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Of False Prophets in General
v. 1. If there arise among you, in your midst, a prophet, one pretending to be sent by the Lord, or a dreamer of dreams, (the latter were mediums through which the Lord had promised to make known His will, Numbers 12:6), and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, for the servants of Satan, with God's permission, are also able to show great signs and wonders, Matthew 24:24,
v. 2. and the sign or the wonder come to pass whereof he spake unto thee, since the power of Satan is very great, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; that is invariably the purpose connected with the signs and wonders as they are performed by the false teachers, also the healers of our day, no matter to what extent they are genuine, namely, to lead men away from the true God, into misbelief, despair, and other great shame and vice;
v. 3. thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord, your God, proveth you, He uses the temptation of the false teachers to test the genuineness of the believers' faith, to know whether ye love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul. No matter, then, how strongly convincing the miracles of the false prophets are or seem to be, the Word of the Lord, which had been received by them and confirmed by the signs of Jehovah, should remain their one standard and criterion, from which they should not deviate.
v. 4. Ye shall walk after the Lord, your God, follow Him alone, in trustful obedience, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, as it was definitely transmitted to them in the words of Moses, and ye shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him, cling firmly to the sure Revelation of His will, and make that the standard according to which all preaching in their midst should be examined and tested, also that of the true prophets, Deuteronomy 18:21-22.
v. 5. And that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, he who made use of signs and wonders to tempt the people to idolatry, shall be put to death, because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord, your God, his words and actions having the aim of stirring up rebellion against the true 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 the Lord, thy God, commanded thee to walk in. That is what the efforts of the false teachers usually culminate in: those that listen to their seductive words are suddenly, and almost forcibly, pushed off the right road and placed on the path which leads to destruction. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. Christians will heed the warning of the Savior to beware of false prophets and will not even be shaken in their faith by the apparently great signs and wonders which they show in our days.
Seducers Among Relatives
v. 6. If thy brother, the son of thy mother, one with whom a person is connected by the ties of the most intimate relationship, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, the very nearest relative, or thy friend which is as thine own soul, with whom one shares secrets unknown even to the very nearest kinsman, Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 18:24, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods which thou hast not known, thou nor thy fathers;
v. 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, whether the idols mere those of their heathen neighbors or such as were worshiped by heathen in the remote places of the world;
v. 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, the accumulation of synonyms serving to emphasize the greater duty toward God, one which exceeded that of any obligation toward any human being;
v. 9. but thou shalt surely kill him, immediately take the steps which were necessary to bring the Lord's punishment upon him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, as accuser, witness, and even first avenger, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
v. 10. And thou shalt stone him with stones that he die, because He hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord, thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, from the place where they were bondmen, serfs, and slaves.
v. 11. And all Israel shall hear and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you; the severity of the punishment as meted out to the seducer should serve to keep them from indulging in similar attempts and, in so far at least, cause the Law to be observed. So far as the Christians are concerned, it is the will of God that they separate themselves from every open, idolater and sinner who seduces others, by excommunicating him. Here the ties of even the closest relationship must be set aside in the interest of God's honor, 1 Corinthians 5:11-13.
Seducers Among Fellow-Citizens.
v. 12. If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities which the Lord, thy God, hath given thee to dwell there, saying,
v. 13. Certain men, the children of Belial, literally, "sons of worthlessness," vain, profitless people, are gone out from among you, denying their allegiance to the people of God and their obligations to the Lord, and have withdrawn (seduced) the inhabitants of their city, saying, let us go and serve other gods which ye have not known, if this rumor or report should reach the ears of any member of Israel,
v. 14. then shalt thou enquire, make an investigation through the proper officers, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth and the thing certain, that such an abomination is wrought among you, if the guilt of the people is established beyond a doubt,
v. 15. thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, as having fallen under the ban of Jehovah, Deuteronomy 7, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. The ban should be carried out upon such a city with a severity which would cause the complete extermination of all living things.
v. 16. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it, in the form of dresses, furniture, jewelry, and the like, in the midst of the street thereof, the broad, open place just inside the gate, and shalt burn with fire the city and all the spoil thereof, every whit, for the Lord, thy God, namely, as being devoted to Him through this destruction; and it shall be an heap forever; it shall not be built again.
v. 17. And there shall cleave naught of the cursed thing to thine hand, no individual should presume to keep any of the material found among the spoil, that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of His anger, and show thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, not visit the sin of that one city upon the entire nation, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, Genesis 22:17;
v. 18. when thou shalt hearken to the voice of the Lord, thy God, to keep all His commandments which I command thee this day, including these, which enjoined the utmost severity upon the false prophets and seducers of every kind, to do that which is right in the eyes of the Lord, thy God. The command of God. as it concerns Christian congregations in our days, plainly states that they must have no fellowship with unbelievers and with false believers. Only in this way is it possible to hinder the corruption and the defection of the people of God. Cf 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany