Cutting Down Idols and False Prophets

Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 13:3-5
3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 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. 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow.

Reflection: Cutting Down Idols and False Prophets
By Robert Hillier

Often we read the Old Testament and think, “Thank God Jesus has fulfilled these laws.” This is often the case with Leviticus and Deuteronomy. An example is here, in Deuteronomy 13, where Israel is commanded to go to great lengths to protect God’s most important commandments. False prophets and others are condemned to death. It’s violent, unsettling, and appears extreme. Why? 

One reason is false prophets are not ordinary sinners, tempting people with ordinary sins. They are performing miraculous signs in order to lead people to follow their gods. This means they are connected to spiritual powers that are opposed to God’s rule. This is something unique and uniquely dangerous. This command to purge evil is for the people’s protection.

The Bible doesn’t condone killing sinners, however, taking extreme measures to prevent falling into sin are a common biblical theme. Today’s passage says Israel is being tested to see if they will follow the Shema from Deuteronomy 6.4-9. Jesus called the Shema the greatest commandment in Mark 12.39-40 and tested his followers saying they should “hate” their own families, and even their life, and follow him instead. Paul commanded the Corinthian church to expel unrepentant sinners.

Even the harsh discipline described by Paul is intended to lead sinners to repentance. But the New Testament does mesh with Old Testament commands to rid our lives of any person or thing that hinders us from following God. Therefore, Deuteronomy’s command is not exclusive to the Old Testament. Idols are anything that keeps us from loving God with all our hearts. They surround us and appear as social status, money, entertainment, technology, sports, work, or even our own families. 

Jesus says to cut off your hand and gouge out your eye if they cause you to sin. Jesus fulfilled this law. He became sin and died in the place of sinners. However, Jesus still calls us to be holy, to rid ourselves of anything that prevents us from loving and following him with our whole heart. What in our lives is a temptation or an idol that needs to be done away with?

Divine Hours Prayer: The Cry of the Church
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 13-14 (Listen 6:35)
2 Corinthians 7 (Listen 2:58)

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 15 (Listen 3:202 Corinthians 8 (Listen 3:25)
Deuteronomy 16 (Listen 3:252 Corinthians 9 (Listen 2:26)

Read more about Temptation Has No Gender
Seduction and temptation are not feminine (or masculine), nor are they limited to sexual pleasures.

Read more about Jesus with Axe and Fire
We worship brands, companies, and CEOs with fervor equal to the most ardent of ancient adherents of Baal or Asherah.

His Blessings, Our Curse :: A Guided Prayer

Deuteronomy 11.26-28
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.

Reflection: His Blessings, Our Curse :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

The blessings and curses of the law were a consistent theme of Moses’s final messages to the people of Israel. Moses gave instructions for a gigantic visual demonstration as a community learning event that was eventually carried out by Joshua.

Half the tribes would stand on Mount Gerazim and half on Mount Ebal. The tribes on Gerazim would pronounce the blessings that could be theirs if they obeyed. The tribes on Ebal would pronounce the curses if they failed to follow the laws that Moses was leaving them.

May we hear in God’s Word, always the tender love of our father who wants blessings for us.

May we also give thanks for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who became a curse for us. He died to release the curse’s hold on us, then he rose to bring to us the full blessings of life that overflows with good things.

Praise and thank him this week using the prayer below that is based on our readings for today:

His Blessings, Our Curse
Oh, Lord, we are your people.
We are the sheep of your pasture and we need your provision.

Your care for us Lord goes deeper than
The superficial service of hired help.
You are our Good Shepherd who lays down his life for us.
You became a curse for us.
You became sin for us.

We have your blessings today, Lord,
Because you took our curse!
We stand on Gerazim and you stand on Ebal.

If only we would hear your voice today, Lord.
If only we would walk your path of service.
If only we would walk your path of grace.

May we proclaim your salvation day after day and
May we never cease telling of your wonderful deeds.

Let the heavens, the seas, the fields, and the trees resound with praise
As you come to judge the world with equity!

As Israel was to be your instrument in the world, Lord, make us instruments of your grace and truth to others.


Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Bless our God, you peoples; make the voice of his praise to be heart;
Who holds our souls in life, and will not allow our feet to slip. — Psalm 66.7-8

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 11 (Listen – 4:38) 
Psalm 95-96 (Listen – 2:37) 

This Weekend’s Readings
Deuteronomy 12 (Listen – 5:11) Psalm 97-98 (Listen – 2:19) 
Deuteronomy 13 (Listen – 3:05) Psalm 99-101 (Listen – 2:48) 

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Read more about Balaam’s Success
No matter what sins or idols we are tempted with, may we approach God humbly, seeking repentance and redemption through Christ.

Read more about The Value of Words
Our purpose at The Park Forum is to produce words that are filled with life, not death.
Words that spur, but do not abuse.
Words that challenge, but lovingly guide.
Words that bless and do not curse.