The priests were the descendants of the tribe of Levi. The law did not allow them to own property, for the LORD was to be their focus and inheritance (Deuteronomy 18:2). God provided for the priests through the sacrifices and tithes of the people, this allowed the Levites to teach the Word and to serve in the Tabernacle.
It’s important to realize the perverse practices the people of Canaan were engaged in – things like witchcraft, fortune-telling, mediums, and sorcery, all these were open-doors to demons, so in one sense, the land was possessed. In Deuteronomy 18:10 we even read about parents sacrificing their children to Molech, by making them pass through the fire. This is why the warnings of God are so intense and repeated – it’s an abomination to God and it should be to us; please be so careful to never open any doors to demons. Over they years I’ve seen many victims tormented by these evil spirits.
When Moses spoke about the LORD raising up a prophet like him, (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19), it was a major prophecy that pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ, “…Him you shall hear.” Peter quoted this passage in Acts 3:22-23 in reference to Jesus and Peter makes the warning vivid:
Acts 3:22–23 (NKJV) “For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’”
In contrast to the Prophet with a capital P, are the false prophets who speak for the other side. The one who tried to turn Israel away from the LORD would be put to death, and the one’s who’s make false predictions, were not to be feared, they obviously were not of the LORD.
In Deuteronomy 19 we have the cities of refuge mandated, where the manslayer might flee; there would be three cities on each side of the Jordan.
I thought it was interesting how God presented to Israel the potential to enlarge their territory. All they had to do was to love the LORD, obey His commands, and their country would grow at which point they would need to add more cities of refuge (Deuteronomy 19:8-9). I don’t know the details of our territory, but if we love the Lord, God will enlarge it (! Chronicles 4:10).
In Deuteronomy 20 God issues His commands to the country on the verge of war. He put the very words in the mouth of the priests:
Deuteronomy 20:3–4 (NKJV) ”And he shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; 4 for the LORD your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’”
When I read those words I ponder the fact that so many of us are facing different types of battles in life, temptations, trials, situations that might move our hearts to faint or fear. There’s a war going on. May we know, that the Lord Himself goes with us, He is willing to fight for us if only we’d let Him, completely, by trusting Him. This type of faith was so important, that if a soldier was afraid, he was released from duty (Deuteronomy 20:8). Do not be afraid, only believe.
Outside of Canaan, peace treaties with other nations were allowed, but not among the Canaanites, there was to be no treaties with these enemies of their soul. Today we don’t hate or murder people, but we should hate and murder sin. God help us to win this war.
Once again Luke highlights the prayer life of our Lord; Jesus is praying in Luke 9:18, and He prays again in Luke 9:29, this time He’s altered as He prays. That’s what happens when we truly spend time with God.
Peter’s funny isn’t he? He reminds me of me. He shouldn’t have said anything because he didn’t know what to say (Mark 9:6), and even after he spoke he didn’t know what he said. Have you ever heard that saying, “It’s better not to say anything and let people think you’re a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Peter wanted to build three tabernacles, but that thought should have never entered his mind. Moses and Elijah were there representing the Law and the Prophets, but they were not to be put on par with Jesus. It’s for that reason the Father spoke and said, “This is My beloved Son, hear Him.” He was the Prophet Moses spoke of in Deuteronomy 18:15, 19 – the clear command then and now is to “Hear Him!” Listen to and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.
Earlier the Apostles had the power to cast out demons (all demons), why not this time? They lacked faith. In Matthew 17:21 Jesus said that certain demons require a life empowered through prayer and fasting.
Can you imagine the disciples arguing about who would be the greatest? And yet I sense that that’s the heart of so many of our problems, insecurities, and anxieties. We’re comparing ourselves with others, when we shouldn’t. Nowhere does the Bible say that the greatest is the biggest, or the best looking, or the one with more authority. Let’s just have a heart to serve – even the one who others might consider to be the least, or most insignificant.
There are only two types of people in the world – those who are for Jesus, and those who are against Him, there is no middle ground. We need to be careful that we don’t shun believers who don’t attend our church or aren’t part of our particular denomination – if they hold to the essential of the faith, they’re not against Jesus. Perhaps you’ve heard that ancient saying:
“On the essentials, Unity
On the non-essentials, Liberty
In all things, Charity (love).”
This is one of the most poplar and prominent Psalms because we often share Asaph’s perspective.
We look out at the people of the world and from a distance, they look so happy, it’s as if they’ve got it made in the shade. Many of them are rich and trouble-free, even though they’re prideful and godless.
Here we are doing our best to serve the Lord, but life is so hard, our troubles are double. We may echo the words of Asaph:
Psalm 73:13–14 (NKJV) “Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. 14 For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning.”
Asaph almost stumbled, slipped, fell, he may have even been on the verge of falling away. He was envious of the boastful (Psalm 73:2-3). As he tried to reason within himself, it was too painful and he was just about to give up – until he went into the sanctuary of the Lord…and then he understood their end (Psalm 73:17).
This world we live in is filled with people who look good on the outside, but on the inside, they’re dying because they don’t acknowledge God. Life after death will either take place in heaven or hell. We’re reminded of this in the sanctuary of the saints, when we go to church service. It’s been said that for the non-believer, this is the closest to heaven they’ll ever get; but to the believer, this is the closest to hell we’ll ever get. This life is a vapor, the next is eternal…God help us to keep our eyes on Him for the now and forever.
Psalm 73:24 (NKJV) “You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”
God will guide us on earth and one day take us to heaven. With that understanding, let’s get as close to God as we can. He’s will bless you and use you to help others.
Psalm 73:28 (NKJV) “But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works.”
And again, it starts with the heart and being in right relationship with God – you’ll care for your pet IF your heart is right, but if your heart isn’t right, even the best you have to offer – your version of “tender mercies” will be cruel in comparison.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.