The Fate of the Apostate
Israel was to have purity in their worship and they were to give attention to the apostate who abandoned the Lord for other gods. The offence of abandoning the Lord was serious and the punishment was death. Though today people do not face such punishment for infidelity to God in Israel they did. This fact demonstrates the seriousness of this issue in spite the contemporary view of this day. The point is clear that the purity of worship cannot be maintained if the faith is eroded by person’s commitment to other gods. Contemporary persons of today exemplify their faith in the Lord by their obedience to the commands of God.
Preaching on Authority
A second demand of covenant living is to acknowledge authority. Relationship to authority and authority figures is a troubling issue with which many people struggle but never resolve satisfactorily. Although there was no effort to suppress the integrity of personal initiative and responsibility, the biblical revelation does affirm the propriety of authority structures. In this instance Deuteronomy affirms the integrity of government; (17:8-20; 16:18-20) the equality and support of religious leadership, (18:1-8) and the validity of prophetic witness. (18:9-22)
The Integrity of Government
First, the integrity of the government rest on justice. This is a fundamental principle to the juristic system. Both in ancient times and in present the courts exist for the purpose of ensuring justice throughout the land. The desire of the people throughout the land was justice for all the people.
Second, arbitration and obedience is crucial to the justice system. In the Book of Deuteronomy it has provided for the submission of difficult cases to a central court. But only when justice could not be received on the local level. The reference to the place which the Lord God will choose likely means Jerusalem. When the “Court of appeal” had given its verdict, obedience was required. “You shall do according to the terms of the verdict which they declare to you from that place which the LORD chooses; and you shall be careful to observe according to all that they teach you.”
Third, government is epitomized in the choice of a king, but the king was subordinate to God. Here we see the merge of the monarchy to the theocracy. A kingship is permitted but only with stipulations given to control this form of government.
The government’s integrity would be assured through the principle of justice, the acceptance of arbitration in cases of disagreement, and the subordination of kingship to the Lord.