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Monday, February 2, 2015

Rightness and Purity (part 2) Deuteronomy 22:1-12


Introduction

Over the last couple of chapters, this one, and the next few, God gave statutes to the Israelites by which they were to live. Bible teachers and commentators have called these statutes miscellaneous or sundry statutes/laws. Though God appeared too concerned with the minutiae of the days and appeared to be overbearing, we must not forget the main purpose of the laws, statutes, and commandments. God gave these laws to help the Israelites, God’s chosen people, stay pure. To be pure means being “clean,” not stained by bloodguilt and not bowed with sin and its resultant guilt, but staying in relationship with Yahweh God.

Before the covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the Israelites, God made a covenant of love with His first created people, Adam and Eve. He created them because He wanted to be in a relationship with them. God made them in the image of Himself. He gave to them authority over everything on the earth, in the seas, and in the sky to manage and maintain it. This covenant was the first between God and created humankind. This Adamic covenant continues throughout earth’s lifespan, even today. God had unhindered access to Adam and Eve and they to Him. Remember, the Bible says He walked with them in the garden (Genesis 3:8). The first people, representative and father/mother of  humankind, had closeness, intimacy, and communion with God, Creator of humankind. When sin entered the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience, the closeness, intimacy, and communion with God left. God, being holy, cannot be in the presence of sin.

Disobedience continued to occur on earth. God found just Noah and his family repentant and willing to stay in a relationship with Him. God’s judgment upon sinful humanity was to flood the earth. After the flood, the regeneration of humanity occurred, but people continued to sin. God had a plan from the beginning of the world to make a people pure so they could be in relationship with Him. First, He had to get the attention of people and to show Himself so that they sought relationship with Him. Leviticus 26:12 says Abraham walked with God. Over time, more people walked with God in relationship, but these followers were still few .

Because of God’s relationship with Noah and Abraham, God chose to love the people descended from Israel, Abraham’s grandson. These people became God’s chosen people – the Israelites. Through Moses, God taught them who He is and what He would do for them. This is yada “knowing” Moses spoke of in Deuteronomy – a progressive knowing of God. God’s one requirement was they stay faithful to Him as their LORD/YAHWEH. Because God chose the Israelites as His people and they covenanted with Him about He being their one and only God, God gave laws, statutes, and commandments to them so they would stay righteous and pure before His eyes. This reason is the primary purpose God gave the rules for living. The secondary reason for God’s laws/statutes was for each person to live in harmony with other people and to live in harmony with nature. God did not give His laws to police and put the people under a tyrannical dictator.  He gave them to keep the Israelites in relationship with Himself. God gave His laws because of His love.

In Deuteronomy 22:1-12, God gave the Israelites laws affecting relationships between people and between people and nature. By keeping and obeying these laws, they would stay strong in their relationship with God. People’s relationship with God remains strong and strengthens

 because of their love of and obedience to God. Remember, by keeping God’s laws and statutes the Israelites remained right in God’s eyes. They remained free from the guilt of sin and pure in God’s eyes.

Affecting Humans – Care for Neighbors: Possessions


The first four verses of Deuteronomy 22 affect the Hebrews’ relationship with his or her neighbor. Verse 1 says a person shall not ignore or hide him or herself when he or she sees his or her countryman’s ox or sheep straying away. That person must take the animals back to the countryman to whom the animals belong. First, we need to note that the word “countryman” comes from the Hebrew word ach. It means a brother, relative, or kinsman. Since God founded the nation of Israel from the family line of Israel and gave them the Promised Land, this verse refers to every person who lived in the Promised Land. Anyone who lived in Israel must help anyone else who lived in Israel. The other important point of this verse is that God commanded (“shall”) them not to be negligent about taking care of another person – their person or possessions. Additionally, at the end of verse one, God told the Israelites, “You shall certainly bring them back to their countryman.” The finder was not to keep the possession of another person. The word “certainly” is a strong adverb added to the command “shall” to make sure the Israelites would not take liberties and keep the possession.

