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Deu 18:1 The priests the Levites, all the tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel; they will eat the offerings of Yahweh made by fire as their inheritance-
There is a word play here, for "eat" is s.w. "burn up", used of fire consuming sacrifice; and "the offerings of Yahweh made by fire" is an attempt to translate just two words in Hebrew, "Yahweh's fire". The Levites' consumption of the food offered was accepted by Yahweh as if the fire of the altar had burnt it up. They were therefore as it were associated with the altar, Yahweh's representatives.

The Levites had no land nor great material wealth to leave to their children; but they had this unique relationship with God to pass on. Jeremiah in depression, having lost all he had, concludes that God is his portion (Lam. 3:24), clearly alluding to this verse. Even if materially we lose all we have- our relationship with God is our true portion and inheritance, which we will eternally receive in the Kingdom. The writers of the Psalms, some of whom like David weren’t Levites, could use the same Hebrew word to describe how God was their “portion” and inheritance (Ps. 16:5; 73:26; 119:57; 142:5). This should be our self-perception, whether or not we leave any material inheritance to anyone or not. Not for us the obsession with building up ownership of property, under the excuse we want to leave something to our children. Our service of God and His people is our inheritance, which we shall eternally receive back at the resurrection and the time of the Kingdom of God on earth. The priests and Levites were provided with enough to eat, but no great wealth. So it should be for all full time servants in God’s house. By contrast, the priests of the surrounding tribes were generally more wealthy than the other people, and owned land, which was seen as especially holy (see Gen. 47:22).

Deu 18:2 They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; Yahweh is their inheritance, as He has spoken to them-
The Levites had no material inheritance because "the sacrifices of Yahweh the God of Israel... are his inheritance... Yahweh God of Israel was their inheritance" (Josh. 13:14,33; Num. 18:20; Dt. 10:9; 18:2). Notice how "Yahweh" is put for what is sacrificed to Him. His very existence is an imperative to sacrifice to Him, despising all material advantage in doing so. Job comments that to make gold our hope and wealth our confidence is to deny “the God that is above” (Job 31:24,28). To trust in material wealth is effectively to proclaim ourselves atheists. We are described as the new priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5), so all that was true for the Levites becomes true for us. We are not to seek material inheritance. God will provide for us in ways other than our possessing land and leaving an inheritance to our children. The wonder of serving Him is to more than compensate for this.


Deu 18:3 This shall be the priest’s due from the people, from those who offer a sacrifice, whether ox or sheep. They shall give to the priest the shoulder, the two cheeks and the stomach-
The idea is "the front leg, the two jaw-bones, and the rough stomach of ruminants, in which the digestion is completed". These were thought to be the best parts of an animal; and remember that a leg and the breast of the offering were also to be given to the priest if it was a peace offering (Lev. 7:32; Num. 18:11).


Deu 18:4 The first fruits of your grain, your new wine and your oil, and the first of the fleece of your sheep you shall give him-
There is no mention in Num. 18:12,13 of the first fleece being given to the priests. But it is mentioned here in Dt. 18:4, and is an example of where Deuteronomy, 'the second law', is in places more demanding and in others more understanding. 



Deu 18:5 For Yahweh your God has chosen him out of all your tribes to stand to minister in the name of Yahweh, him and his sons forever-
The original intention was that all Israel should be a nation of priests, but God continually seems to recalculate His plans according to His people's responsiveness (Ex. 19:5,6). And so the Levites were chosen, and special material provision was arranged for them; although there are continually hints that all Israel were to live in the spirit of priesthood. And under the new covenant, we are all the priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5). God is likewise open to such ammendment and recalculation of intention in the way that He works with us as individuals.


Deu 18:6 If a Levite comes from any of your gates out of all Israel, where he lives as a foreigner, and comes with all the desire of his soul to the place which Yahweh shall choose-
God encourages us to make special devotions to Him. Thus the Levites could choose to leave their areas in the provinces and go and serve at the sanctuary. We must ask what special devotion we could make in response to His grace. The structure of the law of Moses seemed to almost encourage the idea of serving God on different levels. After much study of it, the Rabbis concluded that there was within it “a distinction between holy and holy just as much as there is between holy and profane”. The Levites could choose to go and serve at Jerusalem [or wherever the sanctuary was], and therefore sell their possession of land which they had in the local area (Dt. 18:6-8). By doing this, a number of principles were broken, in order that the highest level- serving Yahweh in the temple- might be achieved.


