-The severe penalties for people and cities introducing idolatry in the land are the overriding theme in this graphic chapter. The false prophet, dreamer, and miracle workers who may see temporary results but introduce other gods telling the people of the land to serve them are denounced. God says, “You shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).” Total obedience is stressed once more as Moses implores the people to listen only to the Voice of God serving Him and clinging to Him (Deuteronomy 13:4). For the dreamer of false dreams, they are to be put to death. Why? Because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD, who was the exclusive Redeemer of Israel and has seduced the righteous away from the truth, which God had clearly commanded that they walk in. The summary is this, “So you shall purge the evil from among you (Deuteronomy 13:5).”
-Brothers, sons, daughters, the cherished wife, and the closest soulmate friend should be called out publically if they try to secretly entice the acceptance of other unknown gods far or near. The people were utterly commanded NOT to yield to them or listen to them. They were to take no pity on these idolaters nor spare or conceal them from public humiliation and retribution. In other words, it was their duty to expose them for all to see. In fact, they were ordered to be the first to strike their death blow and then get assistance from all the people. These agitators of the true and living God were to be stoned to death because of their seductive action in luring the righteous away from the LORD to serve other gods. God was their only Savior from their bondage of slavery in Egypt. The redeeming purpose in all of this was that all Israel would hear of the idolaters plight and be too afraid to deviate away from the faith, thus ensuring that this wicked thing be purged from their society.
-Also, if “worthless men” go out from among them to introduce heresy among the inhabitants of their city, an intense and thorough investigation was to be done to find out the truth of the matter. If the abomination were found to be real, the entire city was to be struck with the sword for total destruction. Then all the booty was to be brought to the middle of the open square in the city to be set on fire along with the entire city as a whole burnt offering unto the LORD God. That particular city was to be left as a ruin and reminder never to be rebuilt and lived in. None of the booty placed under the ban was to be taken by any of the people who were executing justice for order under God’s command. There was a beneficial purpose for all of this. It was that God would turn His burning wrathful anger away from them and show them mercy again in the land having full compassion and allowing further increase according to His promise given to the ancestral fathers. A final reminder to listen to the Voice of the LORD their God and to do what was right in His sight by following His commands was then given (Deuteronomy 13:6-18).
-*Application* Public degradation is a foreign concept in our so called civil society these days; although, we are seeing a radical and twisted expression of this form of government in the lands under ISIS control in the Middle East. Once again we see how determined God is to NOT share His glory with anything or anyone else. He is totally serious about this, even though most Americans don’t give it much thought. We are now in realistic danger of going practically pagan in this country because there is little fear of the LORD anymore. Idols are everywhere, just like Paul experienced on his missionary journeys to the Greek culture (Acts 17:16-34) as well as the children of Israel as they entered the Promised Land. The New Testament warning is just as demanding and clear against any form of idolatry (1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 10:1-22, Revelation 9:20-21). Even though, thankfully, our culture does not kill offenders and burn cities, we need to realize the seriousness with which God views our unfaithfulness.
Verse to Memorize: Deuteronomy 13:3