Deuteronomy 19:1-13 (You Shall Prepare to You the Way)

Deuteronomy 19:1-13
You Shall Prepare to You the Way

With the completion of the previous chapters which have dealt greatly with the unity of worship within the land, Chapters 19-21 will put forth legislations that are predominantly intended to reveal the sanctity of human life, and how it is to be protected.

For the passage today, what we have here is a supplemental thought to what was especially presented in Numbers 35 concerning the Cities of Refuge.

However, this is much less of a repetition of those verses than it is a call to carry out what was mandated there concerning those cities – both in their establishment and in what was to occur in them regarding manslayers.

If we were to look for a close parallel in our society in relation to what they were intended to do in Israel, I would suggest the Witness Protection Program provided by the US Marshalls. Obviously, the parallel doesn’t go very far, and there is certainly nothing Christological in nature about the US Marshalls, but they do protect people from harm in a unique way.

The problem with the Witness Protection Program is that it doesn’t just protect the innocent who have gotten caught up in something beyond their control, but they also protect really greasy people who are willing to roll over and give up information in order to save their own skin.

As far as the innocent of Israel who accidentally kills someone, and who thus became a target for the avenger, there is protection for them behind the walls of the City of Refuge.

For the innocent in modern America who is inadvertently caught up in some type of crime to which they could be hunted down for, they are hidden behind the walls of a new identity in a new place by the US Marshalls.

For sure, we don’t want to stretch that analogy too far, but you get the point. Someone has had time and circumstance negatively affect his life, and a provision is made to bring about safety for that person. In the end, I’d much rather be hidden in Christ than hidden by the bungling US Government.

Text Verse: “Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” Hebrews 6:17, 18

The Christological significance of the City of Refuge has already been seen in Numbers 35. The words today are intended to build upon that passage, but it doesn’t introduce a great deal of typology. Rather, as I said, it is given as a call to action by Moses for that which was already presented by the Lord.

It is hoped that the words will bless you, be instructional to you, and build you up in your knowledge of the word. One of the key verses to consider when we get there contains the words of admonition to Israel to “love the Lord your God and to walk always in His ways.”

The law has been given, Christ fulfilled that for us. But the precept remains true for us today. The highest precept for us to consider in our daily life is that of loving the Lord God. Consider this. What good is it to cross every t and dot every i if we don’t have a deep and yearning love for the Lord?

As Christ is the fulfillment and embodiment of this body of law, let us remember to love Him with all of our hearts and souls. With this, we will always remain in the sweet spot. Great truths such as this are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. You Shall Separate Three Cities for Yourself (verses 1-3)

“When the Lord your God has cut off the nations whose land the Lord your God is giving you, and you dispossess them and dwell in their cities and in their houses,

There are a couple of points concerning these words that immediately take prominence. The first is, once again, the surety of them. The verse begins with ki yakhrit – “For has cut off.” Translating it as “when” is fine, but it is to be taken as an absolute surety, and already accomplished in the mind of the Lord.

The second concerns the words asher Yehovah elohekha noten lekha, or “which Yehovah your God is giving to you.” It is the fulfillment of the ancient promise, and it is from the Lord to the people. There is nothing deserving in this generation. They are simply the ones alive when the promise comes into effect.

The third point is one also seen many times. Moses says, virishtam, “and you dispossess them.” The Lord is giving Israel the land. They could not otherwise possess it, and yet, Israel has a synchronistic part in acquiring the land. They must actually get up and act, working together with the Lord to possess the inheritance.

And finally, it says they will “dwell in their cities and in their houses.” This goes back to Moses’ words of Chapter 6 –

“So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, 11 houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full— 12 then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” Deuteronomy 6:10-12

Israel will benefit from the labor of others. The Lord has made every accommodation for them prior to, and during, their taking of the land. When this is accomplished…

you shall separate three cities for yourself

Moses’ words now are reminding the people of the command of the Lord from Numbers 35. At that time, it said –

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 10 ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 11 then you shall appoint cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person accidentally may flee there.’” Numbers 35:9-11

Further, Moses has already designated the first three cities of refuge by name in Deuteronomy 4 –

“Then Moses set apart three cities on this side of the Jordan, toward the rising of the sun, 42 that the manslayer might flee there, who kills his neighbor unintentionally, without having hated him in time past, and that by fleeing to one of these cities he might live: 43 Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau for the Reubenites, Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites, and Golan in Bashan for the Manassites.” Deuteronomy 4:41-43

Those cities named in Chapter 4 are the cities of refuge east of the Jordan in the land already taken by Israel. Moses is now giving further instruction for the land west of the Jordan. The actual naming of them will occur in Joshua 20. These cities are to be…

2 (con’t) in the midst of your land

The prominence of the words is given to ensure that, due to the highly important nature of their designation, the cities are to be chosen specifically for their accessibility from all directions. And again, Moses notes that it is a land…

2 (con’t) which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.

The constant repetition of these words may seem mentally tedious to read as one goes through Deuteronomy, but when the law was given, it was referred to in bite-sized nuggets as a tool of instruction for the people.

They would have a matter to deal with, and they would proceed to whatever section dealt with that matter. In doing so, the words would be a constant reminder that the land was given to them. Thus, it is also a warning: The land can be taken from them. Hence, the law in all its detail was to be strictly tended to…

You shall prepare roads for yourself,

The words are singular for a strong effect: takin lekha ha’derek – “You shall prepare to you the way.” Israel is the subject. The way is the means of travel, and the city is the intended destination. It is to be readily available for the one who needs to reach it.

Herxheimer says, “According to tradition, the way must be level, thirty-two cubits broad, and marked by fingerposts, bearing the words Refuge, Refuge.” Other traditions say that the roads were inspected annually in the month of Adar, that any obstructions were removed, and any bridges would be repaired for quick access over rivers and brooks.

If these precepts of the Torah were adhered to by Israel as unfaithfully as the rest of them, it is doubtful if this tradition was, for most of their history, anything but on paper. There is nothing in Scripture to support any such traditions.

As far as the words of this clause, however, they are reminiscent of Jesus’ words, “I am the way.” There is a place of safety, and there is the Way prepared to reach that place. For Israel in Canaan, Moses next says…

3 (con’t) and divide into three parts the territory of your land

The cities were to be strategically situated so that they were prominent, easily accessible, and placed as much as possible at equal distances from one another and from the exterior borders of the land.

In this, no matter what direction one would travel to such a city, it would be at the closest possible point from even the furthest distance. The precept is to be exactingly adhered to because it is in the land…

3 (con’t) which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit,

The word nakhal, or inherit, is used. One inherits an inheritance. In this, the inheritance is being equally divided for the benefit of all. As this is land given by “the Lord your God,” one can see the same fairness as in concepts such as the shemitah (remission) or of the Hebrew slave.

The Lord, through Moses and through the law, has made provisions for all in order to bring all to a state of equality. This is no different now. There is an overarching fairness in all that is presented so that when time and circumstance work against a person, restoration is always made available. In this case, it is so…

3 (con’t) that any manslayer may flee there.

v’hayah lanus shamah kal rotseakh – “And shall be to flee there all manslayer.” The word ratsakh needs to be reexplained. It signifies unsanctioned killing. It does not cover capital punishment, sanctioned killing in battle, and so on. Rather, it covers any killing – accidental or purposeful – that is unsanctioned.

From there, and only from that standpoint, is there a difference made between accidental killing and murder. But both are on the same level until the determination is made. This then, is the purpose of the are miqlat, or cities of refuge.

Though the term miqlat, or asylum, is not used in Deuteronomy, this is the precept that is being conveyed here. The cities to be appointed are for exactly that reason. As Moses will next say, in what is a parenthetical thought…

Where can I go to save my life?
How can I get free from what I have done?
I killed a man, but not by strife
In innocence have I slain this one

But the avenger of blood waits for me
To take my life for what I have done
Is there a place to where I can flee?
Is there a place to where I can run?

Who will save me from what has come about?
Who can rescue me from what I have done?
Is there a chance for me? How will it come about?
Lord, my only hope is that to You I run

II. Since He has Not Hated the Victim (verses 4-7)

“And this is the case of the manslayer

v’zeh debar ha’rotseakh – “And this word the manslayer.” It is the specific instruction, the word, to be issued concerning someone who kills another in an unsanctioned manner – regardless as to the circumstances. His life is in jeopardy, and he must take action…

4 (con’t) who flees there, that he may live:

The word here is very clearly explained in verse 11. The city of refuge was for “the manslayer” to run to. Any manslayer could do so, but there are different provisions for how the killing occurred which will be reexplained by Moses following after what has already been spoken forth in Numbers 35. As Moses next says…

4 (con’t) Whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally,

asher yakeh eth reehu bivli daath – “Which strikes his neighbor lacking knowledge.” In Numbers 35, it used a different term, “in his inadvertence.” Here, the meaning is the same even if the terminology is different.

The person accidently, or without knowledge, has killed another person. There was nothing premeditated about it. As it says…

4 (con’t) not having hated him in time past—

Despite the English translation, it is an exact repeat of Deuteronomy 4:42, which said, “without having hated him in time past.” The two phrases are identical with but two unusual exceptions.

In verse 4:42, the Hebrew words mitemol shilshom are spelled differently than they are here. In both, the letter vav is included in 4:42, but it is missing now. It could be as simple as us spelling the word worshiped with one or two p’s. Or there may be a reason that the Lord purposefully dropped the additional letter out now.

If the latter, I can only provide a speculative suggestion. Vav is the sixth letter. Six is the number of man, especially fallen man. It is five plus one, or grace plus man’s addition to it. It is seven minus one, or coming short of spiritual perfection.

The cities are given as a haven for such. They are a place of grace for those who fall short but who seek refuge. The cities themselves do not save; they only protect. And they only do so by the voluntary act of the man staying in them.

At the time of Deuteronomy 4, only three cities were mentioned, thus the addition of the vav, the sixth letter of the aleph-bet, was included to show the fallen state of this otherwise innocent man.

In this passage, there is no need for that because the cities now total six, implying that there is a need for them for all in Israel because all fall short of perfection.

That is a highly speculative analysis, but it is the only logical thing I could think up. I would suggest you not add a permanent squiggle to your brain over this.

as when a man goes to the woods with his neighbor to cut timber,

Moses gives a common example of something that could occur that would make a person a manslayer, but not guilty of murder. The example is that of two people, friendly with one another (not having hated in the past), and going out to do what neighbors do in a place where it is expected that they would go.

In this clause is a new word to Scripture, khatav, meaning to cut down, hew, or polish. It can even mean gather, as in Ezekiel 39:10. The men are simply going out to cut timber…

5 (con’t) and his hand swings a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree,

Again, Moses is simply giving out thoughts as they would occur on any given day and between any friends as they are out working together. It is during the daily affairs of life that suddenly something unexpected happens…

5 (con’t) and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies—

The verb is used intransitively, and the Hebrew is more expressive, saying: v’nashal ha’barzel min ha’ets – “and slips the iron from the wood.” The intent of hitting with an ax is that you will cut the wood. The iron part slipping off the wood is purely accidental, but the effects of it are catastrophic, killing the neighbor.

What is interesting about this verse is that, like in Numbers 35 and even before entering the land, Moses speaks of the use of iron implements as if it is an everyday thing. Common teaching says that the Egyptians began their iron age about 1200 BC. The same is the case with Canaan, which would have been during the time of the judges.

And yet, Moses speaks of things being this way in the year 1405 BC. Even if iron implements were rare at this time, it is obvious that they were the preferred instruments for cutting wood at this early date. Also, throughout Joshua and the early Judges, iron is explicitly mentioned as being in use.

Despite the matter, it is certain, as it always becomes, that Moses is – indeed – the one who penned these words. Deuteronomy was written at the time indicated, as will be seen once again in a few verses.

In the comparable verses to this clause in Numbers 35, the Lord gave different examples of what might cause unintentional, but unsanctioned death, saying –

“However, if he pushes him suddenly without enmity, or throws anything at him without lying in wait, 23 or uses a stone, by which a man could die, throwing it at him without seeing him, so that he dies, while he was not his enemy or seeking his harm.” Numbers 35:22, 23

It is of note that Moses chose a different example, showing that the judges were to carefully heed the details of whatever matter was brought forth. It is a way of saying, “The Lord has given you several examples, I have given you another. Be wise and discerning and judge the matters according to their circumstances.”

In the meantime, and until a judgment is rendered…

5 (con’t) he shall flee to one of these cities and live;

This is the purpose of the city – refuge. But without knowing the details of Numbers 35, it doesn’t really make sense to us now. Instead, what Moses says is simply taken as an axiom that the man needs to flee to one of the designated cities. This is because of a particular relationship that existed in the society …

lest the avenger of blood,

The parenthetical thought is ended, and the narrative picks up here. One can see this by putting verse 3 before verse 6 –

“You shall prepare roads for yourself, and divide into three parts the territory of your land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, that any manslayer may flee there. … lest the avenger of blood, while his anger is hot, pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and kill him, though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated the victim in time past.”

The goel ha’dam, or “avenger the blood,” is a near or nearest kinsman. The same word is used to speak of a redeemer, an avenger, and a kinsman. In this case, it refers to a kinsman who is the redeemer of blood through avenging the death of his close relative.

If this goel was to catch the slayer and kill him, no guilt of blood could be imputed to him, even if the slaying was by accident. He possessed the full right to avenge the blood that was shed without sanction. This is the entire purpose of having these sanctuary cities. It is a means of protection for the slayer until he could get a fair trial. As it next says, and speaking of the goel

6 (con’t) while his anger is hot, pursue the manslayer and overtake him,

The law understands the passion of such matters. A person has a right to take the life of the slayer, and he has a right to do so at any time or place except as forbidden by the law. His anger may subside, and he may (though not necessarily) forego his right as a goel, but when his anger is up, it is not likely.

Even if presented with a convincing argument, the chances are he will still take vengeance. As this is so, the cities of refuge have been provided, with a special note of their centrality within the land. Otherwise…

6 (con’t) because the way is long, and kill him,

ki yirbeh ha’derek v’hikahu naphesh – “For great the way and strike him – soul.” It is a descriptive way of saying that he has avenged the blood. As the blood is the soul (Deuteronomy 12:23), the avenger has struck the person and his soul is poured out.

If the only place of refuge was where the tabernacle/temple was located, it might be a long and tiring journey. The longer the distance, the more likely the avenger could catch up to the slayer. In such a case, his life could legally be taken…

6 (con’t) though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated the victim in time past.

The matter of avenging blood is one that covers any shedding of blood of a near kinsman. This is a right that will not be denied apart from the exception of being in a city of refuge, or at anytime and anywhere after the death of the high priest. Other than those two instances, the right exists.

However, there is the truth that the killing was unintentional. There was no enmity, and it was unavoidable. In this, the Hebrew essentially reads, “though he is without a judgment of death.” There is nothing in him that calls out for capital punishment.

It is for this reason that the cities of refuge were given. It is a merciful exception provided for the manslayer. As Moses says…

Therefore I command you, saying,

The Hebrew reads, “Upon thus I command you.” It is the same phrase that was used in Deuteronomy 15:11. There is a state that exists, whether it is right or not. It is simply something that is a part of the human condition. It is upon such a matter that an act of mercy is to be extended.

In Deuteronomy 15, it referred to attending to the needy, meaning the poor in the land. Here, it refers to taking care of the needy, meaning those desperate of life itself. Because this condition exists, and because it can be remedied through an act of mercy…

7 (con’t) ‘You shall separate three cities for yourself.’

Moses repeats the original precept from verse 2. It is for the sake of those who are under the culturally accepted sentence of the avenger’s hand, despite having no judgment of death hanging over them, that Moses instructs them to accomplish the words of this command.

Do not defile the land in which you live
For among the midst of you, there I dwell
To you the blessings of heaven, I will give
Or, from Me will come the tortures of eternal hell

For I dwell among you; even I, the Lord
Therefore, be holy as I am holy – this you must be
In this, you will receive my promised reward
And there shall be peace between you and Me

Do not profane the land, but keep it pure and undefiled
And between us there will be a state of harmony
In this, upon you I shall have smiled
And together we shall dwell for all eternity

III. Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed (Verses 8-13)

“Now if the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as He swore to your fathers, and gives you the land which He promised to give to your fathers,

The words here now refer to neither Canaan, nor to the land already possessed east of the Jordan. Rather, they refer to the extension of land promised before to Abraham –

“To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— 19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” Genesis 15:18-20

It was a command repeated to the people before leaving Sinai (Exodus 23:31) and also repeated to them when they left Egypt –

“Turn and take your journey, and go to the mountains of the Amorites, to all the neighboring places in the plain, in the mountains and in the lowland, in the South and on the seacoast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the River Euphrates. See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—to give to them and their descendants after them.” Deuteronomy 1:7-8

Of these words, the Bible Commentary (via John Lange) states –

“It is obvious that such a passage as this could not have been penned in the times to which rationalist critics assign Deut. No one living in those times would think of treating as a future contingency (“If the Lord thy God enlarge, sq.) an extension of territory which at the date in question had in fact taken place long ago, and been subsequently forfeited.”

