Multiplying Horses – Deuteronomy 17

The genealogy of Jesus Christ can be divided in four different parts (see Matthew 1 or the first meditation). 

  1. The first third or so of the lineage focuses on the immediate descendants of Abraham, a people called out to be a Kingdom of Priests for God.  Thus far, our 53 meditations have been focused on this group of individuals, which includes some Gentile women (Rahab, Ruth) in the bloodline.  A large percentage of these meditations have focused on words of God spoken through Moses to the people. These words represent the sowing of the seeds of the Kingdom of God.
  • The middle third of the genealogy covers the kings of Israel (and the sub-kingdom of Judah), beginning with King David.  This will be the area of focus for the next group of meditations. These kings, especially David, are a type of the future coming king, Jesus Christ, who will one day return to replace the great governments of world history and rule from Jerusalem.
  • The last third of the genealogy is a series of individuals, some of whom were governors over Judah, in the time period between the kings of Israel and the birth of Christ.
  • Finally, we have Jesus Christ Himself, the focus of the genealogy, who came first as Savior for a fallen and sinful world, and will return as eternal King, reigning forever on the throne of David.

After the failure of Israel’s first king, Saul, came their first successful king, David. To prepare the nation for a king, God had raised up the prophet Samuel as a spiritual leader and guide.  In a similar way, John the Baptist was raised up as a prophet to prepare the people for the coming of Jesus Christ.

But even before the people began to clamor for a king, even before they had entered their new land, Moses laid down God’s rules for the conduct of a king.  As we shall see down the road, kings are people like the rest of us, and they, too, fall short of what God asks us to do.

14 “When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren…16 But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ 17 Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.  Deuteronomy 17:14-17 NKJV

God’s concern is that when power and authority are given to a king, they continue to keep God at the center of their lives.  As human beings wielding power, it is all too easy to get puffed up and prideful, putting one’s self above others who do not share in the same wealth or power, and forgetting about the commands of God.  The focus of a king can easily shift from serving others to more selfish motives, such as grabbing for more with a selfish desire to multiply riches and possessions. 

In fact, the downfall of the kingdom of Israel began right after David, as his son King Solomon did all of the things specifically prohibited by God through Moses.  Though starting out his reign with tremendous wisdom, potential, strength, and riches bestowed by God, Solomon’s failures began the long slide towards the ultimate loss of the kingdom. Israel was eventually defeated by its enemies and carried off into exile, ending its line of kingship until it is finally restored at the return of Jesus Christ.

Like us, none of the people were able to keep the Old Covenant law, which was conditional upon obedience to God. Of all people on earth, only Jesus was able to live a life completely without sin. A New Covenant based upon the blameless life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ would be required as a covering for our sin.

Reflection

Where are we tempted to multiply wealth or possessions beyond those bestowed upon us by God?

How can we remember to keep God at the center of our lives? Moses instructed the future kings to be close to the word of God, so that they would stay close to Him and not elevate themselves above others.

If we have turned away from God, how can we return to Him before things get even worse? As long as we have breath, all we need to do is ask Him. He is rich in love and mercy towards even the worst of us. The love and sacrifice of Jesus covers the multitude of our sins. His sacrifice is more than sufficient.

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