23rd February 2021: Our Daily deLIGHT~3rd Day-Counsel
When we listen to the voice of YHVH or do all that He has commands us, this is the same as walking in the Spirit of Counsel. Today we will look at a commandment found in Deuteronomy and explore it’s meaning.
Deuteronomy 26:13-15 says,
13 You shall say before YHVH your Elohim, ‘I have removed the sacred portion from my house, and also have given it to the Levite and the alien, the orphan and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed or forgotten any of Your
14 I have not eaten of it while mourning, nor have I removed any of it while I was unclean, nor offered any of it to the dead. I have listened [Taken the counsel] to the voice of YHVH my Elohim; I have done according to all that You have commanded me. [Taken the counsel]
15 Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel, and the ground which You have given us, a land flowing with milk and honey, as You swore to our fathers.’
Let’s continue through a few more passages of Scripture in order to understand some of the concepts in Deuteronomy 26. We will bring it to our application today as we move through the verses.
Numbers 3:12-13 says,
12“Now, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the sons of Israel instead of every firstborn, the first issue of the womb among the sons of Israel. So the Levites shall be Mine.
13 “For all the firstborn are Mine; on the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, from man to beast. They shall be Mine; I am YHVH.”
We need to be aware of the cultural understanding of that day in order to know why YHVH our Creator gave it this way. The IVP for Num. 3:12-13 says concerning the Levites in the place of the first-born.
In the ancient world many cultures featured an ancestor cult in which libations were poured out on behalf of the dead ancestors, whose spirits would then offer protection and help to those still living. The firstborn was responsible for maintaining this ancestor worship and therefore inherited the family gods (often images of deceased ancestors). In Babylon the disembodied spirit (utukki) or the ghost (etemmu) could become very dangerous if not cared for and often were the objects of incantations. Care for the dead would begin with proper burial and would continue with ongoing gifts and honor of the memory and name of the deceased. While ancestor worship or funerary cult was not approved for Israelites, the indictments of the prophets make it clear that it was one of the deviant practices of the common people. [Israel did get caught up in this.] The transfer of the status of the firstborn to the Levites therefore implies that rather than a family-level ancestor worship maintained by the firstborn, Israel would have a national-level religious practice maintained and regulated by the Levites. [Yah is taking a common cultural practice and understanding and removing them from it.]
Continuing on through a few more verses:
Deuteronomy 14:1-2 says,
1 “You are the sons of YHVH your Elohim; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave your forehead for the sake of the dead.
2 “For you are a holy people to YHVH your Elohim, and YHVH has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”
Deuteronomy 18:9-11 says,
9 “When you enter the land which YHVH your Elohim gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations.
10 “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,
11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.
Psalm 106:28 says, They joined themselves also to Baal-peor, and ate sacrifices offered to the dead. [Even though they were warned, they ignored it and thought they could handle it. We can’t!!! We need to create a gap rather than thinking we might win them over if we … _____________ you fill in the blank.]
An Ancient Near East understanding of Deuteronomy 18:11 from the IVP Commentary states:
18:11. Spells, medium, spiritist. The practitioners of spiritism and sorcery are condemned because of their association with Canaanite religion and because their “art” attempted to circumvent Yahweh by seeking knowledge and power from spirits. They represented a form of popular religion that was closer to the folk practices of the common people and served as a form of “shadow religion” for many. Sometimes, because of its association with divination, their rituals and methods stood in direct opposition to official religion or as an alternative to be used in times of desperation (see Saul’s use of the outlawed witch of Endor in 1 Sam 28). Consulting the dead: Although there was no clear sense of an afterlife in ancient Mesopotamia, no envisioning of a place of reward or punishment, ancestor worship did exist, and offerings were made to the spirits of the dead. A group of magical practitioners created a means for consulting the spirits of the dead to find out about the future (see the witch of Endor in 1 Sam 28:7–14). This was called necromancy and could involve consulting a particular or “familiar” spirit, or it could be the raising of any ghost attracted by the spells of the medium. Ritual pits, stuffed with bread and blood, were commonly used in Hittite ritual by diviners, and the Greek hero Odysseus used a pit filled with blood to attract the shades of his dead companions. It was believed that if libations were poured out to them [drink offerings/gifts], the spirits of dead ancestors could offer protection and help to those still living. In Babylon the disembodied spirit (utukki) or the ghost (etemmu) could become very dangerous if not cared for, and such spirits were often the objects of incantations. Proper care for the dead would begin with proper burial and would continue with ongoing gifts and honor of the memory and name of the deceased. The firstborn was responsible for maintaining this ancestor worship and therefore inherited the family gods (often images of deceased ancestors). [Our heavenly Father wanted to make sure that the needs of the living were being met by people who were not mixing their offerings with the pagan practices of the day.]
So how do we take this info and make it applicable for today?
- If we believe in the truths of Who Was and Is and Is to come, then we know there is a way for every generation to obey the commandments given for all eternity.
- If we believe in the Function and Message not just the Form and Method
- Then we have to recognize that the seed is to grow into fruit and though the seed doesn’t look like the fruit, nor does the fruit look like the seed, the seed is still within the fruit.
Therefore, a way we can apply the function and message of Deuteronomy 26:13-15 to our lives today after we have given the Third Portion is inserted in brackets below.
13 “You shall say before YHVH your Elohim, ‘I have removed the sacred portion from my house, [I have set it apart from all my other income] and also have given it to the Levite and the alien, the orphan and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; [I have given it
to one who is in need] I have not transgressed or forgotten any of Your commandments. [This one causes us pause as we know we have broken some commandment. It’s talking about the commandments that pertain to the sacred portion that have been mentioned and will be mentioned in the following
14 ‘I have not eaten of it while mourning, [I have not used it personally and have cheerfully given it] nor have I removed any of it while I was unclean, [I have not separated it while practicing sin] nor offered any of it to the dead [I have not given it to dead works that are pagan or unbiblical/unlawful]. I
have listened to the voice of YHVH my Elohim [Taken the counsel]; I have done according to all that You have commanded me [Take then counsel] [Again, as it pertains to the third/sacred portion…I have removed it from my other money, given it to the needy, didn’t use it for myself, gave it
cheerfully, and not in a state of practicing sin].
15 ‘Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel, and the ground which You have given us, a land flowing with milk and honey, as You swore to our fathers. [That which provides health and income. The Hebrew word for ‘produce’ is the word ‘income’. Why the ‘ground’?
Because it is that which provided the food for health and income.]
May we listen [Take the counsel] to YHVH our Elohim even in our finances!!
Have a blessed and shalom filled day!!
River of Life Tabernacle
Great peace have they who love Your law. Psalm 119:165a