Deuteronomy 13:6-18 by Charles Clough
Duration:1 hr 2 mins 48 secs

Deuteronomy Lesson 32

No False Prophets in Families or Local Communities

Deuteronomy 13:6–18

Fellowship Chapel
19 October 2010
Charles Clough
© Charles A. Clough 2010

Tonight we’re going to go back to Deuteronomy 13 and we’re still in the case laws, the working out of the Ten Commandments. And so the importance of this part of the Bible and you can get kind of bored with some of these details, and all I can tell you is that if you just slog through it you’ll get the pattern. And the idea here is that these people were real people who lived in a real nation, who lived in a nation that in history was really, a kind of microcosm of the Kingdom of God. It was a laboratory period of history where there was a public physical manifestation of the Kingdom of God in history. And that’s important because that had ramifications; that had implications. The areas of prosperity in Western civilization largely have come about because we’re borrowing from the great ideas of the Old Testament.

And I think that itself is a fulfillment of prophecy because if you remember Noah’s three sons, there’s a prophecy that Japheth shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Shem, of course, was the progenitor of the Semitics through whom revelation came. And most of us in Western civilization are at least strongly represented genetically by Japheth, and it says Japheth shall dwell in the tents of Shem. And it’s interesting because when revelation came to the world it came in Hebrew, it came through Israel, but then when God wanted to disperse it, even before Jesus, what language was the Old Testament put into in order that the diaspora Jews spreading out all over the world had this, so to speak, Bible in the lingua franca of the world? It was Greek, and Greek is a Japhetic language. So then when the New Testament comes, when Jesus comes, of course it comes out into the Greek also.

So the Old Testament is a time to show that the Kingdom of God actually works in history; that actually happened. And so when we look at these little details some of them are vague to us, frankly; we don’t know why some of these imperatives are there. Some of them appear to be no more than sort of almost like you wear a uniform. These people sort of had a lifestyle that was given to them by God to witness their uniqueness. And why do people wear a uniform? To set themselves apart from other people, and that so they’re recognized. And so there’s sort of like a uniform lifestyle here that’s happening.

So anyhow, in Deuteronomy 13 we’ve looked at the punishment that is to maintain theological orthodoxy. And on the outline on the handout you’ll see the use of these narratives in the Christian life, and we’ll get into that later this evening, toward the end of the lesson. But I did want to make three things here that you see in parenthesis, (1) parenthesis, (2) parenthesis, (3) parenthesis. We have to be sensitive to the fact that as history moves forward God changes His administrations from age to age. He doesn’t change, the gospel doesn’t change but the way He goes about reaching the world does change.

And so point (1) there, that was the theocracy. That was the period when you have a physical glory on earth. So that’s the period we’re studying. Then we have the (2) future Millennial Kingdom, and if you’ll hold the place in Deuteronomy and turn to Zechariah 13, toward the end of the Old Testament, I wanted to show you this passage because Jerry, filling in Sunday in the Sunday School, read this over; and it connected very well with Deuteronomy. So that’s why I wanted to show you this. Zechariah is looking forward to the coming of the Kingdom of God once again in history, this is when Jesus returns and Messiah comes and the Kingdom comes back into force.

Zechariah 13:2 says, “‘It shall be in that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land,” and what have we just got through in Deuteronomy 13, cut off the idols, don’t leave around, don’t go archeologically digging around to find out what these people believed. So you see how Zechariah connects with the text. And the reason I’m showing you is that these obscure details of the Kingdom of God in Deuteronomy are not temporary in the sense that they’re casual, and oh, that’s interesting for them but it has no future implications, rather, these details in Deuteronomy are anchored to historical reality. And when the Kingdom comes again, in history, in its final form, these details are important. So here in verse 2, “I will cut off the names of the idols from the land.” In other words, you didn’t do it so now I’m going to do it. So that means there’s not theological pluralism going on, there are not fifteen and a half different religions happening. “… and they shall no longer be remembered,” and that goes back to Deuteronomy 13, don’t dig around trying to figure out what these people were doing; “I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land. [3] It shall come to pass that if anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who begot him will say to him, ‘You shall not live, because you have spoken lies in the name of the LORD.’” Now that we’re going to see tonight, that’s a section midway through Deuteronomy 13. “And his father and mother who begot him shall thrust him through when he prophesies.”

