Deuteronomy 18:15

Verse of the Day Devotion: Deuteronomy 18:15

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” – Deuteronomy 18:15

These words that Moses spoke to the people were prophetic words from God referring to a future prophet that would come out of Israel.  Notice the wording, “The Lord will raise up for you a prophet like ME”.  Many at that time believed that Moses must have been referring to Joshua who would be the one to lead the people into the promised land.  However, there are some intriguing words spoken by Jesus and the apostles that show who this prophet like Moses really was.

For instance, when Peter was witnessing to the Jews in Solomon’s Portico, he said, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.” Acts 3:23. He is telling the listeners to repent and return to the true faith, so that when the end comes and Jesus returns, they will experience a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.  And if they do not return, they will see destruction rather than refreshing.  Note also that Jesus is referred to as the Christ about whom God spoke of through His prophets, particularly Moses.

Stephen as he was speaking to men from the Synagogue, referring to the same verse in Deuteronomy, shows that Moses was referring to Christ in a later verse, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.” Acts 7:51-53.  The righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers they had become.

There are various verses in the gospels referring to “The Prophet”, using the definite article rather than the indefinite. This no doubt refers to this prophet declared to be like Moses.   In the first chapter of John, we see Jewish priests and Levites from Jerusalem going up to John the Baptist to confer with Him regarding the coming Messiah and to question all that he was doing.  “This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’  And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” John 1:19-20.  He knew what they were suspecting him to say, so he states emphatically that he is not the Messiah.  Continuing, “They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?’  He said, ‘I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.’” John 1:21-23.  Note the question “Are you THE prophet?”  John,  referring to the words of Isaiah, answers them saying,  “A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3.  He declared he is that voice declaring the coming of THE Prophet, not the Prophet Himself.

There are many references in the Old Testament, also known as the Jewish Scriptures, that point to the coming Messiah.  For instance, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. And “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14. And lastly, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:15. And there are countless others as well.   I know we are several months from celebrating Christmas; however, this is the most important event in all of time and space; so important that it is found throughout all of the Old Testament.  Without this coming Messiah, there would be no salvation, no reconciliation with God, and no justification, declaring us righteous.  It was so important that most of the prophets declared His coming, like Moses and Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah.  The Jewish leadership refused to see Jesus as “The Prophet” because their presuppositions clouded their minds and they refused to accept what was so prevalent in their scriptures.

I encourage us all to remove any presuppositions that prevent us from seeing the truth of the scriptures, not just where it comes to our Lord and Savior Jesus the Messiah, but in other areas as well.  Who knows what we could understand in greater ways if we did.  Things would definitely come into greater focus.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Deuteronomy 4:2

Verse of the Day Devotion: Deuteronomy 4:2

“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” – Deuteronomy 4:2 

We as Christians are called to keep the commandments of God.  And it is to be done not because we feel we have to in order to be righteousness, but because we love Him. Jesus told His disciples the following, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15. And again, “You are My friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:14. Notice, if we love Him and are His friends, then we are to keep His commandments.

Many obey the parts they want to obey and ignore the rest, or they add to His commands.  According to our focus verse, we must be careful that we only teach what is actually His commands, and do not add anything that He did not say.  Let us look at these a little deeper.  Both actions, adding to or taking away, can be done out of ignorance.  This is the reason we are to study His word and completely understand what He is saying.  Paul said it this way in his letter to Timothy.  “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15. Along with reading His word, it is important that we spend time studying it as well.  We must understand what He is commanding before we can fully obey Him.

First, we will look at adding to His word.  This happens a lot when we begin to merge our past teachings, either from our times when we did not follow God, or when we add to His words that which we followed from a previous religion.  There are many cults out there that claim to follow Jesus but actually serve another God.  When I was in the Air Force, I unknowingly became involved in a cult that said we are not to read the Bible with understanding, but to pray read it, and rely on the leader of our particular church to explain any meanings in scripture.  I did not fall for it, but I was concerned about those in the cult.  Fortunately, I went to a great church and knew many strong Christians.  Other problem teachings which are additions to His word are confessing our sins to another so we may receive forgiveness and the idea that the LGTBQ lifestyle is acceptable to God.  God loves everyone but still requires from us all to obey the commands that He gave to us.