The analysis is correct. As has been seen numerous times, those who argue for various reasons that Deuteronomy must have been penned many, many centuries later fail to consider how ridiculous their claims actually are.

For now, the word “if” is a conditional one. The promise was made to the fathers, but it is conditional towards the people. This conditional aspect is again seen in the next verse…

and if you keep all these commandments and do them, which I command you today,

Following hard after the errors of the KJV, the words here are incorrectly translated. The previous verse began with, “And if.” Here, it begins with “For,” or “When.” Secondly, the word “commandment” is singular. The clause should read, “When you keep all the commandment and do it.” It is time conditional. Until that day, the event will not come about. And that is…

9 (con’t) to love the Lord your God and to walk always in His ways,

The clause is close in thought to 10:12 and 11:22. Moses ties in the love of the Lord and walking in His ways as being obedient to the commandment. These words define what it means to be obedient. It goes beyond rote observance to the very heart of the man.

David loved the Lord and strove to walk in His ways, even if – at times – he failed in observing a statute or precept of the law. The Pharisees meticulously kept every explicit precept of the law, but they failed in the greater and more important precepts implicitly laid down here. David found joy in the presence of the Lord; the Pharisees will find eternal condemnation.

It is only if Israel is united to the Lord in heartfelt love, and in obedience to the command, that the next words would take effect…

9 (con’t) then you shall add three more cities for yourself besides these three,

Scholars err when they say this was fulfilled in Joshua 21 when the six cities of refuge are named. This is not referring to those east of the Jordan that were already assigned, and which are repeated in Joshua.

Rather, this is a reference to three additional cities in borders extending to the Euphrates. It is a hopeful and conditional event that was never realized in Israel’s history. However, if it was needed due to expansion of the borders, the reason is obvious…

10 lest innocent blood be shed in the midst of your land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and thus guilt of bloodshed be upon you.

The words here have to be considered with care. It has already been seen in Numbers 35:27 that the goel had the right (and, indeed, the responsibility) to kill the manslayer if he left the city of refuge. As this is so, it cannot be that he would be guilty of bloodshed for taking the life of the manslayer in this passage.

Further, in that verse, it speaks in the singular: en lo dam – “without to him blood,” meaning the guilt of blood. However, it says here while speaking to Israel the people v’hayah alekha damim – “and it shall be upon you bloods.”

The blood guilt is not because the avenger avenged his kin, but because Israel failed to build a city to protect the manslayer who killed unintentionally. The failure is one that incurs collective guilt upon the people.

It is their responsibility to protect innocent blood, even if it is the individual avenger’s responsibility to avenge the blood of his kin. This is why the plural “bloods” is used. It goes beyond a single incident to any and every incident that would arise.

This is why Joshua 11 ends with the note that the land rested from war. After that, an accounting of the kings conquered in battle is noted in Chapter 12 and then a short note of what still needed to be conquered is seen in the opening of Chapter 13.

From there, the land is divided among the tribes, comprising all of the next passages until Joshua 20 where the very first thing recorded is the designation of the cities of refuge. In other words, the designation of these cities is of paramount importance to the overall narrative.

However, this bloodguilt only applies to those who are innocent…

11 “But if anyone hates his neighbor, lies in wait for him, rises against him and strikes him mortally, so that he dies,

The words here correspond to Numbers 35:16-21. This person’s ratsakh, or unsanctioned killing, is intentional. The obvious verdict then is that he is a murderer. The tenor of these words anticipates the words of John, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

The hatred leads to the act, but it is actually the hatred that God sees and judges. The act is simply an outgrowth of what is already in the heart. If such a person followed through with his hatred and committed the act…

11 (con’t) and he flees to one of these cities,

The city of refuge is to protect the innocent manslayer. If the manslayer is deemed to be a murderer, then it is a completely different situation, and it calls for a completely different outcome…

12 then the elders of his city shall send and bring him from there, and deliver him over to the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.

The words here further refine what is said about such a person in Numbers 35. There, it simply notes that the person shall be put to death when the avenger meets him.

Here, it is assumed that the person made it to a city of refuge, made a false claim, and is now being returned for his trip to the afterlife which is to be at the hand of the avenger. Not only is this the right of the avenger, but it is also the responsibility of the people. No murderer was to be allowed to live. Rather…

13 Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel,

There was to be no leniency. Rather, the word translated as “put away” comes from a root meaning “to kindle.” It is as if he is to be purged away in fire. And there is a reason for this…

*13 (fin) that it may go well with you.

The implication is that if this is not done, it will not go well with them. The innocent is to be protected, and the guilty is to be purged from the land. Otherwise, guilt would be imputed to the nation for failing to uphold the precepts of the law.

The passage that has been looked at today actually has incredible Christological significance which is explained, in detail, in the three sermons from Numbers 35. The words are amazing to consider and moving, even to the stirring of the soul.

If you haven’t seen or heard those sermons, it is well worth your time to go back and take them in. Everything about what is stated there is reflective of the work of Christ, all of which is summed up in the third sermon where it discusses the role of the high priest in relation to those who remain within the city of refuge.

In short, Christ is our place of refuge. In Him is found protection from the guilt we bear. And, in His death, we have been set free from that guilt. It can never be recalled to us again, if we simply reach out to Him in faith, believing that He is God’s offer of pardon and peace for the things we have done wrong.

It is this wonderful offer of peace, meaning our Lord Jesus Christ –the gift of God for those who will believe – who ushers in that state of pardon. And that, in turn, results in the peace – even the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.

I would pray that you would be wise, call out to God through Christ the Lord, and be cleansed of your life of sin. In this, you will move from a state of enmity with God, to one of eternal felicity. The place of refuge is offered, and the sentence is – if you will receive it – not guilty. Christ has paid the price for you to be set free. Enter into the City of Refuge. Christ awaits.

Closing Verse: “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
A refuge in times of trouble.
10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” Psalm 9:9, 10

Next Week: Deuteronomy 19:14-21 This guy really is a mess… (The False Witness) (58th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

You Shall Prepare to You the Way

“When the LORD your God has cut off
The nations whose land the LORD your God is giving you
And you dispossess them and dwell in their cities
And in their houses, as you will do

You shall separate three cities for yourself
In the midst of your land, as to you I now address
Which the LORD your God
Is giving you to possess

You shall prepare roads for yourself
And divide into three parts the territory of your land
Which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit
That any manslayer may flee there, from the avenger’s hand

“And this is the case of the manslayer who flees there
That he may live and not be harassed
Whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally
Not having hated him in time past

As when a man goes to the woods
With his neighbor to cut timber, not just to sightsee
And his hand swings a stroke with the ax
To cut down the tree

And the head slips from the handle
And strikes his neighbor so that he dies
He shall flee to one of these cities and live
As to you I apprise

Lest the avenger of blood, while his anger is hot
Pursue the manslayer and overtake him as he is tasked
Because the way is long, and kill him
Though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated
———-the victim in time past

Therefore I command you, saying for these pities
‘You shall separate for yourself three cities

“Now if the LORD your God enlarges your territory
As to your fathers He swore
And gives you the land which He promised
To give to your fathers, this and more

And if you keep all these commandments and do them
Which I command you today
To love the LORD your God and to walk always in His ways
Then you shall add three more cities for yourself
———-besides these three, as to you I now say

Lest innocent blood be shed in the midst of your land
Which the LORD your God, just as He said
Is giving you as an inheritance
And thus upon you be guilt of bloodshed

“But if anyone hates his neighbor
Lies in wait for him, rises against him and strikes him mortally
So that he dies
And he flees to one of these cities, if such should be…

Then the elders of his city shall send and bring him from there
And deliver him over to the hand
Of the avenger of blood, that he may die
That guy shall be purged from the land

Your eye shall not pity him
But you shall put away the guilt
Of innocent blood from Israel
That it may go well with you – because of the blood that was spilt

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“When the Lord your God has cut off the nations whose land the Lord your God is giving you, and you dispossess them and dwell in their cities and in their houses, you shall separate three cities for yourself in the midst of your land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess. You shall prepare roads for yourself, and divide into three parts the territory of your land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, that any manslayer may flee there.

“And this is the case of the manslayer who flees there, that he may live: Whoever kills his neighbor [a]unintentionally, not having hated him in time past— as when a man goes to the woods with his neighbor to cut timber, and his hand swings a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies—he shall flee to one of these cities and live; lest the avenger of blood, while his anger is hot, pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and kill him, though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated the victim in time past. Therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall separate three cities for yourself.’

“Now if the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as He swore to your fathers, and gives you the land which He promised to give to your fathers, and if you keep all these commandments and do them, which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and to walk always in His ways, then you shall add three more cities for yourself besides these three, 10 lest innocent blood be shed in the midst of your land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and thus guilt of bloodshed be upon you.

11 “But if anyone hates his neighbor, lies in wait for him, rises against him and strikes him mortally, so that he dies, and he flees to one of these cities, 12 then the elders of his city shall send and bring him from there, and deliver him over to the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. 13 Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall [b]put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with you.

 

 

Deuteronomy 18:15-22

Deuteronomy 18:15-22
A Prophet Like Moses

The words of the previous verses of Deuteronomy 18 dealt first with the priests, the Levites, who minister in the name of the Lord, and the responsibility of tending to those who would officiate in this capacity at the place the Lord chose for His name to dwell.

After that, came the warning against allowing any who would employ means of seeking out spiritual revelation in any other way than that authorized by the Lord. There were to be none who made their children pass through the fire, none who practiced witchcraft, no soothsayers, and so on.

From this point, Moses next turns to the office of the prophet. It is this office which will actually build upon the word of God. Although priests or Levites might be prophets, they might not be as well. The priest or Levite who was not a prophet was to get his evaluation of the word of the Lord solely from the recorded word of the Lord or those who were known to be true prophets.

However, the prophet (if a true prophet) – whether from Levi or from another tribe – would continue to speak forth the word of the Lord. From there, the record of his words was – at times – to be added to Israel’s canon of Scripture and evaluated as such.

In other words, what they spoke forth was to carry the same weight and authority as the Law of Moses because their words are derived from the same Source – the True and Living God.

Text Verse: “And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:19, 20

Isaiah looked back to the words of Moses and referred to them. Instead of going to what the law had forbidden, they were to seek God as He had authorized – to the law and to the testimony! God had given them the words of life (see Leviticus 18:5) and in rejecting them, they would find only darkness.

Among these words of life is the idea of the Lord raising up for the people a prophet like Moses. That verse will open our passage today. Of that idea, the scholar Keil states the following. Is he right, or is he wrong in his analysis? Listen and decide –

“‘A prophet out of the midst of thee, out of thy brethren, as I am, will Jehovah thy God raise up to thee; to him shall ye hearken.’ When Moses thus attaches to the prohibition against hearkening to soothsayers and practising soothsaying, the promise that Jehovah would raise up a prophet, etc., and contrasts what the Lord would do for His people with what He did not allow, it is perfectly evident from this simple connection alone, apart from the further context of the passage, in which Moses treats of the temporal and spiritual rulers of Israel (ch. 17 and 18), that the promise neither relates to one particular prophet, nor directly and exclusively to the Messiah, but treats of the sending of prophets generally. And this is also confirmed by what follows with reference to true and false prophets, which presupposes the rise of a plurality of prophets, and shows most incontrovertibly that it is not one prophet only, nor the Messiah exclusively, who is promised here. It by no means follows from the use of the singular, ‘a prophet,’ that Moses is speaking of one particular prophet only; but the idea expressed is this, that at any time when the people stood in need of a mediator with God like Moses, God would invariably send a prophet.” Keil

Is this correct? When Moses refers to “A Prophet like me,” is he merely referring to the line of prophets who would come under the Mosaic covenant to speak forth the word of the Lord? Or is he referring first to a single Prophet, who will come in a special class and category, and then only later is he speaking in a secondary sense of Mosaic Covenant prophets in general?

Can we know? If so, how? It can be done, and it is the way we should determine all such things – by taking in the whole counsel of God, meaning the entire canon of Scripture. Keil is wrong as we will see in our evaluation of Moses’ words.

But more, it is wholly unreasonable to assume (as Keil does) that God would “invariably send a prophet” when they “stood in need of a mediator with God like Moses.” In fact, that would be considered the exception and not the rule.

This was the purpose of Moses – to lay out the law for the people to live by. God was under no obligation to send them even a single prophet. They had the law, they had the Levitical priesthood to mediate the law, and anything beyond that should be considered as a completely unexpected mark of grace.

The fact that a Prophet like Moses is prophesied demonstrates an unusual occurrence, not something to be expected in times of need. Rather, it is the false prophet that should, unfortunately, be the expected and inevitable outcome of having a theocracy formed under the true God.

The Lord did send prophets among His people, and they carried on in the steps of Moses, but they were not prophets like Moses. This will be seen as we review the passage today.

Great things, such as a Prophet like Moses, are revealed in God’s superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Him You Shall Hear (verses 15 & 16)

15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren.

There is an emphatic structure to the words that is entirely missed in this and many other translations. It reads: navi miqirbekha meakhekha kamoni – “Prophet, from your midst, from your brothers, like me.” The stress is placed on each thought concerning this Prophet.

Like Keil who was cited in the introduction, other scholars claim this is referring to a collective group, not an individual. Cambridge says –

“A prophet—not individual but collective1[143], i.e. a succession of prophets, for the whole spirit of the passage is that God shall never fail to speak directly to His people—is placed at the head of the sentence in forcible contrast to the diviners and necromancers just described.”

They say the singular navi, or “prophet,” refers to a collective whole that would henceforth come to speak to the people on behalf of the Lord. But this is incorrect for several reasons.

Though it is true that Moses is a prophet, it is untrue that those who followed would be like him. They would simply be prophets continuing on what he had established, meaning the Law of Moses.

No other prophet was like Moses in that his words formed the basis of the law. He was the one who initiated the covenant –

“So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words which the Lord has said we will do.’ And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, ‘All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.’ And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to all these words.’” Exodus 24:3-8

But from these words, a second aspect of what made Moses unique is that not only did he initiate the covenant, but he also performed the priestly role in its initiation, serving at the altar and ministering the blood. Though he was not to continue in the role of priest, he did serve in this function initially.

And further, not only did he serve in these ways, but he also served as the legislator of the covenant. That is seen, for example, in his service recorded in Exodus 18 –

“And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening. 14 So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, ‘What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?’
15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, ‘Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 When they have a difficulty, they come to me, and I judge between one and another; and I make known the statutes of God and His laws.’” Exodus 18:13-16

No other prophet would be like Moses in all of these ways. Indeed, in various ways, Moses has already referred to prophets, such as in Numbers 12:6 and Deuteronomy 13. Here, he is not merely adding to that thought, but he is now defining a particular Prophet.

As I said in the introduction, we can know this is absolutely certain because this is how the verse is taken by both the leaders of Israel, and also by the apostles who spoke under inspiration of the Lord in the New Testament.

In John 1, the leaders of Israel (called “the Jews”) sent designated representatives to John the Baptist to find out who he was, they specifically asked about this verse Moses is now dealing with –

“Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’
20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.’
21 And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’
He said, ‘I am not.’
“Are you the Prophet?”
And he answered, ‘No.’
22 Then they said to him, ‘Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?’
23 He said: “I am
‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Make straight the way of the Lord,’”
as the prophet Isaiah said.” John 1:19-23

Whether the Jews fully understood what was meant by “a Prophet like me” or not, they understood that one Prophet was coming who would be different than all the others. This was a set and known principle that defined the One Prophet to come like Moses.

This was fully understood by Philip. It is implied that he, along with Andrew, was with John the Baptist at that time. He said, certainly in reference to this passage concerning the Prophet –

“We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” John 1:45

The words, “Moses in the law,” may be vague, but they certainly point back to the question put forth two days earlier by the Jews to John, and that was in direct reference to Moses’ words of the Prophet to come.

