Introduction: In this chapter, David gave his instructions to the priests assigned to guard the Temple gates, protect the treasury, and resolve disputes. These instructions apply to all believers in Christ because every believer is part of His royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). As a member of Jesus’ priesthood and His gatekeepers, He calls upon you to: (1) be pure, (2) be His salt, (3) submit, (4) have integrity, (5) be accountable, (6) be a source of justice, and (7) be His light.
First, the gatekeepers protected the Temple from defilement. Today, the temple where the Holy Spirit dwells is inside you. Thus, Jesus calls on you to be pure by guarding your heart from evil. He also calls upon His priests to keep the nation and its leaders pure from spiritual defilement. Second, God remembered the “valiant” gatekeepers who took risks to keep the Temple pure. Jesus also calls upon you to be His salt against evil, even if this makes you unpopular. Third, the gatekeepers submitted to the Holy Spirit in their assignments and duties through the use of lots. Jesus also wants you to submit to the Spirit and the Body of Christ. Fourth, the gatekeepers were also called upon to make sure that the Temple treasures were protected from misuse. Jesus also wants you to serve with integrity and righteousness. Fifth, the gatekeepers also ensured that all collected funds were properly dedicated for God’s use. Jesus wants you to ensure your integrity in the use of monies that God gives you through accountability and tithing. Sixth, the gatekeepers served as judges to resolve disputes. Jesus also wants you to be a source of His justice in the world. Finally, the gatekeepers were also a source of justice outside the Promised Land. Jesus also wants you to be His light to the lost throughout the world.
The gatekeepers who protected the Temple. The duties of the Levites included both the physical and spiritual protection of the Temple: “1 For the divisions of the gatekeepers there were of the Korahites, Meshelemiah the son of Kore, of the sons of Asaph. 2 Meshelemiah had sons: Zechariah the firstborn, Jediael the second, Zebadiah the third, Jathniel the fourth, 3 Elam the fifth, Johanan the sixth, Eliehoenai the seventh. 4 Obed-edom had sons: Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, Sacar the fourth, Nethanel the fifth, 5 Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh and Peullethai the eighth; God had indeed blessed him.” (1 Chr. 26:1-5). Among other duties, the Levities guarded the four entrances to the Temple. They guarded the treasury. They also ensured the people’s access to the Temple during daylight hours. The descendants of Meshelemiah guarded the tent of meeting inside the Temple on the east, west, and southern gates. Zechariah’s descendants guarded the northern gate (1 Chr. 9:21; 1 Chr. 26:8-11) Obed-edom was a famous gatekeeper. He was allowed to guard the ark for three months after David’s first improper attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem using carts: ‘“10 And David was unwilling to move the ark of the Lord into the city of David with him; but David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11 Thus the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.” (2 Sam. 6:8-11; 1 Chron. 13:11-14). Here, we are told that God blessed him with eight sons for his service (1 Chr. 26:4-6).
The Levites also had an appointed role to guard against spiritual corruption. These Levites guarded God’s Temple from physical attack: “4 This is the thing which you shall do: one third of you, of the priests and Levites who come in on the sabbath, shall be gatekeepers, 5 and one third shall be at the king’s house, and a third at the Gate of the Foundation; and all the people shall be in the courts of the house of the Lord. 6 But let no one enter the house of the Lord except the priests and the ministering Levites; they may enter, for they are holy. And let all the people keep the charge of the Lord.” (1 Chr. 23:4-6). These Levites were also supposed to guard the Temple from spiritual defilement: “He stationed the gatekeepers of the house of the LORD, so that no one would enter who was in any way unclean.” (1 Chr. 23:19). But this was a duty that they failed to comply with. Many of Judah’s kings allowed the Temple to be defiled with idols. For example, King Manasseh put pagan idols in the Temple: “Then he set the carved image of Asherah that he had made, in the house of which the LORD said to David and to his son Solomon, ‘In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever.”’ (2 Kgs. 21:7). The Levities who should have risen up against this wayward king said nothing. Believers must not repeat this mistake. They should speak out when leaders defile the nation and lead it astray.
Be pure and holy because God is pure and holy. Today, the temple where the Spirit resides is in your body (1 Cor. 6:19). God cannot use you to transform the world if you are compromised by sin. Thus, you must avoid accommodating the idols of the flesh in your life. If you are in sin, repent. (1 Jo. 1:9). Then, let the Holy Spirit renew your mind (Ro. 12:1-2). Like the Levites, God wants you to be pure and holy: “Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.’” (Lev. 19:2; Ex. 22:31; 1 Pet. 1:16; Ep. 1:4). “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48). You can keep yourself pure by guarding your heart the same way the Levities guarded the Temple: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Prov. 4:23). “Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.” (Dt. 4:9). Job protected his heart by creating a covenant with his eyes: “I have made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:11). Are you taking steps to guard your heart?
