It would be good for us to read Deuteronomy 23:1-4, “He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD. A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD. An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever: Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.”

The continuing thread in these verses are those who were forbidden to “enter into the congregation of the Lord.”  Let’s see if we can find the meaning here and gain a lesson for ourselves. 

The congregation, or the assemblage of Israel is here referred to as the congregation of the Lord.  As such, all that is unclean or all that defiles must be kept out.  We read in Deuteronomy 23:14, “For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.”  The Lord maintained a presence among His people and so purity and cleanliness must be preserved.  Those found unfit were denied full citizenship and rights among the Jewish people. 

The one who was “wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off” refers to one who had made himself a eunuch by cutting his private parts off.  While circumcision was part of the Lord’s covenant with His people, the complete mutilation of oneself was forbidden. 

Today, we normally think of a bastard as one who is born to unwed parents.  The meaning is somewhat different in the portion before us.  The Hebrew word is ‘mamzer’ and is defined as “an alien, a mongrel, one born of a Jewish father and a heathen mother.”  It has also been defined of one who was born out of an incestuous relationship. As such, this person would not be circumcised by the Jews, or permitted to marry an Israelitish woman, or be buried with Jewish people.

An Ammonite and the Moabite were forbidden to enter the congregation of the Lord because of their history with the Lord’s people.  This truth is repeated in Nehemiah 13:1-2, “On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever; Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing.” 

What can we learn from this?  How can we apply this to our own lives?  I think we can look at these three things that prohibit true citizenship with Israel as examples to us of the things that will keep us from the Lord and being part of His church.

  • One who willingly mutilated himself was connected with paganism…these were things practiced by those who did not know or follow the Lord. 
  • A bastard is one who did not have a proper birth that would allow him admission to the Church.  The Lord Jesus said in John 3:3, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
  • The Ammonite and the Moabite were natural enemies of the Lord’s people.  They stood against, and sought to weaken the Lord’s people.  They sought to curse, showing their rebellion against the Lord.

1 Corinthians 10:11 tells us, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”  Taking these examples, we can see that there are those who do not belong among God’s people.  Their works and their influences must be resisted so that we might maintain a proper dwelling of the Lord among us. 

We will close by considering the important instructions of 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”  (CC)  (529.4)