This is the Kingdom to come, so you see there’s still that vigilance to preserve loyalty to God over against the continual fallen man trying to drift. [4] And it shall be in that day that every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies, they will not wear a robe of coarse hair to deceive, [5] But he will say, ‘I am no prophet, I am a farmer,” and so on. So that’s protecting the core of revelation in that future Kingdom.

Okay, going back now to Deuteronomy 13. Last time we dealt with the first five verses and these were the verses that dealt with the false prophet. Now I want to pause for a moment here tonight and ask some key questions and let’s see if we can come up with answers. In the first verse of this section, which is 12:32 actually in the English, it’s actually verse 1 in the Hebrew, for some reason the verse numbering here between the English and the Hebrew got screwed up so verse 1 of chapter 13 is actually verse 2 in the Hebrew, and verse 32, at the end of chapter 12 is actually verse 1 in the Hebrew.

So if you look at verse 32, “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” Now, let’s think, what does this verse imply about the doctrine of inspiration of Scripture? In other words, here’s Moses, he’s saying that here’s the revelation I am giving you, I don’t want anybody to add to it, I don’t want anybody to subtract from it. Now the first thing to notice is, what is the subject of the verb in verse 32, the verb “command”? Is it Yahweh, or is it Moses? It’s Moses. Now why is it Moses and not Yahweh? Go back to the Decalogue, when God spoke from Mount Sinai the text says what happened after he got through the tenth word? He stopped talking. So the direct revelation from God was The Ten, the Decalogue, then after that He stopped. And then whom does God talk to? He talks to Moses. And then whom does Moses talk to? Israel. So Moses stands between God and Israel from that point on. And that’s why we have prophet, that’s the position of the prophets. So here you have God. God speaks to the prophet and the prophet speaks to the people. That’s the structure, apart from that one instance of the Decalogue when God Himself spoke without any prophet, and of course God can do that periodically, but the idea there is the normal means of revelation is from God to a prophet to the people.

Now in the case when the prophet not only speaks the Word of God but he writes it down, we have enscriptured revelation. And when you have scriptured revelation the protection of verse 32 is don’t mess with it. Once the revelation comes into history and is enscripturated it is to be left alone, nobody messes with it. Now let’s hold the place and turn to a New Testament passage that shows you why this is so important. Turn to Galatians, it’s a very phenomenal assertion here about Paul. In Galatians 1:6 Paul is talking to the Galatians, he’s kind of chewing them out because of their theological drifting around, and he says, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, [7] which is not another but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. “But,” now look at verse 8, what’s the implication of verse 8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” And that’s a strong word, basically it’s saying let him go to hell.

Now what does this say about inspiration and, say, church traditions? For example, in Roman Catholicism the idea is that so-called oral traditions have been preserved somehow in the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church, and this somehow has equal authority with revelation. But then the problem comes when this supposed oral tradition is teaching something other than what we find in the apostolic literature. Now we’ve got a problem. And which has priority. Even though the church itself generated this it does not have the authority of Scripture. The Scripture trumps church tradition, and that goes for Israel. In other words, Israel itself is bound, as Moses says, to Mosaic theology whether they like it or not. Whether history goes on for two thousand years after Moses, they are still bound by this. So verse 32 has a number of implications.

Now those are some implications. Now let’s enlarge something. Here’s how to think about this. We’ve just talked about a doctrine, the doctrine of inspiration, that “All Scripture is God-breathed, and profitable for doctrine, correction,” and so forth. So we’ve talked about the doctrine of revelation, we’ve talked about the doctrine of inspiration. The problem is that if you just narrow your focus to those doctrines somebody can come to you and say well, we now know in the modern era that language is incapable of this kind of function that you are attributing to this ancient Jewish book. And so the Bible is actually a human product, the Bible was made up by men and you have to recognize, we moderns have to recognize that mere people generated these and so it’s subject to our analysis and our critique, and maybe our changing this.