Deu 18:7 then he shall minister in the name of Yahweh his God as all his brothers the Levites do, who stand there before Yahweh-
There was to be always the possibility for Levites from the provinces to come and live at the sanctuary and serve "before Yahweh", i.e. before the ark of His presence. The Levites lived in the provinces as "foreigners" (:6). This is the language of Abraham and his seed living as foreigners. They were therefore to consider the sanctuary as their home, and being away from it meant living as it were in another land. The appeal to us to live as foreigners and pilgrims is therefore partly based upon this; for we are all the spiritual priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5). 


Deu 18:8 They shall have similar portions to eat, besides that which comes from his father’s inheritance-
The word for "share" in 1 Sam. 30:24 is that used here in Dt. 18:8, where the Levites were to have the same "portions" or "share". All David's men were to have the same "share". His language choice was setting up his men to see themselves as a new priesthood. The sale of a family inheritance may not refer to property, for the Levites were not to hold property. This however may be one of many tacit acceptances in Deuteronomy that things would not be as they ought to be; perhaps the idea is that if a man repented of how his father had held property, then he was to sell it, and could then move to the live permanently near the sanctuary.

The early church began by having all things common, in imitation of  how the priests had "like portions to eat" (Dt. 18:8). Notice the stress on the equality of the priests and the studied irrelevance of their personal wealth (1 Chron. 24:31; 25:8; 26:12). We also have an example of Barnabas selling his illegally held property and giving it to the church, which may be what is in view here with the reference to the Levite selling his father's inheritance and moving to live near the sanctuary. The Law was geared around the assumption that the priests would be so caught up in Yahweh's work that they would never be rich (consider Dt. 14:29), and the wonder of doing His work would compensate for their lack of physical possessions (Num. 18:23). Yet the early church couldn't sustain the intensity of their initial realization of these things.

Deu 18:9 When you have come into the land which Yahweh your God gives you, you must not learn to do according to the abominations of those nations-
The Canaanites were to be driven out of the land for doing these abominations (:12). The reality is that the Canaanites were not driven out for those abominations, because Israel didn't drive them out. And yet it was because of their abominations that Israel were supposed to drive them out (:10,12). We can conclude that Israel didn't dispossess the Canaanites because they didn't hate their abominations but rather participated in them.


Deu 18:10 There must not be found with you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices sorcery or an enchanter, a sorcerer-
Acts 7:43 says that they carried the tabernacle of Moloch with them through the wilderness, and Moloch was associated with child sacrifice. Moses is therefore telling them that they were not to worship Moloch once in the land. It all seems an incredibly 'soft' approach to them, rather than challenging them about their idolatry. Perhaps it reflected God's great enthusiasm for Israel at this time, for He did not behold iniquity in Jacob (Num. 23:21), and presents Himself in Jeremiah as having fallen totally in love with Israel in the wilderness, wishing not to see their unfaithfulness. 


Deu 18:11 a charmer, a consulter with a familiar spirit, a wizard or a necromancer-
These people were thought to be able to tell and control the future, and to bring about healing and blessing. Yet these were all the roles of Yahweh. He had predicted a blessed future for Israel, conditional upon their obedience. But they wanted to seek to bypass this by trying to influence their future and blessing through other means. By seeking to these people they were effectively denying their relationship with God, through attempting to merely bypass Yahweh. The huge stress upon Yahweh as the source of a blessed future meant that all these classes of wizards were therefore at best redundant; and to use them was to effectively resign from relationship with Yahweh. And we must consider how we too may be tempted to effectively bypass God, seeking blessing and a [supposedly] assured future by secular means. 


Deu 18:12 For whoever does these things is an abomination to Yahweh, and because of these abominations Yahweh your God drives them out from before you-
See on :10. "Drive out" is s.w. "possess". We must note the difference between the  Canaanite peoples and their kings being "struck" and their land "taken" by Joshua-Jesus; and the people of Israel permanently taking possession. This is the difference between the Lord's victory on the cross, and our taking possession of the Kingdom. Even though that possession has been "given" to us. The word used for "possession" is literally 'an inheritance'. The allusion is to the people, like us, being the seed of Abraham. The Kingdom was and is our possession, our inheritance- if we walk in the steps of Abraham. But it is one thing to be the seed of Abraham, another to take possession of the inheritance; and Israel generally did not take possession of all the land (Josh. 11:23 13:1; 16:10; 18:3; 23:4). The language of inheritance / possession is applied to us in the New Testament (Eph. 1:11,14; Col. 3:24; Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Pet. 1:4 etc.). Israel were promised: "You shall possess it" (Dt. 30:5; 33:23). This was more of a command than a prophecy, for sadly they were "given" the land but did not "possess" it. They were constantly encouraged in the wilderness that they were on the path to possessing the land (Dt. 30:16,18; 31:3,13; 32:47), but when they got there they didn't possess it fully.