In verse 2, God told the Israelites what to do if the countryman to whom the possessions belonged did not live nearby or if he was unknown. He said the finder must (“shall”) take the neighbor’s possession to his or her own home and keep it until the countryman looked for it. The finder must keep the item with him or her just like he or she found it. He or she must keep it safe in his or her home until the countryman “looks” (seeks and asks) for it. The last part of verse two says, “Then you shall restore it to him.” The finder must not squeeze out of the obligation to return the found item. God commanded him or her to “restore” it. The word “restore” comes from the Hebrew word shuwb and means to restore, refresh, repair, and relinquish.  

God said in verse three if the found item was an animal, the finder must return the animal in as good or better condition than he found it. That means the finder was to feed the animal and not use it for his or her own purposes and work. If the found item was a garment (“simlah”), God meant the finder return it to the owner in the same condition, not more worn. God required due diligence of the finder. He did not apply this law just to animals and clothing, but included anything found belonging to another person. God said, “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.” The Hebrew word for our English word “found” is matsa. It includes protecting the found item - protecting for the future when the owner claims it and protecting from his or her own “neglect” (concealing and keeping it for his or herself). The word “neglect” in Hebrew is ‘alam and means to hide and keep to oneself.

God explicitly said was a person to pay attention, keep, and protect a found item. He stated, too, a person must help another person who was in obvious need. In verse 4, God told the Israelites if they saw a countryman whose donkey or ox fell, they were not to ignore the countryman. They were to help the countryman raise up the animal. Once again, God told the Israelite not to hide (neglect) from the need of another countryman (anyone living in Israel), but He commanded them to “certainly help.” These four verses relate to the relationship between two people. They relate to a person’s covenant with God about managing and maintaining the earth, too (from the first covenant with humankind in the garden of Eden). Animals are part of the earth and when they are in need, God commanded the Israelites give compassion and help.

Affecting God’s Order - Humans


From the beginning of creation, God created man and woman different. He created them in His image, both male and female (Genesis 1). God designed them with different bodily characteristics that gave them the ability to do tasks needed to be “fruitful,” “multiply,” “fill,” “subdue,” and “rule” over the earth (Genesis 1:27-28). Adam and Eve and their descendents were to use their bodies as God made them to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. To keep chaos from occurring on earth (remember, God is not a God of chaos and confusion – 1 Corinthians 14:33), they had to exercise the authority and wisdom God gave them to fill, subdue, and rule over the earth. “Subdue” comes from the Hebrew word kabash and means to keep under control and make subservient. This action requires brain and brawn. “Rule” comes from the Hebrew word radah and means to have dominion and subjugate. This action required brain and brawn, too. God gave man and woman the ability to multiply humankind and they each had different roles in re-creation. He gave men and women a desire for each other so they would be fulfilled in their relationship with each other as well as multiply and fill the earth. God made men with more muscle so they could do harder tasks and work longer. He gave both man and woman brains to exercise knowledge and wisdom in subduing and ruling over the earth, sky, and seas to keep them in God’s natural perfect balance so ecological chaos did not occur. God gave women the physical ability to bear and nurture her children. Because of that and her smaller muscle mass, her body could better care for the family and tasks requiring less strength. Neither partner in the relationship demands from the other a specific role, but in love for the other person, recognizes his or her strengths and weaknesses and works to help and complement the other for the tasks needed so they both work together in union and unity, like the husband-wife team of Aquila and Priscilla in Acts 18, Romans 16:3-4, 1 Corinthians 16:19, and 2 Timothy 4:19.  Paul considered them both equal, but they knew each other’s strengths and worked towards their joint strengths. Paul recognized the equality of every person under God in Galatians 3:27-28. This complementary work is how both man and woman fill, subdue, and rule over the earth, together. Neither the man nor woman is greater under God; they are equally loved and cherished. One’s ability – brain, brawn, nurturing nature – does not make him or her greater than the other.

God knew working side by side in managing and maintaining His creation would create a potential for distraction because of the desire man and woman would have for each other – a God-given desire. Satan would try to use the sexual attraction/distraction to cause lust, abuse of one by the other and temptation to change the God-made purpose of each sex. To keep correct the God-given order of sexuality, God commanded in verse five, “A woman shall not wear a 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.” This verse does not command one person be subjugated under another. It means most of all be careful how one dresses so temptation is not given to another regarding one’s body. Paul reiterated this statute about modesty in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 when he told Timothy women should cloth themselves modestly and discreetly. A deeper understanding occurs when the Hebrew words are understood in Deuteronomy 22:5.

