103-1418 Chapter 18
The Equality and Support of Religious Leaders
In consideration of the authority figures in the government it is only logical to speak of the religious leadership. In the government of Israel religious leadership was far more powerful than for contemporary persons in the Free Church tradition. First, the Levities were assured of physical support. It is likely that this addresses the problem of when a local shrine was replaced by a central sanctuary. When a priest was displaced there was an obligation for the community of faith to care for such ministers.
Second, the equality of the priest suggest that rural Levitical priest displaced from their local places of service with the centralization of the worship were entitled to minister at the Jerusalem Temple. It is clear from the text there is to be no discrimination within the ministry. A Levitical; priest coming from the most obscure rural village had a legitimate right to minister in the name of the Lord at the Jerusalem Temple. Such equality in any generation could advance the ministry of God’s servants.
The Validity of the Prophetic Word
In the third area of authority addressed the demand for covenant living as an issue of divine revelation. How can one know the revelation of God? First the uniqueness of the revelation from the Lord led to the condemnation of pagan religious practice. As the faith community searches for the bases of authority, we may be sure that it does not rest in systems and practices. The system cannot stand over the Lord or the covenant commitment.
Second, continuity in divine revelation was affirmed in the promise the Lord will rise up “a prophet like me” who will bear the Words of God.
Third was the compulsive power of the prophetic word was such that it commanded the obedience from those who heard. It would be decreed destruction for false prophets who pretended to speak the word of the Lord but who spoke their own word.
Forth the content of prophetic word was the test of its authenticity. Did prophetic content come to pass and was it consistent with performance? This is the criteria are continuing test for the validity of the prophetic word. But the implication is clear that only the prophetic word of the Lord is the one people are obliged to hear. Only to word of the false prophet need not be listened to. This is the bases that the “prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”
Preaching on Justice
The concern for justice in the Old Testament focused not only on general principles within the community but especially on criminal cases. Every effort was expended to assure that justice was implemented, with equality both to the accused and to the victim. Efforts were made to protect persons from intemperate wrath, to protect property rights, and to protect an accused person against a false witness.