Deu 18:13 You should be without blame before Yahweh your God-
The repeated references to the “journeys” of the people in the wilderness had as their basis the description of Abraham taking his journey through the desert to the promised land (Gen. 13:3); the very same two Hebrew words recur in the command to Israel to now ‘take their journey’ (Dt. 10:11), following in the steps of their father Abraham. As Abraham was commanded to "be perfect" (Gen. 17:1), so Israel were told: "You [after the pattern of father Abraham] shall be perfect with the Lord" (Dt. 19:13). The offering of sacrifices "without blemish" uses a word which is used about Abraham and Noah being "without blemish" (AV "perfect") before God (Gen. 6:9; 17:1). Although the word is used about the sacrifices, it is really more appropriate to persons- "you shall be perfect with Yahweh your God" (Dt. 18:13), "serve Him in sincerity (s.w. "without blemish")" (Josh. 24:14). The idea, therefore, was that the offerer was invited to see the animal as representative of himself. Our lives too are to be as "living sacrifices" (Rom. 12:1). And yet in practical terms, no animal is without blemish. They were to give the best they could, and God would count it as without blemish; as He does with us. David frequently uses the term in the Psalms about himself and the "upright", even though he was far from unblemished in moral terms.

"Without blame" is the term used multiple times in the law of Moses about the state of sacrificial animals. But it is never used in Deuteronomy. Perhaps this reflects Moses' maturer understanding that no animal actually is without blemish. God recognizes that we will not attain perfection in this life, but we are to do our best towards it; and His love imputes righteousness to us, counting us as unblemished because of our status in Christ. For only Christ was the sacrifice totally without moral blemish (1 Pet. 1:19).


Deu 18:14 For these nations that you shall dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery and to diviners; but as for you, Yahweh your God has not allowed you to do so-
See on :10. The fact those nations were dispossessed was surely evidence that their various magicians were powerless. Yet Israel wanted to trust those same powerless people, just as they would later worship the gods of the nations who defeated them. 

Deu 18:15 Yahweh your God will raise up to you a prophet like me, from the midst of you, of your brothers. You are to listen to him-
The promise of a future prophet (who was to be Messiah) is in the context of the prohibition upon using those who claimed to foretell the future, and bring blessing and healing. Trying to achieve future blessing through them was a way of bypassing Yahweh, who had clearly offered a blessed future predicated upon obedience to the covenant. But a blessed future, that of the Kingdom of God, was to be possible through this prophet who was yet to be raised up. Possibly Joshua or some other figure could have fulfilled this prophecy, but the potential wasn't realized. And therefore it was reapplied and rescheduled to the Lord Jesus.


Deu 18:16 This is according to all that you desired of Yahweh your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly saying, Let me not hear again the voice of Yahweh my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, so that I do not die-
The tragedy was that to hear the personal voice of their God was intended to build their faith, and was the most wonderful empirical, experiential evidence that He was real (Dt. 4:32,33). But faced with it, they hurriedly turned away. And this is true in essence of so many people. Israel complained that no other nation had ever been asked to hear the voice of their God in a personal way; they feared that hearing this voice meant their condemnation (Dt. 5:26). But God meant it so positively; the fact they had heard God's voice was a sign of His amazing grace (Dt. 4:32,33). Yet Israel turned the display of that grace into a reason to fear condemnation. They were far happier not being confronted by such radical grace, and the personal engagement of God with them. And so they desperately sought to use mere religion to shield them from this, asking Moses to go through with this engagement with God and then give them a few rules to obey, which didn't too deeply interrupt their lives. This is the abiding tendency of men of all ages; to flee from grace to the structures of mere religion. 

It had been God's intention that they came nearer to Him and heard Him directly. But they wanted mere religion to stand between Him and them, they shied away from personal encounter with Him, and wanted Moses to speak with God and relay to them His will. But God positively interpreted their words as a request for Messiah, the word made flesh, and would answer them in the provision of the Lord Jesus (see on :18). But this would be more than a prophet; He would effectively engage them with Yahweh, as His supreme manifestation, although having human nature. And they would need to respond deeply to that engagement.


