TODAY’S READING: DEUTERONOMY 16-19
As I was reading through these chapters this morning, it struck me for the very first time that Moses prophesied in one fell swoop about Jesus as the king, the priest, and the prophet. It’s all right there from Deuteronomy 17:14 to 18:22.
JESUS: A KING WHOM THE LORD YOUR GOD WILL CHOOSE
Deuteronomy 17:14-15 says, “When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.”
For many of us, the above passage of scripture will immediately bring to mind what Israel said to Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:4-5, which says, “Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, ‘Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.'”
The words set and appoint in the above two passages are the same Hebrew word, sim. Sim basically means to put, place, or set. It can also mean appoint or install. But, it does not mean to choose. Moses prophesied that Israel would set or place a king over themselves, but God would ultimately choose the king he wanted.
In 1 Samuel 8, we read that Israel asked Samuel to set a king over them just as Moses prophesied. But, we also read in 1 Samuel 8:18 that the first king of Israel was one “whom you have chosen for yourselves.” But, Moses prophesied that God would choose the king.
The king that Israel would put over them and choose for themselves and the king God would choose is foreshadowed in Saul, David, and Solomon.
Saul is a picture of the fleshly or carnal king that Israel chose and set over themselves. Saul had all the attributes of the kings of the other nations that Israel desired. According to 1 Samuel 9:1-2, Saul was from a wealthy family, he was more handsome than any man in Israel, and he was a full head taller than anyone else. Israel chose a king based on external characteristics.
David is a picture of the king that God would choose. While God brought Saul to Samuel, in regards to David, God told Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:3, “You shall anoint for me him whom I will declare to you.” Israel chose Saul as their king based on his external appearance. But, in 1 Samuel 16:7, God told Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Solomon is a picture of the resurrected king that would rule in a time of peace and build the temple of God.
Ultimately though, these three kings, even all the kings of Israel, are not the king God would choose.
Even though Jesus was God, Philippians 2:7 says that he was “born in the likeness of men.” Hebrews 2:14 says “since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he [Jesus] himself likewise partook of the same things.” Galatians 4:4 says Jesus “was born of woman, born under the law.” And, Hebrews 2:17 says Jesus was “to be made like his brothers in every respect.” Jesus was a brother and not a foreigner to all Israel.
Moses prophesied that Israel “may indeed set a king over you.” Interestingly, the Hebrew word set can also mean plant. Israel indeed set a king over themselves when they took the seed of Abraham and planted him in the ground.
While God choose Jesus as king, indeed Israel set or planted this brother as king over them. They planted him through his crucifixion and burial. Philippians 2:7-8 says Jesus took “the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him.” God exalted Jesus to throne.
Israel set or planted Jesus as their king, but God choose Jesus as king just as Moses prophesied.
JESUS: HE ALONE MEETS THE THREE REQUIREMENTS OF ISRAEL’S KING
Deuteronomy 17:16-17 says, “Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.”
While Solomon is a picture of the resurrected king, he was not the king God ultimately chose for Israel because Solomon violated all three of the above requirements.
1 Kings 4:26 says, “Solomon also had 40,000 stalls of horses.” 1 Kings 10:28 says, “Solomon’s import of horses was from Egypt.”
1 Kings 11:3 says, “He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart.”
1 Kings 10:21 says, “All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. None were silver; silver was not considered as anything in the days of Solomon.”
Even though Solomon is a picture of Jesus as the resurrected king, Solomon did not met any of the three requirements for the king that Israel would set over themselves and the king that God would choose.
Normally, a king made his triumphal entry into the city on a great war horse. But, not Jesus. Unlike Solomon, Jesus did not have a single horse. He didn’t even own a donkey. John 12:14-15 says, “And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!'”
There is no verse that says Jesus did not have wives like Solomon. But, surely the Holy Spirit would have told us if he even had one. However, we know that Jesus solely devoted himself to doing Father’s will. He repeated this over and over. Jesus had no distractions. He was not divided in any way from pursuing the will of his Father. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:32-34, “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.” If Jesus had been married, then his interests would have been divided between his Father’s will and the things of this world. Jesus would have been trying to do what he told us not to do – serving God and mammon. Therefore, not only did Jesus not have many wives like Solomon, Jesus did not have even one wife.
Jesus’ family was poor. At the time of her purification, Mary offered two turtledoves (Luke 2:24). Women were instructed to offer a lamb for their purification, but Leviticus 12:8 says that “if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons.” In addition to his family being poor, 2 Corinthians 8:9 says “that though he was rich [in heaven with his Father], yet for your sake he became poor.” While Solomon had so much gold that it was used for goblets even in the pagan houses of worship he built for his wives and so much silver it was considered as nothing in his kingdom, Jesus was poor, so poor that he did not even had a place to lay his head.
Jesus is the king the Lord chose that met his three requirements just as Moses prophesied.
JESUS: HE KEPT THE LAW AND HIS KINGDOM IS FOREVER
Deuteronomy 17:18-20 says, “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Leviticus priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that may not turn aside from the commandment either to the right hand or the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.”
