Day #324: Daily Bible Reading - November 17th
Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 16 - 19 ...
Perhaps you have heard someone talk about the dates on grave markers ... Most grave stones have the date of birth and the date of death, separated by a dash. Few of us think much about our birthday, and we think even less about the other date. We are busy living the "dash," and oftentimes it FEELS like a dash! We hurry here and there, trying to accomplish everything that we think we are supposed to be doing, wearing ourselves out, working desperately to fit it all in and to please God, when the reality is that God may want us to do less and spend more time with Him!
God's people in the days of Moses and Israel certainly had enough to do. They were coming to the end of forty years of wandering in the wilderness. God had delivered them from their slavery in Egypt and had given them His Ten Commandments and the rest of the Law, along with the tabernacle and instructions for all the feasts and sacrifices. God had revealed Himself to these people out of all the nations of the world. He had called them to be His people and they needed to learn what that meant. God desires a relationship with those who are truly His people. There is no pretending with God.
As Moses continues to speak to the people, He reminds them to celebrate the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. These were more than just empty rituals. To some that's probably what they were ... maybe to most, but to those who knew God these were special times to go to the Tabernacle, to give thanks to God, to praise Him, to worship. "Rejoice before the LORD your God at the place He will choose as a dwelling for His Name" (16:11), which would eventually be the temple. No other people were called by God to worship Him. No other people received His commandments. No other people had been delivered from another nation and watched over by God. Moses wanted them to know who they were.
And once again God warns them not to worship other gods. In fact, if anyone was found to have worshiped other gods they were to be put to death. Those who showed contempt for the judicial system that God had set up were also to be put to death. God tells His people that evil must be "purged" from among them ... must be removed from among them, then "all the people will hear and be afraid" (17:13). Does God really want us to be afraid of Him? YES! ... and No ... "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 1:7). Those who do not have a relationship with God SHOULD be afraid of Him, but those who know Him are able to draw near through the blood of Jesus. We know that our sins are forgiven.
This is what God was showing Israel. All the sacrifices pointed to the need for forgiveness for their sin. Sin brings guilt and God is holy. He must punish sin. He cannot live among people who are not perfect, and nobody is perfect! Fearing God is the beginning of wisdom because it causes us to understand where we came from as human beings. We were all conceived and born in sin and grow up to be slaves of sin unless or until God works in us by His Spirit and Word. The people of Israel needed the tabernacle and the sacrifices and all the feasts to be able to approach God by faith, believing that He would receive them. We have the One who was the fulfillment of all of these things, the One to whom they all pointed.
In the remainder of Chapter 17 and Chapter 18 God uses Moses to reveal more information about Who this would be. There were three "offices" in Israel: the King, the Priest and the Prophet. Moses speaks first about the King. Like the sacrifices and feasts of Israel, these offices pointed to the Messiah, the coming Ruler over God's people. These were God's people, and they were headed for the promised land - the land God had promised to Abraham and his descendants. They had come from slavery and had wandered in the wilderness for forty years, but God was not finished with them. He would give them a King ... He would GIVE them a King ... Oh, they would have many kings over the coming centuries, but God would give them a KING!!!
The coming King would "not consider himself better than his brothers or turn from the law to the right or to the left" (17:20). There was ever only one king that fit that description: JESUS! Paul writes in Philippians 2:6-11 that even though He was God, He humbled Himself and became obedient to all things in order to go to the cross and pay the penalty for sin - OUR penalty for sin. "Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
And this King would be "more than a king!" Moses goes on to describe the offerings that the people were to bring to the priests, the Levites. "The LORD your God has chosen them and their descendants out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the LORD's name always" (18:5). Moses said to them, "You must be blameless before the LORD" (18:12). Why would God say that? No one was blameless. No one could be blameless. Unless ... unless the perfect sacrifice was offered by the perfect priest - one who could stand before God without fault, who was perfect and who could make US perfect in God's sight.
Hebrews 4:14-16 tells believers that we have a High Priest who is without sin (4:15). And there's more: "When THIS priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool, because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy" (Hebrews 10:12-14). This priest is not only perfect Himself, but by His sacrifice He removes the sin of His people and by faith HIS righteousness is credited to us so that WE are declared perfect in God's sight, too!!! All that the office of priest pointed to, Jesus fulfilled. We WERE slaves, but by grace we ARE the people of God!
Through the priests the people could approach God - temporarily. But through Christ we have access to our Father in heaven! The veil of the temple was torn as Jesus hung on the cross and believers can now enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19). The people were to bring their tithes and offerings to the priests as their inheritance. Today WE are Jesus' inheritance! So many pictures, so many symbols, ALL pointing to Jesus and reminding us, God's people today, who we were and who we are ... and pointing to who we will be.
But how would we know any of this, unless God told us. Thus, the office of prophet. The prophets would bring God's Word to His people. They would speak what God told them to speak. Moses was a prophet, and there would be others. God would use them to guide the kings and the people and to tell them what was to come. But Moses said to the people, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to Him" (18:15). God said to Moses, "I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put my words in His mouth, and He will tell them everything I command Him" (18:18).
Jesus was that Prophet! He said in John 12:49: "I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken." These are not coincidences. Jesus fulfills all three offices and lets US know not only who we were and who we are, but who we will be! As Moses talks about witnesses in Chapter 19, and about the steps for accusing someone of a crime or an offense, he says again, "You must purge the evil from among you. The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid and never again will such an evil thing be done among you" (19:19-20).
Satan is OUR accuser ... Jesus was falsely accused, but He went to the cross in order to remove the evil, to remove sin from among us - forever! And now we don't have to be afraid! "You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory" (Romans 8:15-17).
You and I are living the "dash," but our hope is in Jesus. Remember who you were ... remember who you are ... remember who you will be! Don't be like the people of Israel, for God was displeased with most of them. Rejoice in the Lord and give thanks for Jesus!! He is our King, our Priest and our Prophet. He is all we need to live this life ... and forever!
"O LORD God Almighty, in the symbols You gave Your people long ago I see Jesus, my Prophet, my Priest and my King. I hear You speak to me in Your Word and I hear the voice of My Good Shepherd assuring me that I am a child of the King. As my High Priest He has redeemed me and removed the guilt and shame of my sin once and for all. How I praise You, LORD, for Your wisdom in revealing Yourself through these things and pointing me to the One Who was to come so that I may have the assurance that Jesus IS my Savior and my Lord. Give me wisdom and strength, now to run the race set before me. In Jesus' name, Amen"