Book of Deuteronomy Chapter Twenty-Two Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Go To the Lord And Pray
Verses 1-4: "You shall not see your countryman’s ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your countryman. 2 If your countryman is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall remain with you until your countryman looks for it; then you shall restore it to him. 3 Thus you shall do with his donkey, and you shall do the same with his garment, and you shall do likewise with anything lost by your countryman, which he has lost and you have found. You are not allowed to neglect them. 4 You shall not see your countryman’s donkey or his ox fallen down on the way, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly help him to raise them up." Moses continued to instruct the leaders of Israel, imparting to them laws that the Lord had imparted to him during the preceding 40-years. You can see words similar to these in Exodus 23:4-5, containing an interesting addition: "If you see the donkey of one who HATES you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it." Even if the wallet on the sidewalk belongs to somebody who despises you, return it to them. Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone set aside their animosities and simply HELPED each another? You wouldn't have to worry about your possessions or safety anymore because we would be watching out for you. Jesus later said, "love your enemies... do good to those who hate you" (Matthew 5:44)—the so-called "New" Testament and the "Old" are one. And when you can't love your enemies, go to the Lord, who can do in you what you cannot do alone.
Verse 5: "A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God." We have an interesting glimpse here into God's thoughts about the roles of men and women in this world. In today's humanity, more-and-more men are dressing in women's clothing, and women are taking on the attitudes and actions of men. God is not pleased with this "modern" development. It's not really new because the Canaanite tribes of 3,500 years ago were going in a similar direction, which is part of the reason why God replaced them. Similar behavior is described in Romans 1, with the added information that the degradation of humanity follows a predictable pattern, ending with God's judgment on the nation that behaves in such a way. God did not make a mistake in making you the way you are. You may be disappointed in what He chose you to be, but He has a higher purpose, greater than any of us can understand (Isaiah 55:8-9). Pray... He will help you accept and even like what and who you are.
Verses 6-7: "If you happen to come upon a bird’s nest along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; 7 you shall certainly let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, in order that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days." The creatures of this world we call "animals" are races of beings. Most of them think, feel, worry, hope and hunger, much like the creatures called "people." As you can read in Genesis Chapters 1 and 2, our original purpose was to responsibly govern the earth, helping, comforting and protecting the various beings in this world, including but not limited to other humans. We have to eat, to ingest nutrients of one kind or another, like the other creatures we share this world with, but we are not to capriciously wipe them out as our ancestors often did. God's will is for us to protect and nurture this world and its inhabitants.
Verse 8: "When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, so that you will not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone falls from it." Roofs on houses in those days were typically flat. People who occupied those homes and their guests utilized the roofs as temporary sleeping quarters, weather permitting, and as places of entertainment, not unlike the patios found next to many modern structures. The idea in building a wall around such roofs is this: Whatever you build or maintain, give thought (and prayer) to its effect on those who will use it. If you design and build a car, an air conditioner or a toy, the well-being of others is to be a principal concern. If people are to stand on your roof, keep them safe.
Verses 9-11: "You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, or all the produce of the seed which you have sown and the increase of the vineyard will become defiled. 10 You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. 11 You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together." The people of Canaan were soon to be replaced, along with their customs. The blending of kinds of seed and the mixing of substances and animals in precise ways, had become an expression of idolatrous religious beliefs. It's obvious that an ox and a donkey differed greatly in size and strength, and it was cruel to make one work with the other. The Canaanites did not care, but God does. Superstitious acts and unfair practices were to end, according to God's intention for the land and its people. And there is a human analogy in forbidding this mixing of animals—2 Corinthians 6:14 admonishes those who believe: "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers."
Verse 12: "You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself." In Numbers 15:38, you can see another mention of God's direction that Israeli men wear such tassels, which were to be blue in color. A small container for anointing oil was given to me after I was ordained, which I wear on a cord around my neck. It is a reminder of who I am supposed to be in Christ—someone who encourages others to know the Lord and receive His Holy Spirit. Israelites were to be perceived as different, in part by wearing those tassels. We are to be different also, but God's intention is that we are to be perceived as different because we love one another (Leviticus 19:18).
