"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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Friday, June 16, 2023


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

DEUTERONOMY 25: OBSERVATIONS on OFFENSES, OXEN and OBLIGATIONS – James Fire; check out the complete teaching here!

INTRODUCTION: The LORD GOD is all about justice, all about fairness and also grace, all in perfect proportion and in perfect balance. Justice where it’s required, fairness where it’s needed, and grace where such will bless the recipient. GOD is the Almighty Creator, the Sovereign LORD, the Holy Judge as well as the Blessed Redeemer. We see aspects of all of this in the following chapter.

1 "If there is a dispute between men, and they come to court, that the judges may judge them, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked, 2 "then it shall be, if the wicked man deserves to be beaten, that the judge will cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence, according to his guilt, with a certain number of blows. 3 "Forty blows he may give him and no more, lest he should exceed this and beat him with many blows above these, and your brother be humiliated in your sight.

The purpose of any judge is to render justice: delivering the innocent from victimization, and bringing punishment upon the guilty, justly deserved. Here the judge is to determine who of the two parties is innocent, and who is guilty. The guilty is charged with punishment and if required, they are beaten with the number of blows equitable to their crime. But this number is not to exceed forty blows, according to the Law.

The LORD Jesus expresses this same thought:

LUKE 12:45-48
45 "But if that servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk,
[this shows you what kind of servant this guy is!] 46 "the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 "And that servant who knew his master's will and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 "But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

The LORD Jesus was beaten by Roman soldiers and it’s a popular notion that He was beaten with a Cat O’ Nine Tails forty times – but that’s according to Jewish law, not Roman! I don’t believe those Roman soldiers stopped at forty, but continued to flay the LORD Jesus until flesh was ripped away from bare bone.

History records that people flailed with a Cat O’ Nine Tails often died by being disemboweled! One historian stated that by the time the LORD Jesus suffered the full count of blows by the Romans, He looked like His body, from head to toe, was draped with ribbons dripping with blood. The LORD Jesus suffered the punishment intended for criminals while He was Himself the spotless, innocent LAMB of GOD who remained silent according to prophecy (ISA 53:7), and endured the terrible humiliation we who were criminals against GOD’s Law were all deserving of.

"You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.

The apostle Paul was criticized by some for his acceptance of monetary funds to live on while he continued in the ministry. In fact, these criticisms became so fierce that he refrained from this biblical right of the minister and continued to minister at night, while working during the day (ACTS 20:34; 1 COR 4:12; 1 THESS 2:9).

He comments on vs. 4 of DEUTERONOMY:
1 CORINTHIANS 9:9-10,13-14
9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? (1 TIM 5:18; 2 TIM 2:6).
13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel
(MATT 10:10; LUKE 10:7).
Pastor Sonny receives wages for his ministering to the church; these are not charitable offerings; these wages are his due. He sows “spiritual things” to us, the church, and he reaps “material things” from us.

Many ministers are criticized today by those who resent the idea that “pastors get to sit around all day in plush, air conditioned offices, and read and write, never sweating at the brow – gee, that must be nice! And I should pay his wages??” GOD says so…

Such people are terribly uninformed as to what a pastor deals with. Pastor Albert and I have been in this ministry for only about three years, and we have had but a taste of what Pastor Sonny has experienced to a greater degree, and pastor Danny for his decades of ministry – even more so.

People who think pastors have it easy have to consider what the Word says; teachers are going to be judged on the day of Judgment for the saints (the Bema Seat Judgment (2 COR 5:10)) are going to be held to a much, much higher standard (JAMES 3:1).This was one of the reasons why I prayed and sought GOD for two years before I accepted this responsibility. A pastor of 300 people has far greater responsibility than the President of the United States over 300 million people. A President is in office for 4 to 8 years, and after that, the job passes to another. Decisions made by any President may have repercussions for some years or even some generations after he leaves office, but what a pastor does has repercussions into eternity.
And really, the same goes for any Christian. How you live your life now will affect your eternity!

Please pray for me, and pastor Albert, and pastor Sonny, that we will honor the LORD in these positions; we need your prayerful support!

To be certain, there are pastors, televangelists and others “in ministry” who aren’t feeding the sheep but fleecing the sheep; who are actually hirelings “who don’t care for the sheep” (JOHN 10:12-13) not genuine under-shepherds, who like the Great Shepherd will “lay down their lives for the sheep”. These are the sort who love money, not saints, and who will teach contrary to Scripture and if challenged they warn “touch not GOD’s anointed” and “don’t question my teaching, I’m the pastor!”

