Deut 14.1-21 gives us Choice #3, “Are we going to eat like them?” These commands are similar to Lev 11 and it is an updated list because they were about to go into the land and they were not to eat any detestable thing (v 13). Verses 4.6 tell us what creatures we can eat, and verses 7-8 tell us what creatures we cannot eat. Verses 9-10 tell us what we can eat of all that is in the water that has fins and scales, and what not to eat. Deut 14.11 says we can eat any clean bird, and verses 12-19 tell us the ones we cannot eat.
Deut 14.21 says we are not to eat anything that dies of itself. However, it can be given to an alien because they won’t be going into the Temple or touch objects with a kedusha in the central sanctuary. The alien may also sell it to a foreigner (one who is in the land for business or trade, etc), but Israel is a people with a kedusha to Yehovah. However, eating these animals can’t be very healthy as a whole. Seafood like shrimp, lobster and mussels cannot be checked for toxins. People have died from eating these things. We see diseases like what the Egyptians had put on them, and those were curses. For more information on eating or avoiding these creatures we refer you to the book, “None of these Diseases” by Sim McMillen, M.D. and David Stern, M.D. We can choose blessings or curses. The choice is, “Will we eat like them and follow what we see or what the Torah says.”
Deut 14.22 through 15.11 gives us Choice #4, “What are we going to do with our money?” Verses 22-29 discusses Tithing. Tithing was agricultural and only applied if you lived in the land. It went to various people and places and it looked like this.
Time was divided in seven year portions called a “Shemitah.” A person tithed their produce two times a year, at Shavuot and Sukkot. The first tithe was called the “Ma’aser Rishon” and the second tithe was called the “Ma’aser Sheni.” During the first year of the Shemitah the first tithe was taken to the Levitical storehouse nearest to where you lived at Shavuot. The second tithe was to the Temple at Sukkot. You could sell your tithe and bring the money to the Temple and spend it on whatever you wanted (sheep, oxen, wine or strong drink) while sharing it with others in a massive banquet (14.26).
During the second year of the shemitah you did the same thing. In the third year of the shemitah, the first and second tithe was taken to the Levitical city storehouse near you and shared with the poor, the orphan and widows, etc. In the fourth and fifth years of the shemitah, what was done in the first and second year was repeated. In the sixth year, both tithes were taken to the Levitical city storehouse near you. In the seventh year there was no tithing at all. For more information on this subject, see our teaching called “Biblical Giving and Tithing” on this website. Tithing does not apply today because there is no Temple, no priesthood or Levites and we do not live in the land anyway. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give. Giving ten percent is biblical giving, not tithing in the biblical sense, so tithing verses like Mal 3.8-11 should not be used to get a person to tithe. We find it hypocritical that churches teach that a person is not “under the law” but they teach a person to tithe, which is part of the law! If a pastor wants a person to tithe like an Israelite, then he needs to start living like a Levite.
Deut 15.1-11 tells us that every seven years brought forgiveness of debts to your neighbor. You cannot refuse a loan to another on this basis either (v 9). This is in the category of biblical giving. There are two parts in giving, the giver and the recipient. The bottom line is, money is not supposed to be the most important thing. The welfare of your brother was more important than money. He may have been “sold” to you to pay off a debt, but he is to be treated with kindness. After six years he is not to be sent away empty handed (v 11-13).
If that person who has been sold to you to pay off a debt decides he does not want to leave the household because he loves his master, the master took and awl and pierced his ear to the doorpost in a symbolic act of “attaching” that person to the household. After that, that person will remain in that house (v 16-18). All of this was seen as charity and biblical giving. What is more important, “doing the right thing” or “loving your brother?” The answer is, “Loving your brother” (1 Cor 13.1-8). There is a saying, “A tzaddik (saint) in pelts.” What does that mean? A pious person who keeps warm by wrapping himself in fur indicates a selfish piety because he only warms himself. But warmth should be obtained by building a fire so that others can benefit from the heat as well.
