Wednesday after the Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Deuteronomy 13:1-18 (NKJV)
1 “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 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,’ 3 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. 4 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. 5 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.
6 “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, 7 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, 8 you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; 9 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. 10 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. 11 So all Israel shall hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you.
12 “If you hear someone in one of your cities, which the LORD your God gives you to dwell in, saying, 13 ‘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—14 then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination was committed among you, 15 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. 16 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. 17 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, 18 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.”
The theme of today’s pericope is that false prophets and false preachers should be marked and avoided. This is of such importance to the Lord God that in today’s reading our Lord commands the Israelites that those who entice anyone to worship another god are to be stoned until they are dead. Speaking falsehoods about God and leading people astray from the truth of God’s Word is a serious matter to the Lord.
When we know false teaching exists we should not ignore it. First, we should seek clarification, for perhaps either we misunderstood, or the preacher did a poor job of explaining himself. As Moses says, “Then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently.” We should never haphazardly go around accusing preachers of false doctrine.
However, if false doctrine is discovered and the false preacher refuses to recant, we should not say, “Well, nobody is perfect,” or “Well, there is no perfect church body.” Remember, the Lord views this matter so severely that He required death in the Old Testament. He still views this as a serious matter. So what are we to do? We are to mark and avoid false preachers, and if we find ourselves in a corrupt, heterodox church body which refuses to change, then we need to stop our ears to the preacher and use our feet to leave that church body.
This goes back to what Moses said in our text at the beginning of the week about blessings and curses. To hear false preaching leads us into being cursed by God, but remaining steadfast and faithful to the pure preaching of God’s Word gives us all the blessings our God has promised us.