Later, after the coming of Christ Jesus, the Jews tried to obscure this obvious fact among their people. Ibn Ezra (1089-1164) claimed this prophet was Joshua. Baal Haturim aka Jacob Ben Asher (1269-1343) claimed it was Jeremiah. Others said it was David. Rashi, like Keil and others, said it refers to a succession of prophets.

But these all ignore the testimony of the Jews recorded at Jesus’ time and by that of the apostles who followed in their writings. In fact, all of the prophets continually spoke – explicitly – of One who was coming in a completely different capacity than any of them, with Jeremiah going so far as to explicitly state that a New Covenant would be introduced by the Lord –

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 31:31, 32

Therefore, it could not be Jeremiah, as Baal Haturim knew very well. From the time of Moses, right until the coming of Christ, it was always assumed by the Jewish people that this Prophet to come would be a single person. The fact that He was still anticipated at the time of Jesus proves that it was none of the previous prophets of Israel.

This will continue to be seen in the next four verses. It is true that a succession of prophets was coming, but only in looking back on Moses’ words now could someone come to the conclusion that this is what he is referring to.

Rather, it is evident from his words as looking forward, and of the words of the leaders of Israel at the time of John the Baptist (as looking from that same perspective), that a single Prophet is to be understood. With this in mind, there could be no excuse for the rejection of this Prophet when He came. Of this coming Prophet…

15 (con’t) Him you shall hear,

There is an added stress in the word translated as “you shall hear,” indicated by the structure,” saying: elav tishmaun – “Him you shall certainly hear.” As I said, there will be no excuse for the rejecting of this Prophet.

Looking back now, and in knowing what we know concerning these words as being fulfilled in Christ Jesus, it shows us the deserved punishment of Israel who rejected Him.

To fail to hear (meaning hearken unto the words of) this Prophet is to reject Moses who spoke of this Prophet. And to reject Moses is to reject the word of the Lord transmitted through Moses which established the covenant in the first place.

In other words, no person of Israel – to whom the Law of Moses was given – can say they are being obedient to Moses if they reject this Prophet that he now refers to. To reject Jesus is to reject Moses. Jesus said this explicitly to them –

“Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5:45-47

In rejecting Moses, the people thus rejected the Lord who commissioned Moses. The logical progression of thought is that only condemnation results from a rejection of Jesus. To ensure this is understood, Moses next brings in the giving of the law itself as a basis for this…

16 according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly,

Moses reminds the people of what occurred after hearing the speaking out of the Ten Commandants at Horeb (which is Sinai). They saw the terrifying display, they heard the sounds, and they were terrified. In this, the people came as one to Moses…

16 (con’t) saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’

Moses now cites in the singular what the people together said to him, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (Exodus 10:19).

This is what the people desired, and so Moses became the one to receive the word of the Lord and to then communicate it to the people. This then forms a second way that the Prophet would be like Moses. Not only was Moses the one to establish the covenant, but he was the mediator of it as it was received –

“Hear now My words:
If there is a prophet among you,
I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision;
I speak to him in a dream.
Not so with My servant Moses;
He is faithful in all My house.
I speak with him face to face,
Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;
And he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant Moses?” Numbers 12:6-8

All other prophets would receive the word of the Lord in an obscure and deliberately dark way. But Moses received the word with an intimacy not otherwise seen. Only at the coming of the Prophet now referred to by Moses would this again occur. Jeremiah prophesied of this coming One –

“‘And it shall be their Majestic One from among them,
And their Governor from their midst shall come,
And I will cause Him to draw near,
And He shall approach Me.
For who is He, this who pledged His heart to approach Me?’
Says Yehovah.” Jeremiah 30:21 (my translation)

In fact, the author of Hebrews uses the words of Numbers 12 and builds upon them to show that Christ Jesus is the fulfillment of what is spoken of now.

Let me not hear the voice of the Lord
Lest I die when He speaks His words to me
There is terror in every uttered word
I will perish if I hear more; I know this with certainty

But if He speaks His word through you, as I have heard
Isn’t it the same word as if He spoke it to me?
Surely there is terror in every uttered word
This is a law of death; I know this with certainty

Who will speak forth a New Word from the Lord?
One that will not surely condemn any who hear
Who will bring grace and not a sword?
Who will take away the death and remove all fear?

II. I Will Require It of Him (verses 17-19)

17 “And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good.

These words are a general repeat of Deuteronomy 5:28 –

“Then the Lord heard the voice of your words when you spoke to me, and the Lord said to me: ‘I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken.”

With that, Moses now continues with words already known to him, but not yet introduced into the narrative. The word is being slowly and progressively revealed to us so that we can more fully appreciate the plan as it has been developed by the Lord…

18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren,

navi aqim lahem miqerev akhikhem kamokha – “Prophet I will raise up to them from midst their brothers like you.” If the Lord had meant any given prophet at any given time, he would have said, “I will raise up for them prophets.” This is especially so because there were times where more than one prophet of the Lord spoke forth His word.

Further, there would be no reason at all to say, “a prophet like you.” As seen earlier, the Lord has referred to the prophet already in Numbers 12:6, acknowledging the office. Therefore, a distinction is made between the prophetic office of Moses and that of other prophets.

It is this precept that Peter also used when addressing the people of Israel, showing that this was a universally known precept among them, to demonstrate that Moses is now referring to a single Prophet who would come in the same capacity as him –

“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.’ 24 Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. 25 You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 26 To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” Acts 3:22-26

And more, this is then repeated by Stephen in Acts 7:37 where Stephen directly quotes Deuteronomy 18:15 to the high priest and leaders of Israel. But more than this is what is stated in John 6. When Jesus fed the five thousand with five barley loaves and two small fish, it says –

“Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.’” John 6:14

In other words, the people clearly associated this Prophet to come with more than just verbal prophesying. They anticipated that He would do those things that Moses did, such as giving them manna. The people certainly understood this and another crowd, on the next day came to Him –

“Therefore they said to Him, ‘What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’
32 Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’” John 6:30-33

Knowing these things, it would be otherwise incomprehensible for the Lord to use the singular here. Therefore, the following words say…

18 (con’t) and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.

Although this statement is true of other prophets, it is also just what Christ said of Himself. In fact, but without saying it directly, Jesus is clearly referring to this verse in Deuteronomy, saying –

“For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.” John 12:49

He again repeats the same basic thought in John 14:10 and John 14:24. The case is being built, in advance by the Lord through Moses, so that when the One spoken of now was to come, there would be eternity changing consequences for not listening to Him…

19 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.

The Hebrew is personal, saying, ha’ish – “‘the man’ who will not hear My words, which He speaks.” Whatever individual will not listen to the Prophet will face the judgment of the Lord because of it. There is no exception to this.

It should be a sobering lesson for the false teachers in the Roman Catholic Church, John Hagee, and others who teach the doctrine of Dual Covenant theology. Any person, including (and especially) the Jew, who rejects the words of Jesus will be cast into hell. The author of Hebrews, referring to his own brethren, says –

“See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.” Hebrews 12:25 (NASB 1995)

The words “him who warned them on earth” refer to Moses. As Moses spoke of the coming Christ in his own warning, then there is a double terror waiting for those Jews who have rejected Him. There is the terror of having ignored Moses, and there is the terror of having ignored the words of the Son of God, the coming Prophet, spoken of by Moses.

And this is true collectively as well. As a nation, this was understood all along. In the 1600s, Matthew Poole said –

“The sad effect of this threatening the Jews have felt for above sixteen hundred years together.” Matthew Poole

Two hundred years later, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown continued to acknowledge this –

“The direful consequences of unbelief in Christ, and disregard of His mission, the Jewish people have been experiencing during eighteen hundred years.” Jamieson-Fausset-Brown

Here we are, now almost two thousand years later, and the same thought continues today. Though returned to the land in preparation for the end times, the nation of Israel will suffer two-thirds extermination for failing to hearken to the word of the Lord spoken by Christ Jesus.

With the thought of the Prophet to come stated, the Lord – through Moses – now speaks of the false prophet…

This is truly the Prophet of whom Moses foretold
He is the Prophet to come into the world
His words are purer than the finest gold
Through them, the mysteries are unfurled

This is He of whom Moses spoke
It is He who has lifted the burden from us
No more is the pall dark like smoke
Since the coming of this Man, Jesus

A Prophet is He like none other
One who even is greater than Moses, so we see
This One rose among us, He is our brother
And yet He is higher than Moses – even infinitely

III. You Shall Not Be Afraid of Him (verses 20-22)

20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’

Of the words here, Cambridge says, “These special cases prove that throughout this passage no single prophet but a succession of prophets is meant.” This is incorrect.

Unlike the previous verses where no definite article was used in the Hebrew before the word “prophet,” the Lord includes an article before the word in all four instances between now and the end of the chapter.

In essence, “The prophet, whoever he may be, is who I am referring to now.” Such a person is being set in contrast to the Prophet like Moses, not the prophet in general. This is certainly being presented in this manner because not everything a prophet spoke was in the name of the Lord.

And some who prophesied at one time (such as Saul), would be out of favor with the Lord at another time. Hence, the false prophet now being mentioned is set in contrast to the Prophet like Moses, because the Prophet like Moses is the Lord. Thus, everything Christ said was of the Lord.

The Lord is, for this reason, now only dealing with the prophet who spoke presumptuously, or who spoke in the name of other gods.

Though this is a part of the Law of Moses, the words must be considered from this standpoint even for those today. In other words, regardless as to whether this is a precept of the law or not, it must still apply today.

It is obvious that those who speak in the name of other gods are acting in defiance of the Lord. But because the contrast is to the Prophet like Moses, meaning the Lord, anyone who speaks presumptuously in the name of the Lord today must still bear the same guilt.

The word is zud. It means to boil or seethe, and thus to act rebelliously or presumptuously. It is an onomatopoetic expression where the word represents the sound. In this case, it is the sound of boiling. Just as a pot boils, so a false prophet boils up with his false words.

And how common this is in the church today where people flippantly prophesy from the pulpit and from the pew, speaking falsely in the name of the Lord, and boiling over with arrogance as they do.

The Lord will require it of them. As we are not under the law, there is no provision for us to take them out and stone them, but we should be well versed enough in the word to turn from them and ignore what they falsely claim.

Hebrews 1 tells us that since the coming of Christ, there are no more prophets, meaning that the only prophets there are today are false prophets. Be warned, be wise, and ignore all who claim such a word from the Lord. We have the Bible as the full and complete canon of Scripture from God. What more do we need? As for the false prophet of Israel…

20 (con’t) that prophet shall die.’

The words are emphatic: u-met ha’navi hahu – “and shall die the prophet the he.” This certainly means that the people should stone him as is indicated in Chapter 13, but there is instance in the Bible where the Lord would speak to a false prophet by a true prophet concerning his impending doom –

“Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, ‘Hear now, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie. 16 Therefore thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will cast you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have taught rebellion against the Lord.”’
17 So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.” Jeremiah 28:15-17

21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’—

The words now go from those of the Lord directly to those of Moses. It is an obvious statement to make, and it is one which is necessary to determine if the Lord’s word is truly in the prophet or not.

But the question is not phrased by Moses in the positive – “How shall we know the word which the Lord has spoken?” Rather, it is in the negative, “How shall we know the word which the Lord has NOT spoken?”

In Chapter 13, it noted that a false prophet may produce a sign or wonder and then try to lead the people away from the Lord. Thus, signs and wonders were not to be the only proof that a person was a true prophet.

Further, a person could speak in the name of the Lord, and what he says may be for a time in the future, be it near or distant. In whatever timeframe is involved, the way to know if it is the word the Lord has not spoken is…

22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken;

As noted, it has already been seen in Chapter 13 that a false prophet may prophesy a sign or wonder that does come to pass. Thus, that cannot be the sole criteria for determining if the words of the prophet are from the Lord.

However, the opposite is stated here. If something does not come to pass that was prophesied in the name of the Lord, it is 100% sure that the thing was not given to him by the Lord. When the true prophet of the Lord speaks, that something will happen, it will come to pass, or a reason for it being withheld will be given.

As for future prophecy, the words of those considered true prophets still rely on the actions of the Lord for them to be fulfilled. In other words, it is already accepted that Isaiah, Daniel, Zechariah, and etc., are true prophets. But some of their prophecies extend even beyond our time now.

For Israel, and for us, even though some of their prophecies have not yet been fulfilled, they have been established as true prophets, and so it is assumed, and we are assured, that their words will come to pass.

However, Israel denied that Jesus is the Prophet like Moses even though He met all of the requirements of the law in order to prove that He is, in fact, the Messiah. Despite this, He spoke out numerous future prophecies as well.

And so, I would suggest that this verse, as much as any other in Scripture, will be a determining factor for collective Israel to use in order to definitively establish that Jesus is the Messiah.

When those future prophecies come to pass, just as the future prophecies of the other prophets will eventually come to pass, Israel will no longer be able to deny the evident nature of who He is. For now, they will be held to account for rejecting Him, but eventually this will no longer be the case.

As a nation, they will no longer be able to use the negative tone of this verse to deny Him. The Lord has spoken, and the prophecies will be fulfilled in their appropriate time. As for the prophet who speaks, and his words do not come to pass…

*22 (fin) the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

Moses uses the noun form of the verb, zud, that he just used. It reads, “the prophet has spoken arrogance; you shall not be afraid of him.” For the living, this obviously requires a short span of time for the prophecy to fail. In such a case, the other requirements of proving whether a prophet is true or not must be applied.

In the end, any word that is spoken by a prophet must be in accord with the rest of Scripture and in accord with the nature of the Lord. This is because, at times, prophecies were made that did not come to pass. Jonah called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And yet, that did not happen.

The moral nature of the Lord towards repentant Nineveh overrode the prophecy of Jonah. Despite his supposedly failed utterance (which was actually a success in Scripture) Jonah was and is considered a true prophet of the Lord.

Therefore, all prophecy must be in accord with Scripture, in accord with the character of the Lord, and ultimately bring glory to Him. As far as the Prophet like Moses, meaning Christ Jesus, He meets the qualifications in all ways:

He is a prophet who speaks forth the word of the Lord. He is a prophet in intimate communion with the Lord. He, like Moses, is faithful in His house. In His humanity, He is the Initiator of the New Covenant. In this New Covenant, He fulfills the priestly (sacrificial) role, just as Moses temporarily did.

He is, like Moses was, the Mediator of the covenant. He is the Legislator of the covenant, speaking forth the stipulations of it in the name of the Lord. He is the Leader of His people just as Moses led those under him. And He, like Moses on behalf of the Lord, performed signs and wonders to validate His position.

But more than Moses, He is the One to bring the Law of Moses to an end, and then it is He who bestowed upon His people the grace of God. As John says –

“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” John 1:16-18

Not only is Jesus Christ a Prophet like Moses, but He also infinitely exceeds Moses in all ways. He is Moses’ Creator, He is the One who spoke forth the law to and through Moses, He is the Subject of Moses’ words, He is the Object of Moses’ affection, and He is the Finisher of all that Moses began.

In Christ Jesus, we find the embodiment of every type, picture, shadow, and word that issued forth in the giving of the law. Whereas Moses died east of Jordan because he could not lead his people to the promise, Christ Jesus rose again to do just that. Nothing is lacking in Him, and all goodness and blessing flow from Him.

The eternal God set His seal of approval on the Son, and it is He who has restored us to our heavenly Father. A Prophet like Moses? Yes, but a Prophet far above and beyond Moses. He is JESUS.

Closing Verse: “For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. 20 (For they could not endure what was commanded: ‘And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.’ 21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.’)
22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.” Hebrews 12:18-24

Next Week: Deuteronomy 19:1-13 Which way should we go? What do you say? (You Shall Prepare to You the Way) (57th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

A Prophet Like Moses

“The LORD your God will raise up for you
A Prophet like me from your midst, so He shall appear
From your brethren
Him you shall hear

According to all you desired of the LORD your God
In Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying
‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God
Nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die
———-as you were relaying

“And the LORD said to me, and so I understood:
‘What they have spoken is good

I will raise up for them a Prophet like you
From among their brethren He will arise and stand
And will put My words in His mouth
And He shall speak to them all that I Him command

And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words
Which He speaks in My name
I will require it of him
So to you I vow; so to you I exclaim

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name
Which I have not commanded him to speak
Or who speaks in the name of other gods
That prophet shall die; his future looks grim and bleak

And if you say in your heart
‘How shall 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 happen or come to pass; such will be the token

That is the thing which the LORD has not spoken
The prophet has spoken it presumptuously
You shall not be afraid of him
You are to ignore him; so shall it be

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, 16 according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’

17 “And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. 18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

 

 

Deuteronomy 18:9-14 (An Abomination to the Lord)

Deuteronomy 18:9-14
An Abomination to the Lord

You’ve heard the verses read, you surely have an idea of what most of the categories Moses spoke forth mean, and we will go through them methodically so that you have all the relevant details as well. But, in a general sense, would you agree that any or all of the following would fall into the overall list of what Moses said –

Chiromancy, or hand (palm) reading.
Tarot card reading.
Tasseography, or tea leaves (or coffee) reading.
Sorcery.
Divination (Fortune telling).
Astrology (Horoscope).
Witches and witchcraft.
Mysticism.
Numerology to predict the future.
Interpreting omens.