So even though we’ve talked about what the doctrine says, what revelation says, you have to be careful that you don’t get undercut by someone coming along and they’ll cut your legs off because they’ll argue that you’re just talking about a doctrine all right, but the doctrine comes out of a human document. So now we’ve taken the doctrine, here’s the area of truth. Visualize it as a circle. Here’s the doctrine of inspiration, the doctrine of revelation, but now the assault comes outside of the circle. So what do we do? We enlarge the circle. So if somebody wants to discuss about language we say okay, let’s talk about language. Where do we go to learn about language in the Bible?

Now think of the framework, here’s why I keep talking about the framework. Where do you go in the framework of these events through history to learn about the origin and capabilities of language? Creation. Exactly. So now, because the doctrine of creation tells us that God created with language, the whole universe was spoken into existence with language. So what’s your problem? And God made us in whose image? His image. And God speaks to Adam, which means if Adam was the first human being who originated human language? Who gave vocabulary to Adam? In that Genesis 1 narrative what does it say? God said, He called the darkness night; He called the light day. What is He doing? He’s giving vocabulary to Adam. And then if you track what God said, “and He called it, and He called and He called,” it stops halfway through the creation narrative and He doesn’t call it any more and the very next time He talks about naming He’s saying okay Adam, here’s some animals, now you name them. So He’s already primed the language mechanism.

Now what have we done here? What we’ve done is we’ve started with the doctrine of revelation and inspiration, we found the fact that our opponents were trying to out maneuver us by going around to language, so we expand and dominate the language question with Scripture. Well, the language that we just did was grounded on creation. So now we’ve enlarged the discussion about the origin of the universe. Do you see what’s happening here? We started out with this specialized question. All of a sudden it expands to become a question about the very origin of the universe. And what we’re trying to do here is that it gets back to that diagram, and I think I put it on the handout tonight because I didn’t think the projector would be working. So your third diagram on the handout is that thing that we just talked about. What have we done? We’ve talked about the level of ethics, or if you want to say politics or something, but underneath that epistemology and metaphysics, that’s the heavy stuff. Those are the things like the origin of the whole universe, the origin of man, the origin of language. So it becomes a cosmic-wide discussion all of a sudden.

Now this is hard to pull off in our culture today because people are specialists. We have a little specialist in literature, we have a little specialist in math, we have a specialist in journalism and everybody is a specialist. The problem is you can’t be exclusively a specialist. You’ve got to be able to enlarge and get out to the basic questions, because the specialties are only these little tidbits. So that’s what we’re trying to show, that when we look at Scripture, like verse 32, if you conceive of verse 32 like a sponge, it’s got water in it, and you squeeze the sponge by thinking hard about what verse 32 says, and you all of a sudden discover the implications start reaching up into the very origin of the universe. And that’s the point. We want to have unity to our Christian thinking, because if you have your circle large enough you can’t be surrounded because now the problem is, the person who has attacked us on the idea that well this is just an ancient Jewish autobiography, this is just a human product, they, in order to sustain that view, also have to go to origin of man and the origin of the universe, so now all of a sudden we’re dealing with origins, and we’re dealing with the heavy questions about how did the universe get here.

Usually those people are not prepared to go that far, they’re not prepared, they’ll usually kiss it off; well, you’re a creationist. Well, show me the evidence for the other side, and they will usually be very unprepared to do that because the questions today are basically trivial. You’re up here on the top level; they don’t get down into the basic issues. And the reason for that is a secular education can’t do it. A teacher can be a wonderful Christian teacher but in the public school curriculum with the ACLU stipulating what the boundaries of the curriculum are, a Christian teacher is handcuffed. They can’t really get down at these basic questions. So 99% of the kids that go through the educational system have absolutely no capability or no experience whatsoever of big, heavy, wide ranging discussions. It’s all ad hominem. Oh, he’s a creationist or he’s evolution, so what? I want to ask people sometimes, have you ever read Darwin’s Origin of the Species, do you know what the subtitle is? It’s about racism; did you know that? No, because nobody ever reads Origin of Species, we just quote Darwin like we’re suddenly experts at it. Well, go to the library and read the book and see what it says, and I’ll bet you that you could go out here to every school in Harper county, every one of them, and challenge the biology majors, have you ever read Darwin? And none of them would say yes. And then we wonder why we can’t have substantive discussions… not equipped, the education system isn’t doing that.