Also, we must not remove things from His commands.  In the word faith movement, they teach that if you pray for something and have faith He will give it to you, then He absolutely will.  However, James counters this. “You lust and do not have; so, you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.” James 4:2. Notice the last part of this verse, ‘You do not have because you do not ask.’ This is often the verse they quote.  However, they do not go any further.  The next verse counters their belief.  “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:3. Having attended several word faith services, I have heard them quote verse too many times, but not verse three.  When you leave off the second verse, you are teaching a falsity.  You are leading people in a direction God never intended. The above are a few examples of adding and taking away but are by no means the only ones.  We must be careful that we do not add things to His word or take away things.  When we do either one of them, we are not fully teaching His word for we are changing what His word is communicating to us.  We end up leading people in a wrong direction.  We must be very careful that we earnestly study His word and know what it says and what it does not say.  We may be asked to speak a message or help someone understand some passages.  We need to make sure we tell them exactly what His word says.  We do not want to lead anyone astray with what we communicate.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Deuteronomy 18:18

Verse of the Day Devotion Deuteronomy 18:18 

“I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I commend him.” –  Deuteronomy 18:18

Up to Christmas day, I will be looking at the different prophesies which foresee the coming of the promised Messiah, Jesus the Christ.  He came here in order to offer the means of salvation for all.  An important idea to remember is that God knows everything and forgets nothing.  “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” Isaiah 46:9-10.

Prior to this verse, the Lord speaks to His people, through Moses, referring to the new land that He is leading them to.  They were not to take on the practices of the people there which were against the Law of God.  “When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. 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, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritists, or one who calls up the dead.” Deuteronomy 18:9-11. And if anyone does, “For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you.” Deuteronomy 18:12.

Now, after this Moses says that God has promised another prophet, which is found in our focus verse. “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” Deuteronomy 18:18. This is similar to verse 15 above where he says, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” Deuteronomy 18:15. Notice that in these two verses, this prophet is declared to be like Moses. And this was true throughout the Old Testament.  Theologian Adam Clarke put it this way. ”Among all the succeeding prophets none was found so eminent in all respects nor so highly privileged as Moses; with him God spoke face to face – admitted him to the closest familiarity and greatest friendship with himself. Now all this continued true till the advent of Jesus Christ, of whom Moses said, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me; but how great was this person when compared with Moses! Moses desired to see God’s glory; this sight he could not bear; he saw his back parts, probably meaning God’s design relative to the latter days: but Jesus, the Almighty Savior, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, who lay in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared God to man.”

Moses never saw the full glory of God, but Jesus radiated God’s glory. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.” Hebrews 1:1-4.

So, as we see in our focus verse, God said “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”  Deuteronomy 18:18.  This is a prophesy of the coming Messiah, who will be born of a virgin and will declare the truth of God to all.  Those who believed and followed were saved, but many Jews would not accept His message for it went against the traditions of the Jewish faith.  And He ultimately came so that all who wanted to could accept the message of the truth and be saved.  And this is the primary reason for Christmas, to provide a way of salvation to all who would accept Him.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Deuteronomy 6:7

Verse of the Day Devotion Deuteronomy 6:7  

“Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” – Deuteronomy 6:7

In order to understand what this verse refers to it is important that we look at the verse prior to focus verse. “And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.”  Deuteronomy 6:6. The whole here describes the commandments, a term that encompasses the full covenant text as communicated by Moses. “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.” Deuteronomy 6:1-2. Then Moses says, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5. And as we read in verse six, these laws are to be on their hearts and not just in their heads.

Now Jesus spoke regarding the Law in a similar fashion as recorded by Matthew in His gospel. “And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40. Based on this, we should look at obeying the Jewish law as a way to show our love for God, not just to obey them to be righteous. However, notice that Jesus added another thought to this, and that is to love our neighbor as ourself.

Now lets take a look at our focus verse.  “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:7.  These words given them by God are so important that the covenant recipients must impress the words of covenant faith into the thinking of their children by inscribing them in the children’s hearts with indelible sharpness and precision.  Theologian E. H. Merrill makes a great point regarding this.  “The image is that of the engraver of a monument who takes hammer and chisel in hand and with painstaking care etches a text into the face of a solid slab of granite. The sheer labor of such a task is daunting indeed, but once done the message is there to stay. Thus it is that the generations of Israelites to come must receive and transmit the words of the Lord’s everlasting covenant revelation.”

This idea of training our children in the ways of God is just as important, if not more, in our time as well.  We read in Proverbs the following, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.  And in the New Testament. “And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4. It is imperative that we instruct our children, and if necessary other children, in the ways of God and of the Salvation that is offered via the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Mark records what Jesus said to His disciples. “And He said to them, go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” Mark 16:15-16.