Obviously, several of these are right out of the passage we read. Others certainly fall into the same categories but are simply given a different name than that found in the NKJV.

This is just a list of ten various things that most of you seemed to agree are exactly the type of thing that Moses is referring to. And the list is not all-inclusive of the variety of such things to be found in… anyone? In Israel today.

Although some of these are not legal there, one can find any and all of them through a general search on the internet. It only took me a couple minutes to do so. There are websites, Facebook pages, and even articles on news sites such as the Jerusalem Post to be found.

And more, just a couple weeks after typing this sermon, a video came online via an Israel publisher with the title, ‘WITCH HARLOTS’ HOLD RALLY IN JERUSALEM.” The identification of the participants with witchcraft was, ostensibly, in name only, but that is only because being a witch is a punishable offense in Israel.

And the list of them conducted by Jews here in the US and around the world is even greater in both scope and type. If one wants a confirmation of Ezekiel 36:22, all he needs to do is to compare what the book of Deuteronomy says, and what continues on in both the Jews and in the nation of Israel…

Text Verse: “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.” Ezekiel 36:22

This is not intended as a slam on the Jews. It just makes the point more relevant to see that even Jews participate in such things. They are the ones who bear the name of the Lord – His holy name. And yet, they have gone out into the world and done all of those things forbidden by the law, thus profaning the name of the Lord.

If one picks up and reads the Law of Moses, he can come to no other conclusion than that Israel was exiled because of these things. And more, the calamities they have suffered are a result of this as well. What this means for them, meaning those who practice such things, is that they either don’t know what the word says, they don’t believe the word is true, or they simply just don’t care.

Either way, it is a scary place to be because that same word continues to tell of many great woes to come upon them for continuing on in this same walk.

But we have to also remember that the passage we just read said that the Lord was going to dispossess the inhabitants of the land for exactly the same things. If that is true, and it is, then no nation today should feel any more smug at the thought of Israel’s continued judgment.

America is so filled with the crimes against the Lord mentioned here that it is hard to believe we are still operating as a nation. And the worst part of it of all is that churches actively participate in many of these practices. Is there hope? Well, one thing is for sure – with the Lord, there is abundant mercy for those who will simply humble themselves.

But that is the hard part for stubborn humans, isn’t it? Bad times lay ahead before things get better. Such truths as this are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. You Shall Be Blameless (verses 9-14)

“When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you,

Words similar to this have been repeated again and again throughout Deuteronomy. The most recent time was in verse 17:14 where the words are almost identical.

And this is not the last time Moses will say this. He is speaking to the people who are right on the banks of the Jordan, just about to enter into the land of promise. And yet, the words are referring to a possibility that may be years away, or that – ostensibly – may never come to pass.

But they are spoken out with the assumption that what will be discussed is something the people will face. This is because of several reasons. The first is that the inhabitants in the land already do these things.

A second, and more important reason, is that the Lord knows the human heart. He knows the kind of people He is dealing with, and He knows the propensities of them.

And then, based on those failings and weaknesses, He knows that once one person follows this path, unless it is handled according to the set law now being spoken forth, it will blossom into a fashion where disobedience to the precept becomes an accepted and established norm.

This is absolutely evident in the world today. Even if the world doesn’t have the law as its guide, the practices to be referred to in the verses ahead enter into a society, and they become so ingrained in it that they become a standard means of pursuing spirituality, that anyone who speaks against them is thought of as a spiritual prude or unenlightened.

Instead, it is those who practice these things that are supposedly the true connection to the divine. They are the trendsetters, they are the ones to be sought after, and simple faith without demonstrative predictions and explanations of the future is thought to be a ridiculous waste of time.

Right now, at the beginning of the thought, Moses reminds them that it is the Lord who is giving them the land, and that they will, in fact, go in to possess it. As this is so, and if they can remember this, then it is He to whom their allegiance is due.

And more, it is He to whom they are to look to for their spiritual life, thus demonstrating that they have faith in the word that has been given, and in the promises and warnings that are set forth in it. Despite the law being of works, it does not negate that faith in the Source of the law is still necessary – even before one can work out the requirements of the law.

With this understood, the immediate context of these next few verses needs to be considered. Verses 1-8 (our last passage) dealt with the priests and Levites – the tribe who ministers to the people on behalf of the Lord.

It spoke of what was due to them from the sacrifices. As it is due to them, and because that is a requirement of the law, it is as if what is rendered is being given to the Lord. They are the intermediaries representing the Lord.

But under the law, there are others who will act in an intermediary manner as well, the prophets. They, and one in particular, will be referred to in verses 15-22. With this in mind, Moses’ words now – being placed between these two thoughts – will deal with those who are not to be considered as intermediaries for spiritual matters.

The placement of these six verses is purposeful and orderly. The people are to go to those who serve in the name of the Lord, but…

9 (con’t) you shall not learn to follow

lo tilmad laasot – “No you shall learn to follow.” It is the word lamad that was introduced in verse 4:1 and is now being given for the twelfth time, showing it is a favorite of Moses. It comes from a root signifying “to goad.”

Moses is saying that the people are not to be goaded into conduct that is inappropriate for them as a people. There is the sanctuary, there are those who serve the Lord there, and there is to be adherence to the law of which they are the ministers. That is where their spiritual guidance is to be sought out, rather than…

9 (con’t) the abominations of those nations.

k’toavot ha’goyim ha’hem – “according to abominations the nations the those.” The word toevah, or abomination, is something deplorable to the Lord. It has been used quite a few times already from Genesis through Deuteronomy.

One of those instances was in Deuteronomy when referring to the dietary laws set forth before the people. It then went on to name the clean and unclean animals for the people.

As seen there, and as is understood throughout Scripture apart from the Law of Moses, those things that are an abomination under the law are not an abomination for those not under law. This is because the animals anticipated Christ and believers’ conduct in Christ. Those considered unclean were typical of inappropriate conduct for believers.

The unclean animals were only unclean because of this, not because of some inherent uncleanness in them. The issue comes back to what is typical of life in Christ. In Christ, those distinctions between the animals are now no longer considered.

On the other hand, that cannot be said of what will be presented in the next few verses. The reason, in relation to the clean or unclean animals, is explained by Paul –

“But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.” 1 Corinthians 8:8

As seen from after the flood of Noah, and as is seen in the words of Jesus (Matthew 15:17 & Mark 7:19) and elsewhere in the New Testament epistles, foods are neutral.

It is the law (because the dietary laws anticipated Christ) that makes the foods acceptable or not. As “every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:4), then those precepts of the law only applied while the law was in effect.

On the other hand, the precepts Moses will next speak out will still apply even after the law is set aside. They are not commandments which if disobeyed will bring about the imputation of sin, but they are matters which are inherently abominable to the Lord.

Why is this so? It is because unlike foods which do not commend us to God nor draw us away from Him, these precepts will – in fact – draw us away from God. They directly pertain to a right relationship with the Lord, or its lack thereof. That type of precept is found again in the words of Paul –

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

‘I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.’
17 Therefore
‘Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.’
18 ‘I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.’” 1 Corinthians 6:14-18

The type of people to be presented in the coming verses practice that which belongs to unbelievers. Further, they present that which is contrary to the message of God in Christ. God has appointed Christ as the one and only mediator between God and men.

As this is so, those who follow after the type of people to next be presented are abandoning that which is right and proper. Again, simply looking at the context of what is presented shows us this. Moses spoke of the priests and Levites, and then after this, he will speak of the prophets of the Lord.

As has been seen of the priests and Levites, and as will be seen of the prophet, these all anticipate Christ in His various roles. He is our High Priest. He is the Firstborn among the church. He is our Prophet like Moses.

These people now to be presented, whether under law or under grace, only separate us from intimacy with the Lord. They are to be rejected.

The reason for all of this explanation is so that when someone comes to you and asks about going to a palm reader, you can feel secure in the notion that even though you tell them “No, you should not go,” you are at the same time not somehow reintroducing the Law of Moses.

Rather, you are properly instructing them that at any time, and in any circumstance, we are to come to the Lord solely through Christ. Foods do not commend us to God, but Jesus does.

If something inhibits, or interferes with, our connection to God because it is not of Christ, then we are to refrain from joining ourselves to it. It is not a matter of law, but it is rather a matter of relationship.

10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire,

In Leviticus 18:21, it said –

“And of thy seed thou dost not give to pass over to the Molech; nor dost thou pollute the name of thy God; I am Jehovah.” Leviticus 18:21 (YLT)

Again, in Leviticus 20:2 it says –

“And unto the sons of Israel thou dost say, Any man of the sons of Israel, and of the sojourners who is sojourning in Israel, who giveth of his seed to the Molech, is certainly put to death; the people of the land do stone him with stones;” Leviticus 20:2 (YLT)

What Moses is referring to now, may or may not be the same thing spoken of in those verses. There, it referred to the seed of the person. Therefore, that may have been speaking of something sexual in nature, or “seed” could have referred to children.

Either way, here, it is definitely referring to children – “his son or his daughter.” Further, where those verses in Leviticus said nothing of fire, here that is explicit. It may or it may not be referring to the same thing in both accounts, but Moses’ words now are something understood by the people.

As all of the other offenses listed in these verses are referring to accessing spiritual insights from another realm, it is certain that this is the intent of this practice as well. A literal translation would be, “No shall be found in you who makes pass through his son and his daughter in the fire.”

It is something that actually came into practice during the time of the kings. It is noted in 2 Kings 16 at the time of Ahaz. Again, it says this of Manasseh in 2 Kings 21 –

“Also he made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.” 2 Kings 21:6

In whatever manner the practice of burning the children was accomplished, it wasn’t just done in order to appease the god, but it was accomplished in order to obtain revelation from this supposed god.

And more, this wasn’t only performed to Molech, but to Adrammelech, Anammelech, and Baal, and maybe others. This is what the nations did before Israel entered the land, and it is a practice that, unfortunately, was picked up by Israel.

10 (con’t) or one who practices witchcraft,

qosem qesamim – “divining divinations.” It is a verb followed by its cognate noun, coming from a primitive root meaning “to distribute. In other words, it is a means of determining the future by lot or by a magical scroll.

While emailing Sergio about a technical issue in the Hebrew, he came back with his own paraphrases –

Magicifying magics
Witchcrafting witchcrafts

His are more sensational and fun than my “divining divinations,” but his videos are more sensational and fun than my sermons, so that is not at all surprising.

Along with the previous sin of making children pass through the fire, this was one of the sins of Israel –

“And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. 18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone.” 2 Kings 17:17, 18

It is also what King Saul asked for of the witch of En Dor –

“Please conduct a séance for me, and bring up for me the one I shall name to you.” 1 Samuel 28:8

What the law forbid, Israel was willing to participate in. This includes the next offense…

10 (con’t) or a soothsayer,

The anan, or soothsayer, comes from a primitive root meaning “to cover.” It is the verb form of anan, meaning “a cloud.” The idea then is that person acts covertly, searching out dark and hidden things. It is used in the same verse cited earlier concerning Manasseh –

“Also he made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.” 2 Kings 21:6

10 (con’t) or one who interprets omens,

The word is nakhash. It comes from a primitive root meaning to hiss. Thus, it signifies to whisper a spell, observe signs, or prognosticate.

Adam Clarke ties it to the word nikhish, meaning to view attentively. Thus, it would be one who inspects the entrails of animals, determines signs from the flight of birds or the movement of snakes, and so on. This is what the king of Babylon did when deciding which city he would wage war against –

“For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the road, at the fork of the two roads, to use divination: he shakes the arrows, he consults the images, he looks at the liver22 In his right hand is the divination for Jerusalem: to set up battering rams, to call for a slaughter, to lift the voice with shouting, to set battering rams against the gates, to heap up a siege mound, and to build a wall. 23 And it will be to them like a false divination in the eyes of those who have sworn oaths with them; but he will bring their iniquity to remembrance, that they may be taken.” Ezekiel 21:21-23

This sort of interpretation was also sought out by Manasseh as noted in the same verse just mentioned where it said he “consulted spiritists.” Moses next says…

10 (con’t) or a sorcerer,

It is the verb kashaph, coming from the noun kesheph. The root signifies “to whisper a spell,” and so it means to enchant or practice magic. In a comparable verse to those in 2 Kings 21, this word is used of Manasseh as well –

“Also he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.” 2 Chronicles 33:6

Manasseh was a very bad person. He seemed to revel in his disobedience of the law and in his complete defiance of the Lord. And yet, the list for him is not exhausted yet. Moses continues…

11 or one who conjures spells,

v’khover khaver – “and enchanter of enchantment.” It is the verb and noun form of the same root. The root of the words means “to join.” In Exodus 26:3, it is used when referring to the coupling together of the curtains in the tabernacle.

A paraphrase of this, then, might be a “knot-tier who ties knots.” One can see that in calling forth with a spell, one is then attempting to join to the entity being called forth.

If you ever saw the movie Blackbeard’s Ghost, this is what the wife of Blackbeard, Aldetha Teach, was. She wrote out spells to call forth whatever spirit was adjoined to it. Steve Walker (played by Dean Jones) read her spell and Blackbeard, played by Peter Ustinov, came forth. In this, the knot between them was tied.

Like here in Deuteronomy, both words are used together in Psalm 58 as well –

“The wicked are estranged from the womb;
They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.
Their poison is like the poison of a serpent;
They are like the deaf cobra that stops its ear,
Which will not heed the voice of charmers,
Charming ever so skillfully.” Psalm 58:3-5

David, being a king familiar with the law, may have used this verse in Deuteronomy to weave together his words of the Psalm. Next…

11 (con’t) or a medium,

v’shoel ov – “and inquirer wineskins.” That would be a literal translation, but it requires explanation. The first word is the noun shaal. It means to inquire or ask for. Thus, one can think of “to consult.” The second word, ov, literally means wineskin.

But when one blows into something hollow like a wineskin or a bottle, it makes that ooky spooky sound – whooooo. From that, one can then imagine a ghost, familiar spirit, or the like.

With that understood, you can then think of the medium who calls forth spirits with long hollow utterances – “whoooooooooo, we caaaaallll youuuuuu to coooooomme….” In Blackbeard’s Ghost, this would be comparable to the woman in the tent who pretended to be a medium at the fundraiser.

The word ov is used five times in the account of the witch at En Dor in 1 Samuel 28. She is expressly called this in verse 7 –

“Then Saul said to his servants, ‘Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.’
And his servants said to him, ‘In fact, there is a woman who is a medium at En Dor.’” 2 Samuel 28:7

In an ironic twist, she literally let out a loud cry when Samuel actually came forth. It appears from the account that she wasn’t actually expecting him to appear. For now, Moses says…

11 (con’t) or a spiritist,

The word is yideoni. It is derived from yada, “to know.” Thus, it signifies a spiritist or a wizard. It is someone who is in the know concerning matters of the spirit world. As before, Manasseh sought out these as is recorded in both 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.

11 (con’t) or one who calls up the dead.

v’doresh el ha’methim – “And seeker unto the dead.” The words are self-explanatory. Any attempt to call to the dead for counsel, guidance, comfort, and so on would be a violation of this. The KJV uses the term necromancer. That can mean either a person who calls to the dead or one who raises the dead. This is only referring to the former, calling the dead.

If one thinks this through to its logical end, the Roman Catholic doctrine of praying to Mary or the saints is exactly this. There is nothing in the Bible to justify the idea that they are anything but dead. Therefore, to call to them for prayer or protection would qualify as doing exactly this. Thus…

12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord,

ki toavath Yehovah – “For abomination of Yehovah.” In other words, the people make themselves an abomination by doing these things.

