Chapter 13


The False Prophet

        • Suppose that a prophet or person who has dreams regarding the future appears among you proclaiming that a particular sign or miracle will take place, and then the predicted signs or miracles do occur. Then, this person says, “Let’s follow and worship other gods.” Don’t listen to this person! The Lord your God is testing you to see whether or not you truly love Him with all your heart and soul. You must only follow, worship, and fear the Lord your God. You must obey His commands, listen to Him, and stay faithful to Him.

          • Guzik makes some extremely important points in his commentary on this passage:

            • Deuteronomy 18:22 tells what to do with a prophet who speaks a word and it does not come to pass. But this passage tells what to do with a prophet who speaks a word and it comes to pass, but they then speak against what God has already revealed in His word…Moses warned the people that there may arise from among them prophets or workers of signs who could also produce a sign or a wonder…This sobering fact is ignored by many Christians in our age which neglects discernment. The fact is that signs and wonders can never be the evidence of truth or God’s hand…Those who are immediately convinced at the sight of supernatural power or reality are in danger of great deception. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 reminds us that the coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders…This is why Jesus said and these signs will follow those who believe (Mark 16:17). Signs are to follow believers, instead of believers following signs. Godly discernment will always carefully examine the message of a spiritual leader, instead of the spiritual experiences which may surround him or her.”

          • Dreams can be from God (as in Numbers 12:6, or in Genesis 37:5-11), or they can be false prophesies (as in Jeremiah 23:25-26). We must be careful to not put too much stock in dreams, and instead allow God to bring confirmation to any dream we believe brings a message from Him. It would be very unusual for God to speak alone through a dream, without other confirmation.”

        • The prophet or dreamer who has tried to lead the people into rebellion against the Lord your God (who rescued you from slavery in Egypt) and to turn the people away from living the way He has commanded them to live must be killed because you must remove the evil from among you.

          • HCSB notes, “The death penalty for these false prophets who arise from within Israel seems unduly harsh until we recognize that they are guilty of nothing less than high treason when they encourage the people to defect from the Lord and embrace other gods. Such measures cannot be entertained today, of course, but they were quite appropriate to the OT theocratic community.”

          • Historically, there have been instances when the church has been guilty of horrific error in this regard. Guzik mentions this in his commentary:

            • Ancient Israel was a unique situation, where the civil government was also directly appointed by God and charged with maintaining spiritual order as well as civil order. Therefore, such heresy and deception were capital crimes – punishable by execution…For many centuries, when the church held political power, it often exercised this penalty also. Heretics were often given over to the civil government for execution…they were ignorant of an important principle of Jesus’ kingdom in contrast to the ancient kingdom of Israel: Jesus declared that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36), while the kingdom of Israel was very much of this world. Never before or since has God appointed such a kingdom as Israel to be His nation in this world as He appointed ancient Israel, so it would be wrong for us to execute heretics today…Still, the church as a community and Christians as individuals should reject and refuse to support such heretics among them. They should use discernment to set aside those who promote themselves as miracle working men and women of anointing and faith, yet who teach heresy in essential doctrines.”

Don’t Tolerate Idolatry

        • If anyone comes to you, even your brother, your child, your beloved wife, or your closest friend, and secretly and tries to sway you saying, “Let’s go worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, or the gods the surrounding nations worship, or gods worshiped by nations far away), you must not listen to them or give in to them. Instead, you must kill them- do not show any pity, or try to spare them or protect them. The person must be stoned and you should be the first to cast your stone followed by the rest of the community. This is the penalty for attempting to turn you away from the Lord your God who rescued you from slavery in Egypt. All of the Israelites will hear about this and they will be deterred from doing anything evil like this themselves.

          • Passages such as these are certainly hard to read and prompt some individuals to erroneously see a dichotomy between the “God of the OT” and the “God of the NT.” However, this dichotomy is false. In fact, we find this very principle on the lips of Jesus in Matthew. Guzik writes:

            • If any of these close human relationships would lead one to the worship of other gods, they were not only to be rejected (you shall not consent to him or listen to him), they were to be executed (you shall surely kill him)…In fact, the relative should be one of the main witnesses against the guilty party: your hand shall be first against him to put him to death. This was the ‘casting of the first stone,’ the initiation of execution by one of the witnesses to the capital crime… This also demonstrates that God never puts highest priority on family relationships; if a family member forsakes the LORD, we are never to follow them away from the LORD. Jesus always comes first, as He said in Matthew 10:37: He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me… This demonstrates how seriously God regards leading someone else into idolatry. Even if a sympathetic person entices you, and even if they do it in private, enticement to idolatry is not to be tolerated…This brings to mind the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:6: But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Anyone who leads one of God’s people astray is greatly offending the heart of God.”

        • Once you are settled into your towns that the Lord is giving you, if you hear that troublemakers have surfaced among you leading the citizens of the town astray by saying, “Let’s worship other gods” (gods you haven’t known), you must conduct an investigation. Ask questions and interrogate thoroughly to find out if the allegations are true. If you discover that what you have heard is true and this abominable thing has occurred, you must destroy the entire town. Put all the people and the livestock to death. Then, you are to pile all of the plunder in the middle of the town square and burn it along with the entire town as a burnt offering to the Lord your God. You must never rebuild the city; it must remain in ruins forever. You must not keep any of the plunder from the town yourselves because it is set apart for destruction so that the Lord will turn His fierce anger away from you and grant you mercy, compassion, and increase your numbers just as He promised your ancestors. The Lord will be merciful if you obey all the commands I am giving you today and do what is right according to Him.

          • Again, Guzik lists important points to note from these difficult passages:

          • If reports arose regarding an Israelite city given over to idolatry, there was first to be a careful investigation…This guarded against a harsh judgment; perhaps there were a few idolaters in the city who needed to be punished, but perhaps the city was not given over to idolatry. God commanded a careful investigation.”

            • If the investigation finds that the city is indeed given over to idolatry, it is then to be treated as a Canaanite city. They were to utterly destroy the city, including its property. The property was to be given to the LORD by destroying it, a form of ‘sacred destruction.’…This made certain that no one could profit materially by declaring a city given over to idolatry. If this provision were not in the Law of Moses one could imagine a city being plundered under this pretense.” Guzik quotes Poole, “The very same punishment which was inflicted upon the cities of the cursed Canaanites, to whom having made themselves equal in sin, it is but fit and just that God should equal them in punishment.”

          • This demonstrates that Israelites were never to regard ethnic or national bonds greater than the bonds that tied them to the LORD God; if their fellow countrymen were given over to idolatry, they were not to be spared.”

          • Guzik concludes his commentary on chapter 13 with questions requiring a deep, soul searching response: “What would it take to lead you away from God? Would signs and wonders do it? What if your mate forsook God, or all of your friends? What if culture, or nationalism, or ethnic ties called you away from Jesus? We must never allow such ties to come before our bond to Jesus. We must decide, as the song says, ‘Though none go with me, still I will follow.’”