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JUDGMENT OF FALSE PROPHETS
Just as Paul warned the Ephesian elders that "savage wolves" would enter in among New Testament believers, and men from among themselves would teach perverted things to draw away disciples after them (Acts 20:29-30), so Moses warned Israel here of what might happen among them, and did happen. A prophet or dreamer of dreams might arise, prognosticating something about to happen and using this to back up his leading others to serve idols. The thing that he prophesied might come to pass. In this case, some would be inclined to think the prophet must be right. But actually, the fact of his prophecy being correct proved something far different. Israel was not to listen to his words (v.3), but rather firmly hold fast to the truth of God and walked in His ways (v.4).
More than that, such a prophet was to be put to death (v.5). His accurate prophecy only proved that he was influenced by satanic power. God was by this means proving Israel, as to whether they would put His word above the word of the most persuasive false prophets. Only by the death of the false prophet could the evil be put away from Israel's midst.
Even if the closest relative, brother, son, daughter, wife or any friend were to secretly entice one to serve other gods, whether gods previously unknown or the gods of the nations of the land of Canaan, however near or far, the seducer was not only to be refused a hearing, but was to die without mercy, and that by the hand of the relative or friend he had tried to lead away (vs.6-9). At least these witnesses must be first called upon to take part in this judgment (v.9).
Such swift judgment as this would awaken Israel to "hear and fear," to prevent any recurrence of such wickedness (v.11). Such false worship is just as abominable to God now as it was in Israel, though today is the day of grace, when God delays His judgment in desire that people will judge themselves and be saved. Yet such wickedness persisted in will eventually reap a harvest of more dreadful judgment than has ever yet been known.
CORRUPTION INVADING A CITY
It might occur in Israel that a report would reach the ears of anyone to the effect that a city has been influenced by corrupt men to adopt the practice of worshiping false gods (vs.12-13). Then those who hear the report become responsible to check on its accuracy. They must not judge unrighteously, nor on the basis of what they first hear, but must "inquire, search out, and ask diligently" (v.14). Only when the fact was established without question that such idol worship was practiced, then the city must be attacked with the edge of the sword, with everything in it devoted to destruction, not a thing taken even as plunder (vs.15-16).
Only when the evil was judged totally in this way would the fierce anger of the Lord be abated, so that Israel would again be favored with His compassionate mercy, because in this case they had listened to the voice of the Lord to keep His commandments. Similarly, if in the Church of God evil doctrine or wicked moral practice raises its head, when there is found doubt of the evil, then it must be fully judged. If it is found only in an individual, that person must be put away from fellowship. If such evil is protected by any gathering, that gathering must be excommunicated. This is solemn work, but it is the only way to avoid the more serious displeasure of God.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany