Deuteronomy 18

 

 

RIGHTS OF THE PRIESTS AND THE LEVITES (vs. 1-8)

 

After the ruling powers, the judges and the king, come the priests and the Levites. In

regard to them Moses repeats here the law as before laid down (compare Numbers

18:20, 23-24).

 

1 “The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi,” -  i.e. the whole tribe of Levi,

including both the priests and the general body of the Levites - “shall have no part

nor inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by

fire,” - (literally, the fires or firings of Jehovah), here referred to, were the meal

offering, the sin offering, and the trespass effusing (compare Ibid. v.9) - “and

His inheritance.” - i.e. of Jehovah, what was appropriated to Him, and from Him

to the tribe of Levi, such as tithes, firstlings, and firstfruits.

 

 

The Lord Our Inheritance (v.1)

 

True of the priests and Levites, it is true also of each believer, that “the

Lord is his inheritance” (Psalm 16:5-6). He is in this respect a “priest

unto God” (I Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6).

 

  • THE MEANING OF THE EXPRESSION. Inheritance — equal to lot,

part, share. Inheritance in families — the share which each receives of the

patrimony. In the partition of Canaan, each tribe had its lot, its portion, its

share. God’s portion or inheritance was the tithes, with the prescribed parts

of the sacrifices, the firstfruits, etc. Levi had as his portion God Himself,

involving a share of the provision from God’s table (v. 1).

 

  • THE GRANDEUR OF THE TRUTH.

 

Ø      The believer possesses God. God is a better possession for the

soul than any of His gifts. It is a thought which lies at the foundation

of all true religion, that God Himself is the Supreme Good, the true

and real portion of the soul.... More intimately than light becomes

the possession of the eye on which it streams, or air of the organs

of breathing which inhale it, or the food we eat, assimilated and

diffused through the physical system, incorporates itself with the

nature of him who partakes of it, does He, that Infinite One,

 the Light of all our seeing, the Bread of Life, the nutriment of

our highest being, become the deep inward portion of each soul

that loves him”   (O, for the experience of what God was to

Abraham, “I am thy Shield and thy exceeding Great Reward”-

Genesis 15:1 - CY – 2012). 

 

 

Ø      In possessing God, the believer possesses all things. And this,

though in an outward sense he has nothing (II Corinthians. 6:10;

compare I Corinthians 3:21-23).

 

o       God provides for him out of the fullness at His command.

Possessing God, the Possessor of all, he knows that he will

want “no good thing” (Psalm 84:11). Temporally and spiritually,

he will be provided for, kept, saved, delivered (Ibid.  37:3, 9, 11,

25, 34; 121.; Isaiah 33:16; Matthew 6:33; Ephesians 1:3).

 

o       All things work together for his good (Romans 8:28).

 

o       He perceives and enjoys God in all things, as none else can

(Psalm 104.).

 

o       He is one of the “heirs of God” in “the times of the restitution of

All things” (Acts 3:24), when the redeemed enter on their glory

(Matthew 25:34).  Let the saint reflect on his inheritance in God.

 

§         How surpassingly rich it is!

§         How delightsome it is! (Psalm 16:6).

§         How enduring it is — eternal! (II Corinthians 4:17-18).

§         How all-satisfying it is! (Psalm 73:26).

 

(And to think that He sings over us – Zephaniah 3:17!  Contemplate that we are

His inheritance.  I recommend Deuteronomy ch. 32 v. 9 – God’s Inheritance –

by Arthur Pink – this web site – CY – 2012)

 

2  Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the

LORD is their inheritance, as He hath said unto them.” -  (compare Ibid. v.20).

3 And this shall be the priest’s due from the people, from them that offer a

sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep; and they shall give unto the priest the

shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw.” - i.e. the front leg, the two

jaw-bones, and the rough stomach of ruminants, in which the digestion is

completed. These were regarded as the choice parts of the animal, and

were to be given to the priests in addition to the wave breast and heave leg

of the peace offerings (Leviticus 7:32-34; Numbers 18:11-15), which belonged to the

firings of Jehovah, mentioned in v. 1. To these the priest had a rightful claim; they were

his due (fp"v]mi, mishpat, right). This right was probably accorded to the priests as

a compensation for the falling off which would take place in their incomes in

consequence of the repeal of the law that every animal was to be slaughtered at the

sanctuary as a sacrifice (ch.12:15; Leviticus 17.)  According to Josephus (Antiq ,

4:4, 4), Philo (‘De Praemiis. Sacerdot.,’ p. 832, Opp., tom. 2. p. 235, edit. Maugey),

the Talmud, etc., this injunction relates to the slaying of animals at home for private use,

and not such as were killed for sacrifice. But the use here of the sacrificial

phraseology, who offer a sacrifice (jb"Z,h" yjeb]zO, who slay victims for sacrifice —

a phrase nowhere found except in connection with sacrificial rites) is adverse to this;

and besides, how could such an enactment be carried out? How could people, residing

at a distance, convey to the priests the portions due to them every time they slaughtered

an animal for domestic use? At the same time, the sacrifices here referred to do not

seem to be included in the offerings by fire above mentioned; and these gifts to

the priest seem to have been something over and above his ordinary dues.  There is

probability, therefore, in the suggestion that “the reference is to the slaughtering of oxen,

sheep, or goats, which were not intended for shelamim in the more limited sense,

i.e. for one of the three species of peace offerings (Leviticus 7:15-16), but for festal

meals in the broader sense, which were held in connection with the sacrificial meals

prepared from the shelamim.

 

4 “The firstfruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the

first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him.”  In addition to the

first-fruits already prescribed by the Law to be given to the priests (Numbers 18:12-13),

Moses here enacts that the first fleece of the sheep shall be given. All these, though

legally prescribed, were free gifts on the part of the people; the neglect of the

prescription incurred only moral blame, not judicial penalty.

 

5 “For the LORD thy God hath chosen him out of all thy tribes, to stand to

minister in the name of the LORD, him and his sons for ever.”  The reason

assigned for the enactment is that God had chosen the priest to stand and minister

in the Name of Jehovah, i.e. not only by His appointment and authority, but with full

power to act as mediator between the people and God, him and his sons forever;

referring to the establishment of the priesthood in the family of Aaron.

 

Only a portion of the Levites were engaged in the service of the sanctuary; the rest

lived in their towns throughout the country. It might happen, however, that a Levite,

moved by pious feeling, would come to the place of the sanctuary to worship there;

and it is prescribed that such a one should fare as his brethren the Levites engaged

in the service of the sanctuary fared; he should minister along with them, and share

with them in the gifts of the worshippers; and this in addition to any private means he

might have from the sale of his patrimony

 

6 “And if a Levite come from any of thy gates out of all Israel, where he

sojourned,” – The Levite, though not homeless, was regarded as only a sojourner

in the land, inasmuch as the tribe had no inheritance (jl;j}n") there -“and come

with all the desire of his mind unto the place which the LORD shall choose;” 

7 Then he shall minister in the name of the LORD his God, as all his

brethren the Levites do, which stand there before the LORD.  8They shall

have like portions to eat,” - literally, they shall eat portion as portion, i.e.

share and share alike - “beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony.”

 - literally, his price upon [the house] of [his] fathers, i.e. the produce of the

sale effected on the house he inherited from his ancestry (compare Leviticus 25:33).

 

 

God’s Provision for the Priests and Levites (vs. 1-8)

 

From the limitations of the monarchy, Moses next turns to the provision for the

priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi.” They were not to receive any

estate in Canaan beyond the suburbs of certain cities. They were to take

the Lord as their inheritance.” We have already seen that Palestine was a

good land for training up a spiritual people; it was a land where dependence upon

God was constantly enforced. But among this people, thus invited to depend upon

God, there was a tribe whose dependence upon God was to be further stimulated

by the absence of any tangible inheritance. Their life was thus to be a life of trust in

God’s continual care. In these circumstances the Lord made certain laws about

the priests’ due. He took good care of the tribe that trusted Him. It has been supposed

that the animals, of which the priests were to have a definite part, were not merely

sacrifices, but also those privately slaughtered, and the words (jb"Z,h" yjeb]zO)

translated “them that offer a sacrifice” will bear the rendering “those who

slaughter animals.” Still, it seems more probable that it was by the central altar that

the priests and Levites were to live. Assuming this, then, the following lessons are

here taught.

 

  • THOSE WHO TRUST GOD SHALL NEVER BE DISAPPOINTED

IN THEIR ALLOTTED PORTION. For as a matter of fact, “the

shoulder, the two cheeks, and the maw” were deemed dainty portions

of the animal. The best portions ascended to God in the altar fire, and then

the second best were assigned to the priests and Levites, while the offerer

was content with what was left. God and His ministers were regarded as

the guests of the Jewish worshippers, and, as the guests enjoy the best

which we can offer in the exercise of our hospitality, the support of the priests

and Levites was amply secured. These dues of the priests and Levites seem to

have been regularly paid while the people remained true to God; of course,

their support would suffer in sinful and idolatrous times, yet, even when

they suffered with the neglect of God’s altar, it was suffering with God.

And as a rule those who trust God are not disappointed with His provision.

Even when it is limited in amount, He is sure to give sublime compensations.

Though ministerial support is not what it ought to be, there is no class of

men who enjoy life so much as God’s servants.

 

  • THOSE WHO ARE THE LORD’S CHOSEN SERVANTS ARE

CALLED PRE-EMINENTLY TO THE LIFE OF TRUST. There is

A great temptation to encircle ourselves with so much worldly possession as

that trust in God will be difficult and seem superfluous. In other words,

there is an effort to be able to live by sight rather than by faith. (This

seems to be reinforced by Contemporary Christianity – CY – 2012)

But the Master whom we serve is realized by faith, and His kingdom

must be propagated by faith. Hence He so arranges the lot of His servants

that a loud call for faith is always ringing in their ears, and they should never

neglect that call. The priests and Levites were at liberty to purchase land

and leave it to their children, and doubtless many of them so far made

assurance doubly sure, and took a bond of fate.” Yet the life of faith, the

dependence upon God’s altar, was better and wholesomer than the life

of sight.

 

  • THE PEOPLE HAD NO RIGHT TO WITHHOLD THE PRIESTS

AND LEVITES DUE BECAUSE OF ANY PRIVATE PATRIMONY

INDIVIDUALS MIGHT POSSESS. A good deal of deficient ministerial

support is due to the people very unfairly discounting private incomes and

often exaggerating them, so as to save themselves. Ministers may inherit

means through the kindly consideration of parents and friends; but this is

no reason why people should hold their hand in the matter of ministerial

support. The Lord specially provided that the Levite (v. 8) should have

like portions to eat beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony.

The truth is that private means invariably go to make a public ministry

more effective, if the ministry is true at all. They are not selfishly utilized,

but used as a matter of’ stewardship. In such circumstances, instead of

being a hindrance to liberality, these private possessions should be a

stimulus, as they are so much more in the line of things devoted to the

Lord.

 

  • DUE RESPECT SHOULD BE SHOWN TO A DEVOTED SPIRIT.

The case of the Levite here referred to corresponds to a minister who has

responded to a Divine call, against what one might call the dictates of

worldly prudence. He has followed the inward impulse (v. 6), and come

to aid the priests at the central altar from his snug patrimony at home. Such

devotion is to be considered and rewarded. The Levite, who was so

interested as to relinquish his country life and patrimony, deserved the

payment of the dues at the altar. So with the generous devotion of the

ministers of God. When men relinquish good worldly prospects for the

Church, their doing so should be considered.

 

 

    THE ARTS OF DIVINATION OF THE HEATHEN TO BE AVOIDED

                                                  (vs. 9-14)

 

9 “When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth

thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.”

i.e. certain forms of superstitious usage by which the heathen sought to procure the

favor of their deities, to obtain from them direction and counsel, and to penetrate

into the hidden future of events. Moses charges the people to avoid all such usages,

and not even to learn to do after such abominations (compare Leviticus 18:21;

Leviticus 19:26, 31; Numbers 23:23).

 

10 “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or

his daughter to pass through the fire,” -  (see note on ch.12:31) -“or that

useth divination,” - (compare Ezekiel 21:21, where the different methods of

divination are enumerated).  or an observer of times,” - This is according to the

Targum, observans horns; the Septuagint has  klhdonizo>menov

klaedonizomenos -“one who augurs what is to happen;”  -The word (ˆnewO[m])

is part of a verb which signifies to cover, to use covert arts, to practice  sorcery;

though some derive it from the noun ˆn"[;, a thick cloud, and explain it as “interpreter

of clouds;” while others trace it to ˆyi[", the eye, and explain it as “one who cheats by

optical fascinations” (so the Syriac, fascinans oculis), or one who divines by inspection

an augur” - “or an enchanter,” -  one who practices magic, or divines by signs

(compare Genesis 44:5; Numbers 24:1). It is sometimes said that the verb of which

this word is a part (vjeni) is a denominative from vj;n;, a serpent; whence it is inferred

 that the species of divination indicated by this word is ophiomancy, or divination by

serpents, but this is not generally accepted by scholars -  “or a witch.”  (pvek"mi;

Septuagint, farmako>v pharmakossorcerer;  from which we get our word

pharmacy; using drugs, etc.  - :Vulgate, maleficus); probably one who pretended

to cure diseases, or procure some desired result, by means of nostrums and philtres.

In the enumeration of the wise men of Babylon (Daniel 2:2), the Mecashephim have

a place beside the Hartummim, and in Genesis 41:8 and Exodus 7:11, they are joined

with the Hachamim or Magi of Egypt; and this favors the conclusion that their sorcery

had a quasi-scientific basis. The English word “witch” is now restricted to the female

 practicer of unlawful arts; formerly it was applied to males as well, if not chiefly

(Trench, ‘Select Glossary,’ p. 806).

 

11 Or a charmer,” -   (rb,h; rbejo); a dealer in spells, one who by means of spells

Or charms pretends to achieve some desired result. The verb here used primarily

means to bind, and the species of magic indicated is probably that practiced by binding

certain knots, whereby it was supposed that the curse or blessing, as the case might he,

was bound on its object; this was accompanied apparently with incantation (Psalm 58:5).

Compare the English word spell-bound, and the phrase, “to rivet charms.” A species

of incantation known to the Romans consisted in tying knots with threads of different

colors, three in number, which were supposed to become a bond to secure an object

(cf. Virgil.,Eclog.’ 8:76,77) - “or a consulter with familiar spirits,” - This phrase

conveys something different from what is expressed, in the Hebrew. bwOa laecO is

one who asks or inquires of an Ob, that is, a Python, or divining spirit. This spirit was

supposed to be in the person of the conjurer, and to be able to reveal to him what was

secret or hidden in the future (Leviticus 20:27; I Samuel 28:7-8; Acts 16:16). The

notion of “a familiar spirit,” i.e. a spirit not dwelling in the person, but with which

he is intimate — generally the spirit of one who formerly lived on earth — is a modern

notion not known to Scripture. The persons here referred to were probably

ventriloquists (Septuagint, ejggastri>muqoi eggastrimuthoi  ), and used their faculty

in this respect for purposes of magic, pretending that they had within them a spirit

which they could consult, and by which they could predict what would happen or reveal

what was hid - “or a wizard,” -  The English word “wizard” did not originally convey

the idea of anything evil in the person of whom it was used; Milton applies it to the

Magi who came to worship at Bethlehem (‘Ode on the Nativity,’ 4.); it meant merely

the wise one,” or “the knowing one;” and thus is an exact equivalent for the Hebrew

word here used (yni[Ody], knowing, wise, from [d"y;, to know) - “or a necromancer.”

 - one who professed to call up the dead, and from them to learn the secrets of futurity

(compare I Samuel 28:7).

 

12 “For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD:  and

because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from

before thee.” All who practiced such arts were an abomination unto the

Lord, and His people are forbidden to have anything to do with them. They

are connected here with the Moloch-worship, because of the intimate

relation between idolatry and the use of magical arts; and Moloch-worship

is specially mentioned, probably because it was the form of idolatry with

which the Israelites were most likely to come in contact, both where they

then were and also in Canaan.

 

13 “Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.”  The word translated

perfect properly means entire, whole, answering to the Latin integer; it is used

only in a moral sense, and is best rendered by “upright;” the Israelites were to be

upright and sincere with, i.e. in relation with, Jehovah their God.  (Compare “Be

ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

(Matthew 5:48)

 

14 “For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers

of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not

suffered thee so to do.”  Though the heathen whose land they were to possess

sought to diviners and enchanters, Israel was not to do so; as for them (the hT;a"

at the beginning of the clause is an emphatic nominative), Jehovah their God had

not suffered (ˆt"n;, given, granted, allowed) them to do such things.

 

 

There should be no need for Israel to turn to heathen soothsayers, or diviners,

or such like, because from amongst themselves, of their own brethren, would God raise

up prophets like unto Moses, who, as occasion required, would reveal to them what

God willed them to know.

 

Moses was not only the leader and ruler of the people, he was also the medium

through which God communicated with the people, gave them His laws, and

conveyed to them His word and will. In this respect his place could be supplied

neither by priest nor by king. In the prospect of his demise, therefore, there required

to be instituted another office, that of a prophet, one who should be between God

and the people, as the channel through which Divine communications might pass to

them. This office Moses here announces that God would establish among them when

they had entered the Promised Land.

 

 

 

A PROPHET PROMISED WHOM ISRAEL MUST HEAR

                                    (vs. 15-19)

 

15 “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet” -  The Hebrew word

so rendered (aybin;) is a derivative from a verb (ab;n;), which signifies to tell, to

announce; hence the primary concept of the word is that of announcer, or forth-speaker;

and to this the word “prophet” (Greek profh>thv prophaetaes  from pro>fhmi

prophaemi - I speak before or in place of) closely corresponds; the prophet is one who

speaks in the place of God, who conveys God’s word to men, who is an interpreter of

God to men. (As illustrative of the meaning of the word, compare Exodus 7:1; 4:16.)

Hence Abraham is called a prophet (Genesis 20:7), and the term is applied to the

patriarchs generally (Psalm 105:15); God conveyed His mind to them, and they spoke

it forth to others (Amos 3:7) - “from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto

me;” -  When the people heard the voice of God speaking to them at Sinai, and from

the midst of the fire uttering to them the Ten Words, they were struck with terror,

and besought that they might not again hear that awful voice, but that Moses

might act as mediator between God and them — might hear what God should say,

and speak it unto them (ch. 5:22-27). Moses thus became God’s prophet to the people;

and of this he reminds them here, as well as of the circumstances amid which he entered

specially on this office (compare vs. 16-17). The phrase, “like unto me,” does not

necessarily imply that the prophet who was to come after Moses was to be in every

respect the same as he; all that is indicated is that he would act as Moses had acted

as a mediator between God and the people in the way of conveying His will to them -

unto him ye shall hearken;”  16 “According to all that thou desiredst of the

LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly,” - (ch. 9:14; 10:4) -

 saying, Let me not hear  again the voice of the LORD my God, neither

let me see this great fire any  more, that I die not.”

 

17 “And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they

have spoken.  18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren,

like unto thee, and will put my words in His mouth;” -  will so reveal to him

my mind, and so inspire him to utter it, that the words he speaks shall be

really my words. The question has been raised whether, by the Prophet like

unto Moses, here promised to the people of Israel, is to be understood

some eminent individual, or whether this refers to the prophetic diadoch< -

diadochae -  succession, that was to continue under the theocracy. For the latter

the context strongly speaks, for

 

  • the contrast between what God here forbids the Israelites to do, viz. to

resort to diviners and soothsayers, and the provision He would make for

them so as to render this needless, point to a succession of prophets rather

than to one individual;

 

