DEUTERONOMY 16:1 – 18:22 and MARK 13:1–37
Moses instructs the people to observe the Passover and first few feasts that were previously stated in Lev 23. The event of the Passover will forever be commemorated due to its significance. It was a reminder of the Passover Lamb to come. We find again that there was a progression of Feasts to be remembered after Passover indicating that our walk with God is a progressive one. Perhaps it would be good to examine the Feasts in the light of “righteousness”. It can be said that the righteousness of God is both instantaneous and progressive. At the time of our Passover experience we are deemed to be righteous through the righteousness of Christ. God sees you and I as being righteous through Christ as He is received into our lives by faith. The journey has only just begun. Israel then had to partake of unleavened bread for a period of 7 days. A bit later on they would come to the mount of Sinai and celebrate the Feast of Weeks which speaks of Pentecost. This speaks of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit into the life of a believer. The Holy Spirit works deep within the heart of a believer to bring to the surface hidden latent areas of sin. As these issues are acknowledged and repented of a change takes place. The righteousness of God begins to be implanted into the heart of a believer. The believer then becomes changed internally as he learns to die to self in his ongoing journey. Paul writes concerning this when writing to Romans.
Rom 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
This is the kind of internal righteousness that is developed as one walks in the light. As Israel has been on their journey they have experienced testing’s that revealed what was in their heart (Deu 8:2). It is at such times when we are presented with choices. We either can be offended, bitter and complaining or we can find grace. It is how we respond at such times that make all the difference. The righteousness of God progresses and becomes a reality when we learn to yield to the Spirit. The Feasts of Israel helps to provide a roadmap and that is why Moses again puts emphasis upon them. If we learn to yield to the Spirit we actually become righteous due to the righteousness of God being worked into our being. It is characterized by this verse in Revelation 19.
Rev 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
It is the fine linen that we seek to have developed within us. This is one of the key qualifiers enabling us to be of the bride of Christ. It is a garment that is acceptable to God and one that will cover in the days of adversity. The feasts culminate at Tabernacles which is the last great feast. It is the feast we are looking to enter into in these last days. Moses reiterates the need for observing the Feasts so that we have a compass in helping to see where we are. The sequence of Feasts helps to show the step by step progression in the walk of the believer. The problem with much of Christianity today is that people look for shortcuts. It is one of the master selling points of Satan. He tries to point people to their inheritance but in a circumvented way (Math 4:9-10). The Feasts point the way. The Feast of Atonement is the one that is often by-passed. (In a spiritual sense) Why is this? The message of atonement deals with sin and heart related issues that we must be able to confront. Jesus was to inherit the world but He had to go the way of the Cross. Satan tried to provide a by-pass to Jesus, an easier way void of cost and suffering. This is why the journey of Israel and their observance of the respective Feasts have great importance for us.
In verses 18-22, Moses instructs the people to appoint Judges in all of the gates. They were required to not be partial in their responsibilities. When a bribe takes place it perverts justice. People today clamour for political power or positions of influence. Such a person can steer judgment in a number of ways which makes him potentially corruptible. This is what is seen today in USA politics as well as many other places. The Lord Himself made clear that we are to judge righteous judgement (John 7:24). A true priest is to serve as a judge. He must hear from God and render appropriate judgements. This will be seen in the next chapter.
Moses reiterates the role of the priest in the area of judging. There is a severe warning for any person who commits wickedness in the sight of God and then goes and serves other gods while having disregard to the covenant (vs 2-7). If there are at least two witnesses to this act and it is brought before the priests at the gates they shall be put to death. It must be remembered that a precedent is being established here hence the strong judgement.
The perversion of justice is very commonplace today so it is hard for us to grasp such a consequence for rebellion and disobedience. Then again, we see how Satan redefined sin and its consequences in the garden. God said that man would die if he partook of the tree. He was warned and no doubt put into fear into even thinking of doing such a thing. Satan’s smooth words captured the soul and emotions of man resulting in blatant disobedience to God’s directives. If it could happen in the garden; if it could happen in the days of Moses/Joshua do you think it can happen again today? In the revival to come I would not be surprised to see such a standard arise again. We have looked at Ananias and Saphira in how they hid back a portion of money and the resultant judgement that came upon them. If God judged in such a way at the beginning of the early church movement do not be surprised at the awesome standards that will be seen in this last day outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This is why we must put a premium on righteousness and holiness. God is not going to tolerate many of things that have been taking place. We need to have a love and respect for the Fear of the Lord.
