christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

deuteronomy 22:30-23:8, the integrity of the assembly

Read Deuteronomy 22:30-23:8 at Bible Gateway.

Previously: deuteronomy 22:13-29, the sacredness of marital intimacy

(Please review the teaching tools of scripture, especially the Hebrew paragraph divisions and chiastic structures. The paragraphs marked by an “s” at their close are weak paragraphs, which indicate a change of facet but not a change of theme or topic. The paragraphs marked by a “p” at their close are strong paragraphs, which indicate the completion of a theme or topic.)

Deu 22:30-23:8 is the fourth section explaining Do not commit adultery, the seventh commandment. The seventh commandment is explained in Deu 21:10-23:14, and this is my summary of it. The Hebrew paragraph divisions are:

Deu 22:30 {s} Unlawful unions prohibited
Deu 23:1 {s} Assembly membership prohibited (inability to produce seed)
Deu 23:2 {s} Assembly membership prohibited to 10th generation (seed of unlawful unions)
Deu 23:3-6 {s} Assembly membership prohibited to 10th generation (Ammon + Moab)
Deu 23:7-8 {s} Assembly membership allowed in 3rd generation (Edom + Egypt)

I believe God is again concerned with preserving the sanctity of the next generation. The union of Deu 22:30 is an unlawful union; these unions were commonplace in Egypt and in the nations of the Canaanites; but were forbidden by God (Lev 18) as they are not only injurous to the parties subjected to them, but they also defiled or weakened the next generation.

There is a mistranslation in Deu 23:2:

One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord. Deu 23:2

The Hebrew word translated “illegitimate” does not mean what first comes to mind. In Hebrew, it is the seed of the unlawful unions of Deu 22:30 and Lev 18. Nearly all of the unlawful unions of Lev 18 are incestuous, and therefore these commands again are aimed at preserving the sanctity, integrity, and strength of the next generation.

The prohibition against Ammon and Moab is interesting. These nations were not only from the seed of unlawful unions themselves (Gen 19:30-38), but were the nations which rejected Israel and actively worked to secure their harm forever through a generational curse (the curse of Balaam). Generational curses weaken the next generation.

I believe there is more behind this commandment than meets the eye. I think it is in the same vein as God saying He would have war with Amalek forever (Exo 17:16), when we learned that Amalek is a prophetic metaphor for or type of antichrist in Scripture.

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Rev 7:9-10

All nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, will be standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes – accepted in, not cast out – including Ammon and Moab.

The inclusion of Edom and Egypt in the 3rd generation tells us that it takes about three generations for foreigners to adopt the culture of the nation where they are sojourning, so that they are as the native born.

My conclusion this year is that God is not afraid to prohibit some people from entering the assembly of the believers, in order to preserve the integrity and strength of the next generation. I think some churches who throw open their youth group to unbelievers could learn wisdom from God’s instruction designed to protect our next generation — i.e., keep your assembly meetings for the next generation who are being discipled, and plan other events for outreach to unbelievers.

Continued: deuteronomy 21:10-23:14, seventh commandment chiastic structure


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