Provision for Priests and Levites
18 “The Levitical priests, all the tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel. They shall eat the LORD's food offerings as their inheritance. They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the LORD is their inheritance, as he promised them. And this shall be the priests' due from the people, from those offering a sacrifice, whether an ox or a sheep: they shall give to the priest the shoulder and the two cheeks and the stomach. The firstfruits of your grain, of your wine and of your oil, and the first fleece of your sheep, you shall give him. For the LORD your God has chosen him out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the name of the LORD, him and his sons for all time.
“And if a Levite comes from any of your towns out of all Israel, where he lives—and he may come when he desires—to the place that the LORD will choose, and ministers in the name of the LORD his God, like all his fellow Levites who stand to minister there before the LORD, then he may have equal portions to eat, besides what he receives from the sale of his patrimony.
“When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do this.
A New Prophet like Moses
“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’—when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.
Deuteronomy 18 Commentary
by Hank Workman
God gave the responsibilities of the Priests and instructed the Israelites of how to take care of the Priests. He also in this chapter dug into prophets who were of Him and those who were not. In this day and age, both of these topics are relevant.
Priests and Levites were not given any inheritance in the land. They were those who were paid through the people’s tithes, offerings, and sacrifices. They received specific portions of the meat that had been sacrificed as well as part of the first fruits being brought before the Lord. This was specifically the grain, wine, and oil. If you think about it, their own livelihood and calling was of sacrifice itself. This is what made it so important for the rest of the nation who had been given land to support their priests and Levites. Through the people’s obedience to following the Law, the priests and Levites would be taken care of.
The role of these men really functioned much like ministers today. Their responsibilities were vast. They were to teach the people. They were to set before everyone what living a godly life was like. They were to tend to the physical building of the temple. They were to completely function in the calling of their lives.
There also were precautions given though – these men were not to be taken advantage of. Unfortunately, when the people failed to do what God asked of them in support of their spiritual leaders, the leaders were the first tangibly to suffer. Unfortunately today, this is something that may happen more than realized. As the Life Application lists, these are just a few areas where this can happen today.
“Ministers may not be paid in accordance with their skill or the time they put in. Pastors may be expected to attend every evening meeting, even if this continual absence is harmful to their families.”
These 2 examples the Life Application lists are hard to wrestle with. Whatever congregation you may be part of, are you supporting your pastor? Are you encouraging them in all their work? Most pastors neglect many family things because of the role they have accepted and responsibility they hold. Many times a large congregation has meetings almost every night of the week. The pastor is expected to be at each one.
Unfortunately, they miss out on family time again and again as well as many other things, including rest and relaxation. Would you even consider living by the same standard of living that you expect him or her? I don’t know many pastors who actually have a hobby. These are thoughts simply to consider with your leadership at the church you attend. What could change? How could you support your pastor in ways where they are struggling? Are you a congregation who takes advantage of your pastor or simply gives his needs a second thought? Or, are you supportive in an area of his life, even helping set boundaries for them?
Deuteronomy 18 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
It’s a phrase that has permeated our Christian culture. It’s a statement that flies out of people’s mouths easily and routinely. Reading it in Christian books and magazines and hearing it in sermons online, many have adopted this type of lingo into their daily conversations. Although some do it in ignorance, not knowing exactly what they are saying, others use it as a way of making their own words carry weight so they can appear closer to God than everyone else.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 GNB 20 But if any prophet dares to speak a message in my name when I did not command him to do so, he must die for it, and so must any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods.’ 21 “You may wonder how you can tell when a prophet’s message does not come from the LORD. 22 If a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD and what he says does not come true, then it is not the LORD’s message. That prophet has spoken on his own authority, and you are not to fear him.
Consider for a moment exactly what happens when we begin a thought or statement with “God said…” Scripture is clear that if what follows is not 100% true, there is no way that God actually said it. So, hypothetically, if one would use such language about a certain future event and that event does not come true, what has happened? Prophets of God were always right. They weren’t sort of right or almost right. They didn’t need to come back later and change part of their story to fit the context.
Have we even considered the severity of such behavior? Is this not just another way of taking the Lord’s Name in vain? Does it not mock the authority of His written Word and misrepresent His holy image?