Jesus paid the ultimate price to redeem you and make you holy1
The mighty men of valor who also guarded the Temple. God also recognized those who guarded the Temple with valor at great risk to themselves: “6 Also to his son Shemaiah sons were born who ruled over the house of their father, for they were mighty men of valor. 7 The sons of Shemaiah were Othni, Rephael, Obed and Elzabad, whose brothers, Elihu and Semachiah, were valiant men. 8 All these were of the sons of Obed-edom; they and their sons and their relatives were able men with strength for the service, 62 from Obed-edom. 9 Meshelemiah had sons and relatives, 18 valiant men. 10 Also Hosah, one of the sons of Merari had sons: Shimri the first (although he was not the firstborn, his father made him first), 11 Hilkiah the second, Tebaliah the third, Zechariah the fourth; all the sons and relatives of Hosah were 13. 12 To these divisions of the gatekeepers, the chief men, were given duties like their relatives to minister in the house of the Lord.” (1 Chr. 26:6-12). The term “mighty men of valor” was a term that was frequently used for the military soldiers. Yet, God also used that term to describe the Temple guards as well.
God blesses those who chose Him over evil. It might have seemed like a dull duty to guard the Temple gates. Yet, the people who chose to faithfully guard God’s Temple instead of partaking in the sins of the world received His blessings: “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Ps. 84:10). Obed-edom served God by guarding the ark when others feared it (2 Sam. 6:8-11; 1 Chron. 13:11-14). As a result, God blessed him with eight sons (1 Chr. 26:4-6). God will also reward you spiritually when you serve Him with the right motives and stand against evil in the world.
Be courageous in standing against evil. While there were many timid priests who stood by as kings defied the Temple, there were also many mighty priests of valor who stood up to the evil actions of the kings. For example, the High Priest Azariah and 80 “valiant” priests stood up to King Uzziah when he tried to merge the roles of church and state by assuming the joint role of King and High Priest: “But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God, for he entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 Then Azariah the priest entered after him and with him eighty priests of the Lord, valiant men. 18 They opposed Uzziah the king and said to him, ‘It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful and will have no honor from the Lord God.’” (2 Chr. 26:16-19). Uzziah refused to listen. Thus, God gave him leprosy (2 Chr. 26:20-21). God also wants you to be courageous by speaking out against evil.
Be God’s salt in the wound of sin. You are God’s “salt and light” (Matt. 5:13-16). Salt is an irritant to an open wound. If sin is around you and if your life has been transformed for God, you should be an irritant to sin. Yet, if you refuse to speak out against sin you have lost your saltiness: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (Matt. 5:13). Have you lost your saltiness? Do non-believers know by your actions that you stand against the sins of the world?
Be a light to those trapped in darkness, and an irritant in the wound of sin2
The gatekeepers submitted to the will of the Holy Spirit. Like the other duties assigned to the Levites, David ensured that the process was fair, transparent, and Spirit-led through the use of lots: “13 They cast lots, the small and the great alike, according to their fathers’ households, for every gate. 14 The lot to the east fell to Shelemiah. Then they cast lots for his son Zechariah, a counselor with insight, and his lot came out to the north. 15 For Obed-edom it fell to the south, and to his sons went the storehouse. 16 For Shuppim and Hosah it was to the west, by the gate of Shallecheth, on the ascending highway. Guard corresponded to guard. 17 On the east there were six Levites, on the north four daily, on the south four daily, and at the storehouse two by two. 18 At the Parbar on the west there were four at the highway and two at the Parbar. 19 These were the divisions of the gatekeepers of the sons of Korah and of the sons of Merari.” (1 Chr. 26:13-19). God is a God of order. Every priest knew his assignment. They acted together in a Spirit-led and unified process to protect the Temple from evil.
The Holy Spirit guided the process in appointing roles for the priests. Both “small and the great alike” received their duties through the Spirit-led process in casting lots (1 Chr. 26:13). Thus, no matter how important the person was, they submitted to the will of the Spirit. Throughout the Bible, God’s people used lots to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them in their decisions: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” (Prov. 16:33). “But the land shall be divided by lot. They shall receive their inheritance according to the names of the tribes of their fathers.” (Nu. 26:55; 34:13; Josh. 14:2; 18:8). “And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:26). In both the Old and New Testaments, believers had faith that God was guiding the process.