  • the reference in what follows to the discrimination of false prophets

from true prophets, shows that a multiplicity and a succession of prophets

was in the view of the speaker, not a single individual; and

 

  • as a succession of priests, of judges, and of kings was contemplated in

this part of the Mosaic legislation, the presumption is that a succession also

of prophets was contemplated. At the same time, the use of the singular

here is remarkable, for nowhere else is the singular, nabhi, employed to

designate more than one individual; and this suggests that the reference

here may be to some individual in whom not only was the succession to

culminate as in its crown and eminence, but whose spirit was to pervade

the whole succession, — that each member of it should exercise his

functions only as that Spirit which was in them did signify (I Peter 1:11).

It is possible that “Prophet” here may be used as “seedis in Genesis 3:15,

and that this is a prediction of Christ as the True Prophet, just as the assurance

to Eve was a prediction of the Messiah, who, as the Head and Crown of the

godly seed,” should end the conflict with the serpent and his seed by a crushing

victory. It is to be considered also that, whilst the words “like unto me” do

not necessarily imply a resemblance in all respects between Moses and the

Prophet here promised, and whilst they may be well applied to One

superior in many respects to Moses, it would be taking them at much

below their real worth were we to understand them of one greatly inferior

to Moses, as all the prophets who succeeded him in Israel were until the

Chief came (ch. 34:10; Hebrews 3:1-6). Finally, there can be no

doubt that the Jews expected that the Messiah would appear as

the Prophet by pre-eminence, and that they founded that expectation on the

promise here recorded (John 1:21; 6:14; Acts 3:22-26; 7:37). It may be added

that our Lord seems to apply this to Himself, when He says to the Jews,

“There is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.

For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of

me(John 5:45-46; compare also 11:48-50). How early and how widespread

was the expectation that the Messiah would come as a prophet, may be

inferred from the existence of this among the Samaritans (John 4:25). It

is to be concluded, then, that this promise has reference ultimately to the

Messiah, the Great Revealer of God, between whom and Moses there

should be a long succession of prophets, so that there should always be a

medium of Divine communication between Jehovah and His people -

            and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him.”

 

To the Prophet who should thus speak to the people all that God should command Him,

they were to pay the utmost deference, and to His words they were to render implicit

obedience.

 

19 “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my

words which He shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.”  I will judge him

and punish his disobedience (compare Genesis 42:22; II Samuel 4:11; Psalm 10:13).

 

 

THE PROMISED PROPHET (vs. 15-19)

 

From speaking of the paltry expectations about divination, Moses goes on to speak of

the general plan of Divine revelation. The people had had the splendid chance of

direct communion with God, without any mediation. God spoke to them from heaven

at Sinai; but so afraid were they of immediate revelation that they implored Moses to

mediate the message for them. He became consequently, with God’s full approval,

the human medium through which the Divine will was conveyed, which means God’s

prophet. They had had no difficulty in accepting the Divine messages through him.

Now, Moses assures them that this method of mediation through human beings will

continue. He puts the promise in comprehensive form, and says that through a Prophet

like to himself will God continue to speak to them after he has gone, and HIS

MESSAGE  they will reject at their peril.

 

  • LET US OBSERVE THE APPROPRIATENESS OF GOD

REVEALING HIMSELF THROUGH A HUMAN BEING.

For man is in the Divine image; if this be not the case, we can have no

Knowledge whatever of God. Man is the image of God; and hence God

reveals Himself to men through a man. The office of prophet is the most

appropriate way of revealing God’s will. And when we carry on this line of

thought, we are landed in the idea that an AN INCARNATIN OF GOD

ALONE could adequately convey to man the mind and nature of God.

