13 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 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. 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. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
“If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.
“If you hear in one of your cities, which the LORD your God is giving you to dwell there, that certain worthless fellows have gone out among you and have drawn away the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, then you shall inquire and make search and ask diligently. And behold, if it be true and certain that such an abomination has been done among you, you shall surely put the inhabitants of that city to the sword, devoting it to destruction, all who are in it and its cattle, with the edge of the sword. You shall gather all its spoil into the midst of its open square and burn the city and all its spoil with fire, as a whole burnt offering to the LORD your God. It shall be a heap forever. It shall not be built again. None of the devoted things shall stick to your hand, that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger and show you mercy and have compassion on you and multiply you, as he swore to your fathers, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, keeping all his commandments that I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 13 Commentary
by Hank Workman
We must beware of those who come among God’s people that would lead astray. This was the warning God gave to the people of Israel. False prophets would rise up within their camps, speaking even the Word of God, yet claiming to have a special revelation. Enticing with deceptive words, half-truths, they would lead people away. Some would even be found in the family.
Beware of those He states who dream dreams. Although dreams most certainly can be from God Himself, we should not put much weight on them. God warns specifically of this. It would be very strange for God to speak to one individual who suddenly speaks of dreams and things God has revealed to them alone. Jeremiah wrote of false prophets arising within the ranks as well. Powerfully God debunks their tactics.
“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’ How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart.”Jeremiah 23:25-26
If someone claims to have dreams again and again given from God, beware.
These will also perform signs and wonders. The sensational always draws people. Yet, those who claim to have this special inroad to God must be looked at with wary eye. In God’s warnings to Israel again, found in Deuteronomy 18 He states:
“When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”Deuteronomy 18:22
Although chapter 18 speaks of those who ‘give a word’ (their favorite phrase) and it doesn’t come to pass, chapter 13 addresses those who may indeed speak and it does. It all must be measured with the Word of God but also quite frankly the fruit of their lives. People who follow after one with some supernatural word or power are in great danger of deception. In fact, 2 Thessalonians warns of those who are working with Satan with all powers, signs and lying wonders.
If someone claims to have a word from God, beware and test.
If there is a check in your spirit, there is a reason. Godly discernment to those who speak such things is essential. More importantly and quite frankly, those who claim to be prophets of God today must be looked at and measured. Many use such a title to draw others to themselves. Filled with pride and arrogance by such self-recognition, they operate in the accolades of others and the wit of their tongue. Again, look to the fruit of their lives to see if any of these things measure up. Those who are false are either completely deceived or completely deceiving. The fruit will show what to be the case.
The question is why? Why did God allow this to happen then to the people and why today is this the case. Somewhat frustrating as we all can encounter such like this who give the airs of spirituality but are enemies of Christ is that He uses these to test the heart. These situations reveal if we are truly seeking God for truth or seeking a spiritual sign and wonder, something that tickles the ear.
Jesus warned of the wolves, Paul wrote again and again of this possibility with false prophets arising among the churches. It is not just something that happened in Biblical times but this tactic of the enemy is used still today to deceive, lead astray and draw people away from God. Why? Because people follow them. If this was not effective he would not use it.
We don’t need much discernment when it comes to recognizing pride and arrogance. It is usually something perceived within another from the way they carry themselves to how they posture themselves with their slick words and outlandish self-serving manner.
The Life Application Bible states, “Are their words consistent with what you already know to be true? Some people speak the truth while directing you toward God, but others speak persuasively while directing you toward themselves. It is possible to say the right words but still lead people in the wrong direction. The wise person will carefully test ideas against the truth of God’s words.”
God was very direct to the Israelite’s as to how to respond to such. Verse 5 states to purge them from among us. Such an action is essential that we do not fall to the wiles of the enemy. In every sense, what God is stating is to have nothing to do with them. He gives stronger actions in His statements of how to deal with these if they are family members. This is hard to grapple with in this day and age. Yet, ultimately what God is directing is to remove them from any further influence in your life.
No doubt this is a tough topic, in particular in this day and age. But this is also a topic that must be looked upon where discernment is prayed for with these as Guzik writes, “who continually promote themselves as miracle-working men and women of anointing and faith, yet teach heresy in essential doctrines.” If anything, compare their actions and behaviors based on 1 Corinthians 13. Hold this standard of the Godly sold out Believer to actions and more importantly attitudes. This is critical and will reveal much as we seek answers only God can give as He knows hearts.