As noted earlier, there are abominations and then there are abominations. Those things of the law that were only anticipatory of Christ, meaning the conduct of His people, such as the dietary laws, cannot be considered as truly abominable to the Lord. Only what they typify, such as perverse conduct, is.

The law was being used as a tutor to reveal spiritual truths in those things. However, because the things in the passage we are looking at now will detract a person’s thoughts, actions, and attention away from the Lord, they must be considered abominable in any dispensation of time.

Telling someone to stay away from witchcraft or necromancy isn’t placing a person back under the law of Moses. Rather, it is conveying a timeless truth. Our mediation is to be through those whom the Lord has appointed. For Israel, it was the priest and prophet. For the church, it is Christ Jesus. Anything else is an abomination before Him.

12 (con’t) and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.

u-biglal ha’toevoth he’elleh – “and on account of the abominations the these.” The word is galal, it signifies to roll around. In other words, their actions will cause the consequences which then roll around, right back to them.

The note of driving them out because of their conduct was actually first stated to Abraham over four hundred years earlier –

“Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Genesis 15:13-16

The iniquity of the Amorites included these detestable practices. Eventually, the cup of their iniquity, came to measure with the cup of God’s wrath. In this, there could be no remedy for them. Because of this, Israel was to become the rod of God’s judgment upon them.

As this is so, Israel could expect no less should they act in the same manner. That is implicitly understood from the next words…

13 You shall be blameless before the Lord your God.

It does not say “before.” Rather, it reads: tamim tihyeh im Yehovah elohekha – “Perfect you shall be with Yehovah your God.” The words certainly must be considered based on the context. If Moses had said this in a talk about sexual purity, then it would mean, “You shall not commit sexual acts which defile you, but you shall accept the constraints of the Lord.”

If he had said this in matters of sacrifices and offerings, then it would mean, “The sacrifices that you make and the offerings you give shall be perfect, without spot or blemish. Rather, you shall offer according to His glory.”

Because Moses is speaking about matters related to the forbidden spiritual realm, it then means, “You shall not attempt to pry into either matters of fortune or future that belong to the Lord alone. You shall walk in this life as it comes to you, and you shall be content with how it unfolds before you, because it is the Lord who has ordained your portion, your state, and your days.”

Understanding this, it makes supposed “prophets” in the church today all the more abominable. They claim to be speaking for the Lord and giving insights into the future of their parishioners when they are either making it up out of their heads, or they are actually under the influence of demons.

Not pursuing such things is what it means to be perfect “with” the Lord God. With this understood, Moses will finish with a contrast between those not of Israel, and those of Israel…

14 For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners;

It is the same implied warning that Moses has made elsewhere. In other words, and without directly saying it, “These nations are being dispossessed by you because they are doing these things. They listen to soothsayers, and they listen to diviners. If you do such things, you too will be dispossessed.”

And again, without saying it directly, Moses emphasizes the notion in the final words of the passage…

*14 (fin) but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you.

v’atah lo ken nathan lekha Yehovah elohekha – “And you not so has given for you Yehovah your God.” The beginning word, v’atah, is placed there as a nominative absolute. Thus, it forms a strong emphasis – “but you, concerning you, not so!”

Without directly saying it, as he will later, he could not be firmer in his warning. You have no authorization to go outside of the lines of spiritual authority granted for Israel.

What will you gain by calling up the dead?
Or what good can a witch be to you?
Will you accept everything they have said?
Or will you to the Lord and His word stay true?

There is no profit in searching out a soothsayer
The one who will surely get scammed is you
Such a person is a loose and fast player
Nothing he presents is honest or true

But the Lord is always faithful through His word
And He has a marvelous future mapped out for you
If you accept the message of Christ, you have heard
For You, great things the Lord God will do

Put away your abominations from before Lord
And hold fast to the truth of His magnificent word

II. A Lesson in Mercy

Although many of the kings of Israel, from Saul on, involved themselves in these forbidden things, King Manasseh was especially highlighted for having done so. The word used in verse 11, darash, is often translated as to search or seek after.

At times, the word is used when seeking after the Lord – either in exhortation to do so, or in someone (or some group) who did so. In Deuteronomy 4, when referring to Israel in exile, Moses uses the word –

“But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29

There were kings that sought after the Lord, like David, Josiah, and others, but there were kings who either partly sought after the Lord, or who completely rejected that avenue. Manasseh pretty much sought after every wicked entity, and every false god, he could find.

As the king, and as the representative of Israel, his actions in not seeking after the Lord, but instead seeking after all of these abominations, brought judgment on the land. A summary of this is found in 2 Chronicles 33 –

“Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. But he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he raised up altars for the Baals, and made wooden images; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He also built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem shall My name be forever.” And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. Also he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. He even set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever; and I will not again remove the foot of Israel from the land which I have appointed for your fathers—only if they are careful to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.” So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel.” 2 Chronicles 33:1-9

Because of his actions, we read the Lord’s decided judgment upon the people –

“And the Lord spoke by His servants the prophets, saying, 11 ‘Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols), 12 therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle. 13 And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. 14 So I will forsake the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become victims of plunder to all their enemies, 15 because they have done evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.’” 1 Kings 21:10-15

Several kings, and many years later, while the land was facing its final destruction before exile, the word again says –

“Surely at the commandment of the Lord this came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also because of the innocent blood that he had shed; for he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the Lord would not pardon.” 2 Kings 24:3, 4

Israel was the rod of the Lord’s judgment against the Amorites. Eventually, the Lord brought Babylon against Israel as His rod of judgment against them. But in their exile, He remembered them and had mercy on them, according to the covenant He made with them.

The Lord had to judge Israel because of the actions of this most wicked king. Under his leadership, the people also turned to the same vile conduct. But in the same chapter of 2 Chronicles where the Lord said he would judge the king, we also learn there of the mercy of the Lord –

“And the Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. 11 Therefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. 12 Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.” 2 Chronicles 33:10-13

Though the Lord remembered the sins of Manasseh as the principal cause of the eventual exile of Judah, he also faithfully forgave Manasseh of his own personal sins. This is a true demonstration of the greatness of the Lord.

As we saw at the beginning of the sermon, the things that have been forbidden here are commonly practiced in some measure, whether in Israel, in societies in general, and even within the church at times. Because of this, societies will be judged, and people will be condemned.

But, as we just saw with Manasseh, the Lord is willing to forgive even the worst of offenders. What would be good for any who hear and care about the matter, is to forego reliance on such things, forget tuning into the nonsense that can’t profit anything, and hold fast to the Lord instead.

There is nothing that we need to know about tomorrow, about our futures or our fortunes, or about anything else around us, that won’t be made known in due time. The Lord has made sure promises to us, and what happens in the meantime is really not that important.

Get up, live out your day while accepting it as being exactly what the Lord intended for you, while at the same time striving to do your best at it. The day will end as it will end, and there is no need to pry into those things that the Lord has told us to leave alone.

This isn’t a matter of law versus grace. Rather, it is a matter of allowing the Lord to be the Lord while living in His glorious presence as such.

Closing Verse: “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days.” Hosea 3:4, 5

Next Week: Deuteronomy 18:15-22 What is it about him that the word shows us? (A Prophet Like Moses) (56th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

 

An Abomination to the Lord

“When you come into the land
Which the LORD your God is giving you
You shall not learn to follow
The abominations of those nations, such you shall not do

There shall not be found among you
Anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire
Or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer
Or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer – raising the Lord’s ire

Or one who conjures spells, or a medium, just as I have said
Or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead

For all who do these things
Are an abomination to the LORD for what they do
And because of these abominations
The LORD your God drives them out from before you

You shall be blameless before the LORD your God
For these nations which you will dispossess, as you shall do
Listened to soothsayers and diviners
But as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. 14 For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deuteronomy 18:1-8 (The Lord is His Inheritance)

Deuteronomy 18:1-8
The Lord is His Inheritance

Most of us, at any given time, have something that we really yearn for. When we’re hungry, a particular food may be on our mind. When we’ve been inside too long, we will yearn to get out and enjoy the outdoors. If we meet someone special, we may long to get the phone call we hope will come. With every passing hour, the yearning grows.

Whatever it is, it gives us a sense of anticipation that will often keep our minds from being productive at anything else. Lots of people yearn for the rapture. It is almost an obsession with them. But that has to be divided into at least two main categories –

  • Those who long to be out of this crummy world, meaning crummy for whatever reason – sickness, some misery or another, the depraved state of things, and so on. Or
  • Those who simply long to see the Lord, just because He is the Lord.

The reason for the yearning may change based on the current state of things as well. In other words, we may long just to see the Lord, but when something really major happens, we just long to get away from it – “Come soon Lord Jesus.”

If so, that means that the second option may not actually be as strong of a yearning as it otherwise could be. Or maybe our desire for the Lord has simply faded over the years. That can happen to anyone at any time.

The way to keep this from happening is to fix our eyes on the Prize. As the Source of all things, the Lord is the One who is the perfection of all goodness, light, joy, blessing, and so on. If we can remember this and meditate on it, then our current state will not drive the level of our yearning for Him.

Text Verse: How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You. Selah

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
O God, behold our shield,
And look upon the face of Your anointed.

10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

12 O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You! Psalm 84

The whole psalm needed to be cited because verses, right from the beginning of it to the end of it are reflected in our passage today. The psalmist understood the beauty of the Lord, and he knew the state of those who yearned to dwell in His glory and light so much that they were set on their pilgrimage even through the Valley of Baca, or Weeping.

This life is our valley of weeping. There are good times too, but none of us are immune from the times of overwhelming grief. This is a reality of life and how we respond to it will reveal the priority of our hearts, if we are willing to search them out.

To me, one of the most wonderful experiences I know of is when I hear from someone who is going through untold pains, miseries, or trials, and who is still able to say, “Oh how I love the Lord. He is my Rock.” If nothing else will build you up, it is a person that is positive, even in the most negative of times.

“Whatever they have, that’s what I want.” What are you yearning for most of all? What is the inner impulse that is driving you at any given moment? The psalmist penned what was on his mind. Moses will tell us of another such person today.

Let us learn from them what is of the highest value. Great lessons such as these are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. With All the Desire of His Soul (verses 1-8)

In the words that open Chapter 18, Moses turns to the state of things among the tribe of Levi. This is a logical next step in his discourse. In the previous chapter, he said the following concerning judicial matters –

“If a matter arises which is too hard for you to judge, between degrees of guilt for bloodshed, between one judgment or another, or between one punishment or another, matters of controversy within your gates, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord your God chooses. And you shall come to the priests, the Levites, and to the judge there in those days, and inquire of them; they shall pronounce upon you the sentence of judgment. 10 You shall do according to the sentence which they pronounce upon you in that place which the Lord chooses. And you shall be careful to do according to all that they order you.” Deuteronomy 17:8-10

After that, in verses 14-20, he then spoke of the responsibilities of the king. The assumption was that the “judge” just mentioned in verse 9 would eventually become the position of a king. As such, his responsibilities would need to be defined.

With that thought completed, Moses will now refer to the rights of the Levites, also just mentioned in verse 9. This will go from 18:1-8. These are the earthly authorities to be sought out because they represent the Lord.

After that, verses 9-14 will give a warning about who to not seek out direction from, and that will then lead into the office of the prophet who speaks on behalf of the Lord in matters beyond, but in accord with, the law. Everything that is laid out is orderly and purposeful. With that understood, we begin with verse 1…

“The priests, the Levites—all the tribe of Levi—shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel;

The words here reflect the sentiment spoken by the Lord to Aaron in Numbers 18:20 –

“You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel.” Numbers 18:20

Here in Deuteronomy, by offsetting the words “all the tribe of Levi,” the Hebrew is well expressed by the NKJV. But because of the way it reads, various skeptical scholars (such as Cambridge) say the words are “a forced attempt to reconcile” the insertion of various different authors into the narrative.

The Hebrew more exactingly reads, “No shall have to the priests, the Levites – all tribe of Levi – portion and inheritance with Israel.”

What Cambridge says is that the words here make no distinction between the priests and the other Levites. Because of this, the verse was supposedly inserted by someone much later.

Such a commentary makes no sense at all. If someone was to insert something later, they wouldn’t make the intent less understandable, but would instead reconcile what they were inserting to make it more understandable.

Rather, the roles of the priests and Levites have already been defined. There is no need for Moses to repeat those roles again in order to make the point he is about to make.

However, by simply turning back to the appropriate passage in Numbers, one can see that the reference to “the priests, the Levites” is speaking of them as a united body, even though they are separate entities –

“Then the Lord said to Aaron: ‘You and your sons and your father’s house with you shall bear the iniquity related to the sanctuary, and you and your sons with you shall bear the iniquity associated with your priesthood. Also bring with you your brethren of the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may be joined with you and serve you while you and your sons are with you before the tabernacle of witness. They shall attend to your needs and all the needs of the tabernacle; but they shall not come near the articles of the sanctuary and the altar, lest they die—they and you also. They shall be joined with you and attend to the needs of the tabernacle of meeting, for all the work of the tabernacle; but an outsider shall not come near you. And you shall attend to the duties of the sanctuary and the duties of the altar, that there may be no more wrath on the children of Israel. Behold, I Myself have taken your brethren the Levites from among the children of Israel; they are a gift to you, given by the Lord, to do the work of the tabernacle of meeting. Therefore you and your sons with you shall attend to your priesthood for everything at the altar and behind the veil; and you shall serve. I give your priesthood to you as a gift for service, but the outsider who comes near shall be put to death.’” Numbers 18:1-7

The Lord’s words there show that the Levites are given to the priests for service of the tabernacle. For Moses now in Deuteronomy, the Levites are already joined to the priests. He is speaking from the standpoint that this is already the case. After thirty-eight years of this set up, it would make no sense for him to redefine everything all over again.

As a simple example, we could take the functioning of the White House. Each job within the White House is explained in a book. Some years later, a new idea concerning its organization is presented.

Anybody who is already aware of the various functions of the White House might just say, “The president, the cabinet secretaries – all of the White House – shall be subject to the following guidelines.

Nobody in their right mind would say, “Oh whoever said that doesn’t understand that the president and the secretaries are two different offices.” It is perfectly understood. Why would anyone recite all of the pages and pages of duties before stating the new requirement? Nothing would ever get done!

But this is what skeptical scholars do with the Bible all the time. They attempt to call into question the reliability of the Bible for whatever perverse reason goes through their heads.

Maybe they just want to appear more intellectual or informed, but they rather make themselves look foolish, and they harm the faith of others in the process. Moses is simply stating that those who serve at the tabernacle, meaning those of the tribe of Levi, shall have no inheritance (meaning a land grant) among the tribes of Israel. And there is a reason for this…

1 (con’t) they shall eat the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and His portion.

There is a stress in the Hebrew, an emphasis, on the word “eat”: ishsheh Yehovah v’nakhalato yokelun – “fire offerings Yehovah and (“and” meaning “even”) His inheritance, they shall (certainly) eat.”

In other words, the offerings made by fire are to the Lord. They are called “fire offerings” because a part of the animal was burnt on the altar of sacrifice to the Lord.

After that, and depending on what type of offerings they are, parts of them are given to the priests. Those parts are the Lord’s portion, but as representatives of the Lord, those sacred parts are (certainly) eaten by them. The emphasis is given to highlight this fact.

In essence, the tribe of Levi has no inheritance among Israel because the inheritance of the Lord is their inheritance. That is then explicitly stated in the next words…

Therefore they shall have no inheritance among their brethren;

As a point of clarification, Deuteronomy 10:9 said, “Therefore Levi has no portion nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord is his inheritance, just as the Lord your God promised him.)” As this verse is speaking of “all the tribe of Levi” just as it was in 10:9, it should be translated in the singular as well – “he shall have no inheritance among his brethren.”

Also, the words are emphatic: v’nakhalah lo yihyeh lo b’qerev ekhav – “and inheritance no shall be in midst his brothers.” This thought from verse 1 is stated again to provide emphasis. Levi is set apart and there is to be a set distinction between him and his brothers. The division of the land is to exclude a portion for Levi. This is because…

2 (con’t) the Lord is their inheritance, as He said to them.

