THE PROGRESSIVE REVELATION OF JESUS AS KING, PRIEST, PROPHET, REFUGE, AND RECONCILER
We continue to read in Deuteronomy 18 a section on the King, the Priest, and the Prophet (Deut. 17:14-18:22).
It is important that the people of God be ruled (by the office of the king), represented (by the office of the priest), and spoken to (by the office of the prophet) in the way of righteousness.
The kingdom of God is first and foremost about righteousness (Romans 14:17). Righteousness means ‘rightness’. At all times, God is ‘in the right’. He does all things rightly. We must be ‘in the right’ with Him if we are to receive the rewards of His rule. We can only be right with God through the priestly work of Christ and His perfect sacrifice on the cross that satisfies God’s requirements for righteousness on our behalf. The result of our being made right with God through faith in Christ is reconciliation with God, bringing the effect of peace, quietness, trust (Isaiah 32:17), and joy in the Holy Spirit. The kingdom of God can be experienced now as we submit to the rule of God through faith in the gospel.
JESUS IS KING
The king is to be taken from their countrymen. He is to be chosen of God (17:15), of a pure disposition (17:16-17), and fully committed to the law (Deut 17:18-20). We see these qualifications perfectly fulfilled in Jesus. (Psalm 2:6; John 18:36-37; Rev 19:11-16).
JESUS IS OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
As we have been reading through the Bible, we have been introduced to two different priesthoods that speak of Christ and His work- the priesthood of Melchizedek (whose name means “king of righteousness”) in Gen 18, and the priesthood of the tribe of Levi (Deut 18:1). The priest also was chosen by God. He was separated unto the Lord to stand and minister in the Lord’s name always. The Lord Himself was his portion and inheritance. The priest is to receive portions from his brothers. Jesus was of the tribe of Judah and not Levi. He is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, a greater and more enduring priesthood than that of Levi (Hebrews 7:1-10:22). Melchizedek, of whom there is no record of the beginning or end of his days, represents ‘an eternal priesthood’ (Hebrews 5:6).
Jesus had no inheritance in the land. He said, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Matt 8:20) He was ministered to by the people of the Lord (Luke 8:3).
A true prophet would not speak out from his own imagination. He dares not speak presumptuously. He will not resort to the magic or manipulation. He will have God’s Word in his mouth and will tell the people everything that the Lord commands. He will speak out against false religion and practices. What he speaks will come to pass (Deut. 18:23).
Deuteronomy 18:18 speaks of the prophet like unto Moses, who would be raised up from among their countrymen.
Deuteronomy 18:19 reminds us that all must listen to him and those who don’t listen to Him will be brought to account.
There are those who think that this prophecy applied to Joshua. But the New Testament affirms that it applies to the GREATER JOSHUA, Yeshua, Jesus, the Word of God made flesh.
- God the Father applies these words to Jesus. “Listen to Him!” (Luke 9:35).
- When Jesus speaks, He applies these words to Himself (Matt 7:24-27).
- The gospel writers refer to Jesus as the Prophet in Luke 24:19, John 6:14, and 7:52.
- Peter preached that Jesus is the Christ, and referenced this verse in Deuteronomy to support his argument that Jesus was the prophet like unto Moses in Acts 3:22-23;
- Stephen referenced the verse when he spoke of Jesus being the Christ in Acts 7:37.
THE CITIES OF REFUGE
This is the fourth time that the cities of refuge have been referred to in the Books of Moses. With each reference to the Cities of Refuge, we get new information. It is a progressive revelation of God’s justice and mercy finding their satisfaction in Christ. It is a picture of sinful man finding a refuge in His priestly work on our behalf.
In the Book of Exodus, the cities of refuge are not mentioned directly. They are just hinted at. We don’t know how many there will be or where they will be located. We learn only of their purpose. God will provide a safe place for someone who accidentally caused the death of another to flee from those who want to avenge the blood of their relative without giving them the opportunity of a fair trial. (Exodus 21:13). “I will appoint you a place to which he (the manslayer) may flee.”
It is our sins that caused Jesus’ death. It is His death that provides a place for us to flee.
