"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Saturday, March 18, 2023


Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez, and James Fire

DEUTERONOMY 14: “YOU ARE A SPECIAL TREASURE” by Sonny Islas, check out the complete teaching here!

INTRODUCTION: As we continue in the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses continues to remind Israel what God expects from them before entering the Promised Land.

1 "You are the children of the LORD your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave the front of your head for the dead. 2 "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

Because death and mourning are inevitable, The LORD makes it clear that He didn’t want Israel to mourn for their dead in the same way pagans did or the Canaanites did.


The Canaanites/pagans would cut themselves with knives and shave their heads a specific way as an act of mourning for the dead. This self-harm displayed increased pain and it served as an act of worship or devotion to their false gods.

We get a glimpse of the way the priests of Baal (meaning lord) worshipped in 1 KINGS 18 where a spiritual showdown took place between the hundreds of prophets of Baal vs. Elijah, the prophet of Yahweh – The One True God.

The prophets of Baal cried out to Baal to answer them and there was no response. Elijah then mocks them and their false god by saying something like “Cry louder! Maybe, he’s in deep thought, taking a nap, on a journey or on the toilet.”

1 KINGS 18:28 says,
“So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom (tradition), with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them.”

Some Bible commentators say that the priests of Baal would go as far as cutting off a finger, a toe or some other body part and cast it on the altar for Baal as an act of “deep devotion.” Pretty sick and painful right?

Pagans from foreign religions not only cut themselves when they mourned for the dead, they also cut themselves as a way to atone for their own sins. They “bled for their gods in order to be forgiven of their sins.”

So, God didn’t want Israel to neither harm their bodies in this way for the dead, nor make themselves bleed for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus alone was to be the One to bleed for the forgiveness of our sin as He took our punishment upon Himself at the cross.

Sometimes I wonder if self-harm or cutting oneself with a razor blade (which more and more teens are doing today) is somehow unwittingly/unknowingly connected to this worship of false gods – which are really demons? Instead of taking their pain, shame, guilt, and sins to Jesus, and placing their trust in the One who bled and died (was punished in their place), they take matters into their own hands. They’d rather cut than to look to the cross – of course, out of pure ignorance.

Another thing that comes to mind is tattooing one’s body for the dead – as a tribute to a dead family member. Where one gets a picture of a deceased nana on the arm or the picture of a deceased child on their back. Because the needle does cut the skin like a knife and causes both physical pain and bloodshed. Tattoos are basically colorful scars.

Moses reinforces the reality of who they are in the eyes of God their LORD and Creator.

VERSE 1 “You are the children of the LORD you God.’’

Why shouldn’t they harm their body in this bloody and painful way? Because they are God’s kids and God doesn’t want them harming themselves in this way as an act of mourning or worship. No good parent wants their children to hurt themselves.

Listen, we too are God’s kids and there is no greater honor.

1 JOHN 3:1-3 says,
’Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

This grand reality of being a child of God ought to cause us to live a pure and pleasing life just as He is pure and worthy of our obedience in love.

Moses goes on to remind them of their blessed identity and position.

VERSE 2 “You are a holy people (set apart by God and for God) … And the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, A SPECIAL TREASURE ABOVE ALL peoples who are on the face of the earth.

At this time, there was no nation and people like Israel. Israel and only Israel had the One true God of Creation in their midst. And as the New Testament Church, we have God’s Spirit living in us.

The greatest blessing Israel experienced (besides Yahweh living among them for a time), is that the Messiah came from their bloodline – through, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, King David and eventually Mary.

hey were a special treasure to God but so are we – The Church.

1 PETER 2:9
9 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”

The same things that Moses said to Israel, Peter says to us gentiles!

In the first chapter of EPHESIANS it says that we are chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, and eternally sealed by the Holy Spirit. We are blessed!

3 "You shall not eat any detestable thing. 4 "These are the animals which you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, 5 "the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the mountain goat, the antelope, and the mountain sheep. 6 "And you may eat every animal with cloven hooves, having the hoof split into two parts, and that chews the cud, among the animals. 7 "Nevertheless, of those that chew the cud or have cloven hooves, you shall not eat, such as these: the camel, the hare, and the rock hyrax; for they chew the cud but do not have cloven hooves; they are unclean for you. 8 "Also the swine is unclean for you, because it has cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud; you shall not eat their flesh or touch their dead carcasses. 9 "These you may eat of all that are in the waters: you may eat all that have fins and scales.

10 "And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you.
11 "All clean birds you may eat. 12 "But these you shall not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, 13 "the red kite, the falcon, and the kite after their kinds; 14 "every raven after its kind; 15 "the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the seagull, and the hawk after their kinds; 16 "the little owl, the screech owl, the white owl, 17 "the jackdaw, the carrion vulture, the fisher owl, 18 "the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe and the bat. 19 "Also every creeping thing that flies is unclean for you; they shall not be eaten. 20 "You may eat all clean birds. 21 "You shall not eat anything that dies of itself; you may give it to the alien who is within your gates, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner; for you are a holy people to the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk.

In this portion of prohibitions, God doesn’t want Israel eating any unclean animals like the pagans do. This was for health reasons and for distinction reasons.

One commentator says that these unclean animals carried bacteria, diseases and parasites. I personally think that it had to do more with God making His people district.

In the New Testament, God gave Peter and all born-again/converted/Christian Jews permission to eat unclean animals. In ACTS 10, God gives Peter a vision of a kind of banquet with unclean animals on it and commands Peter to kill and eat – that it was all now clean /acceptable. This was also pointing to how the gospel message was not only for the jew but was for the Gentile (unclean) also. Cornilius who was a Roman/Gentile and others (“the unclean”) were saved after this vision.

God no longer wanted food to be the defining factor regarding spiritual purity and holiness. He didn’t want new believers thinking that eating pork is as bad as watching porn. So, all foods were now permissible.

ROMANS 14:17
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking (it’s no longer about kosher or unclean foods), but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,”

Food doesn’t make one right with God, faith in Christ which produces a godly character does.

We have the liberty to eat whatever we want now – thank God because I love pepperoni on my pizza!

21 “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”

This is something that pagans/Canaanites did. It was a superstition that if one did this, they would become fertile. Able to have children or prosper in some other way. Today some Jews will not eat any kosher meats with dairy products on the side. So no lamb with feta cheese for some Jews.

 22 "You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year”. 23 "And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. 24 "But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the LORD your God has blessed you, 25 "then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses. 26 "And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. 27 "You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you. 28 "At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. 29 "And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.

They were commanded by God to give 10% of their first fruits or their fields – their crops/produce/animals. They were to take a tenth to wine and dine with God. They were to sell it and bring the money if they lived too far and if it was too hard to travel with and bring it all.

Today, we are not under the Law to give 10% of our income, but it’s a good place to start.

The LORD wants us to give joyfully, regularly, and thoughtfully or from the heart as an act of thanksgiving and devotion.

In closing: God wanted them to act differently, think differently, eat differently, dress differently, and live differently. To live according to God’s good rules in the sight of the other nations.

Today God wants us to do the same – in the sense that unlike the world, we are called to live according to the Word and character of Christ.

For more on this, check out David Guzik’s study on DEUTERONOMY Ch. 14

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