If you think you know exactly what this verse means, let me remind you to be open to God’s Spirit moving and teaching as you read God’s Word. This verse does not say, as people over the years interpreted it, that women must not wear pants. Let us study the Hebrew words. The word “woman” used both times in this verse is the Hebrew word ishshah. It means a woman, female, or wife. It gives the general meaning of woman. The English word “man” in this verse is the Hebrew word geber. Geber is not the general word for man. It means a strong, valiant warrior. The most common Hebrew words used for “man” in the Bible are ‘ish and ‘adam.  Ish means  man, male, or husband and ‘adam means man or mankind. ‘Ish is the most common word for man and is used 1797 times in the Old Testament. “Adam is the next most common word used for man and is used 524 times in the Old Testament. Bible writers used geber sixty-three times. It speaks about a specific male role in society that reflects upon his strength and valor due to his strength. Hence, the comparison in this verse is between a general female role and a specific male role.

Next, let us look at the words used for clothing. The “man’s clothing” mentioned in the first part of the verse comes from the Hebrew word keliy and means implements such as for hunting, war, or specific to a man’s labor. Since the verse speaks of a strong, valiant warrior, then the clothing the woman must not wear, according to God, was the clothing a strong, valiant  man wore. These types of clothes could be armor, shield, chainmail, or any other clothing/implement a strong, valiant man would wear. These clothes would be extremely heavy for a man and more so for a woman. Now, to look at the clothing of a woman that a geber man must not wear, we need to look at the Hebrew word used for woman’s clothing. The woman’s clothing is the Hebrew word simlah. Simlah is a mantle, cloak, wrapper, or covering garment. People wore these cloaks for extra warmth during colder weather and often used them as blankets. Both men and women wore cloaks. Some Bible teachers propose people made cloaks for men and women differently. They proposed a man’s cloak/mantle had long slits in it so it could be tucked into his loincloth to make running or fighting easier. A woman’s cloak, they say, had no slits because they were to dress modestly and cover more of themselves. This theory sounds plausible, but nothing proves this idea. Other commentators say people transposed silmah from salmah, which means something closer to a dress. I think we should not stray too far from the Hebrew words and the context in which they are used. This verse, in essence, says a woman must not wear a strong, valiant man’s implements and a strong, valiant man must not wear women’s clothing – dress or a cloak made for a woman. The first thing we must remember is that God commanded it so we must obey it. The second thing we must remember is God gave these commands to keep this new nation - a people He chose to be His own – right and pure before His eyes so He could be among them.

For our rational selves, the next thing we want to consider is does this statute affect all men’s clothes and all women’s clothes. From the first, we see God only spoke about not wearing strong, warrior clothing. God did not want women wearing strong, valiant man’s implements either because of woman’s innate, God-created lesser muscle strength or because the role of a strong warrior was not the role God intended for women. Most of us cannot deny that women in general are not as physically strong as men, especially strong warriors. Added to this, we do not see within the Bible specific roles about women farming or men cooking and cleaning. We read about men and women working together to get tasks done. We read, too, that women have the specific task of bearing and feeding infants. Therefore this verse does not say women cannot wear pants and men cannot wear coats and it does not say women work only in the house and men work only out of the house. It says women shall not put on strong, valiant warrior-like men’s implements and men hall not wear women’s clothes (form-revealing garments).

In regards to form-revealing garments, Paul told women and implied to men they are to dress modestly not to cause distraction or temptation (1 Timothy 2:9-10). This verse tells us, too, men are not to act as a woman nor women act like a man, this includes relationships. Men acting as women for other men or women acting as men for other women is specifically forbidden in the Bible (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1:24-28, Jude 1:7, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and 1 Timothy 1:10). Dress for the task, but modestly so the work is done and no distraction or leading into temptation occurs. Remember, Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-28, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Modesty helps curb the temptation to lust. God put man and women together on earth to help each other (Genesis 2:18) do the tasks He set them to do in Genesis 1:28. A person dressing for the task enables him or her to work better, but God gave specifics about what clothing/implements men and women were not to wear.

