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PRIESTS AND LEVITES: THEIR DUE
The proper support of the priests and Levites is again insisted on. Since they were given no inheritance in the land, and were separated to care for the interests of God among the people, then they were entitled to eat of the offerings that Israel made to the Lord (vs.1-2). this portion of the offerings consisted of the shoulders, the cheeks and the stomach of a bull or sheep. This was not from the burn offerings, which were all offered to the Lord in fire, except for the skin (Leviticus 1:6-13; Leviticus 7:8). But the priest had his part of the peace offering and of the sin offering, if the blood of the sin offering was not brought into the holy place (Leviticus 7:14-15; Leviticus 6:26).
The firstfruits of their grain, wine and oil and the first of the fleece of sheep were to be given to the Levites also (v.4). Since they were to represent God's authority, then these things were primarily given to God, as is true today in ministering to God's servants.
It is insisted that the Lord had chosen Levi to stand to minister in the name of the Lord, and this was passed on from father to son (v.5). such succession for servants is not the case in the Church of God today, but rather each servant now has a distinct call from God, apart altogether from natural relationship. See Galatians 1:1 and 2 Timothy 2:2.
Levites were scattered among the tribes, but if a Levite desired with a longing heart to serve the Lord in the place of God's choice (Jerusalem), he was to be welcomed there among other Levites (v.7), and share equally with them in the offerings brought to the Lord.
WARNINGS AS TO WICKED PRACTICES IN THE LAND
In the land of Canaan the evil of the nations had risen to an intolerable level: their iniquity was full: therefore God was judging them before Israel. So God warns Israel against adopting any of the evil practices that caused His judgment. These included making sons or daughters pass through the fire (v.10), a thing the nations considered a religious ceremony (Deuteronomy 12:31), sacrificing their children to idols. To quote from Fausset's Encyclopedia (p.485), "Kimshi represents Moloch as a hollow brass human-like body with ox's head, and hands stretched forth to receive. When it was thoroughly heated the priests put the babe into its hand whilst drums were beat to drown the infant cries, lest the parents should relent." Is seems hard to understand how such wickedness could be justified by religious zeal, yet such is the seduction of satanic power.
Practicing witchcraft or soothsaying was also firmly forbidden, as well as the claim of interpreting omens, that is, anything that appeared to be unusual, to which superstition might attach some hidden meaning. One who pretended to have discernment to interpret such things was the victim of satanic deceit. Sorcery, also forbidden, is the practice of delving into spiritism by the use of drugs.
Verse 11 adds to this the evil of conjuring spells, that is, hypnotism, and also the wickedness of one acting as a medium, which means one who is a go-between, bringing messages from an evil spirit to another person. A spiritist is similar, that is, one having contract with evil spirits. One who calls up the dead is one who claims to actually bring a dead person in contact with a living person. This is deception, for it is actually a familiar spirit who impersonates the dead person. The witch of Endor was asked by King Saul to bring up Samuel (1 Samuel 28:11), but when the woman saw Samuel she was terrified (v.12), for she was accustomed to the deceit of a familiar spirit. But God intervened in this one case to make a striking exception.
All those engaged in such contracts with evil spirits were "an abomination to the Lord," and it was because of such things that God was driving them out of the land before Israel (v.12). Let Israel therefore avoid every such thing, and be blameless before the Lord (v.13).
A PROPHET LIKE MOSES
In contrast to the deluded prophets of idolatry, the Lord would raise up a prophet like Moses (but infinitely greater than Moses) from the midst of Israel (v.1). Israel is commanded to listen to Him. Moses was at the point of being taken away in death. But God remembered how Israel had been terrified at the thought of hearing God Himself speaking to them at Sinai (Exodus 20:18-20), and had asked for an intermediary between themselves and God. Therefore the Prophet spoken of in verse 18 is the "one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5). He would speak faithfully the words He received from God (v.18).
If one would not listen to God's words spoken by this Prophet, God would require it of him. God would make this a serious issue that the guilty person could not escape. The Jews asked John the Baptist if he was that Prophet (John 1:21), for they did not understand that this Prophet could only be the Messiah of Israel. He is the One Prophet whom everyone is responsible to recognize and believe.
While God's Prophet was to be obeyed, on the other hand anyone who assumed to be a prophet speaking in God's name, when God had not given him such a message, was to be put to death (v.20). If there was any question as to whether the message was from God, then Israel was to observe whether the person's prophecy took place as he said. If not, this was not from God,, and the false prophet might give a sign that proved correct, but when he used this with the object of seducing others to serve false gods, then he must be put to death, for the case proved that he was energized by satanic power. In this case inDeuteronomy 18:20; Deuteronomy 18:20 it may not be satanic power involved, but the prophet was speaking presumptuously, and must be put to death.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 18". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20