Laws About True and False Leaders — continued
These verses address the provision that was to be made by the people for the welfare of those who “stand and serve in the name of the Lord forever” (18:5). Because the tribe of Levi was not given an allotment of land in Canaan (18:1-2), they were to be sustained by the offerings the people made to the Lord (18:3-4). This provision was for both those serving at the central place of worship and away from it (18:6-8).
Moses knew that the people would face many dangers in the Promised Land. One of the greatest dangers was from the occult. Moses warned the people not to investigate or participate in any occult practice. The Israelites were a holy people. They had the benefit of God’s words and instruction regarding how to live their lives and how to face the future. They had no need to consult anything or anyone other than God.
Practical Consideration: God’s people should look to Him for guidance. Moses cautioned the people to look to God alone for guidance for daily living and hope for the future. They were not to consult other sources (of an occult nature) for guidance. In like manner, we are not to consult horoscopes, 1-800 numbers, anything or anyone other than God and His word for guidance in understanding His will.
Note: Deuteronomy begins with the Israelites encamped on the plains of Moab east of the Jordan River. The Israelites were poised to take possession of the Promised Land and on the verge of exchanging a wandering life for a settled one. Prior to entering the land, Moses cautioned the people against adopting the godless practices of Canaan’s inhabitants and challenged them to remain faithful to God.
One of the most detestable practices of Canaan’s inhabitants was child sacrifice. Child sacrifice was associated with the worship of the god Molech and was practiced by the Ammonites. Some contend that the expression sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire refers to actually throwing children into a raging fire. Others maintain that the children were given up by their parents to serve as temple prostitutes or dedicated to Molech. However, regardless of how the practice was actually carried out, any such practice underscores the fact that the Ammonites did not value the lives of the helpless and the innocent.
The thought of actually sacrificing children to a pagan god, however that was done, is barbaric at best. Yet, what will archaeologists in the future uncover and conclude about our treatment of children? Will they conclude that we simply found more efficient ways than the Ammonites to eliminate children? Is the practice of the Ammonites any less humane than the procedures used today to end a life in the womb or partially out of the birth canal?
The Israelites had no need for the occult mediums of the Canaanites. God promised to send the people another prophet like Moses to help them understand God’s word and will for their lives. Moses was to become the model or standard by which every future prophet was to be measured (18:15, 18 and 34:10). Moses however, spoke of a future prophet that would be like him. The Jews of Jesus day asked John the Baptist if he was that prophet (John 1:21). John replied that he was not the prophet referred to by Moses (John 1:21). Philip referred to Jesus as the prophet of whom Moses spoke (John 1:45). Jesus told the Jews that He was the One spoken of by Moses (John 5:46-47). Peter told the crowd at Pentecost that Jesus was that Prophet spoken of by Moses (Acts 3:22-23). Moses also warned that false prophets were to be put to death (18:20). He proposed two tests to determine whether a prophet was speaking on behalf of God (18:21-22). First, the prophet had to speak “in the name of the Lord” (18:22). Second, the prophecy had to come true (18:22).