Speaking of the Word, there is a reason why God gave us this holy text. It truly is what God said. Anytime we quote Scripture we can rest assured that God influenced human authors to pen inspired, divine words that guide our life. Apparently, this whole “God said” mentality was an issue that didn’t sit well with Charles Spurgeon either. He had some scathing words for people in his generation who tacked this phrase onto every thought in their mind.
“Semi-lunatics are very fond of coming with messages from the Lord to me, and it may spare them some trouble if I tell them once for all that I will have none of their stupid messages… Never dream that events are revealed to you by heaven, or you may come to be like those idiots who dare impute their blatant follies to the Holy Ghost. If you feel your tongue itch to talk nonsense, trace it to the devil, not to the Spirit of God.
Whatever is to be revealed by the Spirit to any of us is in the Word of God already – He adds nothing to the Bible, and never will. Let persons who have revelations of this, that, and the other, go to bed and wake up in their senses. I only wish they would follow the advice and no longer insult the Holy Ghost by laying their nonsense at His door.” -Charles Spurgeon
Do I believe that people hear directly from God today? Yes. Do I believe that people have revelations, visions, and dreams directly from God today? Of course. But I also believe that there is wisdom in testing spirits and using discernment to see where the messenger is leading people, if the message is Biblical, and if the message actually comes true.
On top of that, it is critical to access the fruit of the individual speaking! Some of the most faithful believers I know do not simply utter the “God said” phrase whenever they feel like it. There is caution, prayer, humility, and seeking the Scriptures in context for guidance and affirmation of whatever was revealed. Commentator and pastor David Guzik writes similar thoughts.
“…the New Testament says all prophecy – any time someone says, “The LORD told me” – all prophecy should be judged: Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge (1Co 14:29; see also 1Jn 4:1). It is far better to be humble and say, “I think the LORD may have said to me” instead of being too confident in one’s ability to hear from the LORD.” -David Guzik
Former pastor of Vineyard, Tom Stipe, wrote the foreword to Hank Hanegraaff‘s book Counterfeit Revival. Tom offers some insightful wisdom on this topic from his experiences…
“Not long after ‘prophecy du jour’ became the primary source of direction, a trail of devastated believers began to line up outside our pastoral counseling offices. Young people promised teen success and stardom through prophecy were left picking up the pieces of their shattered hopes because God had apparently gone back on His promises. Leaders were deluged by angry church members who had received prophecies about the great ministries they would have but had been frustrated by local church leaders who failed to recognize and ‘facilitate’ their ‘new anointing.’
After a steady diet of the prophetic, some people were rapidly becoming biblically illiterate, choosing a ‘dial-a-prophet’ style of Christian living rather than studying God’s Word. Many were left to continually live from one prophetic ‘fix’ to the next, their hope always in danger of failing because God’s voice was so specific in pronouncement, yet so elusive in fulfillment. Possessing a prophet’s phone number was like having a storehouse of treasured guidance. Little clutched notebooks replaced Bibles as the preferred reading material during church services.” -Tom Stipe
Wow. It truly saddens me that people’s lives are being demolished because of the arrogance of false prophets, many of which actually believe they are following God. How many do you know today who have abandoned the Word of God for a “dial-a-prophet” style of Christian living?
The main issue with those who are false is that they cannot be effective against God’s children who KNOW His Word. They prey on nominal Christians who can’t discern the difference between truth and error. They will come into a small group or church body looking for a weak, baby Christian who will be mesmerized by their impressive words of prophecy and so-called direct connection to the voice of the Lord.
True believers who know Jesus see through the masquerade but are also encouraged here at the end Deuteronomy not to fear such individuals and their flippant words. “That prophet has spoken on his own authority, and you are not to fear him.”
What are some practical questions we can ask ourselves in regard to someone who claims “God said?”
- Is the person trying to manipulate you by using this phrase?
- Is the person trying to justify their sinful behavior by using this phrase?
- Is the person trying to get you to give them or their ministry money by using this phrase?
- Is the person trying to elevate themselves to a position of authority by using this phrase?
- Is the statement spoken consistent with Scripture and the doctrines you have come to know through faithful and trusted teachers of the Word?
- And finally, if you approach this person in grace and humility to challenge what they have claimed, how do they respond?
The most useful defense we have against this ploy of the enemy is to be rooted in the Word of God and meditate on the truth He’s already spoken. This will not only protect us, but will also allow us to unite together in order to protect weaker believers from such deceptive and corrosive tactics.