Date: Thu, 2 Feb 1995 17:33:07 +0100 Reply-To: email@example.com Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
From: Teus Benschop Subject: Deuteronomy 13 Contents ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1. Introduction 2. Explanation 3. Questions 1. Introduction ------------------------------------------------------------------------ This is an issue of a continuous explanation of the Bible-book Dvarim, that is Deuteronomy. If something is unclear in the explanation, ask the editor. The Bible-text is taken from the King James version. Deuteronomy 13. Title: Warning against false prophets Short contents: Moshe prescribes the people how they must behave themselves against a false prophet, who would bring them away from God; against other apostates, even the close family; and against an apostate city. 2. Explanation ------------------------------------------------------------------------ In the previous chapter, Moshe warned against the idols of the nations, who were around them. In this chapter, Moshe warns the people against the false prophets. Not the prophets from the nations around, but prophets out their own midst. This is much more dangerous. 1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, Moshe speaks about a prophet, but it is clear that he means a false prophet. In this way, it happens in practice. Every liar covers up himself with the name of true prophet. He also imitates the appearance of the true prophets. In ancient times, the prophets wore a rough coat. The false prophets imitated this. Tanach calls it a favour of God, when the false prophets will no more imitate the true prophets. "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive," Zech.13:4. Therefore, the true or false prophet cannot be recognized in his exterior or his name. Moshe also speaks about a dreamer of dreams. For that happened often in that time. But now, after the revelation is finished, this happens only seldom. Also this false dreamer cannot be recognized by his name. What it makes still worse is, that they also can give a sign or wonder. From this is clear, that signs and wonder cannot come forth only of God, but also Satan has might to do this. From this we learn that we not can rely on signs and on wonders. For this says totally nothing. 2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Moshe says that this sing or wonder can come. From this we see that with "the sign or the wonder" is meant a prediction of an event. So, it can be so that a false prophet predicts something, and that it also comes true. Take Balaam as an example. He was a miser, but he prophesied some truth. For a matter of fact, why did Balaam prophecy some truth? Because God turned Balaam's curse into a blessing. "Nevertheless Adonai thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but Adonai thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because Adonai thy God loved thee," Deut.23:5. So we see that only the giving of a sign or a wonder is not enough. The prophet must be tried in more things. When the prophet would head for idolatry, "saying: Let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and let us serve them", than he surely is a false prophet. By this sign, Balaam is well distinguishable. Balaam has indeed advised to idolatry. "Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against Adonai in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of Adonai," Num.31:16. Overseeing all, Moshe admonishes us to do not like the dull people, who run behind all kinds of signs and wonders. We must thoroughly try the doctrine of someone. The doctrine of a prophet must totally correspond with God's Word. But how can we test the doctrine of someone, when we not have a thorough knowledge of our own doctrine? So, it is necessary that there is a good knowledge is the true doctrine, which will increase by much exercise. 3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for Adonai your God proveth you, to know whether ye love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul. When a prophet has got up, and gives a sign, then the people will start doubting. Is he good or is he false? But after the false prophet is discovered, all doubt has to be over. When the prophet advises other gods, then one may not hear to that man. It is possible that somebody asks in himself: Why does God allow that false prophets get up? It has a reason. The LORD proves us with that to know if we love Him. It is not so that God not beforehand knew what was in the heart. For He even knows all the hideaways of our heart, much better than we know them. So, here is meant that it will become public whether somebody loves God. So that everyone can see it. It can be that there is someone who says that he loves God. God will prove it by sending a heresy. That man is advised to leave his God, and to serve other gods. Now will appear whether he loves God or not. When he loves God, then he well takes heed for the idols. But when he serves God only for the gains, he will have no problem in serving other gods. Moshe says us that we must serve God with all our heart and with all our soul. So, when the true believer fades somewhat in his love, he surely will be deducted from God. So, it is possible that also the true believers err. And that by their own slovenliness. They had deviated a little from God, and did not cleave unto Him. 4 Ye shall walk after Adonai your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. Moshe recommends the service of God against the idolatry. For this, he uses many words. "Walking after"; everywhere, where God goes, also we must go there. The people in the desert did so. "Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying: Thus saith Adonai; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown," Jirmejah 2:2. The people followed the LORD, and the LORD showed them the way. "Moreover thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go," Nechemjah 9:12. Further, Moshe uses another word. "Cleaving unto"; as it were the cleaving after God. This is a matter which if of importance for the life. They, who went after Baal-Peor, an idol, they all were killed. "But ye that did cleave unto Adonai your God are alive every one of you this day," Deut.4:4. The others left God, but who cleaved unto Him stayed alive. Moshe says this not only to the people of then. He says it also to us. Also to us applies this, that we must "walk after God, fear Him, keep His commandments, obey His voice, serve Him, cleave unto Him". When we not do this, we will at first be carried away by little errors. They will always become more until the wrath of God will put us away. Therefore, student, cleave unto the LORD with all your heart, soul, and with all your powers. 