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.
Deuteronomy 13-14 (Listen 6:35)
2 Corinthians 7 (Listen 2:58)
Deuteronomy 15 (Listen 3:20) 2 Corinthians 8 (Listen 3:25)
Deuteronomy 16 (Listen 3:25) 2 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.