So back to this, and this is why the Scriptures carry so many heavy implications that we could spend weeks on maybe three or four verses if we really wanted to go through all the connections. But just be aware of that, we’re not going to do that, but just be aware of that, that’s what has to happen.

All right, now in verse 3 and 4 there’s another little thing that we ran into last week that we want to look at. When God says, in verse 3, “You will not listen to the words of the prophet,” that’s the false 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].” Let’s think about what is going on there. If this is a picture of sanctification, why do you think God, and I include myself, why God would test you and test me this way? What is on God’s mind that would say I want to test that believer and the way I’m going to test that believer is I’m going to give him a heresy? What does that kind of a test force a believer to do? Go back to the basic question. Test his loyalty because if the believer is walking with the Lord he may not be able to articulate what’s happening but something doesn’t smell right here. That detection, there’s something not right here, I can’t put my finger on it but it just doesn’t fit. And God wants us to have that; that is called discrimination.

Now I deliberately used the word “discriminate” because it’s politically twisted around today because it’s been used wrongly for arbitrary discrimination of people just because of their race, and that’s false because there is no multiplicity of races in the Bible, by the way. How many races are there in the Bible? Okay, so that ends the race question. There are different cultures in the Bible and different linguistic groups in the Bible but there are no different races in the Bible. And that means that every person, regardless of whether they’re male, female, black, white, red or yellow, are of equal value in God’s sight, and ALL have been made in God’s image. I’ll never forget going to the south back when I was in college, into this old-fashioned segregationist south and listening to a black man tell me, a very poor black man, very depressed, and I remember him telling me that he feels like he has the mark of Cain. The mark of Cain? Where did you ever get that from? Well, that’s what they teach us here. And I thought to myself, what a heresy! First of all, Cain wasn’t black to start with. And so here we have this racism that permeated it, it’s sad, it’s a sad blight on America and the churches were involved in it; segregated churches, for heaven’s sake. So this is a black eye on the part of American culture, but it violates the Scriptures.

But anyway, the test here, “that He might test you.” Now if you look on the back of the handout there’s another slide. What I’ve done there is I’ve listed the doctrinal tests through church history. And I want to show you a pattern here because this pattern is very general on the diagram but this is the kind of loyalty test that God throws at believers and He’s been doing it for centuries, not just in Moses’ day.

If you look on that diagram you’ll see a series on the left side, inside the diagram, and then you’ll see some phrases on the right side. Look, for example, at the first one, the New Testament canon, that was a period of history when the church had to recognize what are the inspired texts? That’s how we got our New Testament. How are we going to tell whether the Gospel of Thomas belongs with the Gospel of John, for example? Well, the only way the church could do that was to find out what is the theology of this Gospel of John and what is the theology of the Gospel of Thomas, the pseudo gospel that everybody reads about in books and so on. And the basis was the Creator/creature distinction. Is it teaching the God of the Bible, or is it teaching some sort of paganistic smearing of deity and material universe, that sort of thing? So the test to ascertain true revelation was a test whether the church understood the Creator/creature distinction, particularly in the area of language.

Now look at the next one, for three or four centuries the church had to deal with heresy after heresy after heresy about who the Lord Jesus Christ was. There were some heresies that believed that He was only a person in whom the Spirit of God came; there were other heresies that said deity came and Jesus didn’t really have a human soul, there were all kinds of things; a fascinating story if you read about it. Now the problem was, after all was said and done and all these heresies were going on, finally we get to the doctrine of the Trinity, and you know, you get, say, the Jehovah’s Witnesses or somebody comes to you and their little literature says well, gee, the church borrowed the doctrine of the Trinity from the Greeks. Excuse me! That wasn’t where the church got the doctrine of the Trinity. The church wound up having to develop the doctrine of the Trinity because they couldn’t reconcile the Scriptural data any other way. In other words, you’ve got two personalities, very clear, the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit kind of less so, but you’ve got the Father and the Son, two distinct personalities on the mount of ascent, the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus in His high priestly prayer He’s talking to the Father, you’ve got two people, and they both claim to be deity, and yet we hold to the Creator/creature distinction that God is One.

