Now Israel is really being prepared for the battles ahead. This is their Basic Combat Training.
When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people, And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. Deuteronomy 20:1-4
As God heals and restores us we are made a new creature in Christ. We should grow past the pain of the past, and prepare to venture outside the church to share our faith with others. We do not need to fear what the world will think or say about us. God goes with us. Everyone should find an area of service that suits their own gifts and use it for the Kingdom of God.
And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it. And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it. And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her. And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart. And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people. Deuteronomy 20:5-9
Newlyweds should still put everything else aside and anchor this new relationship first. Your house should be in order before you go into battle. You may not be able to go back to make things right later. I rejoice in knowing that my wife and I had a good relationship when she left this life for the next one. We never know when that call will come.
When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: Deuteronomy 20:10-12
Israel was ordered to make peace offerings even before they made war. We can do our best to please everyone, but some will resist. That is not always a personal thing either, as you have a different spirit from your father in heaven. God’s enemies cannot stand to be around you, but that is to your credit, not to your fault. It is God they hate, and he is in you. You should still pray for them, but you are not obliged to share the treasures of God’s word with those who reject him.
And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee. Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations. Deuteronomy 20:13-15
We now war against the spirit that drives the world, but not against the people of it. For the Old Testament God is ordering Israel to enforce the law by death for these who have turned from God. The cities outside their promised land have less sin, and their goods, women, and children are not considered to be contaminated
But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee: That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God. When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man’s life) to employ them in the siege: Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued. Deuteronomy 20:16-20
The nations named are rejected by God, and their goods, gods, livestock, and inhabitants are to be destroyed. Fruit trees will feed their armies during the siege though. Other trees will build siege machines to overcome the walls of the city.
If one be found slain in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the field, and it be not known who hath slain him: Then thy elders and thy judges shall come forth, and they shall measure unto the cities which are round about him that is slain: And it shall be, that the city which is next unto the slain man, even the elders of that city shall take an heifer, which hath not been wrought with, and which hath not drawn in the yoke; And the elders of that city shall bring down the heifer unto a rough valley, which is neither eared nor sown, and shall strike off the heifer’s neck there in the valley: And the priests the sons of Levi shall come near; for them the LORD thy God hath chosen to minister unto him, and to bless in the name of the LORD; and by their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried: And all the elders of that city, that are next unto the slain man, shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley: And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. Be merciful, O LORD, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel’s charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them. So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD. Deuteronomy 21:1-9
A sacrifice is specified for a murder victim to remove guilt from the innocent of Israel. And here is a concession to natural desires:
When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her. Deuteronomy 21:10-14
Although the law discouraged marriage to foreigners, this was allowed within these rules. These were not of the nations they were to destroy though, only the distant nations. Even these prisoners were protected from humiliation and abuse.
If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his. Deuteronomy 21:15-17
This reminds us of the story of Jacob, who loved Rachael over Leah, and favored her sons. But it was God who favored Rachael’s son Joseph with a dream, and this was not a plan of Jacob. God will favor who he wants, but the law directed inheritance to the elder.
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. Deuteronomy 21:18-21
I am sure you don’t want to live under the law today. We could lose a generation pretty fast under this law. How can Jews today propose to follow this? Surely the idea of mercy is a requirement that only Jesus has offered to the world. Man is doomed to fail if compelled to meet God’s standards unaided. God’s chosen people fail to obey the perfect law of God. How can the gentile nations hope to meet God’s standard by their own good works then?
And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance. Deuteronomy 21:22-23
Fortunately another aided us by taking the death we are worthy of, being hung on a tree for us. He redeems us and our inheritance is a share of his heritage.