Deu 18:17 Yahweh said to me, They have well said that which they have spoken-
God’s intention that the king of Israel should personally copy out all the commandments of the Law was so that “his heart be not lifted up above his brethren” (Dt. 17:20)- i.e. reflecting upon the many requirements of the Law would’ve convicted the King of his own failure to have been fully obedient, and therefore his heart would be humbled. And soon after this statement, we are hearing Moses reminding Israel that Messiah, the prophet like unto Moses, was to be raised up (Dt. 18:18). Human failure, and recognition of it, prepares us to accept Christ. To this end, God worked through Israel’s weakness, time and again. He even used it as a path towards His provision of Messiah. God wanted to speak to them directly, but in their weakness they asked that He not do this. Instead of giving up with them, as a Father whose children say they don’t want to hear His voice… instead God goes on to tell Moses: “They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren [a prophecy applied to Christ in the New Testament]… and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him” (Dt. 18:17,18).


Deu 18:18 I will raise them up a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put My words in his mouth and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him-
The Messianic prophecy of Dt. 18:18 had a potential Messianic and primary fulfillment in Joshua: “I will raise them up [God ‘rose up’ Joshua- s.w. Josh. 1:2; 7:10,13; 8:1,3]  a prophet from among their brethren, like unto you [Joshua’s life was framed to be like that of Moses- e.g. he too was told to remove his shoe when on holy ground, also held his hands up whilst Israel fought their enemies]; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him [Joshua is constantly presented as telling Israel what God commanded him- Josh. 4:8,10,17; 6:10; 8:8: “according to the commandment of the Lord shall ye do. See, I have commanded you”; Josh. 8:27]. 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”.  The ‘likeness’ between Moses and the prophet like unto him was in that the prophet would also speak God’s words in a similar way. Josh. 11:15 therefore significantly comments: “As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua: and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses”. Joshua was a potential Messiah.

By the time he uttered Deuteronomy, Moses would probably have been the oldest person any of the congregation had ever known. Many of the earlier generation had been cut down in the wilderness. He was nearly twice the age of Joshua. He had dominated their lives from birth, had stuck with them, with their fathers and even grandparents. Just as the Lord Jesus is to be the central figure in the new Israel. Moses was also a representative of his people, just as the Lord Jesus is in a sense ‘Israel’- the suffering servant refers to both Israel and their Messiah. Moses was “adopted by an imperial parent, punished for his rashness, sentenced to wander forty years in the wilderness, forgiven, restored, hand-selected for an impossible task, accompanied by the overwhelming presence of God at every step…”, just as his beloved people. In the same way as Moses was the mediator of the old covenant, so Christ was of the new. Christ was the prophet like unto Moses (Dt. 18:18). Moses was the shepherd of the flock of Israel, leading them on God's behalf through the wilderness towards the promised land (Is. 63:12), as Christ leads us after baptism to the Kingdom.

Moses' persecution by Pharaoh enabled him to enter into the feelings of Israel in the slave camps; and as they fled from Pharaoh towards the Red Sea, Moses would have recalled his own flight from Pharaoh to Midian. The whole epistle to the Hebrews is shot through with allusions to Moses. "In all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren" (Heb. 2:17) is alluding to Dt. 18:18: "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren like unto thee (Moses)". The brethren of Christ are here paralleled with Moses; as if Moses really is representative of not only natural Israel, but spiritual too- as well as Moses being a type of Christ. For this reason he is such a clear pattern for us, and we are invited so often to identify ourselves with him by copying his example. Moses was made like his brethren through his similar experiences, as Christ was progressively made like us by his life of temptation.

The miracle of the loaves and fishes made men see the similarity between Christ and Moses, whom they perceived to have provided the manna (Jn. 6:32). Therefore they thought that Jesus must be the prophet like Moses, of whom Moses wrote (Jn. 6:14). But Jesus said that He was greater than Moses, because Moses' bread only gave them temporal life, whereas if a man ate of Him, he would live for ever; His words would give spiritual life which was part of that "eternal life" of the Father (Jn. 6:49,50). The Jews thought that the prophet like Moses of Dt. 18:18 was a prophet equal or inferior to Moses. John's Gospel records how Christ was showing that the prophet would be greater than Moses. Martha understood that when she said that "the Christ... which should come into the world" (i.e. the prophet of Dt. 18:18) was "the Son of God", and therefore Jesus of Nazareth (Jn. 11:27).

“The prophet” (Jn. 7:40,52 RV) is clearly a reference to “the prophet” like Moses, i.e. Messiah. There are many other allusions by John’s record to the Dt. 18:18 passage: “I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I command him”. References to the Son only speaking what the Father commanded Him are to be found in Jn. 4:25; 8:28; 12:49.

Christ was the prophet like unto Moses (Acts 3:22). Moses was the shepherd of the flock of Israel, leading them on God's behalf through the wilderness towards the promised land (Is. 63:12), as Christ leads us after baptism to the Kingdom. It was only through Moses' leadership that they reached Canaan (10:11). As Moses very intensely manifested God to the people, so he foreshadowed the supreme manifestation of the Father in the Son. The commands of Moses were those of God (Dt. 7:11; 11:13,18; and Dt. 12:32 concerning Moses' words is quoted in Rev. 22:18,19 concerning God's words); his voice was God's voice (Dt. 15:5; 28:1), as with Christ. Israel were to show their love of God by keeping Moses' commands (Dt. 11:13); as the new Israel do in their response to the word of Christ. 

Deu 18:19 Whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I will require it of him-
As Moses very intensely manifested God to the people, so he foreshadowed the supreme manifestation of the Father in the Son. The commands of Moses were those of God (Dt. 7:11; 11:13,18; and 12:32 concerning Moses' words is quoted in Rev. 22:18,19 concerning God's words); his voice was God's voice (Dt. 13:18; 15:5; 28:1), as with Christ. Israel were to show their love of God by keeping Moses' commands (Dt. 11:13); as the new Israel do in their response to the word of Christ. Indeed, the well known prophecy that God would raise up a prophet "like unto" Moses to whom Israel would listen (Dt. 18:18) is in the context of Israel saying they did not want to hear God's voice directly. Therefore God said that he would raise up Christ, who would be another Moses in the sense that he too would speak forth God's word. 


Deu 18:20 But the prophet who shall speak a word presumptuously in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who shall speak in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die-
Falsification of Yahweh's word, speaking falsely in His Name, was the ultimate taking of His Name in vain. Especially when they spoke the supposed words of "other gods" as if Yahweh's words. In illiterate society, the words of the prophets were absolutely vital in order for the people to hear God's words. If they were falsified, then so many people would suffer. And making others stumble out of God's way is seen as the worst kind of sin. This is the sin of false teaching; the sin is not that of genuinely misunderstanding Biblical theology, but of teaching others that sin is righteousness.


Deu 18:21 If you say in your heart, How shall we know the word which Yahweh has not spoken?-
Again, Moses seems to foresee how badly things would go with Israel. He has just warned of the false prophet who speaks falsely in the Name of Yahweh. And he seems to accept this is going to happen, and so he now gives a way of testing whether words claiming to be Yahweh's are true or not. Moses also perceives that this question will be raised in the heart of the thoughtful, faithful ones.

Time and again, Moses speaks of the state of their heart. He warns them against allowing a bad state of heart to develop, he speaks often of how apostasy starts in the heart. Moses makes a total of 49 references to the heart / mind of Israel in Deuteronomy, compared to only 13 in the whole of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. This indicates the paramount importance which our Lord attaches to the state of our mind. This was perhaps his greatest wish as He faced death; that we should develop a spiritual mind and thereby manifest the Father and come to salvation. Moses likewise saw the state of our mind as the key to spiritual success. But do we share this perspective? Do we guard our minds against the media and influence of a mind-corrupting world? It's been observed that the phrase "The God of [somebody]", or similar, occurs 614 times in the Old Testament, of which 306 are in Deuteronomy. Our very personal relationship with God was therefore something else which Moses came to grasp in his spiritual maturity. Statistical analysis of the word "love" in the Pentateuch likewise reveals that "love" was a great theme of Moses at the end of his life (Moses uses it 16 times in Deuteronomy, and only four times in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers).


Deu 18:22 When a prophet speaks in the name of Yahweh, if the thing doesn’t follow or happen, that is the thing which Yahweh has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you shall not be afraid of him-
This is why the prophecies of Christ and of the last days all had some limited fulfilment in the lifetimes of the prophets who gave the prophecies. If the prophet failed to produce such signs, then "you shall not be afraid of him". But the commandment about false prophets in :20 was that they must be killed. Moses seems to foresee a situation where there would be false prophets, and the thoughtful, faithful few would ponder the truth of their words in their hearts (not openly; :21), and would not be able to have the false prophets executed. But, they were not personally to fear their words.