Well, how can God be One and be three? That’s a hard question. How can He be one and be three? So the church finally wound up saying something like the oneness of God is His essence, that’s the Creator/creature distinction, and the multiplicity of God is the personal center, the personality’s involved. Now that shattered logic in an Aristotelian sense. But what it did, it solved a logical problem, and the problem logically that was solved by the doctrine of the Trinity that has never been solved outside of the doctrine of the Trinity is that the one and the many are equally ultimate. Every other view in history has always elevated unity above diversity. It’s always the ONE thing that is stronger. And then we have, those of you who have studied philosophy, the nominalism and so forth, and realism, and these are philosophies that stressed either the one or the many.

An example politically: if you believe the one is more important than the many, are you going to be a libertarian or totalitarian? If you believe the one is more important than the individual, what does that make you politically? A totalitarian, right? Because the one, the total, total society, is more important than any individual. So if you really believe that the one is more important than the individual that makes you politically trending toward totalitarianism. On the other hand, if you believe that the individual is more important than the total then that trends you toward libertarianism. Or said another way, take marriage, which is more important, the marriage or the husband and wife? And you can argue that both ways. But the one and the many equilibrium that the Scripture gives is that they are both equally ultimate. And this is the fallout, logically, of the doctrine of the Trinity. This is a major, major thing by the second or third century, and politically it had its repercussions in Western civilization.

Then we have the cross, and the issue there was a big argument over what happened on the cross when Jesus died. Did Jesus die on the cross as a martyr so that when you and I look at the cross we’re convicted of our sin and we’re impressed with what God has done somehow for us in this work on the cross? Or, is the cross something where a real forensic transaction of justice took place?

Now if you take the first part, that is Abelard, the Abelardian view of the cross, and that says that the cross is there to cause a subjective change in our hearts. Anselm said the cross is more than that; the cross is a place where divine justice was propitiated. There was a forensic judicial action that happened in that three-hour period. There was substance, objective substance that was going on the cross. And it’s also true that the cross… Jesus said if I’m raised up I’ll draw men to Myself, so yeah, there’s a subjective side to that but the church had to argue that one out. And on the right side of the diagram you’ll see where I have the phrase, “arbitrary justice,” because at the crux of that debate was, what do you and I mean by justice? Is justice something that is absolute and transcendent so that if I’m a sinner and you are a sinner it is not our feeling that determines our destiny, it’s not what we do; it’s on His side, is He propitiated or is He not? That’s the issue. So the issue, then, is justice is defined by God’s holiness, it is not arbitrary. With modern people, when you hear the word “social justice” today it is arbitrary. What do I mean by arbitrary? You can have your idea of justice, I have my idea of justice and you know, Gary has his idea of justice or whatever. And that means it’s arbitrary, meaning that whoever you are, it’s your flavor of justice. That’s not justice in the Scripture.

Then we come to ecclesiology and eschatology. I won’t go into those right now because of our time, but my point in showing you this chart is that if you think of us Christians as a flock of sheep and we’re wandering all over the place, it seems like the only way God deals with us is He sends wolves in to nip at us and drive us to the shepherd. It just seems like that’s the only way we learn, and apparently all during church history the Holy Spirit has had to do this. He’s had to literally batter the church with one test after another test after another test to drive us into the Scriptures so we ever more deeply understand the Scriptures.

So all that to say that verse 3, when it says that God is testing us, testing you, that is not just back here, that is the style of the way God works, that He’ll confront us with a problem and He won’t give us the answer right away. He makes us struggle to get the answer. That’s the way He teaches.

Okay, now in verse 4, in your handout I’ve given the rough Hebrew and the reason I’ve translated—this is a rough, this wouldn’t be a polished translation—I did it because I wanted to show you how the Hebrew language conveys something. When you read verse 4 in your handout, what emphasis do you automatically get, just watching the language. “After Yahweh your God you will walk; Him you will fear, His commandments you will keep; His voice you will hear, Him you will serve, To Him you will cling?” Is the emphasis on the people or on God? It’s on God. So that’s, by the way, one of the reasons why if you study the Greek and the Hebrew it flushes out Bible study a little bit more because you pick up the little flavoring of these emphases in the text.