Verses 13-17: "If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then turns against her, 14 and charges her with shameful deeds and publicly defames her, and says, ‘I took this woman, but when I came near her, I did not find her a virgin,’ 15 then the girl’s father and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of the girl’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. 16 The girl’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man for a wife, but he turned against her; 17 and behold, he has charged her with shameful deeds, saying, 'I did not find your daughter a virgin.' But this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city." Again, Moses is recalling judicial decisions he heard and decided during the preceding 40-years. You have to wonder—how many times did these awful things happen during his tenure as leader of Israel? How many are happening right now?—all over the world? To those of us who have given their hearts and lives to the Lord, He has created in us the capacity for honesty, even when we tell the truth to our own hurt. The people listening to Moses here were learning rules of evidence that came from the Lord through Moses and were to be utilized in Israel during the centuries to follow. The marital linens were to be preserved by the bride's parents for just such a moment. Truth is greater than modesty.
Verses 18-19: "So the elders of that city shall take the man and chastise him, 19 and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give it to the girl’s father, because he publicly defamed a virgin of Israel. And she shall remain his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days." Can you imagine the feelings of the husband of these verses? He was publicly humiliated, branded a liar, and in a nation where divorce was easy for the husband, he had to stay with her all of their lives. And her family was watching—if he harmed her, he would be in big trouble. Lies have a way of coming back to us and hitting us in the face. Don't humiliate others, and if you are drawn to do what's wrong, pray, and the Lord will help you to not do it.
Verses 20-21: "But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, 21 then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father’s house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you." In our so-called "modern" culture, virginity at the point of marriage is rare in many countries to the point that we cannot fully comprehend the need for the decisions of these verses. For one thing, the land of Canaan was so riddled with venereal disease that it was risky to marry. Divorce was easily obtained, remarriage was rampant and "blended" families were everywhere, creating the "hers, his and ours" children in marriages, complicating everything. Capital punishment frightens and angers many, but God's intention was to provide a strong deterrent to many of the troubles we are experiencing in the world right now.
Verse 22: "If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel." This verse is especially interesting because of John 8:1-11, the account of a woman caught in adultery who was brought to Jesus by religious leaders. They were supposed to know the law of this verse, in which both the man and woman were to die, but they did not bring the man. The leaders were shamed by the quiet response of Jesus, and they went away, one or two at a time. Jesus asked her, "Where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" She replied, "No one, Lord." His concluding words to the woman were: "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." Go to the Lord. Instead of eternal death, you will find everlasting forgiveness.
Verses 23-24: "If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you." This is a dangerous world. The very first commandment to us was "Be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28) which is good, but humanity has taken the urgency and joy of that command outside of the context of marriage. God is not pleased, and when you listen to or read today's news reports, it is seen that all sorts of avoidable problems arise out of the misuse of something intended to bring joy into the world. Note there are times to be quiet but also times to cry out with outrage when something terrible is done to you. Pray—and act—as the Lord leads.
Verses 25-27: "But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. 27 When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her." The preceding verses tell the engaged to-be-married young woman what to do when she is attacked with other people nearby. She is to cry out and perhaps someone will hear and help her. But what happens when she is in an isolated place and no one can hear? Moses no doubt had considered the evidence of such terrible occurrences through the decades, leading to the death of rapists and life for the women involved, though bad memories would be a problem. God does hear our cries for help and He comforts us.
Verses 28-29: "If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days." Again, we are presented with the interesting solution to a complex situation, in which a man seduces an unmarried girl who likely would have become somebody's wife in the future, but her opportunities are sharply reduced by what this man did to her. Whether or not she consented isn't the point. He has damaged her, mentally and physically, there is no going back, and so he is sentenced to live with her all of their lives.
Verse 30: "A man shall not take his father’s wife so that he will not uncover his father’s skirt." Here again, the issue isn'tt whether or not his father's wife consented—it's simply that such an act is obviously wrong. If you do such a thing, or rob someone, or lie about them—you bring shame to all concerned. Historically and right now, such acts occur all over the world, and in every case, it's wrong to do it. Here's your only hope: Tell the Lord before you do it! Go to Him and pray. He is stronger than your sin; He died in your place for what you have done and are likely to do. Go to the Lord and pray.
Lord, I come to You and confess my sins—my actions and my thoughts. Help me, Lord. Stop me before I sin again. I give myself to You and trust in You now. I am Yours, Lord. Please help me. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.