No one less than Paul the Apostle was scrutinized for his teaching, and his hearers checked him with the Scriptures. Paul didn’t rebuke them for it, but rather commended them for it (ACTS 17:11)! If it’s good enough for the apostle Paul, its good enough for any pastor, teacher, or evangelists!

And if by the counsel of Scripture, you show any pastor where you think he’s wrong, and he doesn’t submit to the Word of GOD rightly interpreted, then you need to leave that church and find one that teaches the Scriptures in context of the entire revelation of Scripture!

Listen! Don’t believe what you’re taught at this pulpit just because its SHINE BRIGHT Church; check out every teaching in this and every other church in light of Scripture so you know these truths for yourself and stand on the sure foundation of the Holy Bible – don’t just believe it “because pastor says so”!

5 "If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband's brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. 6 "And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel. 7 "But if the man does not want to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate to the elders, and say, 'My husband's brother refuses to raise up a name to his brother in Israel; he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother.' 8 "Then the elders of his city shall call him and speak to him. But if he stands firm and says, 'I do not want to take her,' 9 "then his brother's wife shall come to him in the presence of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, spit in his face, and answer and say, 'So shall it be done to the man who will not build up his brother's house.' 10 "And his name shall be called in Israel, 'The house of him who had his sandal removed.'

What’s this business about removing this man’s sandal from his foot? Let’s find out!
It was the custom in Israel that if the husband of a woman died, and they had no children, then the husband’s brother – or if he had no brother, then his nearest kinsman would have a time with the woman so that she could raise up a child in the name of her deceased husband, thus preserving the family line in the tribe to which they belonged.

This is the situation we find in the book of RUTH; Ruth a Moabitess who married into the Jewish family of Elimelech and his wife Naomi. The husband of Naomi dies, and ten years later, both of her sons die (one of which was the husband of Naomi’s daughter-in-law, Ruth). So we have three widows here.

Naomi decides she’s going back to her native town of Bethlehem in Israel and she encourages her daughter-in-laws to return to their own families in Moab, but Ruth refuses and pledges herself to Naomi, to her people and to the GOD of Israel (RUTH 1:16).

So begins the story of Ruth who travels to Israel where she will eventually meet by the sovereign providence of GOD, Boaz, the near kin to Naomi, and when Ruth laid down at Boaz’s feet while he slept in his tent according to Naomi’s instruction, this was a testimony to the man, that Ruth is seeking for the blessing of the kinsman redeemer.
Boaz is a type of Christ in this sense, as Christ Jesus our LORD is the kinsman Redeemer of Israel and of all humanity. He proved this in REVELATION 5:5 as He was the only one worthy to take the scroll (the title deed of the Earth) from the Father's hand as He sat upon the throne (see the TTUF study in REVELATION 5 here).
RUTH 3:7-11
7 And after Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was cheerful, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came softly, uncovered his feet, and lay down 8 Now it happened at midnight that the man was startled, and turned himself; and there, a woman was lying at his feet. 9 And he said, "Who are you?" So she answered, "I am Ruth, your maidservant. Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative." 10 Then he said, "Blessed are you of the LORD, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 "And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.
Boaz recognizes however that there is another man who is an even closer relative to Naomi than himself, but when he is made the offer to take Ruth from Boaz, and to redeem the land back which belonged to Elimelech and his wife Naomi, that man declines the offer.
RUTH 3:12; 4:1-10
12 Now it is true that I am a close relative; however there’s a relative closer than I.
1 Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there; and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz had spoken came by. So Boaz said, "Come aside, friend, sit down here." So he came aside and sat down. 2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, "Sit down here." So they sat down. 3 Then he said to the close relative, "Naomi, who has come back from the country of Moab, sold the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech. 4 "And I thought to inform you, saying, 'Buy it back in the presence of the inhabitants and the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, redeem it; but if you will not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know; for there is no one but you to redeem it, and I am next after you.'" And he said, "I will redeem it." 5 Then Boaz said, "On the day you buy the field from the hand of Naomi, you must also buy it from Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance." 6 And the close relative said, "I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I ruin my own inheritance. You redeem my right of redemption for yourself, for I cannot redeem it." 7 Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging, to confirm anything: one man took off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was a confirmation in Israel. 8 Therefore the close relative said to Boaz, "Buy it for yourself." So he took off his sandal. 9 And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, "You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, from the hand of Naomi. 10 "Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from his position at the gate. You are witnesses this day."
Boaz calls a meeting with the elders of the city. The nearer relative admonishes Boaz to redeem Naomi’s land for her and to marry Ruth, and to seal the deal they engage in what’s called “a shoe covenant”. Each man was to take one of his sandals and exchange it with the other – this was a binding agreement. There is another covenant that is even more binding, a “covenant by salt” (2 CHRON 13:5; NUM 18:19).