5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from Adonai your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which Adonai thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. That false prophet will be killed. We must well keep in mind to whom Moshe speaks here. He speaks to the nation. So, the people must kill that prophet. It is not so that everybody is a judge. No, the task is given to the total nation. The government represents the total nation, so the government is charged to protect the true religion, and to exterminate the false. The government may not be neutral to the religion. Also the government has to serve the LORD with their whole power. Is the punishment for the false prophet not somewhat hard? No, because the prophet would have made that many would be killed. When the prophet would have succeeded, then the whole nation would be driven away from God. This would arouse the wrath of God, and He would exterminate the people. So, it is better to deactivate that prophet in good time. However, this applies only to that prophet who persists in his error. For "he that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy," Prov.28:13. The commandment of God is given to the people as a solid rule. The LORD has saved them out Egypt, and would they leave Him now? Will they transgress His commandments, and deviate from the way? No, this cannot be. "So shall you put the evil away from the midst of you." 6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying: Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Previously, Moshe spoke about the false teachers, but now he starts to speak about the personal life. Also therein, it can happen that somebody advises you to serve the idols. Your brother, son, daughter or wife, or somebody else. Although that person is such a intimate friend, he cannot commit idolatry. Many are inclined to indulge very much to their family or partner. Even when they would deny God, still they would overlook the error. This is not allowed. God must be served above all, even above them who we love. So, when there is somebody, no matter who, who would made us commit idolatry, we must report him. Herein, we see that we because of God must deny even the closest relations. Who not does this, when it is necessary, cannot serve God. For he would put God on the second or lower place. But God is the Highest, and must keep the highest place. Also in our life. Here is no place for weakness. However, also here it applies only to the stiffnecked. When one has during a long time the opportunity to leave the idolatries, but even then not does it, he is stiffnecked. But who confesses his sins and also refrains from them, mercy will happen to him. Moshe speaks about the secretly enticing. For the idolatry begins in the secret. When it not soon will be suppressed, than it will break out in the public. But let we not point only to the others. Let we also put away our own idolatries; at least exterminate them. This must already happen in the beginning, when they are still little. All things, whereon we rely besides God, is idolatry. This must be away. Let we also not be tenderheartedly against ourselves. The extermination of own sins might be painful for the flesh, but afterwards it will yield a blessed fruit of godly fear. 7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Israel was totally surrounded by the idolatrous nations. They were round about them at all sides. The direct neighbour-lands, but also the lands which were far away. Israel was the only land which had the true religion. "From the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth", for all their idols Israel had to take heed. It was the case in that time, and it is the same now. The true people of God are still surrounded by idolatry, close to and far away. There is always danger for him who lives in the world, that he adapts himself to the world. Here, Moshe forbids this. The people must live in seclusion. This separate life consists in the life with God, separated from the heathen. "For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth," Exod.33:16. The true people of God do not join in the world. They, who have gone to the world with their stunning idolatries, have apostated from God. 8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: Moshe speaks about all kinds of family relations. Even the closest relation; husband, wife or children. When they lead you away from God, "you shall not consent unto him". You even cannot listen to them: "nor hearken unto him", but you must at the same moment cut off the matter. Also do not adduce easing circumstances, "neither shall your eye pity him". "Neither shall you spare, neither shall you conceal him". At the first glance, this seems rather hard. But this is not so, as already is said earlier. For, here it is not about one ho is snared in an error. Such a one will be docile. After a warning, he will no more go to the idols. But here, it is about one who maintains to serve the idols. Then comes the moment that it is enough. The LORD has more then four centuries beared the idolatry of the heathen in Kenaan, but after that it was enough. Four centuries, because the Lord is very longsuffering. But they did not return, and stayed stiffnecked. At that moment, it was God's time. So, the conclusion of this verse is, that here is not commanded a merciless hardness against the closest family, but a righteous judgement. Sometimes, this righteous judgement can seem hard, but that does not matter. 9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. This killing must not happen through the common man. The jurisdiction is a task of the government. Nevertheless, here is said: "your hand shall be first upon him to put him to death". But this means something else. The judges will condemn the server of idols, but the witness will throw the first stone on him. "And afterwards the hand of all the people". The witness must throw as the first, which cautions us to witness very carefully. We must not listen to the first rumour, but we must be totally convinced of the truth of the accusation. By the way, we learn something more of this. It happens often that there is talked about other people. They talk and talk, and say to have heard this and that, but they do not know the truth. This is not good. For, when we talk about other people and say bad things about them, then these are stones, which we throw on them. This gossiping is not the work of God's children. God's children do not speak falsely, but they make peace. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee," Ps.122:6. Concerning peace, it could happen that we fall in a sleepy rest and in a false peace, and that we leave the fight against the sins. When that happens, the wicked enormously increase in number and power. Therefore, we must not allow several godlessness under the appearance of peace. We must thoroughly exterminate this. Moshe tells this to us in the next verse. 10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from Adonai thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. The server of idols must surely be killed, because he wanted to thrust the people away from God. When the people would be bumped away from God, then the people would be punished by God to death. Either the people had to die, or the server of idols had to die. One of both. It is not small, what he wanted to do. "He hath sought to thrust you away from Adonai thy God, Which brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage". That good and lovely God, Who has done so many good things. Who has passed by so many transgressions of the people. Would they leave Him? That would be more than terrible. That would be very unthankfully. The LORD has done several good things to the people until now. Still daily, He keeps them alive. "These wait all upon Thee; that Thee may give them their meat in due season," Ps.104:27. The LORD does not bear His wrath until eternity, but He abundantly pardons. Therefore, the server of idols, which now had to be stoned, had done better when he turned from his evil way. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto Adonai, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon," Isa.55:7. He had to die now, but "o that you had hearkened to My commandments! Then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea," Isa.48:18. What is said about this server of idols applies also to you, student. Your hidden idolatry, the trust on all besides God, will kill you. Soon or later, that is not known. Drop all your supports, and lean only on God. What is the use of this judgement about the idolator? It is very useful for the rest of the people, as you read in the next verse. 11 And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you. The stoning of a man, that is not a little. All Israel will hear it, and fear. So terrible is this. The use thereof is, that they "shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you." Moshe does not gloss over the idolatry. He does not call it an error, but "such wickedness as this". Let we learn to speak also with Moshe's words. Idolatry is the rejection of the LORD, Who only is good. This is wickedness. When he would have had repentance, he would not be killed. "For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee," Ps.86:5. This is good for us to know. Student, although you are a very great sinner in your own eyes, still you need not to be stoned, although you have earned this. When you have only repentance of your evil deeds, and refrain from these deeds, and pray to God for forgiving. Surely, He will adopt you in grace. Only leave your evil acts, and come to God. 12 If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which Adonai thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Previously, it was about a false prophet, and about a relation, who wanted to deviate from God. But now, it is even about a whole city. The evil is already wide extended then. No longer in the hidden, like that relation, but now in the public. That does not happen in an unimportant place, but in one of the cities, which God had given to them. In the city, God's property, are now gathered in other gods. Now, this is more than bad. What will God do? We read it in the continuation. God gives cities not only to them, but also to us He gives something. We get the life from Him, and all our needs. Therefore, it befits us to serve God with all our heart. 13 Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying: Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; Children of Belial are people, who have thrown away the yoke of God's commandments. Because they are without yoke now, they are dissolute. So, they have driven out God, and rejected His yoke. Now, they say: "Let us go and serve other gods." This is strange. There is no nation who has the LORD as their God. He has only done well to them. And now, they want other gods, which are no gods. They have known their God, and they know all what He has done, but now, they want to serve gods, "which you have not known". Perhaps that the unknown attracts, as happens so many times. We think the unknown beautiful, but we despise the service of the only good God. We will get the pay on our works. 14 Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; In verse 12 we read: "If you shall hear say". So, when rumour of the idolatry comes through. What does Moshe command us then? Not simple to believe the rumour. That would be too rashly. This could lead to an unjust judgement. Innocent could be brought to death. So, what does Moshe command us? He does not command us to reject the rumour. No more than gossip. No, also this is not good. Perhaps the rumour is true. When we reject the rumour, then the culprit would continue to live unpunished, and their idolatry would stuff forth like the cancer in the body. The disease would unhindered spread itself because of the slowness of the judges. No, Moshe commands something else. "Then shall you enquire, and make search, and ask diligently". We must do a thorough work, and trace it like a tracker dog. Well asking after it, if it is the truth. When it appears to be the truth "and the thing certain", such an abomination is done, then the judges must come in action. In short, Moshe does not command rashness and not weakness, but diligence in the work. This applies to all of us. This diligence surely goes for our searching and reading of the Bible. It