In verses 14-20 we see the ultimate instruction for kings. Israel has not yet been under the rule of a king and will not be for another several hundred years but several points will be given that would help ensure a successful reign. There is great wisdom in these various points and yet we will find the man who is later blessed with the most wisdom failed on every point. We speak of Solomon, who was the 3rd king who would reign over the United Monarchy. We also see a warning to the people themselves. That they were not to ask for a king likened unto the other nations (vs 14). Do you remember when the people asked for a king and God gave them Saul? Why did he ultimately fail? It was because he was not God’s choice; he was the people’s choice (1 Sam 8). It is amazing how Moses was able to speak specifically concerning future events. People like Nehemiah were obviously good students because he was able to come to know his destiny and calling by being acquainted with the writings of Moses. Let’s consider a few of these law of the kings.
1) Shall not multiply horses unto himself.
2) Shall not cause a stumbling block in turning people back to Egypt. (The world)
3) Shall not multiply wives
4) Shall not multiply gold and silver.
We will examine these specific laws a bit later when we get to the Kings, especially when considering Solomon. He broke every one of the laws seen above. Once again Moses gives a primary key in helping to ensure how a King could successfully reign. It is in the keeping of the Law, doing the commandments and fearing the Lord. If I sound like a broken record regarding the law it’s because I am only repeating what Moses exhorted. It truly saddens me that the Law and the priestly roles in the church are so lightly regarded today. Everyone wants to be a king but what about a priest? Everyone would rather be a lion but what about the lamb? God is looking to establish both. We have seen the role of king and priest in the life of Melchizedec. We then saw the establishment of the priests through the sons of Levi (Exo 32:26). There is still a long period of time before Israel will have a king but they did have priests that were functioning before during and after the reign of kings. As stated previously, it is the priests of God that will reign with Him as kings during the millennium (Rev 20:6).
The Lord makes mention of the Levites (The priests) who have no physical inheritance but have the Lord Himself as their inheritance. He makes clear that they are to be provided for. They have been chosen to represent the people before God (vs 5). The Lord honoured the Levites and He wanted them to be received similarly amongst the tribes. The Lord then gives warning when going into to the possessing of a territory that they were not to be like the ones they were conquering. It is because the Lord hates many of their practices that He seeks to drive them out by His people. They needed to be reminded (like us) that God is doing this because of the evil of the land, not the righteousness of the people.
Israel is loved of God and being given a very high privilege. Likewise, we as the church of the last days have been given one of the greatest privileges and honor. Are we seizing the moment and opportunity? Are we seeking to avail ourselves of available grace so as to fulfil God’s pleasure? He is looking to establish His kingdom, here on earth, as in heaven. We can align and be participants in this work provided we are mindful of our role and position. This is one of the problems with “kingdom now” theology. It can also fall under the name of the 7 mountains of influence. These institutions are powerful and wield great influence. We do need to pray for key people to occupy positions of leadership in each of these mountains. What we have to be careful of is that in our pursuit of seeking needed change in these institutions we do not do so at the expense of the mountains within us. In my view this is where the real power struggle lies.
Also, we find from scripture that the Lord is not returning to a world that is anxiously waiting for Him; He is returning for a bride who has made herself ready. We see from scripture that the world will be in outright rebellion with lawlessness abounding everywhere. I want to be clear that we need to pray and affect these areas of influence in a way that honours God but we must understand scripture and see these issues through the lens of God’s eyes.
In verses 15-22 we are introduced to a Prophet that will be raised up. It will be a prophet who will carry the Word from Father God. Of course this Prophet is a direct reference to Christ. His Words need to be heeded because the people will be judged as to whether they hearken to His Words or not. There are warnings concerning those who presume to speak in His name (vs 20). We saw this earlier in one of the problems of Prophetic ministries. There can easily be an element of presumption. A true prophet cannot function in this way. In the preparation of Ezekiel we see the Lord place His prophet through many humiliating experiences. Why would God do this? It was for the purpose of removing any human taint or presumption from his message. The message he was called to bring forth was weighty and it could not afford any human element to it.
