DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 18.
Of the Priestly and Prophetic Office.
THE DUES OF PRIESTS AND LEVITES. — V.1. The priests, the Levites, the sons of the tribe of Levi, and all the tribe of Levi, the ministers known as the Levites proper, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel, Num. 18, 20; they shall eat the offerings of the Lord made by fire, Num. 18. 8. 9, and His inheritance. V.2. Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren; the Lord is their inheritance, as He hath said unto them. The inheritance of Jehovah, which was to be the reward of the priests and Levites, consisted not only in the wave-breast and heaveshoulder of the sacrifices, as specified in the precepts of the sacrifices, but in all the gifts devoted to the Lord, also tithes and firstlings. V.3. And this shall be the priest’s due from the people, that which he had a right to expect and demand, from them that offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep; and they shall give unto the priest the shoulder, Num. 6, 19, and the two cheeks, and the maw, the abomasum, the fourth, or true digestive stomach of ruminants, these three parts being considered great delicacies. V.4. The first-fruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, Ex. 22, 29; Num. 18, 12. 24, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep shalt thou give him; that was the priest’s portion. V.5. For the Lord, thy God, hath chosen him out of all thy tribes to stand to minister in the name of the Lord, chap. 10, 8; Ex. 28, 1, him and his sons forever. V.6. And if a Levite come from any of thy gates out of all Israel, from any of the cities which were set aside for the Levites, where he sojourned, Num. 35, 2. 3, and come with all the desire of his mind, with all eagerness to share in the ministry of worship, unto the place which the Lord shall choose, the central Sanctuary, v.7. then he shall minister in the name of the Lord, his God, as all his brethren the Levites do, which stand there before the Lord. It seems that only a part of the Levites was actively engaged in the ministry of the Sanctuary, probably because their ministry was regulated by courses. The men here spoken of were not on duty, not under obligation to be present at the Sanctuary, but were simply zealous to be active. V.8. They shall have like portions to eat, as much as those who were on duty by selection, beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony, that is, regardless of the income he may have from the sale of goods inherited from his father. The meadow-land belonging to the Levites could not be sold, but they had the right either to sell or to rent a house belonging to them. The precept of the New Testament which corresponds to this order is that which establishes the rule that “they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.”
WARNING AGAINST HEATHEN ABOMINATIONS. — V.9. When thou art come into the land which the Lord, thy God, giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations, those customs which the Lord particularly abhorred and loathed. V.10. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, as the worshipers of Moloch, or Molech, did, or that useth divination, to uncover the future, Num. 23, 23, or an observer of times, a whispering magician, Lev. 19, 26, or an augur who fostered superstition, or an enchanter, one who interprets signs, down to the hissing of a serpent, or a witch, the ordinary conjurer, v.11. or a charmer, a magician, or a consulter with familiar spirits, one who has power over spirits and inquires of them, or a wizard, a man with all the wisdom of the occult arts, or a necromancer, one who cites the spirits of the dead. All these practices, as they grow out of idolatry, are found to the present day, and the loathing of the Lord has not changed since that time. V.12. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord, abhorred and cursed of Him, to this day; and because of these abominations the Lord, thy God, doth drive them out from before thee. Cp. Lev. 18, 24. 25; 20, 23. V.13. Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord, thy God. The Hebrew text at this point is very emphatic: Sincere, upright, irreproachable shalt thou be before Jehovah, thy God, namely, as a people consecrated to Him and His service. V.14. For these nations which thou shalt possess, by taking possession of their country, hearkened unto observers of times, to conjurers and magicians, and unto diviners, and so they will receive their punishment; but as for thee, the Lord, thy God, hath not suffered thee so to do. Israel should remain absolutely undefiled by such practices, even as all true believers of all times abhor them from the bottom of their hearts.
OF THE COMING GREAT PROPHET — V.15. The Lord, thy God, will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken. With great abruptness, as it is characteristic of prophecy, Noses here foretells the coming of a great, a singular Prophet. This great Prophet would arise by the special direction of the Lord, sent by Him for a particular purpose. Unto Israel would He come, for the benefit, for the salvation, of the people of the Lord. He would not be a strange, a new creature, not sent from the world of angels or from any other sphere, but would arise from the midst of Israel, a descendant of Israel according to the flesh, a true human being. Like unto Moses this great Prophet would be, and yet exceeding Him in endowments from on high, filled with the Spirit of God without measure, the one final Mediator between God and man. For Him Moses bespeaks full and absolute obedience, to wit, hearing for the purpose of applying the word and acting accordingly. V.16. According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord, thy God, in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord, my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not, Ex. 20, 19. V.17. And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. Moses had even at that time received the revelation concerning this wonderful Prophet who was to bring them a message of glory and beauty instead of that which struck terror to their hearts. V.18. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put My words in His mouth, impart to Rim the message which He desired to have delivered to His people; and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him. His word would be invested with unconditional certainty. V.19. And it shall come to pass that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. With the greatest emphasis the necessity of yielding unquestioning obedience to this great Prophet and His message is urged. The punishment of the disobedient is contained in the words referring to an account which will be asked, namely, on the Day of Judgment. That this prophecy is a Messianic promise is clear in the light of the New Testament, Luke 9, 35; Acts 3, 22; 7, 37; Heb. 1, 1. 2; it sets forth Jesus Christ as the great Prophet of the New Testament.
OF FALSE PROPHETS — V.20. But the prophet which shall presume to speak a word in My name, with insolent haughtiness, which I have not commanded him to speak, whose message therefore is altogether false, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die, be put to death for promulgating falsehoods which took away the honor of the Lord. V.21. And if thou say in thine heart, how shall we know the word which the Lord hath spoken? How may any one be sure of the truth, since all the false teachers claim a divine call, a divine mission? The Lord gives the answer. V.22. When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, the fact that the prophecy is not fulfilled proves it to have been a falsehood, as so many predictions of modern sects regarding the date of the Day of Judgment have been found to be lies, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously; thou shalt not be afraid of him. If, in addition to this, a person compares the teaching of the false prophets with the plain statements of Holy Writ, he will have an infallible guide to keep him from error, chap. 13, 2 ff. We Christians have our refuge and our salvation in Christ alone, who as the Prophet of God speaks to us in His Word.