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What’s Happening?

Moses’s speech unpacking the Ten Commandments continues. The people are about to enter the promised land and Moses has already addressed the first four commandments. Now, he turns his attention to expanding on the fifth commandment: honor your father and mother.

The parents are the leaders of the home. As such, children are to listen to and obey them. But this principle of leadership and obedience extends beyond the household. Moses instructs the people about the leaders in the society as a whole they must submit to and obey.

There are four categories of leadership: judges, kings, priests, and prophets. Moses, in a sense, filled all of these roles himself. But now the roles must be broken up and entrusted to many people.

In every town, the people are to appoint judges who will settle disputes among their own people. They are to be well versed in the Law. But if a matter comes up that is too difficult for them, they bring it to Yahweh in the temple.

God commands judges be put in place, but simply allows for the possibility of a king. The people may ask for a king. But the king must be chosen by God, come from Israel, and not be given over to excessive wealth, women, or warfare. The king is to constantly study the Torah, fear God, and help Israel keep the law.

Third comes the priests from the tribe of Levi. Moses reminds the people that the Levites won’t have a land to call their own, but must be supported by the offerings of the rest of Israel. The priest’s role is to facilitate the offerings and sacrifices of the people and to preserve the law.

Finally, Moses talks about the role of the prophet. A prophet speaks the words of Yahweh that God gives them directly. They aren’t to practice any kind of fortune-telling, to try and guess God’s will or plan. In fact, even prophets are to be scrutinized. If anything they say doesn’t come to pass that person is not a prophet.

These leaders are primarily there to help the people keep God’s law.

However, the rest of the Old Testament show judges failing, kings worshipping idols, priests forgetting the law, and prophets giving unchallenged false reports.

Where is Jesus?

Jesus, however, succeeds in all four categories.

Jesus is our perfect judge. He takes no bribes, shows no partiality, always maintains justice, and his decisions are always perfect. He also is the only judge who justifies by taking our penalty on himself.

Jesus is our perfect king. He not only knew the law perfectly, he kept the law perfectly. So he does not sit on a throne enforcing the law on his people but left his throne to obey it on our behalf. Then, like a good king, he leads us to follow his law as citizens of his kingdom.

Jesus is our perfect priest. Whereas Israel’s priests were supported by the offerings given by the people, Jesus provided his own sacrifice. He offered up his very self to provide once for all forgiveness for everyone who believes in him.

Lastly, Jesus is the perfect prophet Moses said would come. He not only perfectly spoke God’s word to us, but he was God’s perfect word in human flesh. And what he revealed to us was better than anything we could ever expect. It’s that God had done everything necessary to bring us back to himself in the death, burial, and resurrection of this final, perfect prophet, Jesus.

See For Yourself

I pray the Holy Spirit would give you eyes to see the God who loves justice and equity so much that he provides his people with ways to pursue it. And that you would see Jesus as the one who accomplishes both justice and grace, but equity and mercy for all of us who have failed to uphold the standard of God’s law.

Deuteronomy 15-16: The Sabbatical Year
Deuteronomy 17-18: Judges, Kings, and Prophets

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