Tuesday, April 23 2024 - 11:37 AM

Sharing Scripture – December 11, 2021

Deuteronomy in the Later Writings

 

For use: December 5 – 11
Texts: 2 Kings 22; Nehemiah 9:6; Jeremiah 7:1-7; Psalms 148:4; Jeremiah 29:13; Micah 6:1-8; Daniel 9:1-19

 

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, recently won another battle in her privacy lawsuit against the publisher of the tabloid The Mail. London’s Court of Appeal upheld a previous ruling that associated newspapers violated Markle’s privacy when they published excerpts of a letter that Meghan wrote to her father, Thomas Markle. Senior Judge Geoffrey Vos explained, “the Duchess had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of the letter. Those contents were personal, private and not matter of legitimate public interest.”

After the ruling, Markle issued a statement declaring that the ruling is “a victory not just for me, but for anyone who has ever felt scared to stand up for what’s right. What matters most is that we are now collectively brave enough to reshape a tabloid industry that conditions people to be cruel, and profits from the lies and pain that they create.”

The legal war, however, is probably not over. Court watchers expect the publisher to appeal once again. Though the British Supreme Court is unlikely to hear the case, they could take it to the European Court of Human Rights. In the opinion of Media Law Attorney Mark Stephens, associated newspapers “have a right to this trial, and I think that that is just going to protract the pain for Meghan Markle.”

The right to trial is a biblical principle that originated at Israel’s inception as a nation. Israel agreed early on to fulfill the Lord’s requirement to walk in God’s ways and observe the commandments and statutes outlined in Deuteronomy. In Micah 6:1-8, however, we see that God actually brings a legal case against Israel for violating the conditions of that covenant.

Micah 6:8 references Deuteronomy 10:12-13 and it expands on the spirit behind those laws and statutes—we are to be just, merciful, and humble in our relationships with both God and humankind. Israel may have had good intentions when they originally agreed to the conditions of the covenant, but by Micah’s day, they had developed the habit of bringing regular sacrifices in order to sin with impunity. God had enough by then, and the remedy was to bring a legal case against the offenders.

By examining the stipulations of the original agreement against the unjust, unmerciful actions of the people, God makes the case that Israel is guilty of abusing the legal loopholes of the sacrificial system. Simple acts of justice and mercy are much more valuable in God’s eyes than offerings of “thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of oil.” The practical implication of the gospel of Christ is that, just as we receive God’s mercy, we also are the dispensers of God’s grace to others.

 

For Reflection

 

Connecting: If you could take God to court over some issue in your life, what charges would you bring? What compensation would you ask the court to grant to you? How do you think God would respond to this lawsuit?
Sharing: We see that later biblical authors referenced Deuteronomy in their writings. How should we relate to Deuteronomy today?

  1. We should follow the letter of the law in the commandments and statutes as much as possible
  2. Much of Deuteronomy refers to the culture of the day and doesn’t apply to 21st century North America
  3. The underlying principles of justice and mercy are universal and timeless
  4. The book is good, but it needs a major editorial update to make it understandable and relevant for today
  5. It’s good for the historical background it provides, but the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross eliminates the laws and requirements in the book
  6. Other:

Applying: Some acts of mercy today are actually illegal based on the letter of the law. How do you decide whether or not you’ll provide mercy in those cases? Which biblical principles aid you in your decision-making process?

Valuing: Do acts of mercy come naturally to you? Does God have to prod you at times to fulfill the requirement to do justice and love mercy? Take time this week to consider how you can more intuitively live up to your covenant obligations.

 

~Chuck Burkeen
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