Day 66: Forbidden Forms of Worship

Numbers 17:1-11 The lord affirmed the primacy of Aaron in the priesthood through the gratuitous sprouting of flowers, symbolizing God’s blessings, from the rod of Moses.

Ch 17:12-13 The people finally understood that only priests were permitted to approach the tabernacle or the altar since they were the appointed mediators between God and his people. The Levitical priesthood was fulfilled by the priesthood of the New Covenant, whose members share directly in the HIGH PRIESTHOOD of Jesus Christ. (CCC 1544, 1546)

Deuteronomy 17:14-20 Although this section provides instruction on the powers and responsibilities of a king, it would be some time before God would anoint Saul as the first King of Israel.

Ch 18:10 Human sacrifices and all kinds of sorcery, divination, and clairvoyance are prohibited as contrary to the reverence and respect that we owe to God and are grievous distortions of the supernatural assistance that we should seek from him alone. Any action by which we enter into the supernatural realm must be directed to God alone or those interceding with him on our behalf. (CCC 21115-2117)

Ch 18:9-22 Prophets were taken from among the people of Israel and were EXPLICITLY DESIGNATED BY GOD for that rold. These prophets would speak in God’s name, interpret the signs of the times, and make future predictions based on the fidelity of the Israelites to the covenant. I will raise up...brethren: This points to Christ and in a lesser way to all the Old Testament prophets who themselves point the way to the Messiah. (CCC 2115, 2574, 2593)

Psalm 98 Paul saw in this psalm a prophetic utterance about the work of God and the mystery of Christ. The psalm conveys the message that God always saves his Chosen People, and the other nations are certainly aware of this divine favor for Israel. The psalm goes on to say that everyone will be eventually called to become beneficiaries of salvation and everlasting life. This conviction led the early Church, under the special guidance of Paul, to its great mission of evangelization, first to the Jews and later to the Gentiles. The great third-century Christian writer Origen interpreted the “new song” as a prophecy of the Death and Resurrection of Christ. Previous prophets drew from inspired divine wisdom and worked miracles, but this particular prophecy speaks of Christ’s Paschal Mystery, i.e., his Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, by which he redeemed us from sin and gave us the inheritance of eternal life. (Cf. St. John Paul II, General Audience, November 6, 2002)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Key Event 26: Aaron’s Rod (Numbers 17)

Aaron is Moses’ older brother and Israel’s first high priest. When his priestly authority is challenged, his rod miraculously buds, confirming that the priestly line is to flow through Aaron and his descendants. Aaron’s rod, a symbol of the priestly authority, is to be kept in the Holy of Holies (Num 17:10)

  • So this was one of our shortest chapters in our journey

  • Rebellion after rebellion, we have the people of Israel being put to the test

  • God tells Moses to take all these rods and mark them with the names of the fathers of each household of all twelve tribes, including Aaron

  • Then bring them to the Tent of Meeting, the Tabernacle, the Holy Place

  • Aaron’s rod is the one that BLOSSOMS

  • What does this mean?

  • “Yo, listen. I know you all want to serve in the Temple. I know everyone wants to be a priest. But it is only going to be from the family of Aaron, of the Tribe of Levi”

  • Hopefully the people will accept the authority that God has given them….BUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Yeah we’ll see about that ;)

  • It is important to understand how vital service is

  • What is service?

  • WORSHIP!! (You know this by now, right?)

  • Deuteronomy 17 and 18 enumerates FORBIDDEN FORMS OF WORSHIP

  • Not just turning to other “gods”

  • But also what kind of things can be offered to God as a sacrifice?

