Spiritual Rants: April 1 “l Want To Be A Shepherd” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: Deuteronomy 18:1-20:20 Luke 9:28-50 Psalm 73:1-28 Proverbs 12:10

Old Testament:  Deuteronomy 18:1-20:20

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

Deut. 18:1-8  The Poor Levites

Levites in the Old Testament pretty much correspond to the church workers in the New Testament.  Notice how over and over Moses exhorts the Israelites to make sure that the Levites are taken care of?  The reason is that there would be no worship in the age of the Law if the Levites weren’t supported.  In fact, as already mentioned, in the days of Nehemiah when he was responsible for re-establishing the Temple and Temple worship, the Levites were out in the suburbs cutting their lawns, er, uh, tending their fields.

Nehemiah had to make sure they were provided for so he could get them back to serving the Lord in worship.

10 “I also discovered that the portions of the Levites had not been given them, so that the Levites and the singers who performed the service had 2gone away, beach to his own field.  11 So I reprimanded the officials and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” Then I gathered them together and restored them to their posts.  12 All Judah then brought the tithe of the grain, wine and oil into the storehouses.  13 In charge of the storehouses I appointed Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah of the Levites, and in addition to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were considered reliable, and it was their task to distribute to their kinsmen.  14 Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out my loyal deeds which I have performed for the house of my God and its services”  Neh. 13:10-14.

Many pastors today are poor and can not pay their bills.  Many pastors in the super-churches are over paid and have million dollar houses.  The only description of a church service seems to be that of a small church.

26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.  27 If anyone speaks in a tongue,  [it should be] by two or at the most three, and [each] in turn, and one must interpret;  28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God.  29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment.  30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent.  31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted;  32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets;  33 for God is not [a God] of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” 1 Cor. 14:26-33

Yet many pastors can not survive on what their churches pay them while Christians are spending huge amounts of money on their own entertainment and neglecting their worship.  Just sayin’.

Deut. 18:9-14  Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

Spiritists were forbidden in Israel.  That included divination, witchcraft, sorcerers, trying to communicate with the dead, and other such like things.  Some Christians consult astrology today.  It is forbidden in Scripture.  Why do these kinds of things?  When they do work, it is because of evil spirits.  Why consult with evil spirits?  Just as God has a plan for everyone, so does Satan.  When things like astrology are accurate, it is because Satan’s plan has been put in place.  I’d rather have God’s plan.  Satan is not altogether privy to God’s plans.  He can make an educated guess after being in business for thousands of years but cannot always be accurate.   The pagans consulted with evil spirits.  God’s people are not to consult with demons.

The Lord would raise up a prophet in the future who will speak God’s words.  We will know Him as the Messiah.  If anyone prophesies and is not completely accurate, he is to be put to death (Deut. 18:20).

Deut. 19:9-13  Cities Of Refuge

The “Cities of Refuge” were not like Panama City or Las Vegas.  They were not vacation spots.  They were places suspected murderers could flee till justice was sorted out.  If a person was found guilty of murder, he was given the death penalty (Deut. 19:12-13).

Deut. 19:14-20  A Landmark

Don’t mess with your neighbor’s landmark and the boundaries of his property.  Any accusation must be by at least two or three witnesses (Deut. 19:15).  Retribution shall be equally weighed out (Deut. 19:21).

Deut. 20:1-20  Warfare

If Israel needed to fight enemies that are better equipped and more numerous:  no prob.  The Lord will fight with them.  Anyone who has just built a new home or garden or is engaged is exempt from military service.  If someone is just not cut out for the military, that person is also exempt (Deut. 20:8).

A city designated for destruction will be offered terms of peace.  It they accept the terms, they will be servants in Israel.  If not, the city will be besieged and all the men will be slayed. The women and children  can be considered as “booty.”  However, the cities of the Hittites, Amorites, the Canaanites, Perizzites, Hevites, and the Jebusites had to be completely destroyed.  They were rank people and possibly carried disease and certainly would meld terrible pagan worship into the Jewish nation.

When besieging a nation, the trees were to be left intact and used for food.  Trees that do not bear fruit could be used for siegeworks.

New Testament:  Luke 9:7-27

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

Luke 9:28-45 (cf. Matt. 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8)  Morphed

Jesus had just said that some of the disciples would not die before seeing the kingdom.  He was talking about Peter, James, and John whom He had taken up on the mountain with Him to pray.  They fell asleep, of course.  When they woke up they saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus.  Jesus had morphed, turning bright, glowing white.  Peter started running around like a head with its chicken cut off. He wanted to build three booths (tabernacles) for the three of them.  A cloud formed around them and Peter heard a voice, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!”   I would have!  After they heard the voice, Elijah and Moses had disappeared again.  The boys shut up about it all.

The next day, there was again a large crowd assembled to see Jesus.  A man asked Jesus to look at his boy who was demon-posssessed and threw him to the ground and caused him to convulse and foam at the mouth.  The disciples could not cast the demon out.  Jesus expressed his disappointment in the boys and asked for the boy to be brought to him.  Jesus told off the demon and it left the poor boy.  Everyone was characteristically amazed.

Right after Jesus took His disciples aside and told that He was going to be delivered to the authorities.  The meaning was hid from them.  They were afraid to ask Him about it.