I want to encourage each of us to spend concerted time in sharing the truth of the scripture to our children, first leading them to salvation through the acceptance of Christ, and then helping them to learn how to live the Christian life in a way that glorifies God.  If we absolutely love our children, we will take as much time as necessary to train them in the ways of our loving God. When my children were young, I would read the scriptures to them in a way that was fun yet instilled in them the truth.  They enjoyed it and actually looked forward to it.  And now, my children are Christians with strong faith in God.  This is so important, for this gives them an opportunity to have a wonderful life in Christ both now and for eternity.  And never stop training them for there is so much involved in living the Christian life.  Is not this what we desire of our children? I pray it is.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Deuteronomy 12:32

Verse of the Day Devotion: Deuteronomy 12:32 

“Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.” – Deuteronomy 12:32        

This is a very Important command to follow, however, this command is increasingly becoming more ignored in today’s culture.  And I am referring here to the church.  God has given in His Word what we are to do, and what we are not to do.  And it breaks my heart to see additions and subtractions from His Word that takes away from the message we as Christians are to put forth, both in the words we say and the lives we live.  I pray you look read through this devotion and understand I am simply pointing out areas in which we can improve in order to clarify our message and not being accusatory.

When I have visited various churches, there have been things that the scriptures tell us to do, but no one preaches or teaches them.  However, many things are not taught for fear of offending people.  For instance, loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute or hate us.  Yes, these are difficult things, but we must not ignore them simply because we choose not to love those who treat us badly.  God calls us to love everyone, however, if we pick and choose who we will love, then we are ignoring the verses which tells us to love everyone.  “If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” James 2:8-9.  In the same sense, if we only fellowship with certain people and not with those who, we believe, are of a lessor class, then we again are leaving out one of His commands.  “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.” Romans 12:16

Also, we must not add to God’s Word.  Today, we hear that homosexuality is an approved practice within the church because He made some people that way.  And because of this, we are not to call it a sin.  And we see the same thing regarding abortion.  I have even heard it said that abortion should be a right in the church.  We must not fall for this because this is adding to God’s word by including them in what God approves.

I want to encourage us all to ensure we do not take anything away from His Word, such as acts of love pointed out above, or to add things to His Word, such as making sinful acts acceptable.  This is so important, and when I see where our church is regarding these things, as I stated above, it breaks my heart. People are being taught that there are certain things in His Word that do not apply today because we live in a different time than when the scriptures were written.  And thus, we are approving of sin and in some ways encouraging its practice.  It is important that we read and study His Word and sit under solid bible teachers who will ‘rightly divide the word of truth.’ 2 Timothy 2:15.  People need to hear the whole truth.  And God has provided it to us.  We just need to teach it properly and accept it fully.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Deuteronomy 30:15

Verse of the Day Devotion: Deuteronomy 30:15 

“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity;” – Deuteronomy 30:15       

This is a great verse that shows the free will of mankind.  Moses is speaking to Israel informing them that he will not be crossing the Jordan river into the promised land.  “So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. And he said to them,  I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I am no longer able to come and go, and the LORD has said to me, You shall not cross this Jordan.” Deuteronomy 32:2.  He then  tells them that Joshua will lead them over the Jordan. 

He also has reminded them what the Lord had done for them in Egypt and during their forty years in the wilderness.  He reminds them of the covenant God established with them, that they would be His people here on the earth.  He reminds them of the nations they encountered and what happened to them on account of their sins and abominations.   He then brings forth this promise. “Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; if you obey the LORD your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul.” Deuteronomy 30:9-10 

He then adds that this commandment is not difficult.  “For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.” Deuteronomy 30:11.  It is not impossible to keep His commands.  It is not even that difficult.  The reason for this is, at the end of verse ten above, ‘if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul.’ If they did this, then they would naturally keep His commands.  If they did not, then they would not keep them.    

So, based on the above, Israel was given a choice and we read this in our focus verse and the next.  “if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul. in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it.” Deuteronomy 30:15-16.  The choice was either life and prosperity or death and adversity.  Life and prosperity if they follow His ways, or death and adversity if they do not. 

Today, we have, in essence, the same choice.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16.  And also, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:5  We can either love God with all we have and because of this love obey Him in all ways and receive eternal life, or we can choose not to love Him with everything we have and because of this not obey Him and receive eternal damnation.  He loves us so much He gave us this choice.  And this is the message we must tell the world just as Moses told the Israelites.  Our eternal future depends on how we respond to this choice.   

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.