People were not to withhold their charity because the shemitah year was coming (15.9). This was called having an “Ein Ra” or “evil eye” meaning “stingy.” An “Ein Tov” was a “good eye” meaning “generous” (Prov 23.6; Matt 6.23). God hears the cries of those mistreated. Giving has more to do with the heart than the money. For example, if you intended to give five dollars in an offering but you gave twenty dollars because you had no change, the Lord sees it as giving five dollars. We should not give because we “have to” or hold the poor in contempt. We are to give generously as the Lord has prospered us, and according to our means (1 Cor 16.2).
Deut 16.1-17 gives us Choice #5, “Are we going to worship like them?” We learn that the month of Aviv starts the festival season with Passover. The lamb was sacrificed “in the place where the Lord chooses to establish his name.” We know this would be the central sanctuary in Jerusalem. These verses discuss what is called the “Shelosh Regalim” or the “three foot or walking festivals.” This is because the people made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem by walking three times a year. These were the festival of Hag Ha Matzah (Unleavened Bread), Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Booths). These festivals help give us an understanding of the Lord and his ways.
If you want to understand the Lamb, the Redemption and Deliverance, the crucifixion of Yeshua and the Resurrection then study Passover and Unleavened Bread. If you want to understand what happened at Mount Sinai and the giving of the Torah and how it relates to Acts 2, study Shavuot. If you want to know about the end times and prophecy, the Atid Lavo (Messianic Kingdom), the timing and the events surrounding the birth of Yeshua, then study Sukkot.
Many have no concept of these things, and what they do know is often wrong. They have no idea how the worship of the Lord teaches eschatology and prophecy. They are ignorant and blind because they do not keep the commandments of the Lord. The average Replacement Theology Christian who goes to church, Sunday School, reads the Bible or goes to a Bible study does not understand the concepts taught concerning the crucifixion of the Lord at Passover, his burial on Unleavened Bread, his resurrection on First Fruits or the empowerment of the eschatological congregation on Shavuot. They do not understand that these spring festivals teach the first coming of the Messiah Then we have the fall festivals. They do not understand that the Natzal (Rapture), coronation and wedding of the Messiah and judgment are taught concerning the festival of Yom Teruah (Rosh Ha Shannah). They do not understand that the actual second coming of Yeshua to Jerusalem is on Yom Kippur, and they do not understand the concepts about Messianic Kingdom at Sukkot.
As a result, because the average Replacement Theology Christian does not understand the festivals or Temple worship, and they will not understand prophecy (1 Thes 4.13 through 5.7). Why don’t they obey God (Torah)? Because they find no value in it. If we do things the way the Lord has said, interesting things happen. Then our faith is based on the Lord. It will not be based on what others do, money, food or observance of man-made doctrines.
That’s what being observant is, you choose the ways of the master’s house. So, the choices Israel had to make are the same choices we need to make. Are we going to serve their gods or Yehovah? Are we going to be like them? Are we going to listen to false prophets and teachers or are we going to listen to the Lord no matter what, even if the whole world doesn’t, including our family?
Are we going to eat like the world? When it comes to food, if it’s not important to us to eat permitted creatures and avoiding forbidden ones, then it won’t stop there. The rest of behavior will follow into other forbidden things. What are we going to do with our money? Do we care more for our money or our brother? The best way to learn how to give is to start learning what we have received from others and understanding what God has given us. Then we have understanding to give to others with the same needs we had. We should give all we have to others in our service as well. What is at the root of depression? It is being self-centered. Give of yourself to others and that problem will go away. Finally, are we going to worship like others who don’t follow the Lord, or as the Lord has said?
Let’s go back for a moment for an important concept. In Deut 13.3-4 we have a “menorah” of seven things that we should be doing. The central shaft is “love” (v 3). Then we should “follow, fear, keep/obey, listen, serve and cling” to the Lord. In Isa 11.2 we have the “Seven Spirits of God” which are very similar, another menorah. There are several ways to look at this, but let’s compare the Duet 13 list with the Isa 11 list. We see the central shaft of love associated with the Spirit and follow is associated with wisdom. Fear is associated with understanding and keep is associated with counsel. Listening is associated with strength and serving is associated with knowledge, and clinging to the fear of the Lord. These are the same choices we need to make in our lives as we go in to “possess the land.” These choices also apply to a congregation.
In Part 14 we will begin with the next Torah portion called “Shoftim” meaning “Judges.”