Deuteronomy 25: Lessons Regarding God’s Intended Protections for Society’s Most Vulnerable Members

In Deuteronomy chapter 24, God set forth the rights for seven kinds of vulnerable people. These included: (1) divorced women, (2) young married couples, (3) debtors, (4) those afflicted by sin, (5) workers, (6) persons vicariously judged for the sins of others, and (7) the poor, foreigners, and orphans. In Deuteronomy chapter 25, God sets forth seven additional types of protection that society owes to its most vulnerable members. First, society must protect the rights of the accused through fair and impartial trials. Divine justice requires that fair and impartial courts exist to act on God’s behalf to judge right from wrong. Individuals, by contrast, are required to forgive the wrongs against them. Individuals should testify in trials without being emotionally affected by the verdict. Second, society must protect the rights of convicts from cruel and unusual punishment. Third, society must protect animals from cruelty. Fourth, society must protect the rights of widows and provide for them after a spouse’s death. Fifth, society must protect the rights of families. Sixth, society must protect the rights of consumers from unfair business practices. Finally, society must protect its inhabitants from foreign aggressors.

1. Protect the Rights of the Accused. Dt. 25:1.

  • Seven Biblical principles of due process. There were seven rules for divine justice to exist. First, disputes must be resolved through a fair and impartial judiciary system, not by individual acts of vengeance: “1 If there is a dispute between men and they go to court, and the judges decide their case, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked,” (Dt. 25:1). “[B]oth parties shall come before the judges; he whom the judges condemn shall pay double to his neighbor.” (Ex. 22:9). In criminal cases, this included a presumption of innocence: “Nicodemus . . . said to them, ‘Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?’” (Jo. 7:50-51). Second, the Holy Spirit must guide the decisions of the judge or jury: “[T]hen both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days.” (Dt. 19:17; 21:5). Third, a judge or jury must also follow God’s Law when resolving disputes: “In a dispute they shall take their stand to judge; they shall judge it according to My ordinances.” (Ezek. 44:24). Fourth, specialized courts or appellate courts must exist to resolve complicated disputes (Dt. 17:9). Fifth, in cases involving allegations of murder, the accused must be judged by an impartial jury (Nu. 35:24-35). Sixth, in cases of murder, there should be proof from more than one witness (Dt. 17:6; 19:15; Nu. 35:30). Moreover, to protect against perjury, each witness has to testify outside the presence of the other with each witness being thoroughly cross-examined (Dt. 19:16-20; Dt. 5:20; Ex. 20:16). Finally, judges have to be impartial and never accept a bribe or do other things to corrupt the judicial process: “You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly.” (Lev. 19:15; Ex. 23:8; Dt. 16:19; 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:17-19). These are the rules for society. By contrast, individuals should not judge others at all (Matt. 7:1; Lk. 6:37). Are you judging others for the wrongs done to you? Or, are you willing to hand such matters to God for Him to judge others through His appointed jurors and judges? (Ro. 13:4).

Jesus expects us to be just and fair because He is just and fair1

  • While a court must judge, an individual must forgive. While it is the duty of the courts to judge, it is the duty of the individual to forgive. If you do not forgive others for their wrongs against you, God cannot forgive you (Matt. 6:15; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13). Likewise, if you hate your brother or someone who has caused you harm, you have committed an act of “murder” in God’s eyes (Matt. 5:21-22; 1 Jo. 3:15). One who speaks ill or slanders others, also has a “depraved heart” (Mk. 7:22-32). Your flesh may prompt you to defend yourself when others make accusations against you. When you are attacked, you should give the matter over to God to let Him defend you: “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” (Prov. 29:11). If possible, you should also resolve your disputes in private with the person you disagree with (Matt. 18:15; Gal. 6:1). You should also resolve your disputes with others before you seek after God (Matt. 5:23-24). Is there anyone in your life that you need to forgive?

