Let’s read Deuteronomy 23:1-4: “No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD. No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD. No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD, because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you” (NASB).

There were certain people who were not permitted to “enter the assembly of the LORD.” What does this mean? I believe it means that they were not allowed “to attend gatherings of public worship.” For example, the nation of Israel had special Feast Days where they would collectively worship the Lord. The following people could not join them during these special gatherings for worship:

  1. A man who had his male organ cut off, whether it was done deliberately as a pagan act of idol worship or whether it was done accidentally. The body was to be honored as a creation of God, and for the body to be mutilated brought dishonor upon it.
  1. A person born out of wedlock. It may also include one born as the result of a MIXED MARRIAGE between a Jew and a Gentile. Zechariah 9:6 speaks of this, “And a BASTARD shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.”
  1. A Moabite or an Ammonite. Their treatment of the Jews who were on their way to the Promised Land was so abhorrent to God, that He denied them the privilege of ever worshipping with His people. It does say “even to the tenth generation,” which possibly means the “eleventh generation” would be granted the right to assembly with God’s people for worship. But some believe, as William MacDonald points out, that “the tenth generation is an idiom that means INDEFINITELY.”

There is a spiritual lesson for the church today in these prohibitions, for the church is also to refuse some people in their gatherings for worship. The three examples we’ve looked at illustrate:

  1. One who would dishonor their body by committing SEXUAL IMMORALITY. 1st Corinthians 5:1 says, “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you…that someone has his father’s wife.” Because of this, Paul told the saints at Corinth “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves” (5:13).
  1. One who has not been “born of God.” When one has only had a “natural birth,” he is an UNBELIEVER who does not love the Lord and is unable to truly worship the Him. 2nd Corinthians 6:14 states, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness” (NKJV).
  1. One who mistreats Christians. Even if one is a true believer, if he/she offends another believer, he has no right to worship with them. In Matthew 18:15 we read, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” Like the immoral believer in 1st Corinthians 5, this person would be removed from fellowship and could longer worship the Lord. (224.3)  (DO)