Luke 9:46-50  The Greatest

The boys started arguing about who was the greatest amongst them.  So Jesus moved a child close to him and said, “whoever receives a child in My name receives Me and the One Without sent Me.”  Jesus explained that the least of them was the greatest.  Ouch.

John asked Jesus about someone they saw casting out demons.  John wanted to shut the guy down.  Jesus said to leave him alone that whoever wasn’t against them was on their side.

Psalm 73:1-28     A Wisdom Psalm by Asaph

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

Psalm 73:1-28   All You Need Is Yah

Psalm 73 is a wisdom psalm written by Asaph.  Asaph had rich person-itis.  I think most people are born into this country, the USA, with that disease.  We get it when we learn that the Declaration of Independence declares that we are entitled to the “pursuit of happiness.”  If we understand “happiness” correctly, then that would solve the problem.  Happiness is a relationship with God.  In fact, it is eternal life (cf. John 17:3).

But Asaph misunderstood that concept at first.  He knew that God was good to the Jews (v. 1).  He would have known that the watershed chapter of the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 28, promised prosperity to those who obey God and cursed those who crossed Him.  So he was confused when he saw dopey, rich people sliding through life without the same cares as the poor (vv. 2-3).

They even seemed to die a better death than poor people (v. 4) though escape all kinds of trouble that poor people have (v. 5) and, as a result, become arrogant (v. 6).  In fact, their eyes pop out because they are so corpulent (v. 7).  They think they are better than everybody else (v. 8).  They don’t regard God (v. 9a) or other people (v. 9b).

They always have leisure time (v. 12) and even God’s people envy them (v. 10).  They don’t think God will notice their overindulgence (v. 11).  So Asaph figures he has been sacrificing things for God for no reason (vv. 13-14, Mal. 3:14).

It is easy to turn on the TV and envy the rich and famous but keep watching (vv. 15-17).  They get cancer or die in car crashes like anyone else.  They can try like Walt Disney to use their wealth to have their bodies frozen until there is a cure for what did them in.  But they will, nevertheless, perish (cf. Heb. 9:27).  And their end can occur as suddenly as it would for any poor person (vv. 18-20).

Asaph meditated in the house of the Lord (v. 17) and God gave him insight:  the rich can expire in a flash.   Though he felt cheated and was bitter, he realized that his jealousy was a sin (vv. 21-22).  He had to admit that God was in control and guiding him despite the way he felt (vv. 23-24).  He had violated the “dummy rule” (v. 22, cf. The Idiot Rule).

What I have learned in my advanced age is that God will strip me of everything but Him (v. 25).  When I have to depend only on Him (cf. Ps. 62:5), I am the most blessed (cf. 2 Cor. 12:10, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.)

In the end, all we have is God and all we need is God (v. 26, cf. Job 1:21).  Rich people will eventually all disappear (v. 27).

Asaph has centered himself in the Lord (v. 28).  He will praise Him and take cover in Him.  Ultimately, Asaph realized all he needed was God.

And that’s all we need, too!  No foolin’.

Proverbs 12:10  Dogged

Read this passage on BibleGateway.com

I think I already told you the story of President Lyndon Baines Johnson who made headlines by picking up his poor hound by the ears!

Who would do that kind of a thing?  I guess, LBJ would!  A righteous guy would have felt his animal’s pain and refrained!  Even if later LBJ had remorse, he still would’ve been mean!

Choose Life: Scripture:   Deuteronomy 18:6-7    NASB    “I Want To Be A Shepherd”

“Now if a Levite comes from any of your towns throughout Israel where he resides, and comes whenever he desires to the place which the LORD chooses, then he shall serve in the name of the LORD his God, like all his fellow Levites who stand there before the LORD.”   Deuteronomy 18:6-7

Today is my spiritual birthday, the day I mark being born-again in 1971 (cf. John 3:3).  Interesting that in our passage is a verse about a Levitical priest choosing to serve the Lord at the Temple or central sanctuary.  I felt called to ministry after hearing a sermon in Georgia but God apparently knew in advance what He was going to do.

The summer after my last year of high school I began dating a girl.  Her father was away on business and I didn’t get to meet him until I was set to leave my home state of New Jersey and go to college in Indiana.  I went over to my friend’s house to see her and realized it was going to be the “meet the father” opportunity.  While I waited for her to come down, her father asked me a few questions.  One was “what is going to be your major in college?”  A fair question.

And though nervous, I was still a New Jersey wise guy.  I had just recently heard Johnny Carson (the Jimmy Fallon of his day) make a joke about how he wished he had become a shepherd.  I didn’t get the humor but figured it must be funny because Johnny Carson had said it.

So I told my friend’s dad I was going to major in shepherding.  “Like with sheep he asked?”  With a straight face I answered in the affirmative.  That night he crawled into bed with his wife and turned out the light.  It was his first night back after a long business trip.  He asked his wife, “Is Jerry really going to be a shepherd?”

God’s sense of humor.  I actually became a shepherd.  And you can be, too, of sorts.  Serve others.

If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application:   

This passage is not only about the right of a Levite to serve at the main place of worship but it includes commands to make sure the servants of God are provided for.  Are you providing for your shepherds?  It would be fun to surprise him with something sometime.  But afterwards, don’t say, “April Fool!”

The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog:  Morphed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.