LAW AND LEVITES 

The refresher course in the law continues as Israel is made ready to invade the Promised Land.  Moses teaches about the Levites role and rights in Israel.

The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and his inheritance.  Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the LORD is their inheritance, as he hath said unto them.  Deuteronomy 18:1-2 

The Levites have only the offerings to sustain them, and this is the responsibility of the people of Israel.  Robbing the Lord also harmed their brethren who served them in their spiritual needs.   

And this shall be the priest’s due from the people, from them that offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep; and they shall give unto the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw.  The firstfruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him.  For the LORD thy God hath chosen him out of all thy tribes, to stand to minister in the name of the LORD, him and his sons for ever.  And if a Levite come from any of thy gates out of all Israel, where he sojourned, and come with all the desire of his mind unto the place which the LORD shall choose;  Then he shall minister in the name of the LORD his God, as all his brethren the Levites do, which stand there before the LORD.  They shall have like portions to eat, beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony.  Deuteronomy 18:3-8 

If a man of god is led to serve in his community, or in the Tabernacle, his right to the offerings remains his.  Pastors and missionaries, the worker is worthy of his hire.  Paul later will write about this to the Corinthians.

For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?  Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.  If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?  1 Corinthians 9:9-11 

Moses continues about picking up the bad habits of the former nations of Canaan:

When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.  There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.  Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.  For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.  Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.  For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.  Deuteronomy 18:9-14 

Many Christians were shocked to learn that President Reagan’s wife might be following horoscopes.  We should not mix faith with superstition.  We also hear a lot about prophesies that come from unproven faith or cults.  God did promise to provide prophets but gave a way to measure truth. 

The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;  According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.  And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.  I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.  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.  But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.  And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?  When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.  Deuteronomy 18:15-22 

God provided a safety mechanism in the event of an accidental death.  They were to provide sanctuary to those who accidentally killed a neighbor. 

When the LORD thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the LORD thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses;  Thou shalt separate three cities for thee in the midst of thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.  Thou shalt prepare thee a way, and divide the coasts of thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee to inherit, into three parts, that every slayer may flee thither.  And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither, that he may live: Whoso killeth his neighbour ignorantly, whom he hated not in time past;  As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live:  Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he was not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past.  Wherefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt separate three cities for thee.  Deuteronomy 19:1-7 

This was not for those guilty of murder to go un-punished though.  This sanctuary would be lost if the elders found him guilty. 

And if the LORD thy God enlarge thy coast, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers;  If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the LORD thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three:  That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.  But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities:  Then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die.  Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.  Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it.  Deuteronomy 19:8-14 

The violent criminal was to be extradited from the city of refuge if convicted of a crime.  The innocent man could stay in sanctuary, protected from illegal vigilante justice.  This judgment must not be made based on a lie though.  The landmark is like today’s surveyor   benchmarks.  These permanent markers are the reference points used to establish property lines.  Removal allows land to be stolen by deception.  A false witness was subject to corporal punishment as well.   

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.  If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;  Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days;  And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;  Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.  And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.  And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.  Deuteronomy 19:15-21 

This eye for eye doctrine was reserved for the court according to the intended crime of a false witness.  It was not a general license for vengeance.  God established a pattern of order for civil judgment that influences legal systems to this day.

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