There is again an emphasis which is missing in the translation: Yehovah, hu, nakhalato – “Yehovah, He, is their inheritance.” As it is so, a land grant would be meaningless in comparison to this honor. The people of Israel were to find their sustenance from their land, but Levi was to find it from what belonged to the Lord from that same land – the Lord’s portion. That portion is…

“And this shall be the priest’s due from the people,

It has already been established that the priest is to receive a portion of each sacrifice that is made by the people. Moses will now restate this and expand upon it. It is to be…

3 (con’t) from those who offer a sacrifice,

meet zobekhe ha’zebakh – “from sacrifice the sacrifice.” It is a comprehensive statement where every animal that is sacrificed is included. However, as this is the priest’s due from the people, what is that speaking of? The parts of the animal that were for the expiatory sacrifices and peace offerings have already been defined in Leviticus.

What this is surely referring to is the portion of those things that are eaten by the offeror as defined in Deuteronomy concerning the freewill offerings, tithes, heave offerings, and so on which are brought during the pilgrim feasts. The reason this must be so is seen in the next words…

3 (con’t) whether it is bull or sheep: they shall give to the priest the shoulder, the cheeks, and the stomach.

As noted, the sacred portion for the priests was already defined for the expiatory sacrifices and peace offerings in Leviticus and Numbers. For example –

The breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the heave offering you shall eat in a clean place, you, your sons, and your daughters with you; for they are your due and your sons’ due, which are given from the sacrifices of peace offerings of the children of Israel.” Leviticus 10:14

&

“This shall be yours of the most holy things reserved from the fire: every offering of theirs, every grain offering and every sin offering and every trespass offering which they render to Me, shall be most holy for you and your sons.” Numbers 18:9

However, Deuteronomy refers to offerings other than the peace offerings –

“You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or your new wine or your oil, of the firstborn of your herd or your flock, of any of your offerings which you vow, of your freewill offerings, or of the heave offering of your hand.” Deuteronomy 12:17

&

“Only the holy things which you have, and your vowed offerings, you shall take and go to the place which the Lord chooses. 27 And you shall offer your burnt offerings, the meat and the blood, on the altar of the Lord your God; and the blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the Lord your God, and you shall eat the meat.” Deuteronomy 12:26, 27

These were mentioned in Numbers 18:11, but no detail was given at that time. The detail is now being explained by Moses. The reason why it is important to make the distinction between the parts of the animal from the various sacrifices and offerings defined in Leviticus and these things in Deuteronomy is that different parts are mentioned. Without making this distinction, one would find a contradiction in what Moses is saying. And, in fact, this is what is claimed by some.

The parts of these particular sacrifices include the shoulder, the cheeks, and the stomach. The first is the zeroa. This signifies arm, shoulder, or strength. The word comes from zara, to scatter seed.

The next is the lekhi. It is the jaw or cheek, coming from an unused root meaning to be soft, like the fleshiness of the cheek.

The third is a word found only here in all of Scripture, the qevah. It is not entirely sure what it is, but it is believed to be the stomach. The word comes from qevav, meaning a curse because such a curse is as if you scoop out (hollow out) the one you are cursing. As the stomach is a cavity, this is where the connection lies.

These three parts come from the three principal parts of the animal – the head, the limbs, and the body. Thus, they represent the consecration of the whole. But these parts anticipate the dedication of aspects of a person to God. The shoulder, or arm, represents the limbs and thus the acts of a person –

“And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Romans 6:13

The jaw or cheek represents the words of the person –

“If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.” 1 Timothy 4:6

And the stomach represents the expression of the innermost being of the person –

“The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being [stomach] will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:38 (NASB)

These are the parts of the animal that belonged to the priest from these particular sacrifices now mentioned in Deuteronomy. Along with them, the people were also instructed…

The firstfruits of your grain and your new wine and your oil,

reshit deganekha tiroshekha v’yitsharekha – “First of your grain, your new wine, and your oil.” This was previously mentioned in Numbers 18:12, 13 –

“All the best of the oil, all the best of the new wine and the grain, their firstfruits which they offer to the Lord, I have given them to you. 13 Whatever first ripe fruit is in their land, which they bring to the Lord, shall be yours. Everyone who is clean in your house may eat it.”

The amount is not stated, but if everyone brought a meal-sized amount of each, the cumulative amount would be immense.

The root of these three words gives us insight into the work of Christ. The grain comes from a word meaning “increase.” The new wine comes from a word signifying “to inherit” or “to disinherit” depending on the context. The oil comes from the same root as the word tsohar, signifying midday or noon. In Psalm 37, that is then equated to purity of justice –

“He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.” Psalm 37:6

Together these first offerings to the priest form a picture of the Lord. He is the first and thus emblematic of the harvest to come. He is the One through Whom God provides the increase. He both is the Inheritor of the nations while at the same time disinheriting the devil. And He is the purity of God’s justice as His light shines forth.

When these firsts are gathered up, a special ritual concerning them was to be conducted. That is found in Chapter 26 –

“And it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. And you shall go to the one who is priest in those days, and say to him, ‘I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the country which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.’

“Then the priest shall take the basket out of your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God. And you shall answer and say before the Lord your God: ‘My father was a Syrian, about to perish, and he went down to Egypt and dwelt there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. But the Egyptians mistreated us, afflicted us, and laid hard bondage on us. Then we cried out to the Lord God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression. So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, “a land flowing with milk and honey”; 10 and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.’

“Then you shall set it before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God. 11 So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you. Deuteronomy 26:1-11

Along with the grain, new wine, and oil, something not previously mentioned is set aside for the priests by Moses –

4 (con’t) and the first of the fleece of your sheep, you shall give him.

v’reshit gez sonekha titen lo – “and first fleece of your sheep you shall give him.” This requirement is only stated here. Nothing else concerning it is even referred to elsewhere. As it is an offering to the priest, it must have a typological significance.

The Hebrew word for fleece is gez. That is derived from the verb gazaz, meaning to shear. But it is also used figuratively in regard to destroying (cutting down) an enemy –

“Thus says the Lord:
‘Though they are safe, and likewise many,
Yet in this manner they will be cut down
When he passes through.’” Nahum 1:12

With this, it can be assumed that the fleece being brought to the priest is a picture of Christ being the one to cut down the enemies of God. Just as the fleece of a sheep is cut off and presented to the priest, the mediator before the Lord, so will the enemies of the Lord be cut off by the Messiah, God’s true High Priest.

For the Lord your God has chosen him out of all your tribes

Aaron was chosen as the high priest. His sons ministered as priests with him. After him, his sons were designated to continue in the priesthood. Only they were set apart for this out of all of the tribes. As this is so, then any change in priesthood would indicate a changing of the law. This is referred to in Hebrews 7.

The point of what is being said, though, isn’t just for the sake of the priests, but of the Levites who are joined to the priest. It is the members of this tribe who have been chosen…

5 (con’t) to stand to minister in the name of the Lord,

Again, Hebrews refers to this, specifically Hebrews 10 that speaks of the priest standing and ministering daily before the Lord. Their duties were ongoing and without end. This is clearly stated in the next words…

5 (con’t) him and his sons forever.

hu u-banav kal ha’yammim – “him and his sons all the days.” The idea of a priesthood is that of mediation before God. A person needs mediation with God because there is a dispute between the two parties. What these words are telling us is that the dispute between the people and God is not resolved by the mediation of Aaron. If it was, they would no longer be needed to mediate.

However, this says that they continue to minister “all the days.” The process would never end through their ministration. But the word does not mean “forever” in the absolute sense. It simply means that as long as the people require mediation under the Covenant, the priests would continue to provide that mediation.

Throughout those days, it may be that a Levite from one of the Levitical cities wanted to assist the priests in the duties. Moses now makes provision for this…

“So if a Levite comes from any of your gates,

v’ki yabo ha’Levi me-ekhad shearekha – “And if comes the Levite from one of your gates.” The meaning is that this is a Levite who has lived in one of the Levitical cities, or it also may refer to one who resides within one of the towns of Israel, performing the duties of a judge or minister for the people.

6  (con’t) from where he dwells among all Israel,

mikal yisrael asher hu gar sham – “from all Israel which he sojourns there.” The words “from all Israel” are emphatic, and the word gur signifies to sojourn, being normally applied to someone who has turned aside from the road, as in a stranger or alien.

The idea is that the Levite is such a sojourner among Israel because he, as a Levite, has no land inheritance among the tribes. Even if he lives in a Levitical city, it is not a place of inheritance. Rather, the inheritance of Levi is the Lord, as was stated in verse 2. In this state, he feels impelled to join himself to the place of his inheritance…

6  (con’t) and comes with all the desire of his mind to the place which the Lord chooses,

The Hebrew reads, “with all the desire of his soul.” Unlike the mind, which is the seat of reasoning, the soul is what animates the person. It is as if he has an inner urge pulling at him to join to the service of the Lord at the tabernacle. This is the idea conveyed.

The wording is perfectly described in the 84th psalm, our text verse, a psalm written by the sons of Korah, meaning Levites who had this same inner urge to dwell at the tabernacle in the presence of the Lord. If such a Levite has this inner impulse…

then he may serve in the name of the Lord his God as all his brethren the Levites do,

This means that he is not to be turned away from this privilege. He is to be accepted into the Lord’s service at the tabernacle. This would seemingly be a rather rare occurrence. The Levites would grow up in their cities, and like anyone, they would feel at home there.

They would have their family around them, the comforts of the security of the home environment, and surely a certain amount of prestige in the areas they ministered. To leave all that behind to maybe be a doorkeeper at the sanctuary of the Lord would be a true calling. And this is highlighted by the next words…

7 (con’t) who stand there before the Lord.

ha’omedim sham liphne Yehovah – “the standers there before Yehovah.” The idea is that of service. To stand means to be ready, to be prepared, and to be engaged. It thus means service. In this case, it is the service of the Lord –

Behold, bless the Lord,
All you servants of the Lord,
Who by night stand in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary,
And bless the Lord.
The Lord who made heaven and earth
Bless you from Zion! Psalm 134

Such a Levite, with such an inward desire pressed upon his soul, was to be taken in, and he was to be given exactly what the others at the sanctuary were given. This is codified into law so that it was understood. He had given up much to come to be among the others, and whatever benefit he received from selling his inheritance was not to be required of him. As Moses says…

They shall have equal portions to eat,

kheleq k’kheleq yokelu – “portion for portion they shall eat.” Just as anyone else who previously served at the sanctuary, so this Levite was to be welcomed in and given an equal portion to that of all the others. This is probably the verse on Paul’s mind when giving instruction concerning those who preach –

“Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 9:13, 14

The person had left his home to serve, and he was to be given his portion like all others…

*8 (fin) besides what comes from the sale of his inheritance.

l’bad mimkarav al ha’avot – “to separate sale of the fathers.” In other words, the sale of that which was inherited from his fathers was to remain his. It was not to be exacted from him to pay for his keep. This would be a protection for him should he ever decide to return to his home, if there was a need in his family, and so on. What was his when he came was to remain his after his coming.

This is the priest’s portion of each offering
But what does it really mean?
Time and again, one brings forth his proffering
Time and again, the same person is seen

Why does this cycle never come to an end?
We minister to the same people time and again
Haven’t I seen you here before my friend?
Will this job ever finish? If so, when?

If returning to Eden requires no sin
And if people keep coming back time and again
It appears that we are all done in
So, it seems. Can I get an “Amen?”

Something is lacking that I just can’t see
Surely, someday Messiah will explain it to me

II. A Better Priesthood

The abrupt nature of the ending of the passage calls for us to venture into the New Testament in order to obtain a few points of doctrine mentioned in passing as we looked at the verses today. While looking at verse 5, I said that any change in priesthood from Levi would necessarily indicate a changing of the law. This is one of the main points of Hebrews 7. There, the author says –

“Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.

For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest 16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. 17 For He testifies:
‘You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.’
18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” Hebrews 7:14-19

The author of Hebrews cited the 110th Psalm to demonstrate that the Messiah would not only be a priest, but He would be a priest completely different than that found in the Levitical priesthood. He is basing his argument under the assumption that the Psalms are inspired by God. If not, then his argument has no basis.

But because he takes it as an axiom that what they say is inspired, then it means that the term “all the days” referring to the Levitical priesthood in verse 5 does not mean “forever.” This is because the psalmist, David in this case, spoke of a coming priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Melchizedek came long before Aaron, and his priesthood had nothing to do with the service of the Law of Moses. Therefore, if David speaks of a future priest who is of a different order, meaning a different priesthood, then it necessarily follows that there will be a change from the Law of Moses, which was ministered to by Levi.

The author then states that this priest is Jesus, a Descendant of Judah, not Levi. Not only does Moses say nothing of Judah in this regard, the Mosaic law forbid anyone but Levi from ministering as a priest under that law.

As this is so, he directly states – without any ambiguity at all – that the “former commandment,” meaning the Law of Moses, is annulled. He then explains the reason it is so, saying it was both weak and unprofitable. In its place he says a “better hope” is brought in, referring to the New Covenant in Christ.

That was seen in our verses today. It was weak because it could not perfect anyone. To understand a part of its weakness, Hebrews 10 says –

“For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” Hebrews 10:1-4

His logic is impeccable. What the Law of Moses did was to provide shadows, or representations, of what Christ would do. But those shadows actually did nothing. Bulls and goats are in a different category than humans. Thus, their blood is unable to cleanse.

If it could, those who came to be cleansed would be purified and restoration with God would be complete. But the fact that they had to be observed constantly, year by year, demonstrates that they had no efficacy at all. As this was so, there was no profit in continuing in this law forever. Rather, something better was needed.

That something better was introduced already by him in Chapter 8 when he quoted the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Hebrews 8:8).

He continues explaining what this means through the rest of the chapter, finishing Chapter 8 with the words, “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13).

Again, the author of Hebrews is clear and unambiguous. The Law of Moses is obsolete. It no longer serves any purpose in the effectiveness of bringing man to restoration with God.

To finish the thought off for today, we can look to the supremacy of what Christ did as is recorded in the words of our passage from verse 7, where it said, ha’omedim sham liphne Yehovah – “the standers there before Yehovah.”

The work of the priest was never finished. Each course of the Levites involved them standing before the Lord, ready to minister at all times. In contrast to that, Hebrews says –

“And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.” Hebrews 10:11-12

Christ Jesus performed His work, fulfilling all of the types and shadows of the Mosaic covenant, and in His fulfillment of it, it says He sat down. The work is complete. The mediation has served its purpose, and reconciliation between God and man has been realized.

The “something better” that was needed was the coming of Christ. Hebrews 10:10, says that through the offering of the body of Christ we are sanctified once for all. The duties of our Great High priest were fully effectual in doing what the Law of Moses could never do. Thus, the Law of Moses was taken away, and with it, the New Covenant, the Christ Covenant, was established (Hebrews 10:9).

If you wonder why there is so much focus on these seemingly tedious aspects of the Law of Moses, it is because it is showing us the greatness of what God would do in Christ. The few verses we cited from Hebrews just now probably fill thirty or more pages of evaluation in my Hebrews commentary. And these were just a few select verses out of chapters 7-10.

The Hebrews commentary is right online for you to copy and read anytime you wish. Or, if you’d rather, we’ll be getting to the book of Hebrews in our Thursday Bible class shortly. When we get there, we will go through its verses one by one and in minute detail.

Don’t get bogged down by the detail in Deuteronomy. Rather, look at it as a great part of the marvelous unfolding story of God’s love for you as is revealed in the coming of Christ. Without it, we would have a tremendous void in our understanding of all that He has done for us.

Theology is hard work. Proper theology is even harder. Go slow, meticulously follow the thread of glory, and be excited with each new passage. God has placed them here for us as a gift of love and blessing. Accept the gift, open it up, and be blessed in its marvelous contents.

Closing Verse: “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.” Hebrews 8:1, 2

Next Week: Deuteronomy 18:9-14 Such things as He finds distasteful are recorded in His word… (An Abomination to the Lord) (55th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Lord is His Inheritance

“The priests, the Levites—all the tribe of Levi—
Shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel
They shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by fire
And His portion – it is theirs as well

Therefore they shall have no inheritance among their brethren
The LORD is their inheritance, as He said to them

“And this shall be the priest’s due from the people
From those who offer a sacrifice; when they do
Whether it is bull or sheep
They shall give to the priest the shoulder, the cheeks
———-and the stomach too

The firstfruits of your grain
And your new wine and your oil as well
And the first of the fleece of your sheep
You shall give him, so to you I tell

For the LORD your God has chosen him
Out of all your tribes to stand
To minister in the name of the LORD
Him and his sons forever; such is what I planned

“So if a Levite comes from any of your gates
From where he dwells among all Israel
And comes with all the desire of his mind
To the place which the LORD chooses; where the Lord does dwell

Then he may serve
In the name of the LORD his God according to this word
As all his brethren the Levites do
Who stand there before the LORD

They shall have equal portions to eat, with the other gents
Besides what comes from the sale of his inheritance

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

“The priests, the Levites—all the tribe of Levi—shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and His portion. Therefore they shall have no inheritance among their brethren; the Lord is their inheritance, as He said to them.

