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Passage: Deuteronomy 17-20

On Friday, March 14, 2014, Yujin wrote,

But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die (Deuteronomy 18:20).

You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

"The Lord told me...", "The Lord is leading me to tell you...", "The Lord gave me a vision..." These are quite significant pronouncements, which in bygone times, would be uttered only by a bonafide prophet of the LORD. In keeping with the Law, the pronouncements had to be tested, and if the prophet's word did not come true, he was to be killed.

Today, these words are spoken by any Tom,Dick or Sally, in the course of a casual conversation. Oftentimes, they are so general or "safe" that no one could prove the truth of the pronouncement one way or another. Even the predictive types of pronouncements have such broad parameters that they could be self-fulfilling for just about anyone that wanted them to be true.

Now, there are still quite a few occasions when someone is bold enough - or foolish enough - to be specific, but, even then, they suffer little to no repurcussion for what would have been a capital crime in God's eyes. 

Sad to say, I could name a number of leaders and members from my former church that regularly made such pronouncements. And even after their pronouncements were found to be false, they continued to do it! They justified their failure by either feigning ignorance or making some excuse like "God changed His mind" or "God must have something better".

Some even try to defend the notion that it is okay for prophecies to fail, or that prophets can mature into their gift such that their percentage of accuracy could improve as they mature. In doing this, they are whimsically changing how Scripture defines prophecy. It is non-sequitur, a logical falacy, to say that people can mature into prophetic accuracy, for the very nature of prophecy is disconnected from spiritual maturity. The gift of prophecy is not a skill or talent that can be developed or improved with time and effort. It is more like pregnancy. You either have it or you don't. 

Even if we were to just think of it pragmatically, consider the havoc such a notion would pose to Christian faith. If prophecies can fail, not only would the pronouncements of contemporary prophets be found unreliable, even the Scriptures would then be found to be unreliable as well, for it too was written by men, who were not necessarily at their peak of spiritual maturity.

With but flimsy evidence I have heard both John Piper and Wayne Gruden, generally solid biblicists, make the dangerously bold claim that the character of the prophetic gift may be different in the Old and New Testaments, such that the New Testament gift may allow for failure. Such a suggestion is both irresponsible and wrong. Just because they use language like "may" or "could" does not excuse such a wrong-headed pronouncement, for such a claim could do even more damage than Rob Bell's suggestion that hell is not a real place. 

Friends, we are living in a very disturbing time, where the people of God are growing more and more ignorant of Scriptural truth. This means that they must rely more and more on the few preachers and teachers that have made it their profession to know and teach God's Word. Consequently, the average believer is ill-equipped to judge anything that a preacher or teacher tells them.

When I was a student in Bible College, I did many research papers. Because I was still biblically wet-behind-the-ears, I found it hard to judge what was the truth. Every book I picked up was persuasive to me, so that I found myself changing my view with every new author. I was "tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14). I often found myself defending the view of the last book I happened to read for any given topic. I would have been a crazy dangerous theologian at the time. In fact, I threw away all my early papers because of this. 

I am perhaps a little more competent today and hopefully growing more so by daily meditating on God's Word and memorizing large tracts of it. I have no better counsel than this for those seeking to safeguard themselves against false teaching: You must learn God's Word for yourselves. You must put in the time and effort. There is no other way. If you consider this daunting, listen to this encouragement from the Scriptures:

Oh, how I love your law!
    I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me
    and make me wiser than my enemies.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
    for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
    for I obey your precepts (Psalm 119:97-100).

Friends, whatever else we choose to do in life, we must all be specialists with respect to God's Word. We must each be accountable for ourselves in this regard. May the Lord bless your efforts! 

Passage: Deuteronomy 17-20

On Wednesday, March 14, 2012 (Last Updated on 3/14/2014), Yujin wrote,

Of all the commands given for the king of Israel, the ones most prominent has to do with the Law:

“When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the LORD his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. And it will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel (Deuteronomy 17:18-20).

Notice God commands that the king make his own hand-written copy of the law. He cannot order someone else to make a copy for him. He must do it himself. 

What is more, God commands the king to keep this copy with him always. He is not to put into the royal archives or in the library or even on his nighstand. He is to keep it in his presence at all times. The sense is very much like what God commanded the people of Israel:

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

What is more, God commands the king to read this copy of the Law every day. As you might imagine, the king was probably a busy person, managing the affairs of the entire nation; however, God commanded that he read the Law from beginning to end every day. God, thus, mandated that this be a priority for the king.

What is more, God commands that the king read the Law not only while he is actively serving as the king but "as long as he lives." It is not simply a document for a just rule but a document for a just life.

Then, we are given the outcomes and benefits of daily reading the Law:

  1. By daily reading he will learn to fear the LORD in obedience.

    That way he will learn to fear the LORD his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees (Deuteronomy 17:19b).

  2. By daily reading he will remain humble.

    This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens (Deuteronomy 17:20a).

  3. By daily reading he will be careful not to miss even the smallest detail in the Law.

    It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way (Deuteronomy 17:20b).

  4. By daily reading he will be blessed and ensure blessings for many generations after him.

    It will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel (Deuteronomy 17:20c).

Thus, what was commanded of the common folk in Israel was amplified for the king, for they would read the Law for the benefit of themselves and their families; however, the king was also responsible for the entire nation. 