Read the Word and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you3
Let the Holy Spirit guide your actions. Today, instead of using lots, the Holy Spirit speaks directly to believers: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (Jo. 16:13). “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (Jo. 14:16). God wants you to seek His guidance through prayer and the Word. “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (Ps. 119:105; 2 Pet. 1:19). Are you reading the Word and praying on a daily basis to allow the Holy Spirit to guide your steps?
God wants you to work together through the Body of Christ. Each gate was guarded by pairs of two priests at a time (1 Chr. 26:17-18). Just as Levities had to work together, believers are called upon to act with one accord as the Spirit leads the body to help build the Church. “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Cor. 3:9). “so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Ro. 12:5). “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:17). “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (1 Cor. 12:12). “But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; or again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” (1 Cor. 12:20-21). “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;” (Eph. 4:4). Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Col. 3:14). Are you in submission to the body and accountable for your actions to someone else?
The protection of the Temple treasures. The gatekeepers also protected the holy treasures inside the Temple from theft, embezzlement, corruption, and unclean influences: “20 The Levites, their relatives, had charge of the treasures of the house of God and of the treasures of the dedicated gifts. 21 The sons of Ladan, the sons of the Gershonites belonging to Ladan, namely, the Jehielites, were the heads of the fathers’ households, belonging to Ladan the Gershonite. 22 The sons of Jehieli, Zetham and Joel his brother, had charge of the treasures of the house of the Lord. 23 As for the Amramites, the Izharites, the Hebronites and the Uzzielites, 24 Shebuel the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, was officer over the treasures. 25 His relatives by Eliezer were Rehabiah his son, Jeshaiah his son, Joram his son, Zichri his son and Shelomoth his son.” (1 Chr. 26:20-25). Each priest had to act with integrity to serve as a steward of God’s monies.
Walk with righteousness and integrity as you serve Jesus. Your financial treasures also come from God: “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (Jam. 1:17). You are Jesus’ ambassador in terms of how you use His monies (2 Cor. 5:22). Thus, He calls upon you to be blameless and righteous in terms of how you use His monies: “so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Phil. 1:11). Your funds are a gift from Him to allow His Kingdom to serve the poor, your church, and others in need. Does your use of God’s money reflect fairly upon Jesus’ righteousness?
Faithfully tithing is a sign of your integrity with God’s resources. After receiving God’s blessing, Abraham set an example for all believers by giving a tenth of what he received back to God: “He gave him a tenth of all.” (Gen. 14:20(b)). The book of Hebrews clarifies that Abraham gave a tenth of his best spoils from the war for Melchizedek’s priesthood: “Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils.” (Heb. 7:4). Following Abraham’s example, his grandson Jacob gave a tenth to God as a tithe (Gen. 28:22). The duty to tithe part of a person’s produce or earnings later became part of the Mosaic law in the Torah (Dt. 14:22; 12:16; Lev. 27:30; Nu. 18:21). Like Abraham, the Jews were to tithe only their best things to God: “You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God.” (Ex. 23:19(a); 34:26). “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.”’ (Lev. 23:10; Nu. 18:13; Dt. 26:2, 10). “Honor the LORD from your wealth and from the first of all your produce;” (Prov. 3:9). When giving is done without any expectation for reward, He will give back more than you gave Him (Mal. 3:10). As a faithful steward of God’s monies, do you give Him the best of your time, talent, and treasure?
God will remember your faithfulness in tithing4
The dedication of monies collected for God’s use. The gatekeepers were also tasked with ensuring accountability amongst the civil and military leaders by making sure that monies collected were properly dedicated and protected for God’s use: “26 This Shelomoth and his relatives had charge of all the treasures of the dedicated gifts which King David and the heads of the fathers’ households, the commanders of thousands and hundreds, and the commanders of the army, had dedicated. 27 They dedicated part of the spoil won in battles to repair the house of the Lord. 28 And all that Samuel the seer had dedicated and Saul the son of Kish, Abner the son of Ner and Joab the son of Zeruiah, everyone who had dedicated anything, all of this was in the care of Shelomoth and his relatives.” (1 Chr. 26:26-28). When God’s monies were misused, the nation suffered.
David was accountable through God and His prophets and dedicated what he received. After defeating his enemies in battle, David always showed himself to be a man after God’s heart by dedicating the things he received as either tribute or plunder back to God. “King David also dedicated these to the Lord, with the silver and gold that he had dedicated from all the nations which he had subdued.” (2 Sam. 8:11). King Solomon later used these gifts to build the Temple and the holy furnishings inside of it: “Thus all the work that King Solomon performed in the house of the LORD was finished. And Solomon brought in the things dedicated by his father David, the silver and the gold and the utensils, and he put them in the treasuries of the house of the LORD.” (1 Kgs. 7:51; 1 Chon. 18:8(b)). David was accountable to God through God’s prophets. Thus, God was able to pull David back on his walk each time that he sinned.