Affecting God’s Design – Nature: Balance


Deuteronomy 22:6-7 appears from an initial reading to give God’s statute on maintaining and managing ecological wildlife. In essence, God told the Israelites when they came upon a bird’s nest with eggs and/or chicks and a mother sitting on the eggs, they were not to take both eggs/chicks and the mother, but leave the mother. By leaving the mother to survive, the person ensured the species survived to another gestation. By taking all of them, that branch of the species ended. In Genesis 1:28 God requires humankind to manage and maintain God’s creation.

Upon closer study we find God commanded this. He used the word “shall” twice – “you shall not take the mother with the young” and “you shall certainly let the mother go” (vs. 6 & 7). Another lesson we learn upon study of these two verses is following this command brings with it a promised and implies a curse if not followed. At the end of verse seven, God told them to do this “ so it may be well with them and they may prolong their days.” God gave this exact promise in Deuteronomy 4:40 if the Israelites followed God and His commandments. Remember, inheriting the Promised Land came from a covenant God had with Abraham. God promised the possession of the Promised Land came if the current Israelites’ kept their covenant with God. The promise in verse seven promises a long life in the Promised Land for each person and generation who lives there. The long life is individual and national. God will judge each person and controls the timing of each person’s life. As the ruler of Israel and creator of humankind, He controls the life or death/destruction of each nation as judgment for their moral depravity and disdain of Yahweh.

Another part to this command is that it taught compassion and mercy to the Israelites. As the Israelites cared for one animal and then others, the compassion and mercy God instilled within them would grow. The command taught each action built upon the next and led to a way of life. On the negative side, it forbade cruelty and covetousness. In caring for animals, the Israelites’ hearts learned compassion and mercy so that when they needed it in human relationships and encounters, they would have it to use.

Affecting Humans – Care for Neighbors: Life


Deuteronomy 22:8 says, “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.” In the Middle East at that time, people made their houses with flat roofs so that when the weather was hot, people could sleep and be on the roof to catch any cool breeze. Because a person could easily fall from the roof by a misstep, God told them to make a low wall on the roof to prevent that from happening. Researchers explained that the roof wall was between three feet high and ten hands high. Both heights were enough to keep a person from stepping off the roof.

God told the Israelites the main reason He commanded this action – to prevent bloodguilt. If you remember from the last Bible study, bloodguilt occurred when a person or nation killed people. The blood of any person created a wall of separation between God and the person or nation. So rid themselves of bloodguilt, the person/nation had to remove the evil from among themselves if the killing was intentional or break the neck of a young cow if it was not and then declare they were innocent and did not intend the death of the person. Either way, bloodguilt created a separation from God. God provided a precaution against accidental death by stipulating a wall be built around the roof edges. This statute prevented the severing of human relationships, the assumption of guilt, and the severing of a relationship with God.

Affecting God’s Design – Nature: Clean and Unclean


Verses nine to eleven speak about keeping dissimilar things separate. In these three verses, God dealt with mixing crops, mixing animals, and mixing fibers/threads. Remember, though, the three laws deal with the purity of things and keeping pure in God’s eyes. In each of them, God forbade particular actions. The Jews call this kilaym, which means the forbidden mixture of two things.

Sowing Seed.


The common practice of farming in the Middle East at that time was to sow seeds of a fruit, vegetable, or grain among the vines of the vineyard. In verse 9, God told the Israelites, “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.” On the surface, this seems like an unusual requirement, but when we look deeper, good reasons appear about why God commanded this.

First, having a vineyard required about seven years of hard labor. This means the place in which the vineyard grew was an established town, city, or nation. Since that was the case, most likely the area grew other crops necessary for survival, too. To sow more than one crop in a particular field could point to discontent by a farmer, town, or nation with what the LORD gave them. This mindset came from comparing what God blessed them with to what another farmer, town, or nation had. The tenth commandment stated that they were not to covet anything that belongs to their neighbor (Deuteronomy 5:21). Discontent is a symptom of covetousness. By being covetous, a person goes against God and makes the person and nation be sinners and unrighteous in God’s eyes.

A second issue to consider with this command of not sowing two things in the vineyard arises when considering the science of farming. When sowers put two distinct plants too close together, they created a potential for cross-pollination. When a new plant occurs, it could be indistinguishable from either of its parent plants and may not have the benefits of the two original plants. Additionally, it could be an infertile plant. God created each plant for a purpose and told Adam and Eve to eat from it. He knew these plants as He made them would give the nutrients and benefits that a human body needed. This commandment prevented the corruption of the plants from cross-pollination and kept the original order as God created.