2. Protect the Rights of the Convicted. Dt. 25:2-3.

  • God’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. In addition to protecting the integrity of the judicial process, God also limited the types of punishment that could be inflicted upon the guilty. In cases that did not involve capital punishment or mere restitution, no person was allowed to receive more than 40 lashes as a punishment: “2 [T]hen it shall be if the wicked man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall then make him lie down and be beaten in his presence with the number of stripes according to his guilt. He may beat him forty times but no more, so that he does not beat him with many more stripes than these and your brother is not degraded in your eyes.” (Dt. 25:2-3). Although God designated cities of refuge for trials, the Jews did not have a formal system of jails at that time. If someone was convicted of a crime, a criminal paid monetary restitution for any harm that he or she created (Ex. 22:1-3). In non-capital cases, the judge also had the right to administer a flogging as a type of corporal punishment. The punishment allowed for evil to be removed: “Stripes that wound scour away evil . . .” (Prov. 20:30; Job 9:34; Ezek. 7:10). The number of lashes was to be proportionate to the severity of the offense. Yet, God required that the flogging never exceed 40 lashes to protect the rights of the convicted (Dt. 25:2-3). The judge used a “rod” for flogging (2 Sam. 7:14). According to the rabbi Maimonides, the rod or “scourge” had three tails. Each stroke counted for three blows. (Maimon., 'In Sanhedrin,' 17:2; see 1 Ki. 12:11 -a “whip”). To keep the blows under 40, the rod with three tails could not be used more than 13 times. Thus, Paul’s floggings were always limited to 39 lashes: “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.” (2 Cor. 11:24; Acts 23:3). To prevent permanent damage and scars that would be visible to others, God also limited the blows to the back (Prov. 10:13; 19:29; 26:3). In setting these limitations, He sought to distinguish the Jews from other nations which used arbitrary and capricious systems for punishment. “The Egyptian, like Turkish and Chinese rulers, often applied the stick till they caused death or lameness for life.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on Dt. 25:2-3). The number 40 in the Bible also symbolizes a trial or a test. For example, the Jews spent 40 years in the wilderness. Likewise, Jesus was tested for 40 days in the wilderness. Unlike the Jews, the Romans were not limited to any restraints on their floggings. Thus, they could attach bones or other objects that would tear open the skin of the person who was beaten. Jesus was beaten under Roman law, not Jewish law. Thus, His beatings were brutal. Although some might think that mercy should have been given to all under His Law, God must punish sin because He is just: “Then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes.” (Ps. 89:32). Jesus, however, fulfilled this punishment by being beaten on our behalf: “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.” (Is. 53:5; 1 Pet. 2:24). Your freedom was therefore purchased with a heavy price (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23). If you continue to sin after knowing the truth, how grateful are you for the beatings that Christ endured for you?

  • God disciplines you out of love to correct your wayward behavior. Although you have been freed from the penalty of corporal punishment, God may still administer spiritual discipline upon you out of love when you are wayward in your behavior: “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son who He receives.” (Heb. 12:6; Dt. 8:5). “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” (Rev. 3:19; Prov. 3:12). If you know of the Law and have responsibility within God’s Church, your discipline may also be greater than someone who either does not know the Law or have fewer responsibilities: “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few.” (Lk. 12:47-8; 1 Cor. 11:32). Although no one likes to be disciplined, you can draw comfort when you receive discipline because it shows that God is trying to mold your behavior out of love for you to conform to His will: “I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4). “Happy [are] those who are chastened of the Lord to humble them, that they should not be condemned with the world to destruction.” (Mathew Henry on Dt. 25:2). When God disciplines you through trials caused by your sin, do you rejoice for the Lord’s correction in your life? (Ja. 1:2). Or, do you grumble at His correction with bitterness?