In Numbers 35, we learn that there are to be six cities, three on each side of the Jordan, accessible for any manslayer, including the foreigner. Six is the number of man. In Deuteronomy 4:42-43, three cities on the east side of the river are named. We also learn that the manslayer must not have had any enmity towards the victim in the past. Here, in Deuteronomy 19, we are given examples of situations in which the city of refuge would be needed. We also learn that these cities must be made accessible with prepared roads.
The laws of Israel contained the highest standards of justice. Life was considered sacred and therefore capital punishment for the deliberate taking of a life reinforced this fact. The demands for retribution must be proportionate to the crime- an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, or a foot for a foot (Deut 19:21). In the case of a deliberate murder, it was a matter of a life for a life. Involuntary manslaughter was to be handled differently. The purpose of these laws is stated in Deut 19:10:
10 “So innocent blood will not be shed in the midst of your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, and blood guiltiness be on you” (Deuteronomy 19:10; NASB).
We see in the Cities of Refuge an example in which the severity of justice is coupled with the provisions of mercy. Blood shed deliberately cries out for revenge (Genesis 4:10). The nearest kinsman had the right to seek justice. But God’s provision of mercy is to be kept in view. Our God is a refuge. He is a just God and merciful Savior. We have refuge in the shed blood of our Savior. His blood speaks of better things than the blood of Abel. One cried out for revenge. The other cries out, “Paid in full!” “In Me you have a refuge!”.
LYING AND CHEATING
Moving a neighbor’s boundary mark was to cheat a neighbor of his property rights. To accuse a person falsely is a sin against a God who created us in His image and does not lie. Corruption must be dealt with. It is considered an inexcusable evil (Deut 19:19).
LAWS OF WARFARE
- Don’t fear being out-numbered if you are doing what is right before the Lord; He is with you.
- The Priest is to speak to the troops before the battle to encourage them with the reality that it is the LORD who goes with them, fights for them, and will save them. (20:4)
- The officers are to address those four categories of people who are to be given exemption for military service. The victory of the Lord does not depend on numbers. God can use a faithful remnant. Some may be aware of the fact they have not dedicated their house, or enjoyed the fruit of their vineyard, or have not yet married the girl they were engaged to. These people have unfinished business in their civilian life that is a distraction. There are others who are faint-hearted. Why are these people permitted to leave? We don’t read of people being discharged for flat-footedness but for preoccupations, unfinished business or fearful attitudes that could adversely affect the morale of the troops. Remember the ten spies!
- Every city in Canaan is to be given terms for peace. Those who do not accept those terms shall be besieged (Deut 20:10-12).
- Women, children, and animals are not to be put to the sword but taken as plunder.
- Obedience is required in taking the cities they were told to utterly destroy.
- The trees are to be preserved if at all possible, especially those which produce fruit. Our warfare is not to be against the environment.
NEW TESTAMENT READING: Luke 9:28-50
Jesus’ habit of prayer outdoors is referred to repeatedly in the gospels. In Luke 9:28 Peter, John, and James accompany Him to pray on what is now known as the Mount of Transfiguration. Here they are given a “fast-forward” glimpse to Jesus in His future glorified body.
29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. Luke 9:29 (NASB)
Moses and Elijah appear at His side and they discuss His ‘departure’ (literally, “His exodus”) which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31).
Jesus’ death is described here as both an “exodus” and an “accomplishment”. No other death has been described in such a manner. Moses, who experienced the first exodus, knew what it meant to be delivered from Egypt and brought into the Promised Land. He was now in the Promised Land with Jesus discussing this Greater Exodus which would be for all people, not just the nation of Israel. By Jesus’ death as the Passover Lamb, He would accomplish something. He would not only take us out from being under the Law’s sentence of death, by taking God’s wrathful punishment for sin in our place, but He would also bring us in to the Promised inheritance of eternal life and mediate His deathless life to us by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Peter, James, and John fell asleep and missed much of the conversation.