“And this shall be the priest’s due from the people, from those who offer a sacrifice, whether it is bull or sheep: they shall give to the priest the shoulder, the cheeks, and the stomach. The firstfruits of your grain and your new wine and your oil, and the first of the fleece of your sheep, you shall give him. For the Lord your God has chosen him out of all your tribes to stand to minister in the name of the Lord, him and his sons forever.

“So if a Levite comes from any of your gates, from where he dwells among all Israel, and comes with all the desire of his mind to the place which the Lord chooses, then he may serve in the name of the Lord his God as all his brethren the Levites do, who stand there before the Lord. They shall have equal portions to eat, besides what comes from the sale of his inheritance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The priests, the Levites—all the tribe of Levi—shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and His portion. Therefore they shall have no inheritance among their brethren; the Lord is their inheritance, as He said to them.

“And this shall be the priest’s due from the people, from those who offer a sacrifice, whether it is bull or sheep: they shall give to the priest the shoulder, the cheeks, and the stomach. The firstfruits of your grain and your new wine and your oil, and the first of the fleece of your sheep, you shall give him. For the Lord your God has chosen him out of all your tribes to stand to minister in the name of the Lord, him and his sons forever.

“So if a Levite comes from any of your gates, from where he dwells among all Israel, and comes with all the desire of his mind to the place which the Lord chooses, then he may serve in the name of the Lord his God as all his brethren the Levites do, who stand there before the Lord. They shall have equal portions to eat, besides what comes from the sale of his inheritance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presenting the Word of God to the People of God

Presenting the Word of God to the People of God

A close friend of mine asked me to have breakfast with him recently so that we could discuss something pressing upon him. Not sure of what was up, I – of course – agreed.

In our conversation, he said he had come to the conclusion, from a purely secular perspective, that the only thing that could save our nation from inevitable collapse was for the people to be turned back to a right relationship with God. There is nothing in the political arena that is capable of doing that at this point.

I think his thoughts are based on the fact that there is really no other avenue that will stop the fast-paced moral slide into the abyss that is occurring in the nation, and indeed in the entire world. There is no doubt that unless this unholy tide is stemmed, it will be too late in a very short time. Indeed, it may be too late even now.

In fact, just a week ago, I reported that “More than 120 retired American military officials have signed an open letter warning that America has veered left under Democratic control and that the nation’s survival is on the line.” They said –

“Under a Democrat Congress and the Current Administration, our Country has taken a hard left turn toward Socialism and a Marxist form of tyrannical government which must be countered now by electing congressional and presidential candidates who will always act to defend our Constitutional Republic.”

The main problem in America comes from the fact that the same people who have crept into the government, meaning the communists, have also secured themselves into almost every seminary in the nation. This may sound conspiratorial, but it is not. The leftist agenda in this nation is a communist agenda. The two, at this point, are inseparable.

If all you watch is the mainstream media, this may seem surprising to you, but they have been, for many years now, at the forefront of this by reporting a false narrative while these communists have slowly worked their way through both the government and our churches.

Text Verse: “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:1-5

To understand this problem, and to look back at how long this has been planned, we will go to a report submitted to the US Congress in 1963.

On Thursday, January 10, 1963, the Honorable A.S. Herlong, Jr. of Florida submitted, in an extension of remarks to the US House of Representatives, what he entitled “Current Communist Goals.” In his submission, he specifically named forty-five goals of the communists in order to gain control of this nation.

What I am presenting to you now is a sermon on how I prepare my sermons. It seems like this would otherwise be a waste of time. There are churches everywhere. Seminaries have courses on homiletics. And so on. Isn’t that enough to get the word of God out in a proper manner to the church? No, I do not believe it is.

Many seminaries teach a great deal, but little of it is based solely on the word of God. Some of them teach nothing of the word of God at all. And it is perfectly evident from what issues from innumerable churches across our land, from week to week, that the word of God is not the main concern of what they are presenting to the attendees.

But that is exactly what the structure of the church is established for. It is not there to push agendas, it is not there to make people feel good, and it is not there to be a self-perpetuating money maker. It is an institution that is to be designed around one main thing – the word of God. And that word of God is given to tell us, above all else, about His dealings with humanity through the Person of Jesus Christ.

Further, I’m not saying that the way I prepare sermons is the best way to do so. However, there are countless sermons spoken forth on any given Sunday that have – literally – nothing to do with the word of God. And those that do may only touch on the word. The rest of the time, people are simply given an easy message that is intended to encourage them in some manner.

This is not a proper way of informing people about the contents of the word of God. Whatever these people are being taught in seminary, it is not enough. That is perfectly evident. And so, I will convey to you my own method of sermon preparation so that any who truly cares about the word will be able to follow this path without all of the learning curve that I had to go through in order to come to where I am now.

The truth is, though, that this would be unnecessary if pastors were properly trained in the biblical text and proper theology, and also if they were willing to spend the necessary time it takes to prepare and present the type of sermons to their congregations that would protect their flocks from the damage inflicted by such ungodly people within the society.

This is not a sermon on either politics or communism, but these points must be understood as – at least in part – a basis for understanding why such a sermon is deemed by my friend to be necessary at all. Our churches have been led down a sad path of theological apostasy, and the only way to rectify that is to turn ourselves to what is sound and reasonable. And this is to be issued forth from any pastor who truly feels the weight of his responsibility to the flock he presents himself to each week.

Immensely important things like exalting the word of God that tells us about Jesus Christ in our church gatherings are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us consider that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. An Unholy Agenda

With the thought in mind that I said earlier about the leftist agenda in the United States actually being a communist agenda, and that it is being championed by the democrat party, I need to substantiate that before we go on. And so, of the forty-five points submitted by Representative Herlong to the United States House of Representatives in 1963 that I mentioned a moment ago, please consider the following twenty-eight –

  1. Do away with all loyalty oaths.
  2. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.
  3. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
  4. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks.
  5. Gain control of all student newspapers.
  6. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.
  7. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, and policymaking positions.
  8. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
  9. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to “eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms.”
  10. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”
  11. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.
  12. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
  13. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, and healthy.”
  14. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”
  15. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.” (Remember these goals were published to expose them in 1958) Coincidence?
  16. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
  17. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”
  18. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the “big picture.” Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.
  19. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture–education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
  20. Eliminate all laws or procedures, which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.
  21. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.
  22. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.
  23. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
  24. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat].
  25. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.
  26. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.
  27. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.
  28. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use [“] united force [“] to solve economic, political or social problems.

This was 1963, almost sixty years ago. Were we to go over each of these points, even with only with a broad brushstroke of printed articles from the past year, we would be able to identify that almost each and every one of them has been carefully and meticulously introduced, pursued, and fully completed within one party of the United States of America – the democrat party. This is unquestionable, it is without controversy, and it is beyond contestation.

Our government has been fully taken over by the communists and we have let it happen, above all, because we have replaced our faith in God with false idols of prosperity, wealth, consumption, moral turpitude, and even downright depravity. And, sadly, it is the church that has often been at the forefront of this amazingly precipitous decline.

Of all these forty-five points, the most important one, though only listed in position 27, says, “Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with ‘social’ religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a ‘religious crutch.’”

The reason this is the most important one is that if proper religion were maintained within the churches of our nation, none of these other points would have occurred. We would have remained on guard, we would not have allowed sexually, politically, and morally deviant people to overtake our society. And we surely would not have allowed the democrat party of these United States to succeed in destroying the foundational Christian underpinnings of this nation.

The man in the White House, his vice president, and indeed all of his associates – along with the democrats in the House and the Senate – are opposed to the right, perfect, and moral doctrines found in Scripture – wholly and entirely. Any person who has read through the Bible even once, and even if he does not accept the Bible as God’s word, could come to no other conclusion.

Everything stems back to, as Jude says, the “faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” In our somnambulance, it is a faith that we have let go of, and we are now paying the price for our slumbering.

Almost every mainstream denomination has been completely sold out to this leftist agenda. Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and so on. They have, for all intents and purposes, become bastions of communist ideology. Even the once sound Southern Baptist Convention has been infiltrated by this ideology, and it is quickly turning aside from the sacred and precious faith.

And because people within the congregations were unwilling to step away from what was occurring before their eyes, the power of these miscreants increased within the government because the people who run these churches are in the same bed as those who run this government.

It no longer matters to those in the democrat party if they commit the most horrendous of perversions because those in the churches are not there to condemn them. Think of Barney Frank – and how many years ago was that! Indeed, these churches are there to support them.

These words are not intended to condemn immorality within society. I am not the judge of those things. I can only highlight them as examples that are contrary to what the Bible expects for the society, and especially for the people of God. God will judge. Our accusations will convert no one. Only a proper explanation of what God expects in order to come to a precious saving faith in His provision will convert anyone.

Those churches that have held to the morality of Scripture as sacrosanct are belittled by members of their own denominations, by a complicit media, and now by a complicit group within Big Tech.

The voices of moral reason and godliness have been silenced both actively and passively. Actively by the tech companies, by government itself, and even by those within the hierarchies of these denominations who hold power over those in lower positions. And passively this has come about by those pastors who are too afraid to speak out at what is going on.

I do not need to dwell on this point any further, and I shall not. The damage is done, the infection has set in, and unless pastors are willing to exalt the morality found in Scripture to its rightful place within this society once again, even those pastors who ride a borderline approach are soon to be rounded up… and executed. Mock that if you will, but the hour is not long in coming. History is not without precedent in this regard. Rather, it is filled with it.

When faced with their own demise, most pastors will, sadly, simply step off the borderline and set their feet ontto the left of it, aligning themselves with the forces of iniquity that they are too terrified of to speak out against any longer. Yes, I suppose most will choose this path when the time comes.

Tragedy in the Garden

The woman was enticed, and she ate of the fruit
She passed it on to Adam and he ate as well
He became the second willing recruit
And together they left a sad story to tell

Their eyes were opened to their exposed state
They realized that life in sin just ain’t so great

They sewed together figs to hide their shame
And made coverings that just wouldn’t suffice
The Lord questioned them about their hiding game
And they realized that sin just ain’t so nice

“Where are you?” called the LORD. (Though he already knew)
“I was hiding because I realized something wasn’t right
I was afraid to answer, I’m naked … yes, it’s true
And so, I hid myself, like a shadow in the night”

“Who told you that you were naked? What is this you did do?
Have you taken of the fruit which I told you not to eat?”
“It was the women who did it… the one made by You
She told me of its yumminess… and how it was so sweet”

I thought it would be so good, but I guess I paid the price
I’m beginning to see that sin really ain’t so nice

“Woman, what is this thing that you have done?
Traded life under the heavens for life under the sun.”
Oh my Lord it was the serpent. He deceived me and I ate
And now I’m seeing that sin just ain’t so great”

Oh God that we could take it back and undo what we have done
Life was wonderful under the heavens
But it’s terrible under the sun

What can we do make things right?
Where can we turn to be healed?
How long will we be cast from Your sight?
How long until the grave is unsealed?

I have a plan, children, but you’ll have to wait
Many years under the sun toiling in the heat
But I will someday open wide heaven’s gate
When My own Son, the devil will defeat

I will send My own Son, the devil to defeat

II. How My Sermons are Prepared

For those preachers who are set and ready to put as first position the lives they have been called to, it means hard work is ahead. It is undoubtedly true that most pastors do not write their own sermons. Some have their staff write them so that they can deliver them with panache on Sunday morning.

There are books with formatted sermons already available. Sermons can be downloaded from the internet, and they can be purchased from innumerable people who will do the work for them so that they can get back to the more important issues of the ministry – be it a day of golfing each week, or some other time of leisure that would be otherwise unheard of if they truly devoted themselves to the calling set before them.

This should not be. Though you will not find this in Scripture, I am of the belief that no sermon should ever be preached by a pastor that he has not personally put together after struggling in the battle of preparing it. If he cannot do this one thing – this most important and intimate thing – for those he is shepherding, he should not be their shepherd.

Congregants should find out where their pastor’s sermons come from. If they are not from him and his personal studies, then what he is preaching is the work of another, and the doctrine may or may not even be what he believes. But it is the doctrine presented by the pastor that guides the church. And it is the church alone, that can stand against the unholy tide flooding the nations of this world.

And, before going on, a note of correction for those pastors who are willing to speak out – from the word – concerning the moral issues of the society: The term “Judeo-Christian values” is not a sound or appropriate way to refer to the values of the nation they are trying to return morality to.

Pastors may put forth terms such as “biblical values,” or they may be more specific and say, “Christ-centered biblical values.” But the term “Judeo Christian values” exalts the faith, whatever that may be, of Jews who do not believe in Christ… to the same level as those people – Jew or Gentile – who do. It is a perverse term that should never have become a part of the standard lexicon of faithful preachers of the word of God.

The entire body of Scripture, Old Testament and New, cannot be properly understood or explained without Jesus Christ being the central focus of what is being presented from Scripture. Jesus made that explicit in John 5 –

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:39, 40

&

“Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5:45-47

It is unconscionable for the preacher to preach in the church of the saints of Jesus Christ without clearly demonstrating, each and every week, that this precious word of God – conveyed to us by God through men of God – points to His workings in redemptive history completely and entirely, with Jesus Christ as the focus of what God is doing.

And finally, before I explain the mechanical “how” of preparing a sermon as I do, I will say this – clearly and without ambiguity. No person should be allowed into the pulpit to preach on the word of God unless he is fully versed in the word of God.

If he has not read the Bible through, innumerable times, and if he does not commit to reading this word every single day of his life – first thing in the morning and last thing at night – he should not be your preacher.

Any person can go to the streets and share the gospel, even preach the gospel. But for a complete and well-prepared analysis of God’s word from the pulpit, that person must be fully aware of the contents of the entire body of Scripture.

This does not mean various theologies of Scripture that anyone can learn in a seminary without knowing the word of God. This means knowing the word of God so that they can tell when the theologies of Scripture are being improperly taught to them when they attend seminary.

We have put the cart before the horse by sending people unaware of Scripture off to seminary to learn doctrine. Proper doctrine is to be derived from an analysis of Scripture. Scripture is not to be interpreted from man-derived doctrines.

No wonder we are in the pickle we are in! When a person enters a theological seminary and he is not yet well-versed in Scripture, he is subject to be taught anything – no matter how perverse – and he will accept it from that point on.

This is the same model that has been introduced into our secular schools all over this nation. We are training young minds to believe in a communist model of life, and this is what they will cling to – believing that what they are trained is correct – for all their days. And this all started because these communists first infected the churches of those who are now the teachers in our schools.

When Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about the young democracy planted in this nation, he highlighted the religious nature of the people of this land. He was adamant that the traditional religion of America is certainly of the highest importance in the nation’s statesmanship.

So much was this the case that he said that our religion – our Christian faith – “should be considered the first” of the nation’s “political institutions.” He concluded that America must at all costs “maintain Christianity.” This cannot occur unless pastors first properly explain this precious message to those who will enter into the political arena.

And that cannot occur when we ordain pastors who are unaware of the contents of the precious treasure we call “The Word of God.” If a person is well-versed in Scripture, there are many ways to present it to a congregation. Today, most sermons are presented as “life application” sermons, instructing the congregation on how to live one’s life in regard to whatever issue is being presented in the subject material.

Although there is nothing wrong with this approach, teaching the contents of the word of God, line by line, will mold congregants into people who are aware of the nuances of Scripture. With such a presentation, from week to week, they will not need to be told how to live their lives in a biblical manner. They will know how to do so because they will be aware of what the Bible expects of them.

This is the approach that some denominations take, and it is the approach that I myself follow. And so, as tedious as it may appear, I want to give a brief overview of how these sermons are put together. I honestly believe it is the most effective way of conveying the word of God to the people of God, and if enough voices rise from the pulpit with this approach, those who hear will understand the truth, reliability, and power of this word.

Each week, I follow on from whatever passage ended the previous week. We started our biblical adventure on October 23th, 2011, with Genesis 1:1. Since then, we have slowly and methodically progressed through the five books of Moses, so that today, a bit less than ten years later, we are going through the fifth book of Moses, Deuteronomy.

