Deuteronomy 13

Deuteronomy 13

13 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

“If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.

“If you hear in one of your cities, which the LORD your God is giving you to dwell there, that certain worthless fellows have gone out among you and have drawn away the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, then you shall inquire and make search and ask diligently. And behold, if it be true and certain that such an abomination has been done among you, you shall surely put the inhabitants of that city to the sword, devoting it to destruction, all who are in it and its cattle, with the edge of the sword. You shall gather all its spoil into the midst of its open square and burn the city and all its spoil with fire, as a whole burnt offering to the LORD your God. It shall be a heap forever. It shall not be built again. None of the devoted things shall stick to your hand, that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger and show you mercy and have compassion on you and multiply you, as he swore to your fathers, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, keeping all his commandments that I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the LORD your God.


Deuteronomy 13 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

When did self-appointed titles become a “thing” in the church? When did “a word” become more important than action? When did the thoughts inside people’s heads become full-blown prophecies directly from the mouth of the Lord? We find in Deuteronomy that this kind of deception has been happening for thousands of years!

“Prophets or interpreters of dreams may promise a miracle or a wonder, 2 in order to lead you to worship and serve gods that you have not worshiped before. Even if what they promise comes true, 3 do not pay any attention to them. The LORD your God is using them to test you, to see if you love the LORD with all your heart.

Deuteronomy 13:1-3 GNB

I believe the best way to practically apply this truth is to use discernment to uncover where the so-called miracle or word is leading you. Is it leading you to rely on only this person for answers, revelation, and instruction? Or, is it leading you toward God and His Word? False prophets love authority, titles, and acclamation. They will use truth to unhinge you from God. Consider that last point. Verse 2 says, “even if what they promise comes true, do not pay any attention to them.”

Truth is the obvious way to discern if a prophet is false and anyone can distinguish that utilizing common sense. True prophets in Scripture were correct 100% of the time. However, here in Deuteronomy, God gives an even more thorough and discerning test. When considering a prophet’s words, we must look at where those words lead, not how true the statement is. This is such deep knowledge! A false prophet will always go back to “Look! I said this, and it came true!” But God instructs us to dig deeper.

With false prophets, their true words will often lead you back to them for more advice (because they claim “special knowledge” from God), or to pursue some kind of idol (works-based religion, mystical Christianity, sensational rituals, name-it-claim-it theology, etc.) Either way, they want you to compromise and place your faith in something else alongside Jesus! This crafty and subtle maneuver is what caused Israel to turn their hearts away from God time and time again.

Also, keep in mind that God allows false prophets to speak true things about Him in order to challenge and grow His children.

“The temptation would test the true disposition of the hearts of the Israelites, and while the temptation was genuinely dangerous, the overcoming of that temptation would strengthen the people in their love of God and obedience to his commandments. The sovereignty of God is also seen in another manner: the performance of a sign or wonder did not mean that the gods advocated by a false prophet or dreamer had any real power, but only that the true God would permit certain things to happen in order to test and thereby strengthen his people.”

New International Commentary – Old Testament

Consider this: how does the enemy of our souls routinely get us to compromise on God’s truth? He uses fear and intimidation. False prophets often speak a sensational and terrifying “word” so they can scare people into trusting them instead of God. They will say they are doing it in the Name of God, but again, their words lead to false things such as fear and dependence upon their “word” for answers.

Another aspect to consider is the reputation of the person who makes such statements. People who come into the church (or into your life) with self-appointed titles should immediately raise a red flag. A title is given from the overall body and community of believers after they have discerned where the message leads if it lines up with Scripture, and if the person exemplifies the fruit of the Spirit. If you are a true prophet of God, you shouldn’t have to go around convincing everyone. It should be obvious. Paul writes this in 1 Corinthians 14.

“Two or three who are given God’s message should speak, while the others are to judge what they say.”

1 Corinthians 14:29 GNB

“Or could it be that the word of God came from you? Or are you the only ones to whom it came? 37 If anyone supposes he is God’s messenger or has a spiritual gift, he must realize that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But if he does not pay attention to this, pay no attention to him.”

1 Corinthians 14:36-38 GNB

Basically, Paul is prescribing accountability for those who claim to have a word from God. Yes, God speaks in this way, however, with so many false prophets claiming this title, we must be vigilant in testing such statements within the body and evaluating the fruit of the person who is making such a claim. Is this person loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled?

The term false prophet is misleading all on its own because the false part is often difficult to read. They are actually “almost true prophets” which makes them even more dangerous. If something is 80% true, do you consider it truth? Those who do not truly love God will be swept away by the fantastic and sensational claims. However, it is evident by this chapter of Deuteronomy that God despises those who use His Name to spread false claims and lead people astray. In fact, it was punishable by death! This is an alarming thought for anyone who is recklessly tagging the Name of God to everything they think and feel.

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