If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, 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; 3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
- The main emphasis of this chapter is God's instruction to Israel on how to handle those who intended to draw people away from the worship of the one true God.
- The Lord instructs them here on how to discern and know a true prophet from a false one, and what punishment to administer when they inevitably encounter the false. God tells them here that such people would need to be dealt with severely, due to the enormity of the consequences potential in drawing even a part of Israel away from God into false religions.
- Prophecies and dreams were often legitimate channels of communication between God and His people, even in Old Testament days. However, both of those gifts can be imitated or abused, and a false prophet may even perform miracles as signs to draw people away into error. Therefore, the performance of signs and wonders and miracles are not the only test of authenticity that God's people should apply when attempting to discern whether and individual is a true or false prophet.
Signs and wonders
- A miracle or sign in and of itself is not proof of God's approval since these can be performed other than under God's power (see the Egyptian magicians [e.g. Ex 7:22 And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments] and Simon the Sorcerer [Acts 8:9 used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria]. The false prophet, empowered by the Wicked One, 2Th 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.
- In the book of Revelation, the beast out of the earth Re 13:13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, 14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast.
- Mt 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
- So we see very clearly from Scripture that the forces of darkness have the power to perform lying signs, wonders and miracles in both Old and New Testament. Such is true today beloved….
- However, the ability to perform sings and wonders and miracles are not the true test of a prophet's legitimacy. The prophet must lead people closer to the one true God, rather than away after new gods, or even new and strange ideas about God, and all that the prophet says must line up with the Bible. Therefore, The Lord here reveals to His people that no matter how impressive the leader's ministry may seem, the message is the main point and the test of all things.
vs. 3 The Lord your God proveth you (is testing you)
· The Lord allowed the false prophet to come into their midst to test them and see if they would walk in the revelation of His Word and truth, and in doing so, prove that they love and seek after Him more than they do signs, wonders and new and strange things.
· Jesus said in Matthew 12:38-42 that only an evil and adulterous generation seeks after signs and wonders, rather than exhibiting a soft heart toward God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. 5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD 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 the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.
- As any parent would be angry and vengeful if someone had come into their home in order to kidnap or murder their children, God here shows that He is intensely angry with anyone who would enter into the midst of His people and draw them away from their worship of Him.
- In His eyes, for a false prophet to come and proclaim a false god with the intention of drawing His people away from faith and the path to Heaven is to do far more damage to than any other form of hurt, because it has eternal implications. Therefore God instructs His people Israel to deal quickly and severely with any false prophet who would seek to overthrow their faith in Him.
- It is possible that Paul had in his mind this principle of removing evil from the midst of God’s people when he told the Corinthian church to remove the leaven of sexual immorality that was commonly known in their congregation. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
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; 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; 8 Thou shalt not consent (yield; implying pressure being put on them )unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: 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. 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.
- The Lord so abhors idolatry that He instructs the people of Israel to deal severely even with members of their own family if they attempt to overthrow the people's faith and lead them away from Him.
- The Lord says this, in part, because He knows that our love for family is so strong that it could play a part in leading us away from Him.
- Beginning with an ordinance in Leviticus 20:2, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones, death by stoning became the most common form of capital punishment in Israel in that day. This would usually consist of casting large stones upon a person until they were dead.
- Here in verse 8, God tells them that they must not listen to them, nor have pity on them nor try to hide what they have done; and in verse 9 we read that the person who hears a family member attempting to turn other Hebrews away from the knowledge and pursuit of the Lord should be the first one to raise their hand in putting the apostate to death.
- Notice to in verse 9 that the entire community was to take part in the stoning, for one person’s sin will indeed affect an entire community.
- Deut 17.6,7 repeats the command that a person who traffics with other gods should be put to death, but specifies “on the testimony of two or three witnesses a man shall be put to death, but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.” And then “the hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting him to death” (vv. 6–7).
- It should be kept in mind that capital punishments were often carried out in public (Christ on Mt Calvary) and were meant to be a deterrent so that other Israelites do not act likewise.
- Although the circumstances are somewhat different today, and we are not called to carry out such extreme measures in the New Testament, Jesus did tell His disciples in Matthew 10:34-39 that He came to earth to bring a sword, even to the point of dividing up families if necessary; and that anyone who does not love Him more than their own family is not worthy of being called His disciple.