3. Protect the Rights of Animals. Dt. 25:4.

  • God’s statute against animal cruelty. In addition to protecting the rights of the accused and the guilty, God also required that society protect those who had no voice at all to protect themselves - animals. As one example of this, a farmer could not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating while it worked the fields: “4 You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” (Dt. 25:4). God set His people apart from other religions by mandating that believers treat animals with love: “A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal . . .” (Prov. 12:10). As another example, a believer also could not kill a mother and its young on the same day (Dt. 22:6-7; Lev. 22:28). Jesus also stated that saving a trapped animal is so important that it warranted breaking the Sabbath to save the animal (Lk. 14:5). God gave humans “dominion” as stewards over the animals (Gen 1:28). He expects believers to take care of the animals that He has given to us. These Biblical statutes provide the moral foundation behind laws that protect animals from cruelty. Churches must stand firm on important questions of social justice and morality. Yet, the Church must also protect animals and the environment. Are you teaching your kids to be good stewards with God’s resources? Are you setting a good example by your own conduct? Is your church ignoring issues of the environment in its teachings?

As stewards over God’s creation, God prohibits animal cruelty2

  • No burden of yours is too small for God. In addition to protecting the animals from human cruelty, God also provides the food needed to keep the animals from going hungry (Matt. 6:26; Lk. 12:24). If God is concerned about the feelings of animals and their provision, is there any concern or need of yours that is too small for Him?

  • God will reward your spiritual labors for Him. In addition to calling His believers sheep, God also refers to His people as oxen (Is. 1:3). Jesus tells us that He is looking for oxen to plow His fields: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Matt. 9:37; Lk. 10:2: Jo. 4:35). If you labor for Christ, He will reward you for your labors by allowing you to feast on the fruit of the Spirit as you labor: “For it is written in the Law of Moses, ‘you shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.’ God is not concerned about oxen, is He? Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?” (1 Cor. 9:9-11). Are you laboring for Christ or only for yourself?

  • God will also pay those in full time ministry for their labors. In addition to filling your Spirit, God will also provide for the material needs of those who serve full time for Him: “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, you shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’” (1 Tim. 5:17-18). God provides for those in ministry through your tithes (Mal. 3:8). Are you tithing to feed the laborers in God’s field? Is your Church muzzling the lay members who should be plowing the fields by failing to help them find and use their gifts?

4. Protect the Rights of Widows. Dt. 25:5-10.

  • The law of the “levirate marriage” or yibbum between a widow and a kinsman redeemer. In addition to protecting the accused, the guilty, and those with no voice, like animals, God also protects widows. In a time before Social Security existed, God provided for the protection of widows and their inheritance by requiring a brother-in-law (later expanded to include cousins) to marry his brother or cousin’s widow under certain circumstances. The brother or cousin who married the widow acted as a “kinsman redeemer” to keep the property within the deceased brother’s family: “5 When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. It shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel. But if the man does not desire to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’ Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And if he persists and says, ‘I do not desire to take her,’ then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall declare, ‘Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ 10 In Israel his name shall be called, ‘The house of him whose sandal is removed.’” (Dt. 25:5-10). The marriage between the kinsman redeemer and the widow was known to the Romans as a “levirate marriage.” It comes from the Latin word “levir” for “husband’s brother”. Yet, the Latin word did not accurately convey the full scope of how the law was later applied. For example, in the book of Ruth, a cousin (Boaz) married the widow (Ruth) of his deceased cousin (Mahlon). In Hebrew, the practice was more accurately called “yibbum.” In ancient times, the law allowed for property to stay within the family and provide for the widow. The kinsman-redeemer or “go el”, was “the next of kin”. The go el” was obligated to rescue another family member in distress (Gen. 48:16; Ex. 6:6). The go el redeemed family property lost due to debt (Lev. 27:9-25). Or, if a person was sold into indentured servitude due to debt, the go el redeemed the relative by paying off the debts (Lev. 25:47-55). The go el also avenged wrongs and received restitution if the family was wronged in some manner (Nu. 35:9-34; 5:8). A brother (or possibly a cousin) who refused to comply with his duties as a go el was publically ridiculed by having his sandals taken and spit on (Dt. 25:9). This caused him to lose any rights to the estate. A failed “yibbum” took place in the book of Genesis. After Judah’s oldest son Er died because of his wickedness before God, Judah directed his next oldest son Onan to marry Er’s widow Tamar, who was his sister-in-law (Gen. 38:8). The yibbum would have allowed Er’s descendants to be the firstborn with a double inheritance. Yet, to keep his deceased brother Er from having any offspring and to allow Onan’s line to receive Judah’s double blessing and inheritance, he pulled out whenever he slept with Tamar. For this reason, God killed Onan (Gen. 38:9). Judah then disobeyed the Law by withholding his third son Shelah from Tamar (Gen. 38:13). Tamar then tricked Judah into sleeping with her by dressing like a prostitute. This incestuous union gave her and her deceased husband Er an heir (Gen. 38:14-18). A second yibbum took place in the book of Ruth. In the book of Ruth, Naomi was a widow who lost her husband and her sons. One of Naomi’s sons named Mahlon was married to Ruth, a gentile from Moab. Mahlon left no brothers to marry Ruth in a yibbum. Under the law of the kinsman redeemer, that duty fell to Mahlon’s cousin Boaz as his next of kin. Through a yibbum, Boaz restored the inheritance of Mahlon’s family line and provided for Ruth. The yibbums in Genesis and Ruth played an important part in allowing for all of humanity to be redeemed by our kinsman redeemer Christ. To explain how, we turn to the book of Matthew.

