Call to Worship February 2 2020
Thoughts from Deuteronomy 18:
In this chapter Moses reminds God’s people of three specific ways He cares for His people. They were in need of atonement, protection, and prophecy. Moses previously reminded the people of their need for atonement before the Holy God. This atonement was pictured in the sacrificial system purposed by God. Not only did God provide the consistent reminder of their need, he also provided the method and the custodians of that system. The priests were to be responsible for upkeep of the temple and all of the workings of the sacrificial system for the good of the people in pleasing the Lord. So, God looked out for a portion of His people’s spiritual welfare by setting aside the Levite Priests.
The people of God were to work and provide for themselves according to the bounty God would supply. Yet, the priests did not partake in the economic life of Israel per the instructions of God. So, the priests needed to be taken care of as well.
The people are again reminded that the Levites would not be given the usual allocation of land which the other tribes had to till in order to live. They were to give themselves completely to the Lord’s work in pastoral care, teaching, the leading of worship, discipline and other spiritual responsibilities. The earlier saying (10:9), the Lord is their inheritance (2) is repeated again; these spiritual leaders were to rely on the Lord to meet their needs. Their main job was to concentrate on the spiritual needs of other people… (Raymond Brown, The Message of Deuteronomy: Not by Bread Alone, ed. J. A. Motyer and Derek Tidball, The Bible Speaks Today (England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1993), 181–182.)
In order to perpetuate the work involved in the temple and sacrificial system the Priests needed to be physically and financially taken care of by the people. This relationship between the people and the priests was to symbiotically benefit both parties and ultimately please God in right worship.
The second way God provided for the spiritual wellbeing of His people was through prophets. Three matters should be recognized in this instance. The prophets were set apart by God Himself and they were to speak only the message that God gave them. Also, God pronounced a method to discern a true prophet from a false prophet. “Throughout Israel’s history, however, the nation was frequently plagued by false prophets, not people who spoke for false gods but men who said the wrong things about the true God…Jeremiah was particularly concerned about such men and their dangerous ‘peace at any price’ message. They gave the people the words they wanted rather than the truth they needed.” (Raymond Brown, 185–186.) So, God’s prophets obeyed only God’s call, welcomed only God’s word, and spoke only God’s truth. (Ibid.) If their message did not come to fruition then they were false prophets and false prophets were to be executed.
How was God using these two different groups of called servants to protect His people? This question is answered, particularly in these passages, from verses 9-14. Moses was concerned with Israel not being taken away into false worship and the divination or spiritism of pagan cultures. So, God’s prophets often preached against pagan sacrifices, sorcery and spiritism; and warned the people to follow God’s commands in right worship and living. Previously noted was the priests’ work in the sacrificial system and that work was a picture of what the prophets were preaching. The priests lived out that which was heard from the word of God. The priests gave an example of all that was necessary for the covenant keeping of God’s people.
Both the priests and the prophets portrayed the problem and the solution to the people of God. They were in need of God’s word preached and lived out, otherwise they would lean on their own understanding and fall to the god of self. They would invent their own ways of atonement, which would never accomplish real forgiveness before a holy God. The New Testament gives further clarity revealing that Jesus the Messiah is the one and only perfect Prophet and High Priest. As we worship, may we remember God has provided the ultimate purposes of salvation for His people and the practical means for those purposes to be accomplished.