Peter gave voice to a thought that it would be good to stay on the mountain and build three tabernacles, one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus. A cloud formed and overshadowed them. The Father declared that Jesus was the only one to Whom we now need turn our eyes and ears. Jesus, having fulfilled the law and the prophets, would be the single source and means of righteousness and revelation. The law and the prophets are only valuable and effective if they point people to Christ. And Jesus would not have fulfilled the purpose for which He came, a work spoken of in the Law and the Prophets if He stayed on the mountain and not moved on to the cross.
THE DEMONIAC IN THE VALLEY
Jesus meets a man whose only son is demonized. The demons physically torment him, seizing him, throwing him into convulsions, and mauling him. The disciples are not able to cast out this evil spirit. Jesus speaks to the whole generation, not just to a man or a few men, saying, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”
You get the sense that Jesus is talking about a whole generation that is lost to the purpose of God and subject to the torment of the enemy. Jesus rebukes the demon and heals the boy- giving him back to his father. It is a wonderful picture of true reconciliation that is only made possible through Jesus destroying the work of the devil on the cross (Hebrews 2:14-15).
READING FROM THE PSALMS
The Psalmist’s faith in God is nearly jeopardized when he compares his circumstances with those of others (v.2-5, 13-16). As he reflects more deeply, he recognizes that he should not envy those who are spiritually dead or disinterested (v.6-12).
However, it is not until his thoughts are brought into the light of God’s sanctuary, representing the light of the gospel, that he is able to perceive life more accurately.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NASB) 17 For our momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
The Psalmist is helped to see things in the light of the Final Judgment. (v.17-28)
A verse to meditate upon:
26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26 (NASB)
PROVERB FOR TODAY: PROVERBS 12:10
Proverbs 12:10 (NASB) 10 A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.
Our actions reflect our world view and our value system. Our own standards of righteousness can fluctuate. We need the consistency of God’s life working its way into every area of our behavior.
There are those who take care of their pets, yet others can be abusive towards them. In other instances, the affection and regard for animals that one might demonstrate towards their own pet may wane when it comes to the neighbor’s cat or dog. A righteous man will not be dictated to by his or her moods but will regard God’s creation with consistent care.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS: CHAD
(p.205-207 in the Book “Operation World”)
Area: 1,284,000 sq. km
Desert in the north, dry grassland in center, thick bush in the south. The sea is 1,000 km distant.
Population: 11,506,130 Annual Growth: 2.81%
Largest Religion: Muslim
Chad has been independent from France since 1960. Since then, violence, insurgencies, and coups have characterized Chad’s politics, with interventions by Libya, France, and others. The government is dominated by one tribe, the Zaghawa. It pays lip service to democracy and manipulated the democratic machinery to alter the constitution to keep its man in power. Numerous Chadian rebel groups often cause problems for the government. The conflict in neighboring Darfur spilled over into Chad- including 400,000 refugees at its peak. This swelled the population but also brought in aid money being spent in and around refugee camps.
Answer to Prayer
Praise God for continued religious freedom and for the welcome to missionaries. Chad is one of very few Muslim-majority countries where Christian workers will find such openness and access and where the government is truly secular in its operations.
Challenge for Prayer
The need for a stable and just government is as urgent as ever. The current regime is noted for violence, corruption (Chad frequently picks up the dubious honor of being the world’s most corrupt nation) and tribalism, heavily favoring the Zaghawa. The complex patchwork of tribes, and the ethnic and religious fault lines between north and south, makes stability hard to attain. The constant threat from bandits and rebel groups – from within Chad and from Darfur – further destabilizes the situation and hinders both socio-economic progress and Christian ministry. Pray for a government that is representative of both north and south, honest and committed to the betterment of all of its citizens.
PRAYER: High King of heaven, thank You for showing us Who You are! You reign in righteousness as our God, as our King, Priest and Prophet. Establish Your righteous rule in our hearts by the power of Your Spirit. Continue to renew our minds with a daily intake of Your Word. In You we have found a perfect refuge. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit that we might know and put on display Your Holy Life. Empower us for Holy Living. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. (Colossians 1:28, J.B. Phillips paraphrase)
New Life Community Church, Concord, MA 10742