When did Jesus sit on the throne of his kingdom?
In Matthew 2:2, the men who came from the east said, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” Notice carefully what they said. They did not say that Jesus was born to be king. No, they asked for the one who was born king. Jesus was the king at his birth. Herod would not have been troubled by a baby that would be king in 20-30 years time. But, he would be troubled by another in his territory who was king at that very moment.
From the time Jesus took the throne when he was born, he obviously did not have a book of the law. In fact, he probably could not have afforded one. But, he constantly meditated on the law of God. Jesus was about one thing and one thing only – doing his Father’s will. Jesus declares this in John 5:19, 5:30, 6:38, 8:28, 8:38, and 12:49.
His understanding of the law was so otherworldly that when he taught in the synagogue in Capernaum, Mark 1:22 says, “And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” Scribes made copies of the law. Jesus didn’t need a copy of the law because he taught with the authority of the Father because the Father, and therefore the law, was in him from birth, from the time he took the throne.
And, on the cross, having done everything, having fulfilled every dot and iota of the law, Jesus said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
We just saw that Jesus born king, that he took the throne immediately. In Luke 1:31-33, the angel says to Mary, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Jesus was born king and took the throne of David immediately. From that moment on Jesus reigned and of his kingdom there will be no end.
Jesus is the king who would perfectly keep the law and who’s kingdom would continue forever without end just as Moses prophesied.
JESUS: HIS INHERITANCE WAS THE LORD, NOT WITH ISRAEL
Deuteronomy 18:1, 2 says, “The Levitical priests, all the tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel…They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the Lord is their inheritance.”
Ultimately, Jesus’ priesthood was of a different order than Aaron’s, but Aaron as the high priest was still a picture or type of Jesus.
The Levites were not given any land to inherit in Israel. Jesus was just like them. In Luke 9:58, Jesus said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Jesus had no land, not even a house in a city. Jesus had no portion or inheritance with Israel.
The Levites had the Lord as their inheritance. They served him and ministered to him. And, the Levites had God’s presence as their inheritance. They could enter farther into the tabernacle than the rest of Israel. And, the high priest, as a type of Jesus, could enter the most holy place, albeit only once a year.
Jesus was God’s servant and ministered to him by mediating his presence to everyone. Jesus had the Lord as his inheritance because they were one.
In John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”
In John 16:15, Jesus said, “All that the Father has is mine.” Because Jesus was one with the Father and was his perfect servant, all the Father had was his. The Father gave this to him. The Lord was his inheritance.
While God gave the nations their inheritance, their land, his inheritance was the people. Deuteronomy 32:9 says, “But the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.” In John 17:6, Jesus said, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me.” Jesus perfectly served God but shared in the Lord’s inheritance, his people.
Jesus had no inheritance with Israel but had the Lord as his inheritance just as Moses prophesied.
JESUS: HE ATE THE LORD’S FOOD OFFERINGS
Deuteronomy 18:1, 3, says, “They shall eat the Lord’s food offerings as their inheritance…And this shall be the priest’s due from the people, from those offering a sacrifice, whether an ox or a sheep; they shall give the priest the shoulder and the two cheeks and the stomach.”
Because the priests did not have their own land, they were given food to eat from the offerings the people gave to the Lord. The portions they received to eat were symbolic of the work they would do.
The food offering would come from the ox or the sheep. The ox was the animal that served man. The ox is a type of Jesus as God’s servant. We see Jesus as the ox in Mark’s gospel. The lamb is the innocent one that was slain. We see Jesus as the lamb in John’s gospel as John the baptist declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
The priest was given the shoulder. The shoulder is the place of strength. The shoulder is where women bore jars of water (e.g. Genesis 21:14 and 24:15). When Jacob prophesied over his 12 sons, he said Issachar “bowed his shoulder to bear.” (Genesis 49:15) On the priest’s garments, there were two stones that were engraved with the names of the 12 sons of Israel. Exodus 28:12 says, “And Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for remembrance.”
Like Aaron, Jesus would bear the people on his shoulders. Isaiah 9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son if given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder.” Jesus bore the government, which ultimately means their welfare, of the people on his shoulder. When Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep, he said, “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” (Luke 15:5) Of course, Jesus is the shepherd that goes out to find his sheep that are lost and carries them back to the fold on his shoulders.
Not only did Jesus eat the offering of and become the shoulder, he also ate the offering of and became the two cheeks.
The word cheek(s) is only used 15 times throughout the whole Bible. It is often associated with some form of disgrace.
Six of the 13 Old Testament verses with the word cheek(s) speak of someone being struck on the cheek. A couple of these are prophecies about Jesus. Isaiah 50:6 says, “I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.” An Israelite man was always to wear a beard. It was a sign of maturity.
But, an enemy would shave off your beard to bring shame upon you. So, when Isaiah 50:6 says “I gave…my cheeks to those who pull out the beard,” it’s not saying that Jesus’ beard was pulled out but that he let his cheeks be slapped by his enemy.
