Torah: Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9
PROPHETS: Isaiah 51:12–52:12
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: Acts 3:13–26
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 & 2
Judges For a Just Society
Chapter 12 looked ahead to the time when God would establish a centralized place of worship marked by His Presence in the midst of His people. This section begins with establishing judicial authority for local courts spread throughout the land (16:18–17:7). Notice the emphasis on maintaining exclusivity and purity of worship in the community. This is the foundation for establishing a truly just society.
Next, the “supreme court” of the land is established as the central court to which difficult cases could be brought (not really a court of appeal like our Supreme Court).
Kings Who Lead By Following
This section establishes monarchial authority in the office of king. God knew beforehand that the people would reject His direct leadership and instead look for an earthly leader to follow (cf. 1 Samuel 8:4–22).
Notice the emphasis in vv. 18–20 that establishes leading as primarily being rooted in following God. How is God leading you to change in the way that you follow Him? Identify the change, submit it to prayer and step out in faith!
Torah 3 & 4
Priests Receive the LORD
Priests receive no land inheritance, for “the LORD is their inheritance.” Their physical needs are met through the people’s obedient giving to the LORD (cf. Numbers 18:21–24 and 1 Corinthians 9:13–14).
Priests Minister to Maintain Pure Worship
Though Levites were spread throughout the land to fulfill certain responsibilities, provision was made for them to come to the centralized place of worship to serve.
Their service was to support the community worshiping God according to His ways, and not according to the ways of the surrounding peoples.
In what ways are you influenced by the ways of the people around you? Do these influences push you toward God or pull you away from Him? A good rule of thumb is that if you cannot see a positive influence that you are having on someone else, then you can bet that they are probably having a negative influence on you. Yikes! Remember who you are as a new covenant priest and worship God according to His way, leading others to do the same.
torah 5 & 6
Prophets Must Speak Only For God
Having established the offices of judge, king, and priest, Moses now turns his attention to the office of prophet. Prophets are to speak only for God and lead others to follow Him exclusively. There would be many prophets (both true and false) in Israel’s future, ultimately pointing forward to “The Prophet” who, like Moses, would lead God’s people out of slavery and into true freedom (cf. John 6:14, 40).
The willful shedding of an innocent man’s blood creates guilt and defilement (cf. Genesis 9:6). To protect the community against this tragedy, God gives instructions to set apart three cities (vv. 1–3). A person who kills someone unintentionally can flee to one of these cities for safety from grieving relatives whose vengeance could compound the problem by unrighteously shedding more blood (vv. 4–7).
Additional cities would be needed when God granted all the land (vv. 8–10) but the system could not be abused by willful murderers trying to escape justice (vv. 11–13).
God’s People Must Maintain Justice and Fear Only God
Falsifying a land claim (v. 14) and unjustly convicting the innocent (vv. 15–21) also creates guilt and defilement and is thus prohibited. Being in covenant relationship with God should create a fear of the consequences of disobeying Him (cf. 13:11; 17:13; 19:20 and 21:21) but should free God’s people from fearing man (cf. 1:17; 3:22; 7:18 and 20:1–4, 8).
Israel is instructed to remember who God is and enjoy the benefits of His provision and protection, especially when preparing for battle.
In what ways does the fear of man control you and keep you in bondage? Pray about these areas and ask God for courage to trust Him more. Then act on this faith by speaking up for God.
torah 7 &
Shedding Guilty Blood Is Regulated By God
Shedding Innocent Blood Is Prohibited By God
God’s instructions are different for engaging distant nations in battle as opposed to confronting nearby nations. In confronting distant nations, Israel was instructed in how to show mercy (20:10–15). In confronting nearby nations, however, there was no such mercy (vv. 16–18). This harsh regulation can only be understood by remembering two things:
1) God gave man free will and thus patiently waits for repentance. In absence of any repentant response and with the addition of more and more sins, there does come a point of sin’s “fullness” when God executes judgment. The nations inhabiting the Promised Land have presumably reached this point of “fullness,” and Israel is God’s instrument of such judgment (cf. Genesis 15:16, where God tells Abram that the future time of slavery in Egypt would be time in which the sin of the Amorites would reach this point of “fullness.”).
2) In God’s sovereignty, He uses this process to fulfill covenant promises (in this case the promise of land) that He made in ages past to further impress upon His created people that He can and must be trusted!
Find these two things in Deuteronomy 9:5 as God’s explanation to help His people spiritually discern what is true.
God regulates wartime principles for cutting down trees (vv. 19–20) as well as atonement principles for safely dealing with an unsolved murder (21:1–9).
Are you more impressed by the power of man’s free will to decide his fate, or the power of God’s sovereignty to control all things? Can both be equally true? Does wrestling with this question lead you to delight in the wonder of God or despair in the wanderings of your own understanding?
Isaiah Saw Ahead to God’s Provision
This Haftarah portion is the fourth of seven Haftarot of Consolation following Tish’ahb’Av (the 9th of the lunar month Av—the date on which both Temples were destroyed). Though Israel is in covenant relationship with God, Isaiah is speaking to people who have not held up their end of the deal. They have turned away from trusting God and have not followed Him alone. As a result, God chastises them by the hand of Assyria in fulfillment of the covenant curses for disobedience. Isaiah sees past this temporary judgment, however, and gazes on Israel’s future when God fulfills promises by sending the ultimate Judge, King, Priest and Prophet all wrapped up in the One referred to in the following verses as the “Suffering Servant” (cf. 52:13–53:12). In Him, Yeshua our Messiah, God comforts His people.
Read Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:12–15. Who this week has heard the good news from your lips, and seen in your life, that “God reigns”?
Yeshua Is God’s Provision
While at the Temple, Peter’s extreme living (healing a crippled man) caught the attention of those around him. His response to their questioning was to point them to God’s word and His work in history.
Do you know His word well enough to point others to it? Do you comprehend what He’s done, is doing, and is going to do in history so as to help others recognize God at the center? Ask God for growth in this area and step out in faith! We all need to grow in this area—so don’t waste your time judging yourself in terms of what you “ought” to know and step out in faith because of “Who” you know.
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.