puking, then stay within your own embattlements. Golden rule stuff here.
After sampling a few of these commandments, we should recognize that God and his Word are very applicable for our clothing styles, our careers, our building plans––all our life. And we should be eagerly apply these wise laws that God has given for the flourishing of life. This happens, of course, as his people imitate the God of life.