Verse 5, you’re going to put him to death and the point there I make is the Hebrew sarah. It’s the word for rebellion, it’s the very same word Jeremiah picks up. Heresy, denial of Scripture, is looked upon as a rebellion theologically in the Old Testament. To depart from the Scripture is an act of rebellion.

Now in the remaining time tonight we’re going to go on to verses 6-11, and then verses 12-18 because these sections, verses 6-11, verses 12-18 are not case law. In other words, it started out in the English, 13:1, “If there arises…… dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, then you will do such and such. There’s a judgment; that’s the statutes and judgments. So this is case law, this shows you, well what do we do when this thing happens and the Bible answers, here’s what you do. So the next question would come, okay, it’s nice, in verses 1-5 to talk about a prophet, but the problem is it gets more sticky if the prophet turns out to be your husband, your wife, your brother or your friend. Now are you going to carry out the sentence in verse 5? So Moses deals with this. In other words, he enlarges the case law to cover another touchy, touchy, sticky circumstance; well what do we do now. And so you’ll see here in verse 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 you own soul, secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ [which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers]”, same kind of thing as that false prophet.

All right, now again, what I’ve done here is I’ve given you a rough translation so you can get a flavor. Now as I read this, think about what the emphasis is in this language. “Your brother, son of your mother, your son, your daughter, the wife of you bosom, your friend as your nephesh.” That’s literally what it’s saying. Now let’s look at the first one, “Your brother, son of your mother,” now that’s a qualification because remember many times, particularly in the patriarchal time you had intermarriage, you had multiple wives, Abraham, so you could have a brother that was only a half-brother. So what is the language doing here when it adds, “son of your mother”? What is that doing as far as the relationship? It’s tightening it, isn’t it? In other words, this isn’t just your half-brother, this is your real brother, you know, you both share the same mom. And “your son, your daughter, the wife of your bosom,” this is the intimacy of the man and wife, “your friend as your nephesh,” in other words, it’s a friend that’s so close he touches your life, he is a companion to you, he’s your precious friend. Very few of these exist, you know, most of us have one or two very close friends and that’s it.

So now what do you do? It’s nice to read verses 1-5, but what happens when we get into the tight relationships; now what comes first? And I might point out, for contemporary applications, where it says “a friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you,” would apply to peer pressure of young people and gangs, because at this point what the Scripture is saying is which comes first, the Scripture, your faith before God or even your closest buddies? And for young people it’s a peer pressure thing. It really is and the teenage years are spent with peer pressure; that’s the first time in most of our lives that we’ve ever experienced peer pressure, strongly, has been in that kind of an environment. But the Scriptures won’t give us excuses here and that’s why, again, I just put down Matthew 10:37 and that’s that passage that Jesus says if you do not hate your mother and your sister or your brother then you’re not worthy of me. And He’s talking about that sanctification thing; in fact, if you look at the nouns in Matthew 10:37 and compare with Deuteronomy 13:6 you’ll see they’re the same. So obviously Jesus, in Matthew 10:37 obviously has this passage in mind.

So then he goes on, “go and serve other gods,” same language as verses 1-5; that’s the temptation. By the way, remember, we said it isn’t necessarily that clear, remember, I took you to Jeremiah 28, it can be more subtle than that; this is just a summary. In other words, he’s teaching heresy, but heresy usually doesn’t come with a label that says, “I am heresy.” Satan doesn’t have nametag, so the point is, it’s not that subtle. This is the intent of it.

But look at how it’s developed in that verse, let’s look at what it says about these gods that they’re going after, let’s look at this here. “Let us go 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 land to the other end of the land, [8] you will not consent to him [or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him].” Why in verse 7 do you have these qualifications? What is the point of going on and on about the horizontal geographical dimensions here of these gods? What it’s saying is that it’s emphasizing exclusivity, that Jehovah, the Bible says Jehovah God trumps ALL other gods and goddesses, in every area, in all dimensions.