(Our pastor, Marion Duncan, in the late 1960’s had a series of sermons

on “The Pre-manifestations of the Incarnation of Christ” taken from

the Old Testament.  They were very instructive – CY – 2012)

 

  • IT SEEMS CLEAR FROM THE PROMISE THAT A SINGLE

PROPHET AFTER THE SIMILITUDE OF MOSES IS TO BE THE

MEDIATOR FOR THE AGES. Now, only one Person answers this

description, and this is JESUS CHRIST!   HE WAS and IS

INCARNATE GOD!  His Spirit he alone could take, and through its gift

to men in the different ages make them the channel of God’s revelation. As a

 matter of fact, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”

(Revelation 19:10); and the prophets were His instruments in the history of

the Church. God has spoken in the last days by His Son; (Hebrews 1:1)

and the prophets  between Moses and Christ were really the inspired

messengers of the one Great Prophet of God. This is the idea of

Peter that the Spirit of Christ spoke in the prophets   (I Peter 1:11;

II Peter 1:19-21).  We thus see one Person embracing the mediating work

of the different ages, and accomplishing it through holy men.

 

  • THE LIFE AND DEATH OF JESUS, THEREFORE, BECOME

THE CLIMAX OF DIVINE REVELATION. The previous revelations

were but foreshadowings of this perfect manifestation of God. A human

history became the embodiment of Divine thoughts, mercies, self-

denials, and self-sacrifice. The blaze of divinity that was intolerable at

Sinai becomes not only bearable but entrancing in the face of Jesus Christ

(II Corinthians 4:6).  The blinding brilliance has been so toned down that

man can rejoice in Jesus as “God manifest in the flesh.”  “We beheld

His glory” (John 1:14).  It did not blind or scare men as at the holy mount.

(v. 16)

 

  • THE DISREGARD OF THE WORDS OF JESUS IS PUNISHABLE

BY DEATH. This is the penalty pronounced. We see it in another form in

the Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus

Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha (I Corinthians 16:22).  If

disobedience to Moses was visited in many cases by death, how much more

disobedience and disloyalty to Christ! (compare Hebrews 10:28-31). THE

GOSPEL has penalties of the severest kind for its rejection, as well as

bliss beyond compare for its reception. The alternative is thus clearly set

before us.  (ch. 30:19; Ezekiel 33:11)

 

  • THE PROPHETS SENT OF GOD SUBMIT TO THE TEST OF

FULFILLMENT, WHILE FALSE PROPHETS ARE TO BE DETECTED

BY THEIR FAILURE (vs. 20-22).  God’s method being a human mediation,

 is liable to be imitated, and men from time to time will profess to be prophets,

when they have no real commission. Now, God has such a control of the

future that no unassisted, uninspired man can forecast it successfully.

Sooner or later he is found out. Random guesses soon run out, and the

person is discredited. Hence it was the duty of Israel to weigh well the

communication of the professed prophets, and to see wherein they were

confirmed by subsequent events. “Beloved, believe not every spirit,

but try the spirits whether they are of God:  because many false

prophets are gone out into the world.  Hereby know ye the Spirit

of God:  Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in

the flesh is of God:  And every spirit that confesseth not that

Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God:  and this is that

Spirit of anti-christ, whereof ye have heard that it should come;

And even now already is it in the world.  (I John 4:1-3).  The true

prophets had their word fulfilled, and were Christ’s messengers; the false

prophets had their word discredited, and were acting presumptuously.

Let us hear the Great Prophet, and give Him credit for all the predictions of

the minor and but human prophets.

 

 

THE FALSE AND PRESUMPTUOUS PROPHET

TO BE PUT TO DEATH (vs. 20-22)

 

20 “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name,

which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of

other gods, even that prophet shall die.” If, however, a prophet should presume

to speak in the Name of the Lord what the Lord had not commanded him to speak,

or if he should speak in the name of other gods, not only was no regard to be paid

to his words, but he was himself to be treated as a blasphemer, and to be put to death.

 

21 “And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD

hath not spoken?  22  When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the

thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not

spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid

of him.”  The test by which it was to be discovered which was the true prophet and

which the false, was the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of his prediction. The reference here

is to the prediction of proximate events — events that were to happen within a limited

period, but which were not such as one not divinely instructed could foresee. When such

came to pass, the pretensions of the prophet were thereby substantiated, and his authority

established (compare I Samuel 3:19; John 2:18). This was a more certain test than such as

was offered by signs and wonders.  (ch. 13:2)

 

 

 

 

 

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