And, Micah 5:1 says, “with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek.” Of course, Jesus is the judge.
Matthew 26:67 says, “Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him.” You slap someone on their cheeks.
Mark 15:19 says, “And they were striking his head with a reed.” The enemy was striking the judge of Israel with a rod on his cheeks.
This is precisely why Jesus says in Matthew 5:39, “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Jesus gave both of his cheeks to the enemy to be slapped and he bids us to do the same.
And, as Jesus was the priest that ate the shoulder and the two cheeks, he was the priest that was to eat the stomach. I wrote about this yesterday in Eat Only Animals that Part the Hoof and Chew the Cud – Why? Jesus’ food was to do the will of his Father. He would eat this food and then store it in his stomach to be brought up at a later time for more chewing. In this way, Jesus was the animal that chews the cud, which is symbolic of his meditation on the scripture and the will of his Father.
Therefore, Jesus was the priest that ate the food offerings from the ox or the sheep of the shoulder, the two cheeks, and the stomach just as Moses prophesied.
JESUS: THE PRIEST WHO MINISTERS FOR ALL TIME
Deuteronomy 18:5 says, “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.”
Levi was chosen out of the 12 tribes to be the priests before God. Notice how most of the pronouns in this section are in the plural, speaking of all the priests. But, in verse 5, Moses talks about him, singular. A priest shall stand and minister before the Lord, him and and his sons for all time.
Certainly, Aaron didn’t stand before the Lord and minister for all time. Even his sons didn’t. Hebrews 7:23 says, “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office.” Aaron and his cons couldn’t serve forever because they died.
But, Hebrews 7:24 says of Jesus, “He holds his priesthood forever, because he continues forever.” Jesus is alive forevermore and always ministering before God as the great high priest.
Not only does Jesus minister as priest forever, but all those who believe in him, his sons, have been made a “kingdom, priests to his God and Father.” (Revelation 1:6) We have been made priests with Jesus and serve with him forever.
Jesus was the priest who ministers forever before the Lord with his sons forever just as Moses prophesied.
JESUS: A PRIEST WHO COMES OUT OF THE TOWNS TO EAT EQUAL PORTIONS PLUS WHAT HE RECEIVES FROM THE SALE OF HIS PATRIMONY
Deuteronomy 18:6-8 says, “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.”
Jesus came from Nazareth. Nazareth was a despised place, nothing good came from it according to many of the Jews. But, Jesus came from Nazareth to Jerusalem to offer himself as the burnt sacrifice. Jerusalem was the place that Lord chose to put his name. It was in Jerusalem that Jesus performed his last act of his earthly ministry.
One result of Jesus doing this is that he would “have equal portions to eat.” Equal to whom? The other priests, who are us. What is the equal portion? Both Romans 8:17 and Ephesians 3:6 say that we are fellow heirs with Christ. We share an equal portion in the inheritance with him.
The second result of Jesus doing this would be “what he receives from the sale of his patrimony.” What does that mean?
Patrimony means what you inherited from your father. Jesus sold his. 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “That though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” Jesus sold his patrimony, his inheritance, to us, for nothing, so that we could be joint heirs with him.
But, Deuteronomy 18:8 says that he received something for this. What did Jesus receive?
Philipians 2:6-9 says, Christ Jesus “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.”
Besides becoming a joint heir with us, Jesus received the name that is above every name for the sale of his father’s inheritance.
Jesus was the priest that came out of the towns, ministered in the place that God made his name to dwell, and had an equal portion with the other priests plus what he received for the sale of his patrimony just as Moses prophesied.
JESUS: THE PROPHET RAISED UP FROM AMONG YOU AND TO WHOM YOU SHOULD LISTEN
Deuteronomy 18:15-16 says, “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.”
In Matthew 17, Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. Jesus was transfigured before them as his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. Suddenly, next to Jesus was Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets. Jesus was talking with them.
Peter pipes up and says they should make three tabernacles, one each for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Peter was trying to do Jesus a favor by making him equal with Moses and Elijah. Matthew 17:5 says, “He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and the voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.'” Then, Moses and Elijah disappeared. Matthew 17:9 says, “And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, ‘Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”
Horeb was the dry place where Moses struck the rock to get water for the people. Jesus was the dry place on the cross as he said, “I thirst.” But, once he was resurrected he was able to pour out the water of His word through the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told the disciples to tell no one until he was raised from the dead because that’s when the fulfillment of the transfiguration would take place. The fulfillment is found in Luke 24. Here, Jesus became the translator of all the scriptures – Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms – for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and all the other disciples. It was after Jesus was raised from the dead that we were finally able to listen to him and not all the men that wrote in the Old Testament. It was after he was raised that we could listen only to the voice of Jesus as Moses and Elijah disappeared.
Jesus it the prophet that was raised up for us to listen to as we desired at Horeb just as Moses prophesied.
Moses was right. Jesus is the king, the priest, and the prophet.