Following this approach has been both spiritually rewarding, and I am sure it has been edifying to all who have continued through these books, myself included. In the early chapters of Genesis, even until about Genesis 35, I feel I went far too fast through the verses. I wasn’t attentive to the detail as I should have been, and I was unlearned in any meaningful sense in the Hebrew.

Therefore, this has been as much of a learning experience for me as it has been for those who have participated in these sermons. The process has remained basically the same, but it has been slowly modified here and there to where we are now. It is my hope that in explaining how I write these sermons, it will help others in progressing more quickly past those points of learning that I had to struggle through.

I had no model to go by, no pattern laid out, and I had to discover what did work and what did not work. Even today, I will slightly amend my approach as needed.

When I started typing the sermons, I chose a passage by the size or content of the passage and determined to write a sermon based on that. At times, this is still necessary, but it is now the exception rather than the rule.

Instead, I will have the framework of the sermon laid out each week – a template that I use for each sermon. This has a title (which includes the book, chapter, and verses of the sermon and the subject of it); a text passage (whatever the subject verses are referred to during the sermon); a text verse (a verse that will anchor the entire text passage to the mind of the listener); and the standard closing of the opening section which is substantially repeated each and every week.

After this, will be a place for the main points of the sermon – be it two, three, or even four sections. Then comes a closing verse (a verse that will sum up the thought of what has been presented). After that will be a note of what the contents of the next sermon will be. And then a place is left for a poem based on all of the text passage for that sermon.

There is a reason for each of these. Maybe surprisingly, the poem for the sermon, or sermons, for the entire coming chapter is the first thing I type. Supposing I have completed the verses for Deuteronomy 17, then before I actually start the Chapter 18 sermons – meaning the week before I start – I compose a poem based on all verses of Chapter 18. This poem is as close to the original text as I can possibly make it.

That is now complete, and I don’t have to worry about it interfering with the typing of whatever sermons come out of Chapter 18, be it one sermon or five. As the contents of each sermon are completed, I simply take the poem and divide it according to the verses that were included in it. For example, Deuteronomy 18 turned out to be three sermons – 1-8; 9-14; and 15-22.

The question may be, “Why do you do a poem based on the verses of each chapter?” Being glad you asked, I will explain. The reason is that before giving the sermon, the sermon text is read – Deuteronomy 18:15-22, for example. After that, the sermon is given based on those eight verses. After the sermon has been given, a poem, based directly on those eight verses and matching them as closely as possible, is then read.

In all, the sermon passage is therefore heard in three different ways. It is, thus, a memory tool for the congregation. As poetry is different in tone and make-up, even if it is almost a mirror of the text itself, it is a completely unique memory tool.

Out of sheer laziness, because of the amount of time it takes, several times, I have thought to drop this part of the sermon. And each time I thought to do so, someone has walked up out of the blue and said how much the poem helps them to process what they have just heard.

With the format laid out and the poem done for the entire chapter, on the next Monday, I start into the sermon itself. I have the format all ready, and so I start by reviewing the verses that I will be going over and immediately get into analyzing the first verse. We’ll say it is Deuteronomy 18:15.

What I do is to open (at least) 8 tabs on the computer. The first six are from BibleHub.com and are set to the following:

1) Bible Hub – a parallel of the verse being evaluated with approximately 25 different translations of that verse. Sometimes, looking at them isn’t necessary. Sometimes reading all 25 translations is needed. It is an invaluable tool.

2) Bible Hub – the entire verse in the Hebrew with a link to Strong’s concordance for each word; each word in Hebrew; a literal English translation for each word; and the morphology of each word. Each word is linked to those various tools, and each is meticulously reviewed by me in all four of these aspects, as needed.

If the word being looked at is a new word in Scripture, that is noted, and its meaning and etymology are explained during the sermon. The introduction of new words, the number of times the words are used in Scripture, and other such information can be an integral part of understanding the passage.

This may be the most important tab open and spending an hour or more on a single verse is not uncommon.

3) Bible Hub – commentaries from (for the Old Testament) Charles Ellicott, Joseph Benson, Matthew Henry, Albert Barnes, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown, John Gill, the Geneva Bible, Cambridge, and the Pulpit Commentary.

4) Bible Hub – the commentary of Adam Clarke.

5) Bible Hub – the commentary of John Lange.

6) Bible Hub – the commentary of Keil and Delitzsch.

To get a fuller idea of what the verse being looked at is saying, I read almost every word of every commentary just named. This is an important step. These men have been trained in the biblical languages, and they have built their commentaries on some of the finest Bible scholars in all of church history who preceded them.

With the exception of Cambridge, for an evaluation of the Bible as an inspired text, these are some of the finest commentaries available. Cambridge is terrible in this regard, and their commentaries are often worse than useless – they being a bunch of liberal scholars.

And yet, their insights into the structure of the passage, and their analyses of the mechanical aspects of the Hebrew are invaluable. This past Monday, they pointed out a gender error in Deuteronomy 21:10 that not one of the 28 translations of the Bible that I read for the sermon caught, and not one of the scholars named above caught. And yet, without that, the typology of Jesus Christ in that passage would have been overlooked or flawed.

Even when their conclusion concerning the meaning of the text is completely wrong, as it most often is, what they submit can often alert the reader to something nobody else ever even hints at.

In other words, in their attempt to call the contents of the Bible into question, they will often bring out marvelous insights that – when thought through – do exactly the opposite.

As a side note concerning Bible Hub. It is one of the best sites I know of for the type of work I do. It is an invaluable resource and without it, the labor involved in what I do would go from 6-10 hours to 15 or even 20 hours, or more. There is no site that I appreciate more.

However, as this was put together by man, there will be errors at times. When I find an error in any part of the pages I am evaluating, I do not ignore it. I immediately stop my sermon typing and email John at Biblehub.com with the corrections. I sent one to him this Monday from that same verse. His site is a masterpiece of biblical information, and we want a perfect site for the users.

7) Bible Gateway – the chapter that is being evaluated (in this case Deuteronomy 18) is opened. This is kept open all day and often needs to be referred to innumerable times. I always use the same version for sermon typing (NKJV). Any variations in version are always cited.

8) Bible Gateway – an extra bible search engine is opened in order to search out passages from elsewhere in the Bible that will be cited. At times, I may open two or three extras if there is a lot going on.

9) In addition to the above, if there are any names of places or people included in the passage, a tab is opened for Abarim Publications. They have the finest and most accurate analyses of the meaning of biblical names to be found. Many “Bible Name” sites are so far off of an actual meaning of the names that they are useless. Caution and care must be taken when considering biblical names.

With all of these tabs open, and with reading everything involved with each of them for analyzing each verse, and then putting it together into a cohesive and understandable (well, hopefully) analysis for the congregation, I still take time to do one more thing with the verse that seemingly has nothing to do with the sermon. And yet, it often helps me to put together thoughts that are actually invaluable for the sermon.

It is something I recommend to anyone who wants to progress in their understanding of the Hebrew, the structure of the verse, and of how that verse can be misunderstood. I have taken one version of the Bible and I compare it directly with the Hebrew, word for word, and then check that translation for error – for every verse I look at.

In my case, and for personal reasons, I chose the King James Version. The reason this is productive is because it leads to other really valuable insights that you might not even have imagined. If you are going to analyze the Bible for your sermons as I do, I wholly recommend you pick a version of the Bible and do exactly this with each verse.

As a side note, I also type a commentary on a single verse of the New Testament seven days a week. Other than the Gospels, Acts (which is next), and Revelation (which is now three quarter complete), I have a full commentary on the entire New Testament. The reason I bring this up is that I do the same evaluation of the Greek against the KJV as I do for the sermon from the Old Testament Hebrew. If you would like my Hebrew/Greek comparison of the KJV, it is on our website.

At the end of the text study and sermon typing, we will say for Deuteronomy 18:15-22, I immediately finish the body of the sermon by typing closing comments. They are usually something that is more of a life application concerning what has been looked at.

However, there are times I will completely skip a life application, and simply go on to convey the glory of what Christ has done in relation to the subject matter at hand. In the end, the summary to the sermon is what will settle the minds of those listening and help them to redirect to what is most important.

That is either their life responsibility in relation to God, or simply contemplating the glory of God. Either way, this is an invaluable part of a sermon, and it must be carefully presented to leave the listener with the thought that they are accountable to this great, gracious, and yet holy God.

When that is spoken out to them, they should be moved into their soul over His goodness as is relayed to us in the redemptive narrative that is presented in the pages of Scripture.

Once this is completed, I will usually only then figure out what I want to be my text verse for the sermon. As I explained earlier, it is a verse that will anchor the entire text passage to the mind of the listener. In the case of Deuteronomy 18:15-22 the text verse is of Isaiah 8:19, 20.

Normally a text verse will be one verse, or a few at best. However, at times, it may be a whole passage if needed to convey the thought properly.

Next, I will figure out a closing verse. That is a verse that will, hopefully, sum up the content of the passage for the reader to say, “Yeah, I get that!” For that particular Deuteronomy sermon, I chose Hebrews 12:18-24.

Next, unless I have already divided the sermon up into individual sections, I will do that at this time. This is important because there are almost always changes of thought within the sermon that should be separated in order to help the reader transition.

In the case of Deuteronomy 18:15-22, it was divided up into three sections –

  1. Him You Shall Hear (verses 15 & 16)
  2. I Will Require It of Him (verses 17-19)
  3. III. You Shall Not Be Afraid of Him (verses 20-22)

Each of these main points are based on words that are conveyed directly within those verses. It is, thus, a word for word memory tool for the listener of the sermon, whether he or she realizes it or not.

After dividing the sermon up in this way, I then take the time to type a poem that reflects the sentiment of what was and what will be conveyed between the sections. I do one poem prior to the beginning of any second, third, or fourth section.

Hence, because there are three sections in the sermon from Deuteronomy 18:15-22, there will be two intervening poems. The reason for this is that it allows listeners or readers to mentally stop and clear their minds of the overload of information that they have just been presented… because there is an overload of information that has just been presented.

I learned to do this while reading a sermon by Charles Spurgeon, and it has been something I have done almost since the very beginning of my time as a preacher. I cannot imagine giving a sermon without this.

So, what is left at this point? Only two things are left for the sermon to be completed. The next thing I do is to now type the introduction to the sermon. Yes, that is almost the last – not the first – thing that I do. It is very rare for me to do it at any other time, but it does happen occasionally.

This comes at the end of the sermon typing because until I have done the conclusion of the sermon, I don’t know what that conclusion will be. But the conclusion is based on the contents of the sermon, and I don’t know what the contents of the sermon will be until the sermon is complete.

Once the conclusion is done, then the opening is typed to closely match what is said at the conclusion, and I can’t match that opening with the conclusion until I know what the conclusion says. This is the standard way of presenting such information – give a thought, explain that thought, and then sum up that thought.

In the case of the sermon, because the summing up is done first, then the opening must come afterward in order to match the summary, which is based on the contents of the sermon. Everything finds its place when it is done this way. Listeners are reminded of what they were told at the beginning of the sermon, and it will thus much better instill in their minds the contents of the entire sermon.

After the opening comments are completed, there is one more thing that needs to be done – the main title to the sermon. The sermon verses need to be put into the title. These weren’t known until the sermon was complete. In this case, Deuteronomy 18:15-22. After that, and last of all, the sermon is given a name.

Obviously, a title is a normal part of a sermon, but that is only chosen based on the contents of the sermon. Therefore, the contents of the title are usually the first and the last parts of the sermon to be completed. For example:

Deuteronomy 18:15-XX is the first thing I know about the sermon. When the sermon is complete and I know which verse has ended the passage, I then complete that part: Deuteronomy 18:15-22. This is actually necessary because there are times where I will start a sermon and will end up only evaluating one verse for the entire sermon. So, this part of the title must be completed after I know the sermon’s contents.

From there, and only then, is a title chosen. I used to choose titles for viewer appeal – “This sounds good and will catch people’s attention.” I no longer do this. I don’t care about catching people’s attention. I care about a proper presentation of the word of God. Therefore, the title is now, almost always, chosen directly and word-for-word from the sermon text. Thus, the sermon title is now complete –

Deuteronomy 18:15-22
A Prophet Like Moses

This is how sermons are prepared at the Superior Word.

To worship and to serve the Lord our God
Eternal fellowship in a land of Delight
On hallowed soil our feet will trod
And the Lord shall always be in our sight

In His light, to walk and also to praise
The Lamb of God who was slain
Illuminated by His ever-glowing rays
No tears, no fear, no sorrow, no pain

Come to the waters and be restored
Drink and receive Grace from the Lord

Heaven’s door is open for all to go through
But you see it’s guarded with cherub and sword
So, to pass through the gate, this you must do
It is the gospel, “Call on the Lord”

By faith in His work and by faith alone
Access is granted past heaven’s sword
His blood was shed for your sins to atone
Again, I beg you, call on the Lord

Again, I implore you, call on the Lord

III. Other Technical Aspects

Preparing a sermon as I do does not mean that when I am done on Monday, that the sermon work is done. Not by a longshot. Unlike a life application sermon that you can type up and have ready in an hour or so and then set it aside for Sunday morning, my 7-10 (or more) hour Monday sermon typing is only a beginning step.

First, a sermon that has been done in the way I do it cannot be conveyed to the congregation with minimal notes. It cannot be looked at once and then spoken forth either. Rather, what is typed is usually so intricate and complicated that it must be read, just as it is typed, to the church.

The first thing I do is to set the sermon aside for an entire week or more so that I mentally let go of everything that has been put together. After this, I read it out loud, check for errors, move things so that they fit better within the sermon, add in or amend things, and so on.

At the same time, I do the graphics work for the sermon. Everything that will be inserted into the video copy of the sermon that the congregation doesn’t get to see (but they get to see me live, so it’s a happy trade off), is prepared for when the video work is done.

After that, the sermon is set off to the side for the next nine or so weeks. That is because I type the sermons ten weeks in advance. This is an invaluable tool for several reasons. First, if I get sick or am otherwise unable to be at the church, I am unlikely to get behind.

Secondly, in doing another nine sermons in the order of Scripture, I am able to learn much more about what is coming, and often new points that I had not even thought of for those nine as-yet unread sermons will come out. If I could do sermons one hundred weeks in advance, how much more would this be the case. But one can only do so much.

And third, special sermons – such as at Christmas or Resurrection Day – will not interfere with the flow of the sermons out of the book we are engaged in at that time.

One week before giving the sermon, usually on Friday, I practice it out loud. This actually has the benefit of me getting my mind off the sermon I will be giving on Sunday, and it will have me ready for the next week because I now have all of the information from two sermons in my head to some extent.

On the week that I give the sermon, I will then practice it out loud each day, checking for things to correct or amend, and getting myself familiar enough with it so that it, hopefully, is passable to the church when it is given. They are far too gracious as they ignore my less than satisfactory oratory skills. For this, I am blessed.

Finally, on Thursday, I print off a copy for everyone that attends, I put it on the church website, scheduling it to appear on Sunday morning, and on Friday morning I send a copy of it out to those who attend online. And, on Friday as with each week, I then practice the next week’s sermon again, and the cycle continues on.

After giving the sermon on Sunday, I must then go home and edit and render the video, and then upload it to various sites on the internet. Once that is done, everything for the next ten weeks of sermons is moved forward one week in my sermon files, and the day is done.

Monday morning, a new battle is engaged as I face the daunting challenge of typing a new sermon – “Oh Lord, prepare my fingers for the battle that lies ahead.” It is my weekly petition to be given the grace of facing His word and not being left entirely defeated in the process.

To conclude: The point of this sermon is to help those who cherish this word, but who have not yet formed a sound approach to presenting this precious gift to the people they minister to.

Please note: it will make no difference that I have done this sermon unless it gets out to others, so I hope you will be willing to share it if it has been a blessing to you.

Closing Verse: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’” Luke 4:4

The Word of God – holy, pure, and perfect too
It is given to satisfy man’s weary soul
In this life we trod, let us take an eternal view
And allow the word to convert us to God’s heavenly roll

There, in the Book of Life our names will be
Because we pursued His word and found Jesus
Innumerable redeemed, there by the glassy sea
Such a marvelous thing God has done for us

If we will just open the Bible, our own Book of Life
And accept what it says as holy and true
Then between us and God will end the strife
The word is given; to us life begins anew

Thank You, O God, for this marvelous word
In accepting its truths our place in heaven is forever assured

 Hallelujah and Amen…