11 And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you.
- Another purpose behind the command to carry out such exacting punishment for apostasy is that the rest of the people of Israel will hear of what transpired, and develop a healthy fear of evil and a deeper reverence for the True and Living God.
- Although again these commands seem harsh to us at times, the result was tremendously effective in keeping false prophets and the temptation to go into apostasy away from the congregation of Israel.
- This same principle holds true for the church today. 2John 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
- Gal 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Beginning in verse 12, The Lord begins to deal with the possibility that an entire city in Israel might be drawn away from Him and fall into apostasy.
12 If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, 13 Certain men, the children of Belial (title of Satan in 2 Cor 6.15), 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; 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; 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.
- In verse 14, The Lord was careful to ensure that all due diligence was applied in making sure that no innocent Hebrews were indicted and punished on false charges of apostasy. There was to be no rash sentencing, no acting out upon a rumor of guilt, but rather a thorough, careful inquiry into the matter before action was to be taken.
- Beware of making a judgment on another person or church or ministry on the basis of a rumor. God does not speak well of those who are guilty of being false witnesses.
- However, verse 15 informs them that if the accusation of guilt is proved to be true, the children of Israel were to put all of the people of the offending town to death in order to prevent the spread of apostasy.
- Note in verse 13 that these spiritual imposters had gone out from among the people of God. In speaking of the spirit of antichrist, John writes, 1Jo 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us.
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 the LORD thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again. 17 And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the LORD 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; 18 When thou shalt hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the LORD thy God.
- Verse 16 required Israel to burn the offending city, including all of its goods, in the middle of the central street in order to remove from Israel any trace of that which could lead them into bondage to false religion. Here He strictly enforces them to leave no trace of the city intact, and to make sure that none of them were to take any of the accursed things for their own.
- In Joshua 7, Achan hid that which he stole from Jericho, and the whole nation was defeated at Ai. I wish that we could understand more fully that when someone deliberately and presumptuously sins in our fellowship, it directly affects us all. We are one body, one community, one church, one family. Therefore, the whole community of believers are to be involved in the purging process.
- James 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
- The reason behind the commands in this chapter is God's desire to draw Israel close to Himself and remain in an intimate father-child relationship to them. This chapter is reminiscent of 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, the end of which reminds us to come away from all that is unclean so that God may be the Father to us that He desires to be.
1 ¶ Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead. 2 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people (treasured possession) unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.
- Chapter 14 continues on the theme begun in the end of chapter 13, which was the reward of God's Fatherhood to those who will come away from what is unclean and follow after Him.
- For Israel to enjoy God’s favor, they were not to imitate the religious beliefs or the practices of the pagans around them, but draw near to Him with all of their hearts.
- In chapter 14 the Lord through Moses lists a series of specific abominations which Israel was instructed to avoid, because they characterized the worship of false, demonic gods. These prohibitions were meant to keep Israel pure from idolatry in practical ways.
- You shall not cut yourselves or make baldness between your eyes - The pagans were known to make cuts in their flesh in appealing themselves to their gods (1 Kings 18:28), often cutting into their foreheads, cheeks, and breasts. Sometimes the cuts would spell out the name of their god in their skin. At other times, these cuts in the forehead were signs of lamenting for their dead.
- These acts were an abomination and offensive to the Lord, and He did not want His people to be practicing them.
3 Thou shalt not eat any abominable (detestable) thing.
4 These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat,
5 The hart (deer), and the roebuck (gazelle), and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg (ibex), and the wild ox (antelope), and the chamois (mountain sheep).
- The Lord through Moses begins to list for Israel the animals which were to be considered clean (kosher - "right or fit according to Old Testament Mosaic Law") for food, and those which were not. Leviticus 11 gives much more detail concerning which animals were kosher and which were not.
- The ground for the allowances and prohibitions of the eating of certain animals was to be holy to The Lord (vs.21). These special dietary laws were to separate them from social mixing with pagan nations so they would not be tempted to fall into idolatry.
- Many commentators and historians have attempted to interpret certain significance behind the animals which were considered kosher and which were not. Some scholars have taught that it was a matter of hygiene, others that it was based on which animals were being used in the worship of false Canaanite gods, and others have attempted to read into this list spiritual implications that are not easily defendable.