The priests were meant to keep the kings accountable. Unlike David, there were many times when the kings raided the Temple treasuries. Each time they were able to do so, the result for Israel was disaster. For example, King Ahaz tried to appease the Assyrians by raiding the Temple treasuries. This only emboldened Israel’s enemies and made the nation poorer: “So Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria came against him and afflicted him instead of strengthening him. Although Ahaz took a portion out of the house of the LORD and out of the palace of the king and of the princes, and gave it to the king of Assyria, it did not help him.” (2 Chr. 28:20-21; 2 Kgs. 16:8). King Hezekiah then repeated his father’s mistake and gave the rebuilt Temple treasuries to a different invading Assyrian king to appease him. This again only emboldened the Assyrians and made the nation poorer: “13 Now in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and seized them. 14 Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, ‘I have done wrong. Withdraw from me; whatever you impose on me I will bear.’ So the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 Hezekiah gave him all the silver which was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasuries of the king’s house. 16 At that time Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the doorposts which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.” (2 Kgs. 18:13-16). In each of these accounts, the priests were silent. Had they stood up to the kings, God’s funds could have been preserved for His ability to provide for His people. God does not want you to make the same mistake. He wants you to speak out when leaders misuse His monies.
A priest should help others to trust in God, even when all appears lost. The priests were meant to help the leaders place their trust in God, not in their gold. God wants you to place your trust in His timing, even when it might appear foolish to do so. “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18; 2:14). Even a wise and godly leader cannot lean upon his or her own understanding in times of peril: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5). Do you encourage others to place their trust in God as opposed to worldly things like money when all seems lost?
Ensure your integrity through accountability. Like the Levites, God wants believers to be transparent and accountable to each other to ensure that members of the Body of Christ stay strong in the face of temptation. Believers are commanded to “shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;” (1 Pet. 5:2). “Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’” (Jo. 21:17). “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28). “Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.” (Jer. 3:15). “Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds;” (Prov. 27:23). “and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” (Eph. 5:21). “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; . . .” (1 Pet. 5:5). Are you transparent and accountable for your actions before a small group of believers in your church?
The officers and judges inside the Promised Land. The gatekeepers were also tasked with officiating disputes amongst the people within the Promised Land: “29 As for the Izharites, Chenaniah and his sons were assigned to outside duties for Israel, as officers and judges. 30 As for the Hebronites, Hashabiah and his relatives, 1,700 capable men, had charge of the affairs of Israel west of the Jordan, for all the work of the Lord and the service of the king.” (1 Chr. 26:29-30). By most accounts, an estimated 6,000 Levities served as judges and mediators for disputes throughout the Jewish territories. They were God’s source of justice and hope in resolving disputes.
Divine justice requires competent courts and a system for appeals. God had previously directed the people to set up local courts to resolve disputes (Dt. 16:18). He advised that divine justice requires both a specialized court and a system of appeal for resolving disputes that could not be handled at the local level. This also required the submission of local judges to a specialized central court. “8 If any case is too difficult for you to decide, between one kind of homicide or another, between one kind of lawsuit or another, and between one kind of assault or another, being cases of dispute in your courts, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord your God chooses. 9 So you shall come to the Levitical priest or the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall inquire of them and they will declare to you the verdict in the case. 10 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.” (Dt. 17:8-10). In Jesus’ time, there were three different courts. For towns with between 9 and 120 men, a counsel of 3 heard disputes called the “beit din” or “House of Judgment.” For towns with more than 120 men, a counsel of 23 heard disputes called the “Sanhedrin ketanah” or “small court”. For disputes that were complex or if an appeal was needed, a counsel of 70 in Jerusalem called the “Sanhedrin Gedolah” or the “Great Court” heard disputes. Jesus’ trial was held in Jerusalem before the Sanhedrin Gedolah. The Sanhedrin, however, failed to follow the Law in convicting Jesus. They were an example of the misuse of God’s system of justice. But the principle still remains. When the early believers needed to resolve a dispute in Antioch about whether new converts needed to become Jewish, the local council of elders in Antioch decided that the dispute was too difficult for them to resolve on their own. Thus, they referred the matter to a greater counsel of believers in Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-33). We are all prone to make mistakes. Any wise leader or government must be willing to submit his or her decisions to the review and approval of others (Ro. 13:1-7). In some churches today, the pastor is not accountable to any higher body for review because all authority is decentralized or the church is not part of any larger organization. If you or your church makes a mistake or has disputes, you or your church must be willing to allow persons to appeal decisions to a high body to correct any errors that might exist.
