Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment. — Deuteronomy 16:18
A few years ago, my husband and I visited our nation’s capital for a mini-vacation. We had been there once before, but only passing through. This time, we toured the city and visited numerous sights of interest. Although my husband is not originally from the United States, he was moved, as was I, by what we saw and read while touring various monuments.
We were impressed that the laws of this country were founded on a desire for truth and justice. The founding fathers of this country were interested in “justice for all” — for people of all backgrounds and origins. Many of the individuals who have been honored with monuments were willing to give their lives for that principle. Inscriptions on great walls told of their commitment to a system of government where the citizens could trust those in positions of authority.
These important principles are similar to those that God gave to the Children of Israel as they were taking over the Promised Land. He instructed them to appoint spiritual leaders who would guide the tribes with justice and God’s wisdom.
How does this apply to us today? We have a responsibility to vote for and make an effort to appoint leaders who follow the guidelines that God said are important. When it comes time to vote for officials, we should not just assume that our vote does not count. We should cast a vote that supports that which is good and just and pleasing in God’s sight. Above all, we should pray for our leaders.
God wanted Israel to have a structure of godly leadership, and He gave them instructions on how to accomplish that in their local areas. Looking ahead, He even gave instructions for the time when they would have a king. This was not because God wanted them to have a king, but because He knew the future; He knew they would one day seek a king. Therefore, God laid out guidelines for choosing a king and also for the king’s conduct after his coronation.
The Levites and priests had both civic and religious responsibilities among the people. The religious duties were similar to responsibilities that our ministers have today — teaching the Children of Israel about God, living a life of example, taking care of the physical temple and employees, and distributing offerings. Their civic responsibilities came when matters developed that were too difficult for the regional leadership to settle.
God wanted Israel to worship only Him. He set in place strong punishment — death by stoning — for those who were proven guilty of worshiping other gods. He strictly forbade the types of worship practiced by the heathen nations dwelling near the Children of Israel. These included the ritual of sacrificing children and of witchcraft. Sorcerers (observers of times), witches, mediums (consulters with familiar spirits), or those who called up the dead (necromancers) were not to be found among the Israelite people. God abhorred the occult then, and He continues to abhor it today.
In chapter 18, verse 15, through Moses, God gave a profound prophecy that pointed ahead to Jesus Christ. This verse, and the companion words in verses 18 and 19, are referenced in the New Testament in Acts 3:22-23 and Acts 7:37. Moses (through God’s power) delivered the Children of Israel from Egypt, and interceded before God for them when they sinned. Jesus Christ would one day die to deliver all people from sin, and then He would ascend to God to intercede for mankind before God the Father.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The second discourse: exposition of the Law
C. The exposition of the principle laws of Israel
2. Civil legislation
a. Laws concerning the government of the land (16:18 — 17:20)
(1) Laws concerning the appointment of judges (16:18 — 17:7)
(a) Their appointment (16:18)
(b) Their conduct (16:19 — 17:7)
(2) Laws concerning an appeals court (17:8-13)
(3) Laws concerning the appointment of a king (17:14-20)
(a) His appointment (17:14-15)
(b) His conduct (17:16-20)
b. Laws concerning the rights of priests and the Levites (18:1-22)
(1) Laws concerning the rights of priests and Levites (18:1-8)
(2) Laws against idolatrous worship (18:9-13)
(3) Laws concerning false and true prophets (18:14-22)
God made provisions for the Children of Israel to have a governmental structure that would assist them in dwelling peacefully in future years.