Food For Thought Serve The Lord Your God And Obey Him Only

VERSE OF THE DAY

Deuteronomy 13:4 (New Living Translation)

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Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.

You must follow the Lord your God. Respect him. Obey his commands and do what he tells you. Serve the Lord your God, and never leave him. By following the laws of the lord you always have a stronghold by your side for he won’t leave you.

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.

Deuteronomy 13:4

David Guzik

On December 18, 2015, 12:30 am

Deuteronomy Chapter 13

Deuteronomy 13 – Keeping the Worship of God Pure

A. Protecting against those who would entice Israel to serve other gods.

1. (1-3) Protecting against the deceiver who comes with miraculous signs.

If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, “Let us go after other gods”; which you have not known; “and let us serve them,” you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

a. A dreamer of dreams: 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.

b. And the sign or the wonder comes to pass: 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.

i. 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.

c. And the sign or the wonder comes to pass: 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.

i. 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.

ii. 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.

d. You shall not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer of dreams: Godly discernment will always carefully examine the message of a spiritual leader, instead of the spiritual experiences which may surround him or her.

e. The LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart: This explains one of God’s reasons in allowing such deceivers to exist among His people – to allow the hearts of His people to be tested and proven, to see if they really love the God of truth or are merely seeking a spiritual sign or experience.

i. “And particularly there are many signs, yea, such as men may think to be wonders, which may be wrought by evil spirits, God so permitting it for divers wise and just reasons, not only for the trial of the good, as it here follows, but also for the punishment of ungodly men, who would not receive Divine truths, though attested by many evident and unquestionable miracles, and therefore are most justly exposed to these temptations to believe lies.” (Poole)

2. (4-5) The penalty for the deceiver who comes with miraculous signs.

You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.

a. You shall walk after the LORD: Israel was first instructed to not let a deceiver succeed in leading them astray. No matter how attractive the deception, they were to keep focused on a faithful walk with God according to His truth.

b. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death: 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.

i. 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. Trapp writes in the mid seventeenth century, “This power is still in the Christian magistrate, to inflict capital punishment on gross heretics.”

ii. While we admire their priorities (they judged it much more serious for a heretic to kill men’s eternal souls than to kill their temporal bodies), 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.

iii. 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.

3. (6-11) The penalty for a relative who would lead an Israelite to worship other gods.

If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. So all Israel shall hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you.

a. Brother… your son or daughter… the wife… your friend: 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).

i. 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.

ii. 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.

b. Secretly entices you: 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.

i. 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.

c. So all Israel shall hear and fear: Many modern researchers and pundits say that capital punishment is no deterrent to crime. God says it is a deterrent (properly practiced, of course).

B. Protecting the nation as a whole against those who would lead them into idolatry.

1. (12-14a) How to deal with reports of a city given over to idolatry.

If you hear someone in one of your cities, which the LORD your God gives you to dwell in, saying, “Corrupt men have gone out from among you and enticed the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’” which you have not known; then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently.

a. Then you shall inquire: If reports arose regarding an Israelite city given over to idolatry, there was first to be a careful investigation.

b. Search out, and ask diligently: 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.

2. (14b-18) The penalty for a city given over to idolatry.

And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination was committed among you, you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword; utterly destroying it, all that is in it and its livestock, with the edge of the sword. And you shall gather all its plunder into the middle of the street, and completely burn with fire the city and all its plunder, for the LORD your God. It shall be a heap forever; it shall not be built again. So none of the accursed things shall remain in your hand, that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of His anger and show you mercy, have compassion on you and multiply you, just as He swore to your fathers, because you have listened to the voice of the LORD your God, to keep all His commandments which I command you today, to do what is right in the eyes of the LORD your God.

a. Such an abomination: The word abomination here refers to a gross, offensive idolatry. Later in Daniel and in the New Testament, the word is used in the phrase abomination of desolation, which refers to the ultimate idolatry of the Antichrist – the establishing of an idolatrous image of himself in the most holy place (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

i. “The term abominable thing is used in the Old Testament for something that is totally displeasing to God and denotes something impure, unclean, and totally devoid of holiness.” (Thompson)

b. You shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword; utterly destroying it: 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.”

