November 22, 2012

Scripture and Commentary, Friday after the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity


Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 69, Lev. 26:1-13, Phil 3
Evening - Ps. 80, Dt. 18, Mt. 28:1-10

Commentary, Deuteronomy 18

The tribe of Levi is set apart for the services of the Tabernacle of God.  They will own no land and have no income as the other tribes will have in Canaan.  They will be completely dependent on the tithes and offerings of the people for their food, housing, and raiment.  Deuteronomy 18:1-8 teaches the other tribes to provide for the Levites.

Verses 9-14 forbid adopting pagan religious practices, which God calls abominations.  Making sons and daughters pass through the fire (18:10) is the very first thing mentioned, and refers to burning children alive as religious sacrifices. God understandably has a particular hatred for this practice.  Other  forbidden practices are looking for spiritual guidance in any place outside of God.  The things mentioned were thought by pagans to be able to tell or influence the future as the mediums of the gods.  It is because of these practices that the wrath of God is come upon the Canaanites (18:12-13).

Israel will not need human sacrifices, divination, fortune tellers, star gazers, spell casters, or messages from the dead.  God will raise up a prophet (18:15-22) and will speak to His people through the prophet.  Moses was such a prophet.  Future prophets and their messages will be measured against the revelation of God given through Moses.  The Biblical prophets of the Old Testament always expounded the Law of God and called Israel to keep the Covenant.  Any prophet whose words contradicted the Law was known to be false.  This is important because some false prophets would have abilities to work signs and wonders (Dt. 13:1-3),  as did some of the fortune tellers and mediums (1 Sam. 28:7-25) . Prophets will also be measured by the results of their words (18:22).  If one says, in the name of the Lord, that something will happen, but it doesn't happen, Israel will know his words are false.  Such a prophet has falsely presumed to speak for God; a terrible and abominable sin with a terrible and abominable penalty (18:20).

18:15 refers to a continuing succession of prophets to guide His people. Ultimately it refers to The Prophet, which is none other than Christ our Lord  (Jn. 5:4-47, Acts  3:22-23, Acts 7:37).  He is the full revelation of God, which He committed to His Apostles to give to the Church through their preaching and writings. His revelation is preserved in the Holy Bible. The Church is blessed by having all that we need to know about God and salvation in the Bible.  Those who lead His Church and teach His people must first be called and lawfully ordained to the task.  They must second teach only in accordance with the Bible.  No person is allowed to add to or subtract from the words of Holy Scripture.  Ministers in Christ's Church today do not give new revelations, they teach and preach the Bible.

4 comments:

  1. A little late, but Happy Thanksgiving brother, and my prayer for you is that this Christmas season will be the most festive and joyful time of all the years past for you and family. Most of all, I pray the warmth and joy, as only our good Lord’s can give, surround you and family always.

    Blessings and Merry Christmas!
    Thought of the Week Devotion

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  2. Yes, the Lord still speaks to His people through prophesy, but we have to be careful how we define 'prophesy'. I have seen in many churches the word 'prophesy' in this verse 'where there is no prophecy (prophetic vision) the people cast off restraint'Peoverbs ch.39 v.18 being translated as 'where there is no 'vision' (whatever future project the church may be thinking of considering). This leaves it wide open for man's building within that church. It is very obvious that the 'prophecy' here is not someone's future project, but the word of God given to His people in order to stop them from 'casting off restraint'.

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  3. Sister Rees,

    Thank you for your comments. It seems to me that you are attempting to find areas on which we can agree and dwell together in peace. I commend and thank you for this.

    I have always thought Proverbs 29:18 refers to prophets expounding the Law of God, pointing out ways Israel has departed from it, and calling Her to return to keeping it as God's Covenant people. Following a popular proverbial style, the verse presents two opposing situations. The first shows disintegration when Israel departs from the Law and does not heed the call to repent. The second shows the integration and peace of Israel when the Law is kept. It also shows that, even if the nation goes astray from the Law of God, the individual person can still be at peace with God by keeping God's Law and Covenant. I think this may be your meaning in your comment on this verse.

    If I understand you correctly, you also believe prophecy is a continuing and active gift in the Church today. On this I respectfully disagree. Like others, going back to the post Apostolic Fathers, I believe the office and gift of prophecy has ceased. Here is why. When prophecy did exist in the New Testament Church its function was primarily that of teaching the proclamation of Christ in the Old Testament. Philip's daughters and Agabus, in Acts 21 show that some foretelling did exist at the time, but it was not the major function of prophecy, and it operated under the supervision of the Apostles and clergy. As the Apostles' writings were collected and circulated, the prophets' work was replaced by pastor/teachers, who were instructed by the Apostles and ordained by them to preach the Apostolic faith. Thus, prophecy was a temporary gift, given to help teach the Church until the New Testament and lawfully ordained pastor/teachers replaced it.

    If this is true, current decisions in personal life, and in the local and larger Church are to be based on the Bible and the principles of life and holiness taught in it. A congregation contemplating a new building, for example, looks to Bible's teachings on the nature and purpose of the church, finances and debt, and responsible stewardship. Its members also look to their own hearts, ensuring that they are building a house of prayer, not a monument to themselves.

    Thank you again for reading and commenting on this web log.

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  4. Hello,
    no I am not attempting to find areas on which we can agree and dwell together in peace, I don't feel when I leave a comment on any blog that I am attempting anything other than taking up the offer of leaving a comment, it is just that some scripture comes to my mind sometimes when I read something. I am restricted from getting into a long discussion when I read a post because when many areas are covered in a short piece of writing then a long discussion is necessary. That is why I have been leaving a comment on your blog, as a gradual process of getting to know one another's points of view over a period of time. There would probably be about twenty written exchanges or a small booklet written here if I tried to discuss all of what you write in one post, especially as we have different experiences regarding salvation. I do believe that prophesy, indeed all the gifts of the Spirit, still do, and must be allowed to operate within the church, or there's a danger of the Holy Spirit (the teacher) being quenched. I also believe that it is good to agree to differ rather than argue a point, and seek the Lord oneself from the scriptures over the issue. Maybe the differences within the church gatherings are a bit like the differences in the Biblical tribes within Israel and Judah, I don't know. As for 'future projects', I wasn't referring to whether there is a new building being built. The real emphasis was on the fact that many churches change the word 'prophesy' in that proverb to mean 'their own vision for the church', thereby taking out the true meaning of the proverb, and which may involve opposing God's vision for His people.

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