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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Deuteronomy

(Return to Old Testament Contents)



Part 3: Ch.12-20 Moses reminds them of Stipulations for a Holy Nation

Ch.12 – The One Place of Worship

Ch.13 – Beware Deception

Ch.14 – Food & Tithing

Ch.15 – Year Seven Changes & Firstborn Animal Offerings

Ch. 16 – Festivals, Justice & Worship

Ch. 17 – Worship, Justice & any Future King

Ch. 18 – Maintain Right Spiritual Practices   

Ch. 19 – Rules for Cities of Refuge

Ch. 20 – Rules for Going to War



FRAMEWORKS: Deuteronomy 13: Beware Deception


v.1-5 Beware False Prophets

v.6-11 Beware People who might try to Lead You Astray

v.12-18 When Whole Communities Go Astray



v.1-5 Beware False Prophets


v.1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder,

v.2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,”

v.3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.

v.4 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

v.5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.


[Notes: A holy people are a people who stick close to God. If someone turns up, even if he appears to perform signs and wonders, but he seeks to lead you from God-only worship, put him to death for rebellion.]



v.6-11 Beware People who might try to Lead You Astray


v.6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known,

v.7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other),

v.8 do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them.

v.9 You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people.

v.10 Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

v.11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.


[Notes: If members of your own family propose worship that it not of God, reject them, they deserve death. Near the end of Numbers 15 we suggested three reasons for Israel's existence and added, “ If these three suggested goals are to be worked through, it is imperative that blatant transgressions of the agreed laws, must be clearly dealt with as both examples to remind everyone of the covenant laws AND to act as a deterrent to stop the nation unravelling and ceasing to fulfil these above goals which are for the benefit of the whole world.”

The language used in the present passages may appear violent and extreme but they go to the very heart of Israel's existence. Leave the nation and go and live somewhere else by all means, but don't stay part of it and try and undermine it by idolatry!]



v.12-18 When Whole Communities Go Astray


v.12 If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in

v.13 that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known),

v.14 then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you,

v.15 you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock.

v.16 You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt,

v.17 and none of the condemned things are to be found in your hands. Then the Lord will turn from his fierce anger, will show you mercy, and will have compassion on you. He will increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your ancestors—

v.18 because you obey the Lord your God by keeping all his commands that I am giving you today and doing what is right in his eyes.


[Notes: The progression moves on from false prophet to rebellious family members, to a whole local community. Such a town must be destroyed for the very reasons given in the notes above. By modern standards these things seem horrific but if we read the Pentateuch and still fail to see the seriousness of Israel's calling – emphasised by these death sentences – we have still missed the significance of the existence of the nation.]