A Spirit-led leader must be impartial. A Spirit-led leader must also be impartial. He or she must never favor the rich or the powerful “ 19 . . . you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.” (Dt. 19:19, 16:19; Lev. 19:15; Dt. 1:17; 16:19; 25:1-19; Ex. 23:3-6; Jo. 7:24). The trial against Jesus was not impartial because the chief priest sought out testimony against Jesus motivated by jealousy (Matt. 26:59; Mk. 14:55). Are you honest and impartial in your dealings with others?
Submit to Spirit-led leadership. God expects order. He commands that we submit to His appointed leaders. His leaders are His “avengers” against injustice (Ro. 13:4). They also are supposed to “watch out for your souls.” (Heb. 13:17). First, you submit to Him through his Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14), His Word (2 Tim. 3:16), and His church leadership (Matt. 18:17-20; Heb. 13:17). Second, you submit to Him through your civil authorities (1 Pet. 2:13-14; Rom. 13:1-2). Third, you submit to His family order (Eph. 5:22-25; 6:10). Only when your authorities refuse to follow His Word can you ignore them (Acts. 4:19). Are you in submission to Spirit-led authority?
God requires obedience to His laws. Divine justice is not possible if a leader refuses to obey God’s Law: “11 According to the terms of the law which they teach you, and according to the verdict which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the word which they declare to you, to the right or the left. 12 The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the Lord your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. 13 Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again.” (Dt. 17:11-13). Obedience was a command that Moses gave frequently (Dt. 6:3-4; 9:1; 20:3). Moses knew the purpose behind a particular law might not always appear clear to a believer. God requires obedience even if you do not understand. We should consider the Law to be like a treasure: “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.” (Ps. 119:14). Jesus said, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jo. 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 Jo. 5:3; 2 Jo. 1:6). His “disciples” were the “disciplined ones” in keeping His commandments. As bondservants or freed slaves, they were obedient out of love, not obligation. Whether you follow the law out of love instead of obligation is a test for whether you really know God: “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1 Jo. 2:3). “[W]hat matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.” (1 Cor. 7:19). Obedience is a foundation upon which the covenant stands. Are you obedient to only the parts of God’s Law that you agree with?
The officers and judges outside of the Promised Land. The gatekeepers were also meant to be a source of God’s light and divine justice by helping to resolve disputes outside of the Promised Land: “31 As for the Hebronites, Jerijah the chief (these Hebronites were investigated according to their genealogies and fathers’ households, in the fortieth year of David’s reign, and men of outstanding capability were found among them at Jazer of Gilead) 32 and his relatives, capable men, were 2,700 in number, heads of fathers’ households. And King David made them overseers of the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of the Manassites concerning all the affairs of God and of the king.” (1 Chr. 26:31-32). God’s light was meant to be a light throughout the world.
Be a source of justice in the world. God cares deeply about any injustice in the world (Ps. 45:6; 50:6; 72:1; Heb. 1:8). Every believer is part of His holy priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9). He further uses believers as His “avengers” to administer justice (Rom. 13:4). Thus, He commands that every believer pursue what is just and right in their own lives and in the world around them: “[D]o justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8). “[L]earn to do good, seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, and plead for the widow.” (Is. 1:17; Dt. 16:20). Are you working to help others trapped in unjust circumstances throughout the world? If you are too busy to do this, are you funding missionaries or other church-led groups that promote social justice?
Be a source of God’s justice in the world by helping others in need5
The appointment of judges for those who lived far from Jerusalem. God’s Temple was also a place where people could bring their disputes for His leaders to resolve. Yet, because He did not want justice denied or delayed in between the three pilgrimages, He ordered that judges be appointed in each town to resolve disputes as needed: 18 “You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. 19 You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous. 20 Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Dt. 16:18-20). We too should be constantly concerned about potential injustice around us. God never meant for us to be isolated monks. Instead, your inward transformation in Christ should culminate with your outward transformation of the world around you (Prov. 31:9). “Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute.” (Ps. 82:3; Mic. 6:8; Is. 1:17). “He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.” (Dt. 10:18). Jesus’ light inside you should burn for strangers in need. This includes those in need in your country and countries throughout the world.
Be a source of guidance for others who are lost. Jesus is the light of the world: “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”’ (Jo. 8:12). His light is also inside of every believer. He therefore calls upon believers to share His light to guide others: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;” (Matt. 5:14). “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” (Prov. 4:18). Are your actions a light to the lost around you?