Okay, now we’ve got a problem because the moment we talk about exclusivity today we’re running up against PC-ism, political correctness. So how do we back up and go back to the framework again—see, we’re stuck with the same kind of strategy of thinking. We’re talking about the exclusivity claim that you will worship Yahweh and no other gods, no matter how far to the east, how far to the west, north, or south, no other gods. That’s obviously from the human point of view it’s pretty snitty exclusivity of a religion, right? That’s how it’s taken today, the average Joe on the street, right?

So okay, we’re accurate, we said what the text says, but now we’re living in a culture that doesn’t buy that so how do we do? We have to enlarge the thing. Now what part of the framework do we go to to enlarge the circle? Where did exclusivity start in human history with revelation? When was it that God decided I’m through with the human race, I’m going to limit My revelation to one group? What was the event that happened; remember? The call of Abraham; the origin of Abraham. And by the way, why did God have to do that? What had happened at that point? That was Genesis 12. What was going on in chapter 11? The tower of Babel; human society gathered together in unity to defy God. So all the people groups who had the Noahic Biblical revelation chucked it, so God chucked them. So the answer was why is God so exclusive? Because the world hated Him. We ought to be glad He continued the conversation, frankly, we ought to be glad we’ve got at least one group that has the truth. He didn’t have to do that.

So you see, that changes things. When we enlarge the circle, because now all of a sudden that gets into the history of revelation. Now we’re debating whether the revelation comes out of man’s speculation or whether there’s verbal revelation from God. Now we’re dealing with a substantive issue here. See what I mean by getting down to substantive issues? We don’t beg the question up here at the trivial level, we get into the heavy questions down below.  So here we have the close-knit situation socially, and what happens? What do we have here?

Verse 8, it goes on, it says, “you will not consent to him, you will not listen to him, your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; [9] but you shall surely kill him.” Well, that’s easier said than done when you’re in a tight relationship like this. And verse 8 I’ve taken again a kind of clumsy translation, just to give you the flavor of the original language. “You will not be willing to him, you will not hear him, your eyes will not pity him, your will space,” you will not give him liberty, “you will not cover over him,” meaning you will not… he will not cover him, make excuses for him, that kind of thing.

And so now if that wasn’t tight enough, look at verse 9, “but you shall surely kill him; your hand will be the first against him [to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people]”. They killed people by stoning and they weren’t throwing pebbles. And apparently the reason that stoning was used—it wasn’t impaling or chopping their head off—this is a speculation, but some have speculated that the reason the mode of capital punishment was stoning is so that no one person who threw the stones could be sure their stone killed the person, it distributed the guilt in the method of execution. Now I’m not sure if that’s true or not but I think it’s interesting to ask why, of all the ways you can kill somebody, why was it stoning is used here?

Now if you turn to Deuteronomy 17:7 I want to show you a protocol of capital punishment here. And we have to ask, what is going on with this? “The hands of the witnesses shall b the first against him, to put him to death, and then afterward the hands of all the people.” So in the actual act of capital punishment why do you suppose that God required that the witnesses to the crime be the ones that do the execution? Anybody think about why? What implications, what kind of dynamics does that set up as far as trial and conviction? If you knew that this person is going to die because you said something and you’re going to be the one that’s going to go kill him, what does that do to you? Are you going to be sloppy in your witness? I don’t think so. Part of this is designed to force the witnesses not to commit violation of the 9th commandment, perjury. Because this is face to face, a bloody, mess, if you want to see how it works turn to Acts 7 when they’re doing it to Stephen. So this is dirty.

And by the way, this also gives you insight at what Jesus did in John 8; remember the woman caught in adultery, what did he say to the guys? Yeah, it takes two to commit adultery, where’s the other guy? Because actually in the development of the New Testament John 8, if you know textual criticism, John 8 floats around in some of the Gospels about location, but I think it belongs right there in John 8 because in John 9 and John 7 Jesus is in the middle of a temple festivity there. There was festivity going on and we know that part and parcel of activities was the women were kept in a place in the temple, supposedly sort of like a woman’s dorm, and it was protected. But it wasn’t being protected, guys were going in and they had a co-ed dormitory going on. Jesus knew that, and so He says okay guys, you caught the woman, it takes an eyewitness and, by the way, where’s the man? And Jesus refused to be conned into premature capital punishment because it violated the protocol. If capital punishment today were to be done the way it was in the Bible, very few people would die, frankly, because you could not be convicted of a capital crime on circumstantial evidence. Now how many murders do you actually have two witnesses to? And that was the protection. God wasn’t promiscuous with capital punishment, He was very careful. So your capital crimes were very, very limited under this, ironically. Most people, oh gee, they killed everybody in the Old Testament. Well, if you followed the protocol probably very few were actually killed.

