Deuteronomy 23:4
For they did not meet you with food and water on your way out of Egypt, and they hired Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram-naharaim to curse you.
Sermons
Loss of Sacred Privilege a Grievous PenaltyD. Davies Deuteronomy 23:1-6
The Congregation of the Lord Jealously GuardedR.M. Edgar Deuteronomy 23:1-8
The Excluded from the CongregationJ. Orr Deuteronomy 23:1-8


Certain principles underlie these exclusions which it is worth our while to note. It will be seen that, though bars of this kind are done away in Christ, there was a fitness, under the theocracy, in the exclusion of the classes specified from full participation in covenant privilege, such exclusion being in harmony with the idea of "a holy nation" - type in earthly mold of the ideal kingdom of God.

I. THE EXCLUSION OF THE MUTILATED. (Ver. 1.) The idea here is that the preservation of the body in its vigor, and in the entirety of its functions, is a duty which we owe to God; that mutilation of it or dishonor done to it is dishonor done to him - a species of profanity. Those in whom this work of dishonor had been wrought, unfitting them for the discharge of the distinctive functions of their manhood, were barred from entrance to the congregation. The ban is removed under the gospel (Isaiah 56:3-5).

II. THE EXCLUSION OF THE CHILDREN OF INCEST. (Vers. 2, 3.) "To the tenth generation" seems to be a periphrasis for "forever" (Nehemiah 13:1). The rabbins take the term "bastard" to refer to children born of incest or adultery. These were to be excluded through all their generations. This principle, irrespective of the ground stated in ver. 4, would have sufficed to exclude Moab and Ammon. The truth conveyed is that the impure are unalterably debarred from membership in God's kingdom. God's kingdom is a kingdom of purity. In its final form nothing of an impure nature will be found in it. Impurity of heart and life exclude from inward membership in it now, and will do so forever. Known impurity should exclude from Church fellowship on earth (1 Corinthians 5:1, 2). The outward bar no longer exists, and the offspring of impure connection, if children of faith, are welcomed to the spiritual fold. But the tendency of sins of parents still is, as of old, to exclude children from the fellowship of believers. The unchurched little ones grow up outside the pale of ordinances, and tend, in course of generations, to become increasingly estranged from the means of grace. Parents who sin themselves out of Church fellowship thus do their children, as well as their own souls, an irreparable injury.

III. THE EXCLUSION OF THE UNMERCIFUL AND OF THOSE WHO SHOWED HATRED TO GOD'S PEOPLE. (Vers. 4-6.) The principle here is obvious. Christ expressly excludes the unmerciful from all participation in his kingdom (Matthew 25:41-46). And there can be no "peace" and no "prosperity" to those who are actuated by hostility to God's kingdom. So long as they retain this character, we cannot wish it for them. Hostility to Christ's people is hostility to Christ himself (Acts 9:4, 5), and reacts fatally on the soul (Matthew 21:44). It draws upon it God's indignation, and ends in final exclusion from heaven.

IV. THE ADMISSION OF THOSE WHO SHOW KINDNESS TO GOD'S PEOPLE. (Vers. 7, 8.) The Edomite and the Egyptian were not to be abhorred; their children might be admitted in the third generation. The Edomites had not been as friendly as they might have been, but they had at least furnished the Israelites with victuals in their march, while the Egyptians had for a long time shown them kindness and hospitality. For these things they "had their reward." Acts of kindness to God's people do not entitle to admission into God's kingdom, but they show a "nighness" of spirit to it, and are remembered in God's dealings with the doers of them, and may issue in their final salvation (Matthew 10:42). Note: Past kindnesses are not to be forgotten because of a late change of disposition. The Egyptians were kindly remembered, though their treatment of the Israelites had latterly been very cruel. It is to be remarked also that the tone in which Edom is uniformly referred to in this book does not in the least harmonize with the late date assigned to it by many critics. Edom, in the time of the prophets, had become Israel's implacable foe. - J.O.







Thou mayest eat grapes.
Thus a privilege was granted, but one strictly limited. A man who was thirsty might help himself to as many grapes as he cared to eat, but he was not to take any away. A man who was hungry might pluck ears of corn, as the disciples of Jesus did, and eat the grains, but he was not to carry a sheaf from the field. In this manner property was guarded. This is in harmony with the biblical law of property generally honoured at the present time. Even those who denounce individual property in land and minerals, and wish to nationalise them, do not advocate such nationalisation without payment to the proprietors. If ownership in land were set aside, the poor might lose the farm or the field bequeathed for their benefit. If ownership in money or goods were set aside, the widow might lose her small annuity, and even have to give up the old watch she values as having belonged to her husband and the treasured curiosities brought by her sailor son from a foreign land. Still, the best property human beings possess is the mental and spiritual wealth they carry in their mind and heart. In other words, they may have history, biography, poetry, religion as the treasures of their inner life. The owners of property are not to be greedily selfish. Nothing was said by Moses to the proprietor or tenant of the vineyard or corn field, but much was implied. If he saw a man, woman, or child pulling a cluster of grapes, he was not to be in a tempest of wrath, as though some great wrong had been done him, or to threaten the intruder with a criminal action. The man was rather to be glad that out of his abundance thirsty and hungry wayfarers could have their needs so readily supplied. Those who have are to be generous to those who have not. Every rich man in the country who does not value his riches as power to do good is an enemy to himself and the country. The limitation of privilege in the vineyard and the corn field enjoined by Moses was an implied exhortation to industry. Grapes might be eaten in the vineyard, but no vessel was to be filled with them and carried away. Those who wanted grapes for the wine press were to grow grapes. Ears of corn might be plucked, but the sickle was not to be used in the field. Those who wanted corn to grind were to plough, to sow, and reap in their own fields; there was to be no greedy appropriation of the fruit for which other men had laboured. It is much better for human beings to act for themselves than indolently to lean on others. There is no food so good as that which a man earns with his own hands. Labour is the law of the spiritual as well as of the temporal sphere. Those who wish to attain a good degree in the Church, and to win the eulogiums pronounced on Christ's faithful servants, must work hard for themselves, that they may learn how to work hard for others. They must read much, think much, pray much. In one of his books Lord Beaconsfield represents a youth as saying, "I should like to be a great man." The counsel given him was: "You must nourish your mind with great thoughts." Those who wish to rank high in Christ's service must appropriate great thoughts, and make them their own by reflection and meditation. There is no way to usefulness except by ardent toil. It is only by setting ourselves to work that we shall be able to afford grapes and corn to famishing souls.

(J. Marrat.).

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