i. 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.

ii. “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.” (Poole)

c. It shall be a heap forever; it shall not be built again: The destroyed town was to be left as a heap forever. The word heap is literally tel, and the word tel is used in Arabic for any ruined sight. Throughout Israel today, one will see curious mounds rising from a plain. These tels are the heaped up remains of ancient destroyed cities, covered over with centuries of dust and accumulated dirt.

d. To do what is right in the eyes of the LORD your God: 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.

i. This chapter asks an important question: 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.”

©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission

Categories: Deuteronomy Old Testament

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Deuteronomy 13:4 Serving God
Food for Thought
An all-creatures.org Guide to Kingdom Living

By Marni Montenez

Deuteronomy 13:4 New Living Translation

Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.

There is wisdom in living as the Lord requires.  So much harm can be avoided by taking heed to this counsel.  

Serving God is our privilege as Christians.  There is no greater honor than to serve a mighty and powerful God who loves and adores us.

1 Samuel 12:24 (ESV)

Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.

In serving Him well, we are being intentional about our love for Him.

We must have a reverence for God and address Him with honesty and respect.  He is God above all other gods and deserves our excellence.  

God’s commands are not a demanding force to make us obey.    He wants willing hearts who listen for His voice and are delighted to live obedient to Him.  As we are quick to do His will we see that in obeying Him we are put in a place for us to be blessed beyond measure.   He delights in us as His children and anything He commands will eventually lead us into the abundant life.   

Most of us go to God and tell Him what we want, what we think and what we feel, but since He already knows these things,  We will benefit so much when we spend time in His presence  listening well and soaking in His wisdom.   In His holy light we are able to feel the soothing warmth of His healing power.

God wishes to speak things to us that will keep us in the moment.  It is when we are present in the moment that we can walk in the fullness of His peace and grace.

God will get us to the point that we are hanging onto Him for dear life. Clinging to God is a necessity.  It is what we were created to do.  We must understand that we can do nothing on our own.  

John 15:5 New King James Version

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

When we learn how to cling to God as our life support, we recognize that we cannot breath without Him.  The fears we face daily will transform into the fear of not being near Him.  We must keep our eyes steadily gazing upon His Majesty;  ready to follow Him at a moment’s notice and living our life that manifests complete surrender to Him.   

Challenge:  Meditate on this verse and let it become part of you so that you live it day by day and moment by moment.  Let it take hold of your heart and move you through life.  Allow God to teach you what it means to cling to Him.

God bless

Marni

Go on to: Deuteronomy 28:2 Blessings
Return to: Food for Thought
Return to: Christian Living Articles

The purpose of this series is to encourage people to live as loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God: Jesus tells us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) God tells us through Micah (6:8), “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.” And we know from Revelation 21:4 that there will be no more mourning, or crying, or pain, or death. Thus, Christian living requires us to set the standards of these conditions here on earth for our fellow human beings, and for the other animals, as a witness to the rest of the world. To do otherwise is not Christian.

Related Topics: God, Lord, Reverence, All Topics…

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

So many people want us to follow their lead and obey their voice. Only God alone has proved himself faithful and loving through the ages. In his might he is to be revered. But rather than seeing reverence as a “church thing,” we are reminded by Moses it is a “life thing.” We are to obey and keep his commandments, we are to serve him and depend upon him in our daily lives. Rather than silence in the assembly, reverence is action to his glory!

My Prayer…

Holy and Righteous Father, help me take my worship outside the church building into my day to day life as I try to live what I sing, practice what I say, and pursue what I pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Thoughts and Prayer on Today’s Verse are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@verseoftheday.com.

Author: J. Palmer

Living under the wings of God and the angels around me keeping me going and safe. Sharing the love of Christ.

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