is not good to read only the prayers. The prayers are partly human writings. We must be very diligently in the searching of God's Word. 15 Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. When the rumour of the idolatry is sure, then the judgement must be passed and executed. All must be killed. Yes, the children also. The children, who still not done evil. Is this not harsh? This seems harsh, but it is not. Although we perhaps cannot understand God's judgements at the first glance, nevertheless His judgements are righteous. Although this seems unjust, nevertheless we can explain it. We must keep in mind that God does not punish without a cause. The cause is known for the older inhabitants of the city. They served the idols. But what about the young children? No, let we go further. What about the unborn children? They also were killed, and they had not done good or bad. How is this possible? As is said, Gods does nothing without cause. There must be something those unborn children, what is a cause for punishment. This cannot be something else than a kind of internal guilt. This is the inherited sin. This doctrine is based in several places in the Bible. Also Job believed this doctrine. "What is man, that he should be clean? And he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?" Job 15:14. Elsewhere he says: "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one," Job 14:4. David teaches it. "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me," Ps.51:5. This history teaches it, like many of such histories in the Bible. In short, the inherited sin appears from this: God does not punish without cause. Nevertheless, the unborn children were punished. What is the cause of this? The cause cannot be anything else then the inward guilt. Who would deny the inherited sin, would at the same time accuse God of unrighteousness. This would be too terrible, then that it could be allowed. 16 And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for Adonai thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again. The idolatry is so horrible, that all the spoil thereof must be burned. Even the city may never be rebuilt. The ruin must always be visible as a warning for the next generation. Also the Dead Sea must be for us a memory of that, what happened with Sodom and Gomorrah. It warns us to do not the same as they did. Before that destruction, the plain of Jordan was very fruitful. "And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before Adonai destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of Adonai, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar," Gen.13:10. But because of the terrible behaviour of the inhabitants, the LORD has scattered sulfur and salt upon it. Hence the present infertility. "He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground. A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein," Ps.107:33,34. 17 And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that Adonai may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers; When the city will be totally destroyed, then the LORD will turn Himself of the fierceness of His anger. And He will show you mercy, and have compassion upon you. The compassion of the LORD goes through the judgement. The whole history, it has been so. "But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies," Lam.3:32. He will have compassion upon you, and multiply you according to His oath. "And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince forever, "Ezek.37:25. God's Knight David will be their King. This Monarch is the Messiah Jesus. He will be King of all who believe in Him. Therein consists the salvation. It consists in submitting oneself to the Messiah, the Knight David, their Monarch. It does not consist in submitting oneself for some time, but that submission must be eternal. The salvation consists therein, that God has compassion upon us. We do not boast then in own good works, but only in God's free grace. 18 When thou shalt hearken to the voice of Adonai thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of Adonai thy God. God will give grace, "when you shall hearken to the voice of the LORD your God", and will keep all His commandments. You must not do what is right in your eyes, but what right is in God's eyes. What is right in God's eyes? "And Samuel said, Hath Adonai as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Adonai? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams," 1 Sam.15:22. 3. Questions ------------------------------------------------------------------------ If you want to gain more benefit from the explanation, you could consider answering the questions and do the tasks. You can send these to the editor. He will look at it, and return them to you with his comments. Questions. 1 a. Are wonders alone enough to prove the truth of a religion? b. What is the only norm, by which a religion must be judged? 2 Is it important for us that we personally examine God's Word? Why? 3 a. For which reason does God sometimes send teachers of heresies? 4 Read verse four. a. What means walking after God? b. What means fearing God? c. What means cleaving unto God? 5 May we be judges ourselves to exterminate the idolatry? 6 When you find something in your life, which is against God's commandments, what will you do? Do you indulge, or do you exterminate it? 7 Did the stoning of the idolater have any use for others? Which? 8 What are the children of Belial? 9 a. Is a rash judgement allowed? b. Is weakness in the judgement allowed? 10 Can it be reconciled with God's righteousness, that also the unborn children were punished? 11 What is better than offerings? Tasks. 1 Compare Moses's order in verse 6-11 with Exodus 32. a. Has Levi done this? b. What was the use of it for the people? 2 Read Psalm 51, Proverbs 21, Isaiah 1, Jeremiah 7, Hosea 6. Answer thereof the following questions. a. Does the LORD content Himself with only the outward rites of the offerings? b. What is more acceptable than sacrifice? c. When God lead the fathers out of Egypt, whereof did He speak the most? d. Wherein consist the real sacrifices of God? ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Chr-Exp, a Christian explanation of the Tanach and the New Testament Editor: Teus Benschop - firstname.lastname@example.org No copyrights on this publication Institution Practical Bible-education, the Netherlands .