Summary: God loves imperfect people, protecting them from greater evil and offering them salvation

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WHEN LIFE ISN’T PERFECT—Deuteronomy 21-25 (read 24:1-15)

(1st church—Susan: can’t stay in marriage—5 kids, limited education, no job, no house)

Sometimes life isn’t perfect!

Maybe not that bad—

maybe were blessed with stable family growing upàemotionally, relationally healthy,

are blessed with faithful, loving husband or wife—kids doing great

healthy and capable, financially secure, good life

(or maybe it’s mostly that you’re able to keep up appearances)

But many people in our society aren’t

(one reason they avoid church: for nice people and nice families)

(when they come to church, reminded that their lives aren’t so perfect

Sometimes life isn’t perfect—that’s why we need to study Old Testament

World of Old Testament was far from perfect

Most obvious for women: often treated like property

Polygamy common (rivalry)

Double standard: women could be stoned for adultery, but men…

Men held all the cards: threat of divorce or disinheriting children…

Economically: if divorce or widowhoodàeither cult prostitution or total poverty

Most men didn’t have it that great either

Many were “servants” (really slaves)

Those who weren’t: often one bad year away from being sold to pay debts

Crime or even accidentà”eye for an eye” or much worse (Taliban)

Life simple—but disease common (life expectancy perhaps 40)

Sanitation and personal hygiene pretty primitive (much of Leviticus…)

In many ways, we can’t relate—but we can relate to one thing: Life isn’t always perfect

Old Testament is very realistic book, for people whose lives aren’t perfect—

Helps us to deal with real world—gets us looking for something better

If here last week, to interpret O.T.: What do we learn about God and God’s way of life?

(God and human nature and things like right and good way of life don’t change)

{{{3 points}}}

I. God is restrains evil in world that is less than perfect

(Charles and Diana—storybook wedding—affairs, bulimia, tension and deception)

(many live in beautiful homes: hurting people, unhealthy patterns of behavior…

(for millions: “normal life” of marriage, steady work, stable home life seems out of reach)

Sometimes life is not perfect—and God sees and knows

· God steps in to restrain evil

-most clearly, he protects vulnerable women

not play musical wives—not divorce her for no reason—

if accuse her of not being a virgin as she claimed, and that was a lie, pay a fine

in case of adultery: both man and woman liable to same penalty (unlike Afghanistan today)

rape (he said, she said): some provision for her protection

even captive from war: must have month to mourn—status of wife—not treat her as slave

-debtors—not take advantage of person in bad situation (equivalent today: bankruptcy laws)

loan at no interest (today, not beyond “price of money”)

for collateral—don’t take his millstone (future livelihood)

if he is poor, and gives you his cloak as collateral—let him sleep on it at night!

if he becomes slave to someone else and shows up at your door—give him place to sleep

God is involved in this

Deut. 24:14-15 Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is a brother Israelite or an alien living in one of your towns. Pay him his wages each day before sunset, because he is poor and is counting on it. Otherwise he may cry to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin.

· Evil restrained—but not overcome evil

Jesus: Matthew 19:8 "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not

this way from the beginning.

Laws can restrain evil (and we’re thankful)—but don’t really overcome evil

Jesus: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good

Jesus talks with his disciples about how to overcome evil—“You have heard…

…murder—but don’t put people down

…commit adultery (protects women especially)—but keep lust for spouse

…eye for an eye (great advance in O.T. times)—Be generous to those in need

Only person who experiences grace of God can really overcome evil: changed heart

God is realistic about life: not perfect—sometimes far from perfect

II. God cares about people whose lives aren’t perfect (all people)

Unattractive person who is hard to talk to?

AIDS victim? Mental patient? ADHD boy?

Unfortunate person who never had family chance?

Wanderer who coasts into parking lot off interstate (headed somewhere)?

Desperate illegal worker who doesn’t want to make waves?

· God demands that people respect the dignity of all people

Man hung for his crime—not left hanging overnight

Man who is giving you collateral for loan: not enter his house to take it; let him bring it out

Alien must have same access to justice as citizen—as must one without husband or father

Justice must go beyond “equal protection under the law”:

Don’t ever take the cloak of a widow as collateral

Make sure the poor hired man doesn’t have to wait a single day for his paycheck

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