The kilaym of Jews speaks about the forbidden mixture of plants to keep God’s intended design and purpose for them. By following God’s commands kept the plants pure and the people pure, the latter by obedience. Hence, this command affected the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of creation. Kilaym considers the forbidden mixture of animals, too.

Plowing with Ox and Donkey.


Where the former section forbade the mixing of plant life, in this section of Deuteronomy 22 God forbade the mixing of animals. God said in verse ten, “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.” This law appears innocuous and makes a person wonder why God would consider making such a commonsense law. God meant more than the obvious when He gave this statute to the Israelites.

The obvious purpose of this command is that an ox and donkey are different and must not be mixed to do a joint task like pull a plow or cart. Consider the ox’s strength as compared to the donkey. When an ox and donkey wore a yoke together, the plow would veer toward the side the ox pulled making uneven furrows. On top of this, because the ox is taller than the donkey, the yoke would tear at the ox’s skin or the donkey might choke from the straps pulling higher to accommodate the ox. Additionally, because an ox has a longer stride and is stronger, the donkey would have to work harder to keep up with the ox, putting a strain on the donkey’s body. Once again, God taught the Israelites compassion for animals, as He did with the mother bird in verses six and seven. By living in a compassionate, the Jews were a light to other nations. Each of these obvious facts makes sense of God’s command.

Another fact comes into play with this command from God. In Leviticus 11:18 and Deuteronomy 14:16, God specified which animals were clean and unclean. Mammals that chew the cud and part the hoof, such as the ox, were clean.  The equine family of animals, such as the donkey and horse, were unclean. Notice that God never asked the Israelites to sacrifice a donkey on the altar, but He often stipulated that they sacrifice an ox. Hence, God commanded they not work a clean and unclean animal side by side.

As a final note, Paul used this verse as the rationale for what he wrote to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16. He told the Corinthians not to marry a person of another faith. Righteousness and lawlessness do not go together just as ox and donkey do not go together. In verses fifteen and sixteen Paul said,

Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people.’

Each of the statutes above affect a person’s relationship with other people, with nature, and with God. God did not do this on accident. He made sure the Israelites learned the way they live affects every part of life. God gave His commandments, laws, and statutes to keep the people right and pure - set apart from other nations. He chose them to love them, be there God, and they be His people. These laws did not come from a vindictive God, but loving Yahweh.

Mixed Fabrics.


God gave another law that affected everyday life for the Israelites. He said in verse eleven, “You shall not wear material mixed of wool and linen together.” This is a reiteration of Leviticus 19:19c. The only difference in these two verses is Leviticus says no mixture of any material shall occur, whereas in Deuteronomy God stated no mixture of linen and wool shall occur. A few Old Testament teachers say the difference in the two verses came about because God used wool and linen as an example for the Israelites in Deuteronomy 22:11. Others say that God clarified which materials He forbade be mixed in the Deuteronomy verse.

To understand this verse better, we need to understand the practices of other nations of which the Israelites were aware or would become aware. Maimonides, a renowned rabbi of the twelfth century AD, wrote in his Guide to the Perplexed that ancient pagan priests wore wool and linen woven together because they knew how to use it in occult practices. The pagan priests believed the weaving of the fabrics together united the power of the items and made them more powerful. Maimonides said because of this God forbade the Israelites not to mix these two materials and to stay away from it. The Hebrew word sha’atnez  means to stay far away from. The Jews have laws of sha’atnez to cover every similar commands and laws. Maimonides said God permitted the priests to wear a linen garment with a wool garment over or under it because but not attached to each other. Exodus 28:31-35 tells readers that the robe of the Levitical priest was blue linen with blue, purple, and scarlet in the hem. The ephod had these colors, too, with golden thread woven in it. God said in Exodus 28:39-43 the ordinary clothes of priests were to be made of linen with sashes. They wore linen trousers, too. God said no Israelite was to wear cloth made by mixing wool and linen.

