- Righteousness Before Relationships (Deuteronomy 13:6-11)
- Morning Meditation: Listen to Words not Wonders (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)
- Morning Meditation: Inquiring After Their Gods (Deuteronomy 12:28-32)
- Morning Meditation: Obedience is Always an Option (Deuteronomy 12:20-27)
- Morning Meditation: How to Enjoy God’s Blessings (Deuteronomy 12:15-19)
- Morning Meditation: One Pattern, One Name, One Place (Deuteronomy 12:8-14)
- Morning Meditation: Shrine or Sanctuary? (Deuteronomy 12:1-7)
- Morning Meditation: A Blessing and a Curse (Deuteronomy 11:26-32)
- Morning Meditation: A People of the Book (Deuteronomy 11:18-25)
- Morning Meditation: The Primacy of Obedience (Deuteronomy 11:13-17)
- Morning Meditation: Characteristics of the Land (Deuteronomy 11:8-12)
- Morning Meditation: A Heritage of Obedience (Deuteronomy 11:1-7)
Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 13:1-5
Verses 1-3a. Israel had always “required a sign,” and here we have another possible allurement which the people would face in the land. Since they loved signs, the Devil had but to imitate one for Israel to be drawn away. Thus, the Lord warns against either a prophet or a dreamer who provides a sign (which comes true) yet tempts Israel into idolatry. Israel was not called to test the sign but rather the words, for the entire reliability of the prophet could be judged by his words. The sign mattered nothing if his words were contrary to God’s Law. (Elsewhere, the words mattered nothing if the miraculous aspect was invalidated: Deuteronomy 18:22).
How often miracles are used to confirm anti-Biblical movements that claim the name “Christian.” The Charismatics speak of healing and tongues. Catholics speak of Eucharistic miracles. And when Mormons struggle to prove their point from Scripture, they ask us to pray for wisdom so God might show us the truth of Mormonism even against all odds. So, the Bible merely becomes a proof-text machine for one to prove his movement, and when he cannot prove it from Scripture he says, “I can’t explain it; I just believe because God has shown me so many things.” The problem with this is that it proves nothing. Whose experience of the miraculous is right? The Charismatic’s, the Catholic’s, or the Mormon’s? Even Christ made miracles subservient to what was written. Miracles made men more accountable, yes, but they were ultimately judged by God’s Word. Let us learn well to disregard what contradicts Scripture, regardless of the subjective proofs it provides. God would not validate by signs what contradicts His Word. Therefore, we need not investigate the signs, for we may judge the whole thing by what is written.
Verses 3b-4. Deuteronomy is a book about the Law. Chapter 1 describes it as an exposition of the Law given before Israel entered the land. The assumption is that their love for God and their possession of the promised heritage depended entirely upon the words of God. Here the Lord holds Israel accountable to that, and He offers them a test to determine their love for Him. The test had six components which, if passed, would prove their holistic love for God: (a) “follow the Lord,” (b) “fear Him,” (c) “keep His commandments,” (c’) “listen to His voice,” (b’) “serve Him,” (a’) “cling to Him.” There is an obvious chiasm here; thus, following is explained by clinging, fearing is explained by obeying, and keeping commandments is explained by listening to His voice. In short, their heads were engaged in hearing, their hands were engaged in serving, and their hearts were engaged in worshiping. There was intimacy and nearness involved. This all centered on the Word, and that defined every aspect of their identity as worshipers of God.
It is no stretch to say that we have been tested in these last centuries on our love to God. The threats of rationalism, Romanism, relativism, and revivalism have overwhelmed us in an attack against Scripture’s inspiration, authority, and sufficiency. The question is if we are content to worship God according to the simplicity of His Word, for that is where love to God is defined. Leaders prove their love to Christ by feeding His sheep with His Word. Followers prove their love to Christ by keeping His commandments. To love God through His Word is to declare God Himself to be sufficient. A person’s words are not separate from the person himself. Thus, when we follow Him, fear Him, serve Him, and cling to Him while hearing His voice and keeping His commands, we are worshiping God as we ought. Let us pursue God for all He is and all He says. This is how we love Him.
Verse 5. The most solemn consequence was in order for the false prophet. In Deuteronomy 18 the consequence was for error. Here it is for idolatry. On two counts was the prophet guilty: (1) by stirring up rebellion, though God had become Israel’s Redeemer and rightful, sovereign Owner; (2) by seducing them away from Scripture, though God commanded them unequivocally to obey His voice. Thus, the prophet was to die. This both purged a dissenting voice from the community and illustrated the devastation of violating God’s holy Law. The key phrase that stands out here is “among you.” This reminds us of something else Israel should have had “among them,” that is, the sanctuary and the presence of God. These holy commands allowed Israel to be God’s dwelling place. Either God was among them, or sin was among them. It could not be both. May God’s grace and God’s greatness ever serve as a reminder that we belong to Him. There is no sense in which we do not belong to Him. Thus, He demands our all–full submission, full sobriety, and full sanctification.