Deut. 17, Psalm 104, Isaiah 44, Revelation 14

DateVersionReading Plan
@June 12, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Deut. 17

Deuteronomy 17:8 (ESV) 8 “If any case arises requiring decision between one kind of homicide and another, one kind of legal right and another, or one kind of assault and another, any case within your towns that is too difficult for you, then you shall arise and go up to the place that the LORD your God will choose. 9 And you shall come to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall consult them, and they shall declare to you the decision.

The Israelites faced cases of transgressions of various levels of severity much like we do and the Lord gave the people instruction on how to handle ones too difficult to adjudicate among themselves. They were to take such cases to the Levitical priests and a judge who is in office in those days. The CSB Notes points out their theocratic culture in saying, “The presence of priests and a judge makes clear that there was no separation between the secular and the sacred and that every violation of the law was a violation of the covenant between the Lord and his people. In the theocracy of OT Israel, sin and crime were one and the same.” While we in a democratic culture have clear delineation between church and state, when reading accounts of the OT Israelites, it is important to grasp and appreciate how these were intimately fused.

Psalm 104

Psalm 104:24–25 (ESV) 24 O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. 25 Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great.

The psalmist rejoices in the LORD’s greatness expressed in His creation. The LORD’s works are manifold and from His wisdom has created a world with seas great and wide, teeming with life. Reading this early in the morning, listening to the birds arise and begin to sing, I am reminded of the beauty and sheer immensity of God’s creation. It is so easy to lose sight of this on a daily basis, being wrapped up in the concerns of our small, personal spheres. Praise God that by His Word we can be refreshed and reawakened to the all-surpassing splendor of our Lord.

Isaiah 44

Isaiah 44:16–17 (ESV) 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”

Isaiah speaks of a man who designs and fashions an object, half of which is used as fuel and for eating meat and the rest of it he fashions into an idol and prayed to for deliverance. The CSB Notes provides some historical context:

Ancient texts describing the making and care of idols confirm such a process. Pagan Near Eastern religious leaders probably did not believe that an idol was the actual god, but they did believe that the god made its power and presence known in the physical object; thus, the idol was seen as a potent representation of the deity. Laypeople, on the other hand, likely made a stronger association between idols and the deities, taking the graven wood or metal to be a true deity.

Revelation 14

Revelation 14:12 (ESV) 12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

Following the description of three angels who proclaimed an eternal gospel (Rev. 14:6), declared Babylon as fallen (Rev. 14:8) and proclaimed the drinking of God’s wrath on all who worshiped the beast and received a mark (Rev. 14:9), John calls the saints to endurance and for them to keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. As the FSB Notes says, this “is an encouragement for believers but with a view toward eternal destiny: Those who persist in faith and do not take part in the worship of the beast will avoid the second death and receive divine blessing.” Followers of Christ are to persevere through the hardships of this life and be denied earthly provision due to our allegiance to our Lord, embracing instead an eternal perspective and the certainty of salvation in our Lord.

Carson on Deuteronomy 17

He must not take many wives (Deut. 17:17). The issue was not simply polygamy. In the ancient Near East, the more powerful the king the more wives he had. This prohibition is therefore simultaneously a limit on the king’s power, and a warning that many wives will likely lead his heart astray (Deut. 17:17). This is not because wives are intrinsically evil; rather, a king on the hunt for many wives is likely to marry princesses and nobility from surrounding countries, and they will bring their paganism with them.

In his forth of five criteria for a king in Deut. 17, Carson points out how the prohibition of taking of many wives was due to the threat of idolatrous infiltration. The purity of the king’s reign was to remain pure and to rule with righteous justice. This can only happen if one’s kingship is in full surrender to the one, true King who reigns over all. Looking at the political landscape of the day, it is hard not to yearn for such a reputable leader. However, we must also keep in mind while some trust in chariots and some in horses, our trust is in the name of the LORD our God.