11 "If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, 12 "then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall not pity her.

(Why do I always get stuck with these kinds of passages??)
So the Law here specifies that if there is a violent altercation between men, the wife of man who would defend her husband, when it comes to this particular member of his opponent’s body, it’s “hands off” or “off limits” otherwise it’s “hands off” as in “off with her hand”! And let’s just leave it at that, shall we?

13 "You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. 14 "You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. 15 "You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure, that your days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. 16 "For all who do such things, all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the LORD your God.

In trade and commerce things were weighed in scales; same thing when you go to the butcher’s block and they weigh the fish on their scale, poultry or meat and the scale determines the price per pound. A dishonest butcher might press a finger on the product, and cause the scale to show a heavier weight, therefore a higher price.

In Israel dishonest merchants would have “5 lbs” written on the side of two different weights. But one of those was actually 7 lbs. and the other only 3 lbs. So if he was selling, he’d use the lighter weight claiming that the product was 5 lbs. worth when it was only 3 lbs. but getting 5 lbs. worth of money!

But if he was buying, he would use the heavier weight, and get 7 lbs. worth of product for only the price of 5 lbs. This is of course theft, and a violation of the command, You shall not steal (# 8 of the 10).

Today such theft is done by means of a fiat currency. Our American dollar was backed by gold. You’d be able to go to any bank, deposit a dollar note (paper money) and request the equivalent dollar amount of gold. Then we went off the gold standard and went down to the silver standard and the same principle – you could get one dollar’s worth of silver.

Today our dollar is backed by – nothing! So what’s its value? It depends on how much paper money is in circulation: the more paper money out there, the less value each dollar has. The less paper money, the greater the value. This is what causes inflation: a fiat currency controlled by the unconstitutional central bank in the US – The Federal Reserve. This is why our Founding Fathers rejected the idea of a central bank!

Essentially a central bank will make the rich, richer and the poor, poorer. It’s a form of “legal theft”. But GOD sees this “abomination” – and for those who created the American Central Bank, and those who control it today, JUDGMENT Day is coming and on that day, there will be no such thing as injustice!

For ourselves, let’s be mindful of our conduct when we pay our taxes or if we’re selling an item that we claim is only 3 years old when in fact it’s actually 7 years old. Honesty truly is the best policy – to get ahead in this world, cheating can work, but we aren’t looking to get ahead in this world by dishonest means: GOD promotes those who are upright in heart in this life and the next. GOD declares that the ones with clean hands and a pure heart are the inheritors of His Kingdom (PSALM 24)!

17 "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, 18 "how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. 19 "Therefore it shall be, when the LORD your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.

In the book of ESTHER, we have this man Haman who was the son of Hammedatha, an Agagite, of the Amalekite tribe (ESTH 3:1-4). Haman was determined to wipe out all the Jews in genocide.
Yet Israel failed to wipe out this tribe which continued to be a thorn in Israel’s side: more than 500 years previous to the time of Esther, King Saul was ordered to slay Agag, King of the Amalekites and he refused to do so (1 SAM 15). Had he been obedient to the LORD, Haman the Agagite, descendent of King Agag, would have never been born to persecute the Jews.

When GOD issues a command, we may not understand all the reasons and purposes, but we can be assured that He seeks out our well being and protection. And certainly the world doesn't understand or care apparently, for these Laws of GOD:

~ For example, the world sees nothing wrong with fornication and adultery, but GOD in His wisdom understands that these things bring ruin into our lives and into our society (which is why Satan promotes these things in the entertainment industry through films and TV).
~ The world sees nothing wrong with a love for money, but GOD tells us that that is the root of all evil (1 TIM 6:10).
~ The world sees nothing wrong with worshiping whatever we want, but GOD knows that He alone is worthy of worship and its only the worship of the true GOD, the LORD Jesus Christ, that we can find eternal life, secure salvation, ultimate purpose and everlasting fulfillment – nowhere else!

Killing sin in our lives early on (the Agag’s in our lives), will mean we won’t have to deal with those sins when they grow bigger and corrupt more of our lives (represented by the Haman’s in our lives).

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