  • Jesus’ fulfillment of the levirate marriage or yibbum as our kinsman redeemer. Jesus’ genealogy draws emphasis upon his birth line through two different yibbums. He came as a kinsman redeemer as descendant of the yibbum between Tamar and her father-in-law Judah (Matt. 1:3). He also came as a kinsman redeemer as descendant of the yibbum between Boaz and Ruth (Matt. 1:5). More importantly for us, Boaz’ marriage to Ruth brought the gentiles into God’s spiritual inheritance for Israel (Ruth 4:21-22). Boaz and Ruth had a son named Obed. Obed in turn was the father of Jesse, the grandfather of King David, another ancestor of Jesus (Matt. 1:6). Jesus qualified as a kinsman redeemer because He humbled Himself into human form to become our “brother.” (Heb. 2:11). He became the second Adam who redeemed humanity to restore its lost spiritual inheritance (1 Cor. 15:45; 1:30; Rev. 1:5). Yet, the yibbum will not be completed until the marriage is completed. He will fulfill the Law as a kinsman redeemer when He marries the Church through a spiritual yibbum in heaven (Rev. 19:7-9; 21:1-2). This was an unstated part of His explanation to the Sadducees for why a woman married to several brothers following several yibbum marriages would not be married to any of them in heaven. None of the brothers would be qualified to redeem the woman’s spiritual inheritance (Matt. 22:23-33; Mk. 12:18-27). Humanity was left as a spiritual widow when it died to sin. The Church can only have its spiritual inheritance restored through its yibbum to Jesus because only He is qualified to redeem us. Although a yibbum may sound offensive to people who preach independence and self-reliance, Jesus wants you to know that you cannot be self-reliant to be His bride.