Another possible reason God forbade the mixing of wool and linen comes from the history of linen in the Israelites’ lives. Linen derives from flax. Flax is a plant grown in places with much water. Egypt produced lots of flax to make linen. Israel, because they were nomadic and, thus, farmers of sheep and goats, easily produced woolen, not linen garments. By forbidding the Israelites from mixing wool and linen, God removed the method of making cloth like their captor, Egypt, to remove their ties from Egypt and create stronger ties with Himself.

In answering the question,  “Did God use wool and linen as an example of not mixing any cloth or was he clarifying and making his command in Leviticus 19:19 more clear,” it appears reasonable to conclude that since God forbade the priests wear clothes of mixed wool and linen, God meant to exclude these two materials from being mixed within one piece of cloth for everyone. The important part of this statute is God required it to keep the Israelites righteous and pure. If their making mixed wool and linen cloth led them to look back with fondness at Egypt, God removed that possibility with this statute. If making a mixed material garment caused them hardship because one material was not a product of the Promised Land, God removed that hardship with this statute. Since God required obedience to this statute for them to stay right in His eyes and have a prolonged life in the Promised Land, the Israelites had great incentive to follow this statute. Each of God’s laws was not about the ease of doing them, but of the Israelites’ set apartness - their consecration - for God’s purposes. Would they be different from the nations around them and stay faithful to their covenant with God? Or would they meld themselves with the neighboring cultures and become a new country unlike what God chose and taught them to be?

Affecting Humans – Remembering God


The final verse in this lesson is verse twelve. God said, “You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself.” This is unreasonable to people today, except to Hasidic Jews. For the Israelites, it made great sense. Remember when God told the Israelites to write God’s words on their heads and hearts, to put them on the gates and doorposts, and to teach them to their children. He did this so they would visually see and remember Him, His commandments, and laws. By seeing things, people find it easier to remember. When a person ties a strong around his or her finger, a visual reminder to remember something important occurs. God said the tassels would remind the Israelites of Him and His commandments. Numbers 15:37-41 spoke of this. God commanded the wearing of tassels in Numbers after a man gathered wood on the Sabbath instead of keeping it holy (the fourth commandment – Deuteronomy 5:12). He gave this commandment solely to keep the Israelites’ focus on Him. Do we today have anything that reminds us to keep our minds on God?

Recap


God gave commandments, laws, and statutes to keep people right before His eyes and to keep them pure. Their purity determined if He could be among them. From the beginning of the world, God chose to make humans to love them. From then to now, God still chooses to love people. He made covenants with people over time to be in relationship with them and show His merciful love.

The covenant God made with the Israelites occurred because of His love for the descendents of Abraham. At Mount Sinai, the Israelites agreed to be in covenant with Yahweh God. God gave the commandments, laws, and statutes to the Israelites to live by to keep them safe from mixing with other people and nations and then having their faith diluted with faith in false gods. He did not give them to be overbearing. They were for the good of the Israelites. The laws and statutes were good for God’s created order, too – nature and man. They kept relationships between people and between humankind and nature stable and good. God gave the commandments, laws, and statutes because of His love for the Israelites just as parents give rules and set boundaries for their children to follow. He gave them to keep a love relationship with humankind possible. The laws and statutes affect the person and world in four ways -  personally, ecologically, relationally, and spiritually.

Relevance and Conclusion


Since the covenant with the Israelites at Mount Sinai, God created another covenant – an everlasting one. He made a covenant for anyone to join into with Him. This covenant guarantees not just a prolonged life on earth, but a long life with God in heaven after our deaths. Through His Son, Jesus Christ, we can live eternally with God – on earth now and in heaven after our physical bodies die. Jesus came to earth as a baby who grew up and lived. The Jewish leaders instigated the Romans to crucify though He never sinned. Jesus chose to come to earth so He could die a sinless life as the sacrifice for the death penalty humanity deserved for its sins. His sacrifice made a way for the cleansing of sins from people  – being made pure. To receive this gift of grace through Jesus’ sacrifice, each person must choose for him or herself to accept Jesus’ salvation - accept Him as his or her Lord and Savior, and confess and repent of his or her sins. No works need to be done for this and none can be done to compensate for the wrongdoings of our lifetimes. Jesus’ death paid the complete penalty price for our sins.

A question remains – will you join God in His covenant to you? Will you ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior? Will you follow Him? It is that simple. It is your choice.