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”1 Corinthians 13
Deuteronomy 13 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
When did self-appointed titles become a “thing” in the church? When did “a word” become more important than action? When did the thoughts inside people’s heads become full-blown prophecies directly from the mouth of the Lord? We find in Deuteronomy that this kind of deception has been happening for thousands of years!
“Prophets or interpreters of dreams may promise a miracle or a wonder, 2 in order to lead you to worship and serve gods that you have not worshiped before. Even if what they promise comes true, 3 do not pay any attention to them. The LORD your God is using them to test you, to see if you love the LORD with all your heart.Deuteronomy 13:1-3 GNB
I believe the best way to practically apply this truth is to use discernment to uncover where the so-called miracle or word is leading you. Is it leading you to rely on only this person for answers, revelation, and instruction? Or, is it leading you toward God and His Word? False prophets love authority, titles, and acclamation. They will use truth to unhinge you from God. Consider that last point. Verse 2 says, “even if what they promise comes true, do not pay any attention to them.”
Truth is the obvious way to discern if a prophet is false and anyone can distinguish that utilizing common sense. True prophets in Scripture were correct 100% of the time. However, here in Deuteronomy, God gives an even more thorough and discerning test. When considering a prophet’s words, we must look at where those words lead, not how true the statement is. This is such deep knowledge! A false prophet will always go back to “Look! I said this, and it came true!” But God instructs us to dig deeper.
With false prophets, their true words will often lead you back to them for more advice (because they claim “special knowledge” from God), or to the pursuit of some kind of idol (works-based religion, mystical Christianity, sensational rituals, name-it-claim-it theology, etc.) Either way, they want you to compromise and place your faith in something else alongside Jesus! This crafty and subtle maneuver is what caused Israel to turn their hearts away from God time and time again.
Also, keep in mind that God allows false prophets to speak true things about Him in order to challenge and grow His children.
“The temptation would test the true disposition of the hearts of the Israelites, and while the temptation was genuinely dangerous, the overcoming of that temptation would strengthen the people in their love of God and obedience to his commandments. The sovereignty of God is also seen in another manner: the performance of a sign or wonder did not mean that the gods advocated by a false prophet or dreamer had any real power, but only that the true God would permit certain things to happen in order to test and thereby strengthen his people.”New International Commentary – Old Testament
Consider this: how does the enemy of our souls routinely get us to compromise on God’s truth? He uses fear and intimidation. False prophets often speak a sensational and terrifying “word” so they can scare people into trusting them instead of God. They will say they are doing it in the Name of God, but again, their words are LEADING you to false things such as fear and dependence upon their “word” for answers.
Another aspect to consider is the reputation of the person who speaks such statements. Going back to the quote I mentioned earlier from Scottie Pippen, people who come into the church (or into your life) as self-appointed prophets should immediately raise a red flag. A title like that is for the overall body and community of believers to decide after they have discerned where the message leads, if it lines up with Scripture, and if the person exemplifies the fruit of the Spirit. If you are a true prophet of God, you shouldn’t have to go around convincing everyone. It should be obvious. Paul writes this in 1 Corinthians 14.
Two or three who are given God’s message should speak, while the others are to judge what they say.1 Corinthians 14:29 GNB
Or could it be that the word of God came from you? Or are you the only ones to whom it came? 37 If anyone supposes he is God’s messenger or has a spiritual gift, he must realize that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But if he does not pay attention to this, pay no attention to him.1 Corinthians 14:36-38 GNB
Basically, Paul is prescribing accountability for those who claim to have a word from God. Yes, God speaks in this way, however, with so many false prophets claiming this title, we must be vigilant in testing such statements within the body and evaluating the fruit of the person who is making such a claim. Is this person loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled?
I can tell you that from this list alone, most people who have personally come to me and claimed to have a “word” did not consistently demonstrate this fruit in their life. Instead, they put an emphasis on their power, knowledge, and closeness to God hoping that naive believers would overlook their obvious lack of fruit and marvel at their “special wisdom.”
The term false prophet is misleading all on its own because the false part is often difficult to read. They are actually “almost true prophets” which makes them even more dangerous. If something is 99% true, do you consider it truth? Those who do not truly love God will be swept away by the fantastic and sensational claims. However, it is evident by this chapter of Deuteronomy that God despises those who use His Name to spread false claims and lead people astray. In fact, it was punishable by death! This is an alarming thought for anyone who is recklessly tagging on the Name of God to everything they think and feel.