What about the prophets of the last days? It is clear that God is raising up prophets but it is also clear that there will be the false messengers as well. We see this duality in Jeremiah’s day when he contended against a prophetic stream which affected the hearts of people. In Jeremiah 28 you have two prophets, Hananiah and Jeremiah. Both prophets are speaking against the same foe (King of Babylon) with a similar message. The difference was in the duration of captivity. Jeremiah prophesied 70 years of captivity (Jer 25:12, 29:10) while Hananiah spoke of 2 years (Jer 28:3). Who do you think was the more popular prophet? Whose message proved to be more appealing to the masses of people? It was Hananiah due to his message being easier to digest. The problem was that it was NOT the Word of the Lord. Jeremiah had the Word but his message was not what the people wanted to hear. This is a very clear picture of what will be (and is) playing out in the modern day church. There were strong elements of truth in Hananiah’s prophetic words but there was one major flaw. It was in the timing. Two years is not the same as seventy and it was on this issue that the people swelled towards Hananiah. May we be warned and learn from this example.
Jer 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
The Lord’s attention is now drawn to speaking as to what will take place in the last days. It all begins when He refers to the temple that will be thrown down (vs 2). He then has a private discussion with John, Andrew, Peter and James. This question provides the Lord the platform to project and speak concerning the events surrounding the last days; the time and season that is before us today.
The Lord’s Words are addressed to our generation. We need to let this sink in! There is a progression and a time line that develops in the Lord’s discourse. In verses 6-8 the Lord mentions the beginning of sorrows consisting of rumours of wars, nations aligning against other nations as well as many false deceivers claiming to be speaking in the name of Christ. We just saw this in our review of Deuteronomy 18 where many presume to speak on the Lord’s behalf. All of these things are currently taking place.
I feel we may be already beginning to see the releasing of some of the seal judgements (Rev 6). The first few horses of Revelation 6 already may be doing their work. There is a sequence of events that takes place in Revelation which can be likened to the sequence seen in the Lord’s teaching to these 4 brethren. There is a further development seen in verses 9-13 which we need to note. Jesus states that the time is at hand when people will be brought before rulers and people of authority in defending the Faith. This is taking place on an increasing basis. The laws of the land are changing and it is clear that Christianity stands in the cross-hairs of today’s cultural warriors. Those who choose to stand for what is right will be targeted and in many cases brought before the courts. This sequence that the Lord is speaking of (vs 9-13) is now beginning to play out in our generation.
The next sequence that the Lord addresses is the trigger point of the Abomination of Desolation (vs 14-37). The prophet Daniel references this in both Daniel 9 and 11. This event will take place in the midst of the 7 year tribulation period. The last week of Daniel’s vision (Dan 9:27) will find many simultaneous events taking place. Moses and Elijah will be finishing up their testimony. They will die, rise from the dead and ascend up to heaven in the middle of the last seven year period.
There will be the war in heaven and subsequent taking up of the man-child company of believers as described in Rev 12 which takes place about the same time of the resurrection of Moses and Elijah. It will be at this time when Satan is cast down from his heavenly perch upon the earth. He will have great wrath and begin to wage war against the church (woman) and the remnant of Outer Court believers that are still left upon the earth (Rev 12-13). We can make the point that the period from the middle of the 7 year tribulation period up towards the end is covered in verses 14-23. The very end is covered in verses 24-31 when Jesus talks about what it will be like right around the time of HIs 2nd coming.
The final 6 verses (32-37) speak to us on the need for vigilance and being watchful. There is so much to consider in this chapter regarding the Lord’s Words on the last days. The point I felt to emphasize is the sequence of events. It is amazing that the Lord is speaking with such clarity as to what will take place in the last days; our days. We need to remember that he is about to experience the Cross. He is about to become sin as the Passover Lamb and yet can speak with such clarity to YOU AND ME. The Lord is actually speaking to us, to our generation. He is having us in mind as He approaches His destiny with Calvary. What a Saviour we serve. Let us take very much to heart His final words in this chapter. May we Watch and may we be found Faithful.