Jesus came a human to redeem mankind3

  • The termination of the yibbum under Jewish law. Like Christians, the Jews long ago abandoned the “yibbum” practice. Some even assume that the Sadducees tested Jesus with a hypothetical question of a woman being married to more than one brother because the practice had died out even before He arrived. For three reasons, the Talmud strongly discouraged a “yibbum”. First, outside of the narrow exception of needing to provide for a widowed sister without heirs, it was an abomination in God’s eyes for a man to marry his brother’s wife. In His eyes, it was equivalent to a man being with his own brother: “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness.” (Lev. 18:16; 20:21). Second, although the Law quoted in Deuteronomy allowed for property to pass in the absence of a male successor (Dt. 25:5), it was God’s intention that property was to pass freely through women as well as men. When the Jews approached Moses on this question and Moses sought God’s guidance, God made clear that property should freely pass through women as well as men (Nu. 27:1-11). This showed that there are many human customs that God permits without endorsing. After He clarified the issue, the practice of yibbum was limited to circumstances to when a man died without any children and with contiguous plots of land with his brothers (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Yibbum and Halizah 1:3; Shulchan Aruch, Eben ha-'Ezer, 156:2). Third, both because God’s Law in Leviticus and to protect a woman from a brother-in-law or a cousin-in-law who might marry her merely to seize the deceased husband’s land for himself, Jewish law allowed either the surviving relative or the widow to opt out of a yibbum through a special ceremony called a “halizah” or “chalitzah.” During this ceremony, the widow took the next of kin’s shoe and spit on the floor in front of at least ten others while they recited a pledge. The widow then became free to marry whomever she desired or no one at all and keep title to the land. The shoe was a sign of one’s power and right (Ps. 60:8 108:9). John the Baptist, for example, was not worthy to untie Jesus’ shoe because he was not qualified to take any of Jesus’ authority or power (Jo. 1:27). The loosening of the shoe symbolized a transfer of all rights to land. This was how Boaz gave up his rights to his deceased cousin’s land: “Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning the redemption and the exchange of land to confirm any matter: a man removed his sandal and gave it to another; and this was the manner of attestation in Israel.” (Ruth 4:7). As stated above, Jesus was the kinsman redeemer who became human and gave up His life. He will later marry the Church to fulfill this Law. Yet, if the Law is fulfilled, what wisdom does the law hold today? Although widows have different needs today, their need for your assistance and love is no less important.

  • Provide for the emotional as well as monetary needs of widows. The principle behind this Law is the need to protect or plead the rights of the widow: “plead the case of the widow.” (Is. 1:17; Jer. 22:3; Jam. 1:27). If your father has died and your mother is old and alone, are you taking care of her? (Prov. 23:22). Or, are you leaving her to wilt in a nursing home without visitors? Will you reach into your own savings to help her when needed?

5. Protect the Rights of Families. Dt. 25:11-12.

  • God’s statute against genital mutilation. In addition to protecting the rights of widows and other vulnerable members of society, God protected the rights of families. This right is symbolized by the penalties to a woman who damages another husband’s reproductive organs: “11 If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, 12 then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity.” (Dt. 25:11-12). For three reasons, these verses have never been interpreted as a requirement that a woman’s hand be amputated when a woman intervenes in a fight between two men and causes damage to another man’s testicles. First, any Law in the Bible is confirmed when it is repeated (2 Cor. 13:1; Dt. 19:15). This is why most laws are repeated in the Torah. This is also why Jesus’ teachings are repeated in the four Gospels. Unlike the Quran, no other Law exists in the Bible requiring amputations. The Bible punishments were limited to restitution, flogging, or capital punishment. Because this Law is mentioned only once, we must look for a different meaning that conforms to other Scripture. Second, an amputation would violate the Law that the punishment be proportionate to the crime. The verse quoted above explicitly makes a connection to the Law of proportionality through the common phrase: “you shall have not pity”: “Thus, you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” (Dt. 19:21). Amputation was not a proportionate penalty to the crushing of a man’s testicles. Third, the Jews historically interpreted this punishment to mean that a person should be charged financial restitution commensurate with the crime (Rashi on Sifrei and the Babylonian Talmud, Bava Karma 87a). The Jewish authority Rashi argued that if a person was required to pay restitution for damaging another person’s animal (Lev. 24), damages to another person’s body should be treated no differently. In this case, compensation for ruining another man’s ability to reproduce out of vengeance was to be punished with restitution worth the value of the women’s hand. Rashi further taught that a “ransom” or restitution was only prohibited as a punishment in the case of murder (cf, Nu. 35:31). Some Christians later viewed this Law in a context of the Law regarding inheritance: “The custom here regulated seems to have been in the Jewish law in order to keep inheritances distinct . . .” (Matthew Henry on Dt. 25:11-12). We should therefore look at this Law in the context of our spiritual inheritance. Jesus is the bridegroom, and the Church is His bride (Rev. 19:7; 21:9-10). Satan comes like the harlot to rob God of those who might become His adopted children (Ro. 8:15). Satan is the man fighting with Jesus. Through deception, Satan tricked Jesus’ bride to bruise Him at the cross (Gen. 3:15; Is. 53:5). Yet, Satan did not win the fight. Jesus’ “seed” (Lev. 15:16) can still bring new children into the Kingdom of God when believers spread His Word, which is His seed of life (Lk. 8:11). Satan can only prevent the spread of Jesus’ seed if believers allow sin to distract them from completing Christ’s Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20). If your sin causes you or others from allowing Christ’s seed to take root, Jesus says that you must cut it out, like the woman’s arm: “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matt. 5:30; 18:8). Are there sins in your life that are causing your children, family, or friends from becoming born again into God’s family? If so, you must amputate the sin like the woman’s arm in this story.

