Give Me The Bible — Part 2

You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

Our daily Bible readings brought us to this passage last week. It seems straight forward enough:  Proof that a prophet is really a spokesman for God is that his words come true.  But questions arise: What if his words are not fore-tellings of future events?  After all, the main function of a prophet was not to reveal the future, but to call people to holy living.  And what if he has proven himself as a spokesman for God in the past by prophesying events that have come true.  Does that mean everything else he says is the word of God?

An interesting text occurring five chapters earlier speaks to these questions.  First, it doesn’t matter if the person closest to you tells you “this is what God wants.”  If it is not what God has revealed in his word, don’t listen to them. Even if a whole city (popular opinion) speaks in favor of something contrary to God’s already revealed will – don’t follow them.

Preceding all these is a comment about the prophet.  Even if he has been confirmed a prophet by the truthfulness of his fore-tellings, if he contradicts what God has already revealed, pay him no mind (see Deuteronomy 13).

To emphasize the seriousness of this instruction, anything contrary to it was a capital offense.  This is why the Bible is so important.  It contains the confirmed revealed will of God.  Anything contrary is not his will, no matter who says it, how dear they might be, or how many hold their position.  In the words of Isaiah “Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” (Isaiah 8:20).

Wednesday, March 6, Deuteronomy 17 – 19

Many years later, in two different letters, Paul will write: “Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:13-14). “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.

In the Church, not everyone who serves serves by preaching and teaching. And not everyone who serves does so full-time. But since the beginning of the people of God, there has been a place for and a calling of people to give their lives to the service of God.

It is a serious calling. Those who claim to speak when God has not spoken, according to Deuteronomy 18, deserve to die. On the other hand, those who serve faithfully deserve to be compensated for their work – no matter what their economic standing.

Priests would be scattered throughout the land in the forty-eight levitical cities belonging to them (Numbers 35:7). But the special place of their service was to be the tabernacle (temple) where God caused his name to dwell. There might be a tendency to populate the temple service with only those who lived near the sanctuary. Because these served more often and longer than those who lived outside that area, there might also be a tendency to support only those who served. But Deuteronomy 18 clearly specifies that all Levites should be welcome to serve, and serve there or not, all were equally worthy of support: not just for what they did, but for who they were.