As Christians we have no lesser command than the Hebrews of old. We too are commanded to read the Scriptures, even more to study them diligently, so that we may interpret them correctly:

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

In his charge to Timothy, as a safeguard against temptations and the false teachers of his time, Paul counsels him to read and apply the Scriptures:

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ JesusAll Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:12-16).

Can you not hear the counsel to the king in these words? It is a counsel to us. Therefore, dear friends, you who claim the Name of Christ, there is no greater priority for you than to carefully and daily read the Bible. You say that you are just too busy. Are you busier than the king of a nation? You say that you have other priorities. Is it greater than what God has made the chief priority for Christians? You say that you've tried. Is there any ceasing from doing what is right?

As God promises under both the Old and New Covenants, it is the single most necessary thing for you to live a life pleasing to Him.

Passage: Deuteronomy 17-20

On Tuesday, March 15, 2011 (Last Updated on 3/14/2012), Unmi wrote,
This section in Deut 17 about the future King is interesting. Israel was supposed to be a theocracy with God himself as their King, but God makes provision for their future rejection of Him.  In 1 Samuel 8:7, the Israelites demand a king. "And the LORD told him (Samuel): “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king."  Then the Lord chooses Saul from the tribe of Benjamin from the town of Gibeah.
The choice of a Benjamite from Gibeah has to be seen in context from the events that ends the book of Judges. Judges 19-21 gives the story of the Levite and his concubine and what happened to them in Gibeah. As the Levite was traveling and staying in the house of an old man, the wicked men of Gibeah demanded “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.” (Judges 19:22) The story is very similar to Sodom and Gomorrah. Instead of the Levite coming out, his concubine is sent out to the men. The concubine is raped and abused throughout the night and left for dead by the Benjamites. Because of this evil, they are punished.  On that day twenty-five thousand Benjamite swordsmen fell. (Judges 20:46-48) Judges ends with the commentary "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit." (Judges 21:25)  It is in this historical context that the LORD chooses Saul, a Benjamite from Gibeah to be the King of Israel.  Saul himself says “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?” (1 Samuel 9:22) When I first read this, I thought Saul was just trying to be humble, but the truth was that the tribe of Benjamin was almost completely wiped out, this was especially true for the Benjamites of Gibeah. The Lord always seems to pick the younger or weaker person through whom the power of God would be made known. 1 Samuel 10:9-10 says that God changed Saul's heart and the the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him. Although he started off well, he disobeyed the Lord and the kingdom was taken away from him and given to David, from the tribe of Judah, to fulfill the prophetic blessing that Jacob gave to Judah. Genesis 49:10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
The Lord establishes a covenant with David. Just like the Abrahamic covenant, this is a unilateral covenant made by God without any stipulations or conditions. 1 Chronicles 17:10-14 “‘I declare to you that the LORD will build a house for you: When your days are over and you go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.’”
However, by the time we get to the 2nd generation Davidic king, Solomon fails dreadfully.  Solomon failed at so many aspects of the Deut 17 conditions that it seems that it was written specifically about him. In this section in Deut, God makes certain restrictions and regulations regarding their future King:
1. appoint a king that God chooses
2. must be an Israelites, not a foreigner
3. must not acquire great number of horses for himself
4. must not take the people back to Egypt
5. must not take many wives
6. must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold
7. have a personal copy of the law and read it all the days of his life
Solomon had 12,000 horses (1 Kings 4: 26), he had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:1), he had greater riches than all the other kings of the earth (1 Kings 10:23). Even with all his godly wisdom, Solomon could not keep with requirements as written in Deut 17.
It was not until Jesus that we have a Davidic King that fulfilled the requirements of the Law. Jesus is the King of Deut 17, the Prophet like Moses of Deut 18, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53... Praise be to God that He opens our eyes to see the truth revealed in Scripture.

Passage: Deuteronomy 17-20

On Sunday, March 7, 2010, Matt wrote,

"then do to him as he intended to do to his brother.  You must purge the evil from among you."(Deut. 19:19)

This verse definitely has an Old Testament feel to it.  An eye for an eye mentality was seen as fair then - before Christ came and died for our sins.  Since Christ's crucifixion and in line with the New Testament's teachings we should be loving, merciful and fair.  When Christ died for our sins it changed how we worshiped God.  It changed our relationship with him.  There were no longer priests that intervened there were no longer any ritualistic sacrifices needed.  Christ gave us a direct line to God.
With that being said there is still a biblical truth to this verse that still pertains today.  The fact that we shouldn't settle for God's gift of grace.  We shouldn't rely solely upon that.  Of course we are going to sin and fall short but the proper perspective is to model our lives after what God commands - live like Christ.  This of course can not be done perfectly but that is the perspective we should all take.  Don't let evil and sin reside in your life.  Don't think that it's OK to do it this one time because you will be forgiven.  Always strive to be perfect and let God's grace take care of the times when it doesn't quite happen.
Yujin comments... Excellent thoughts, brother Matt! You are absolutely right. The perspective of grace that says, "I can sin because God will forgive me" is not a Christian confession. Paul writes in Romans 6:15-18,

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Rather, the Christian who struggles with sin has a different attitude:

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25).

Christians daily wrestle with sin, working out their salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).