  • Protect families. With every Biblical Law, we should look for the principle behind it. Here, societies must protect families, symbolized by the ability of the male to procreate. Society must enact laws to ensure that families are protected. Societies that sterilize families, like the Nazis did during World War II, or which limit the ability of families to have more than one child, i.e. China, violates the principle behind this Law. The Church should also campaign against acts of genital mutilation, which are sadly imposed against women in some traditional African societies.

6. Protect the Rights of Consumers. Dt. 25:13-16.

  • God’s statute against unfair business practices. In addition to suspects, criminals, animals, widows, and families, God also protects another class of vulnerable people – consumers. Thus, He repeatedly condemned business practices that defrauded consumers: “13 You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. 14 You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. 15 You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. 16 For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Dt. 25:13-16). “You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or capacity.” (Lev. 19:35). “You shall have just balances, a just ephah and a just bath.” (Ezk. 45:10). “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.” (Prov. 11:1; 20:10, 23; Hosea 12:7). Persons who defraud consumers will also face God’s judgment (Micah 6:11). Today, these laws provide a Biblical foundation for laws that protect consumers from unfair business practices.

Don’t misrepresent Jesus in your business dealings with others4

  • Be honest and a person with integrity in your business dealings. You can fulfill this law by being honest in all your business dealings. You should never cheat others in business. Nor should you lie on your taxes. You may be the only Bible that some people ever read.

7. Protect the Nation from Foreign Aggressors. Dt. 25:17-19.

  • God’s warning to protect Israel from the Amalekites. Finally, God required that society protect its members from foreign aggressors. This was symbolized by God’s requirement that the Jews protect themselves from aggression from the Amalekites: “17 Remember what Amalek did to you along the way when you came out from Egypt, 18 how he met you along the way and attacked among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear God. 19 Therefore it shall come about when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies, in the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget.” (Dt. 25:17-19). The Amalekites were powerful nomads from the southern deserts south of Negev. They were the first nation to attack the Jews after they left Egypt while traveling to Mount Horeb (Ex. 17:9-12). They were such mighty warriors that they caused the 10 spies to believe that the Jews could not invade the Promised Land (Dt. 9:2). After many Jews rebelled and made the “sin of presumption” that God would protect them if they invaded the Promised Land, the Amalekites joined with the Canaanites to slay those Jews (Nu. 14:39-45). God later ordered Saul to act as His avenger and destroy the Amalekites: ‘“Go and completely destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, until they are all dead.”’ (1 Sam. 15:18, 3). As a duty to the vulnerable members in their society, the Jews had to protect themselves with an army against a foreign aggressor. These verses provide the Biblical foundation for nations to create standing armies to protect their people.

  • Jesus will avenge against the evil nations. As stated above, a kinsman redeemer also served as an “avenger of blood.” (Nu. 35:12-34; Dt. 19:6, 12; Josh. 20:3-9). Jesus will one day come to avenge against the evil nations with His second coming and the Day of Judgment (Rev. 16:16; 19:19-20). Until that day, believers serving in the army when called to fight a war consistent with the Bible are acting as God’s “avengers” (Ro. 13:4). Thus, you have a duty to support them. Are you supporting and praying for our troops?