- As NT saints, the important thing to remember is that in Mark 7:19 Jesus makes all food "clean" for His disciples, stating that it is "not what enters into a man which makes him clean...but that which departs out of his mouth." This was also reiterated in Acts 10:9-16.
- Of course Romans 14 and personal convictions and walking in love and not seeking to offend a fellow believer are the issues for us.
6 And every beast that parteth (splits) the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws (divided in two), and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat. 7 Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare (rabbit), and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you. 8 And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.
- The main detail revealed here which would distinguish an animal as clean for Israel's consumption is that it must have a divided, or cloven hoof and must be a ruminate, or an animal with more than one stomach.
- Many animals fit one part of this description but not the other, and therefore were to be considered "unclean."
- The point of this law is mainly a reminder that Israel was a holy people unto God, and that to be holy means to be different from the world around them. Therefore, the Lord desired that even in the diet which they ate they would have a constant reminder every day that they were different from other nations, and called to be separate from the pagans around them.
Verses 9-20 record the clean and unclean animals in the waters and birds.
9 These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat: 10 And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you. 11 Of all clean birds ye shall eat. 12 But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage (vulture), and the ospray, 13 And the glede (red kite), and the kite, and the vulture after his kind, 14 And every raven after his kind (God fed the prophet Elijah by using a raven), 15 And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow (sea gull), and the hawk after his kind, 16 The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan (white owl), 17 And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant, 18 And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
19 And every creeping thing that flieth (flies, wasps) is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten. 20 But of all clean fowls ye may eat.
21 Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.
- This is one of the clear indications that the ordinances in this chapter were not meant solely to teach hygienic and healthful practices, but rather were meant to be obeyed as reminders of Israel's holiness unto the Lord. He instructs the people here not to eat of an animal which dies of "natural causes," which at first seems to be a logical prohibition based on what we know today about germs and diseases.
- However, the Lord then says that they may give those animals as food to the non-Jews who were living within Israel. Knowing that the rest of the Law clearly teaches a love for the alien within their gates, it is difficult to imagine that God would encourage the Hebrews to give something to the strangers which would be harmful to them. Rather, this is simply another ordinance which teaches Israel to be constantly mindful that they and they alone were a chosen people unto God.
- You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk - This command was also issued in Exodus 23:19 and 34:26, and was most likely given in rejection of a Canaanite fertility ritual.
22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.
- The word "tithe" literally means "a tenth." Under the Old Covenant, the Israelites were commanded to offer to the Lord a tenth of all of their increase as a form of worship. As this verse explains, this was not simply a matter of tithing from a family's monetary income, but was a tithe which would be expected from their harvest of produce as well as livestock. More detailed explanations of the tithing requirements are found in Numbers 18:21-32 and Leviticus 27:30-33.
- The tithe had an important purpose, which was to remind the people that God is the One Who has provided all good things for them, and that their prosperity was not their own doing.
23 And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always. 24 And if the way (distance) be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: 25 Then shalt thou turn it into money (exchange it), and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: 26 And thou shalt bestow that money (use that money to buy) for whatsoever thy soul lusteth (desires) after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,
- In verses 24-26, we see special provision being made for those that would live too far away from the Tabernacle to haul a tenth of all of their produce and livestock with them for that distance. In that event, they were to redeem their tithes where they lived by exchanging them for money, which they could then take with them on their journey and use the money to purchase an ox, sheep, wine or strong drink or whatever they desired to eat before The Lord.
- Please do not miss here that God desired for them to celebrate his provision for them by enjoying a family meal in the presence of God and his people. God does give unto us richly all good things to enjoy.
27 And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.
- This constant reminder to take care of the Levites is reiterated all throughout the Law. This was due to the fact that the Levites were not allowed to own land nor work a trade other than the ministry of the things of God to the people. This basic principle is repeated in the New Testament, in 1 Corinthians 9:6-14 and 1 Timothy 5:17-18.
28 At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: 29 And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.
- Every third year the Israelites were not to bring their tithe to the central place of worship in Israel, but rather were to stay in their home towns and enjoy the sharing of their tithes with their local community of Levites, the strangers, the fatherless and the widows….
- God is glorified when we take His blessings and use them to minister to the lost, the lonely and the least.