One of the most popular Biblical topics is prophecy. Often overlooked is prophecy which has already been fulfilled. One such prophecy occurs in this week’s section. Moses prophesied that when Israel entered the land that they would demand a “king” in order to be like all the other nations (Deuteronomy 17:14). Almost 400 years later in the days of Samuel, Israel made this demand. God told Samuel that Israel had not rejected Samuel but had rejected God.
It took Israel almost 400 years to begin to see themselves as a nation like others. This, I believe, is a function of the fact that Israel had been slaves for an extended period in Egypt. Slavery destroys self confidence within the individual and so in the community at large.
Also, in this section, Moses specifically prohibited some activities of future kings.
“Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, “You shall never again return that way.” Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself” (Deuteronomy 17:16-17).
Solomon violated all these prohibited acts. Solomon is said to have been the wisest man, but his wisdom somehow didn’t envelop Moses’ exhortation.
Finally, this future king would be required to personally write the law and read it continually.
“Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left; in order that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel” (Deuteronomy 17:18-20).
Do you suppose it would be wisdom for the U.S. to require the president to personally hand write the constitution and to review it continually?
Spiritual Discernment and the Occult
A famous rabbi once declared that “God is spirit” (John 4:24). This means that God must be discerned spiritually not through our natural senses (ancient idolatry) or through intellectual deduction (modern idolatry). With Israel, God began revealing Himself through a record of communications between Himself and specifically chosen vessels within Israel who apparently had the capacity to discern God’s voice. We presume that this capacity was due to a gift given to the individual by God Himself.
At Mt. Sinai, the people of Israel chose to have a “prophet” to function between themselves and God because they were terrified at the awesome manifestation of God (Exodus 20:18-21). This prophet was, of course, Moses. Moses interacted directly with God. He heard God’s voice and communicated His word to Israel. Moses declared that Israel “heard the sound of words, but you saw no form—only a voice” (Deuteronomy 4:12). Later, the prophet Elijah described this “voice” as a “small, silent voice” (I Kings 19:12). In addition, the prophet stood in a very special position to intercede (speak to God) on behalf of God’s people. So, a two-way communication link was established between God and His people through a specially chosen vessel. The Bible came into existence is this way. Moses declared that another was coming after him who would function in this same capacity. This is, we believe, the Messiah.
Since God’s voice and presence must be discerned spiritually, God prohibited a number of practices which could lead to confusion in the process of discerning His voice. These practices include:
(a) causing sons and daughters to pass through the fire (practiced in the worship of Moleck),
(d) interpreting omens,
(e) practice of sorcery,
(f) casting spells,
(g) functioning as a medium,
(h) functioning as a spiritist, and
(i) calling up the dead (Deuteronomy 18:9-13).
Many of these practices seem to overlap but all deal with probing into the unseen spiritual universe attempting to establish communications with some entity there. We believe that the primary reason why these practices were forbidden by God is that they serve as counterfeits of real communication with God.
My experience tells me that any person who has been deeply involved in these practices will have a very difficult time discerning the voice of the Lord. Often, we “wait on the Lord” with fasting and praying to enhance our ability to “hear from God” concerning a matter. The person accustomed to occult practices will be doubled minded is such efforts and is easily deceived. Frequently, spiritual pride accompanies occult experience. Therefore, God prohibited these practices because He was separating a people who would “hear and obey” His word without occult interference. God is still looking for people for the same reason.