Righteousness Before Relationships (Deuteronomy 13:6-11)
- Righteousness Before Relationships (Deuteronomy 13:6-11)
- Morning Meditation: Listen to Words not Wonders (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)
- Morning Meditation: Inquiring After Their Gods (Deuteronomy 12:28-32)
- Morning Meditation: Obedience is Always an Option (Deuteronomy 12:20-27)
- Morning Meditation: How to Enjoy God’s Blessings (Deuteronomy 12:15-19)
- Morning Meditation: One Pattern, One Name, One Place (Deuteronomy 12:8-14)
- Morning Meditation: Shrine or Sanctuary? (Deuteronomy 12:1-7)
- Morning Meditation: A Blessing and a Curse (Deuteronomy 11:26-32)
- Morning Meditation: A People of the Book (Deuteronomy 11:18-25)
- Morning Meditation: The Primacy of Obedience (Deuteronomy 11:13-17)
- Morning Meditation: Characteristics of the Land (Deuteronomy 11:8-12)
- Morning Meditation: A Heritage of Obedience (Deuteronomy 11:1-7)
Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 13:6-11
This passage contains a most solemn law. Israel was told to love God with the whole heart and with the whole soul, to cling to Him and fear Him. It was no question that pagans were to be slain in the conquest, but what of those within Israel’s borders that allured others into idolatry–what of one’s own family who secretly enticed him to follow other gods? So, the Lord reminds His people of their dearest relationships and even intensifies them with descriptions: a brother who is related by blood and not mere affection, a son or a daughter, a wife who is cherished beyond all others, a friend who shares the same spirit. And so, we are met with two ultimatums: one either chooses allegiance to the God Who demands his all or stands with his family which means everything to him.
Consider what is at stake if he chooses God over family, and that will mean death for the offender. Suppose he exposes his brother’s sin: he will tear out the heart of himself and his mother as well. Suppose he exposes his child’s sin: he may be cutting off his only heir and legacy, let alone the fruit of his own womb. Suppose he exposes his wife’s sin: he has now chosen God over the closest of relationships and will tear from himself his companion, his dear one, his very own flesh. Suppose he exposes his friend’s sin: he will doubtless have his soul cut in half, losing one on whom he could depend entirely. All of these would grieve himself and everyone around him. He would risk his family’s hatred. He would risk ostracization by emotion-stricken Israelites. He would risk personal trauma from which recovery would be a distant hope. Yet he must do what is right, for all other gods are forbidden and have no place among Israel, even in its thought-life. And lest one be tempted to make an exception, the Lord includes gods near and far, from one end of the earth to the other.
The man is faced with a choice. Either will be detrimental in some way. Does he choose relationships? Or does he choose what is right? Verse 8 gives the answer: “You shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him.” He was first of all to refuse the temptation personally and decide that idolatry was not for him. Secondly, he had to choose the emotion with which he would respond: not pity but rather solemn righteousness. Thirdly, he had to act and expose the sin.
It only goes further, though, for the very one who exposed the sin had the responsibility to throw the first stone. There he stands with his wife or his dearest friend in an open space before a great crowd. A stone is in his hand. He looks up into the heavens: choose righteousness? He looks into the eyes of his loved one: or choose relationship? He must make a choice. Whatever he does will set a precedent. He is responding to the God Who delivered Israel from Egypt and proved His glory and His worth. He will be an object lesson to generations to come of what is most important. Thus, on his shoulders rests the glory of God and the good of God’s chosen people. With tears in his eyes and unparalleled anguish in his heart, looking at the very one he loved, he casts the stone. Righteousness must prevail.
The point is simple, and we all understand what is at stake. We are not called to these expressions of judgment anymore, yet the principle remains true. Doubtless in this day of grace, mercy will reign more than anything; and we praise God for that. But we must ever solemnly ask the question: do I choose righteousness or my relationships? In a fallen world, certain relationships will kill our usefulness for God. Yet to do what is right may hurt the other person involved, though we meant no personal harm (and we should never mean harm). What will we choose? The commandment to love our neighbor and to honour our peers only comes after the chief commandment to love God without reserve. Righteousness must come before relationships. May God give us grace and sensitivity to apply this. We will only apply this if we understand the holiness of our God. How holy is your God?