  • Not defective sheep, ox, or cattle

  • This reminds us SO CLEARLY of the fact that we GIVE GOD OUR BEST

  • That is what we are called to do

  • If someone does turn away and worship false “gods” the justice of God is clear

  • It is spelled out in the Law that if such a person is accused by one person, it isn’t good enough

  • There need to be 2 or 3 WITNESSES that can testify that they saw the person commit IDOLATRY

  • If it were just one person, it could just be a grudge, or a false accusation

  • The penalty for idolatry was CAPITAL PUNISHMENT aka DEATH

  • This was harsh, but BRILLIANT

  • The person casting the first stone MUST BE ONE OF THE ACCUSERS, ONE OF THE WITNESSES

  • They can’t just pawn it off to someone else

  • Remember that this was a rough time

  • This wasn’t CRUELTY

  • These people are being brought from having NO LAW


  • Now, they are taught JUSTICE

  • This was the first step: Eye for an Eye, Tooth for Tooth

  • It couldn’t be HE SAID VS HE SAID

  • There had to be witnesses, and even then the witnesses were ON THE LINE

  • Anyone could give false witness

  • But to give false witness and THEN THROW THE FIRST STONE IN THIS PERSON’S DEATH?

  • That costs a lot from a human being

  • That is a BRUTAL WISDOM from God, but it is STILL WISDOM FOR THIS TIME

  • Deuteronomy 17: The Limits of ROYAL AUTHORITY

  • Israel is not going to have a King until Saul

  • It will take a while before we get there

  • There are instructions here in Deuteronomy that when they get to the Promised Land, the people of Israel are going to ask for a king

  • The King cannot collect horses for himself, that would be amassing an army for himself and the sons and daughters of Israel would be at the king’s disposal like in Egypt and God wants them to be NOTHING LIKE EGYPT

  • The King cannot multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away

  • The King cannot multiply for HIMSELF silver and gold

  • This is VERY CLEAR

  • What happens?

  • King Saul

  • King David

  • King Solomon

  • Solomon will have 300 WIVES AND 700 CONCUBINES!!!! (I can’t even fathom how he kept all their names straight ;) )

  • God gives the command that the King will not multiply wives for himself lest his heart turn away

  • That is EXACTLY what happens to King Solomon

  • His heart turns away from God and worships the gods of his wives

  • That’s one of the reasons in this chapter says that the King, when he sits on the throne, will keep the law and read it every day so that he is reminded of God’s Law and DOES NOT TURN AWAY FROM THE LORD

  • But that is what will happen

  • Solomon turns away from God

  • Deuteronomy Ch 18: abominable practices are prohibited, like sorcerers, wizards, diviner, necromancer, etc.

  • Ch 18:15 God then promises that He will RAISE UP A PROPHET LIKE MOSES FROM AMONG THE ISRAELITES

  • God commands them to LISTEN TO HIM (This will be very important later in the New Testament…..can you guess when?)

  • Ultimately, that prophet IS JESUS!!


  • Jesus is a prophet like Moses

  • This is remarkable that Moses is promising that the days will come that God will raise up a prophet like him

  • There will be other incredible prophets like Moses

  • But JESUS is the one who fulfills THIS PROPHECY


  • Remember, when we are baptized, we are anointed PRIEST, PROPHET, AND KING/QUEEN

  • Jesus is the prophecy we share

  • Jesus is the power that we share

  • Jesus is the role that we share

  • Jesus is the ability that we share

  • For the next couple of days we will look at the Levitical Priesthood again


  • It is important to understand that this is how God desired to be worshipped IN THE PAST

  • It reveals something even more deeply about how God desires to be worshipped IN THE PRESENT

  • Pray for each other and for Fr Mike

  • We are not alone on this journey

  • We need to encourage each other

  • We need to walk with each other

  • We need to lift each other up

Prayer by Fr Mike: “Father in Heaven, we thank you and give you praise. Lord God, your psalmist sings your praise and praises you better than we ever could, because it is your Word. It is your Holy Spirit, Lord, that helps us to pray. So we ask you please today to help us to pray because on our own we cannot pray as we ought. So Lord, help us. Help us to give you praise. Help us to see your wisdom in your word and to let it transform our minds and our hearts. And we give you thanks because you are good and you do good. You are our Father and we are your children. Thank you so much for claiming us as yours. And we claim you as ours as is our right. We claim our rights in the name of Jesus. Amen.”