free and clear
Deuteronomy 23:15-18 (JDV)
Deuteronomy 23:15 “Do not return a slave to his master when he has escaped from his master to you.
Deuteronomy 23:16 Let him stay among you wherever he wants within your city gates. Do not mistreat him.
Deuteronomy 23:17 “No Israelite woman is to be a cult prostitute, and no Israelite man is to be a cult prostitute.
Deuteronomy 23:18 Do not bring a female prostitute’s wages or a male prostitute’s earnings into the house of Yahveh your God to fulfill any solemn pledge, because both are repulsive to Yahveh your God.
free and clear
Although God did not endorse either, both slavery and prostitution were a part of ancient near eastern life. What is at stake in this passage is whether the Israelites would be seen as part of the problem, rather than part of the solution. If an Israelite returned a slave who escaped to him for refuge from a cruel master, he would be endorsing the slavery and the abuse. If an Israelite harbored a cult prostitute — even taking as rental part of that prostitute’s earnings, then his participation in the temple worship would defile it.
There are still lots of social and moral evils that pervade our societies, and God wants no part of them. Because we are children of God through adoption, we need to forsake those evils as well. We are his temple, and we cannot bring the earnings of a prostitute into that temple — they would defile it. We are set free by him. If anyone seeks refuge from their slavery through us, we should not return them to their bondage.
Lord, show us how to live free and clear of sin in a world still tainted with it.
In today’s video, I share a prayer I wrote a few years ago, which is relevant to our current Coronavirus pandemic: “A prayer for Overcoming Adversity.”