Okay, so we go on, and in verse 11, finally, after all this goes on, it says, “So all Israel shall hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you.” Why is there a deterrent to this kind of capital punishment, versus no deterrence, apparently, to the way we do capital punishment today? What is the difference in the protocols here? It’s public, out in front of everybody, and it’s swift. I was talking in Florida about capital punishment, and a man came, a lawyer and his wife, and his wife is the head of a group in Florida that defends prisoners accused of capital crimes. And he was going on and telling me about what goes on today in the court system. He says you can’t believe, we’re talking millions of dollars to execute someone. By the time you add up all the attorney’s fees, all the court fees, everything else, all the appeals that go on for 8 to 10 years, 15 years sometimes, there’s no swift justice, and it’s extremely costly. Does that look like the picture that’s going on here in the text? Not at all.

Okay, finally, the last section, verses 12 or to 18, enforcement on the local communities. And in verse 12 it says, “If you hear someone in one of your cities, which the LORD your God gives you to dwell in, saying,” why do you suppose it starts out in verse 12 with this little phrase, “which the LORD your God gives you”? We’re talking about cities now, cities that go apostate; but then the cities are described as “those which God is giving you,” and it’s a present, it’s a participle, God is now giving these cities. Don’t you detect a flavor of grace here, God’s giving you these cities and you hear this is happening in one of the cities that God gave you?

[13] “Corrupt men have gone out from among you and enticed the inhabitants of the city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ – which you have not known.” So now we have not the relationship of a tight individual on individual or a family, now we have an entire city that’s been contaminated by a few. By the way, what does that show? How it takes only a few people to screw up a whole group of people. It doesn’t take many people to do this. A whole city can be ruined spiritually by just a few people. The word “corrupt” is a Hebrew word, ‘sons of Belial’; it means these guys are worthless; it’s sort of like street gangs today.

[14] “then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently,” so verse 14 tells you what, again, about the protocol of capital punishment. What does verse 14 control? Well, it controls the fact that if city A doesn’t like city B, and they invent something to get city B, wait a minute, we’ve got to check the facts here, so it’s not a rush to judgment, there’s an investigation that goes on here. “And if it is indeed true, [that such an abomination was committed among you,”]

[15] “you shall surely strike the inhabitants,” now watch the protocol that develops in verse 15 and see if you can match this with anything you have read before, “you will 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 of the plunder into the middle of the street, and completely burn the city with fire, and all its plunder, for the LORD your God. It shall be a heap” or a tel “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.”

Why do you suppose that when the city was destroyed they could not use the loot? What does that prevent? The Bible is written for a fallen human race. [someone answers] Exactly. If this were a wealthy city and these were poor cities, if they believed the egalitarian theory, we want to redistribute the wealth, right? Because isn’t it unjust to have economic inequality today? That’s what everybody thinks. So let’s redistribute the wealth, so we conjure something, we go way up to this city, take it out, and then we get all the plunder. Huh-un, it doesn’t work that way. So again, there are built in controls here; these are not just little stories that are going on here. There is divine wisdom in the way these protocols are set up.

Now also what do you notice? Do you see a parallel in how these cities are treated and how the Canaanite cities were to be treated? Doesn’t this smack of Holy War? Now if this is Holy War, the Holy War that was waged against the Canaanites is also being waged against the apostate Israelites, is Holy War, then, racial? No, it’s not racial; the issue in Holy War is ethical. That’s the point. So when Israelites screw up they fall into the same class as the Canaanites that screwed up; they’re both eliminated. And why is that? Because it says in the last closing verses of this passage, “that,” purpose clause, “that the LORD may turn from the [fierceness of His anger and snow your mercy, have compassion on you] and multiply you.” Remember, the blessings and the cursings is part of the essence of the Mosaic Law. So God can’t multiply the nation if this kind of stuff is going on. And so it jams the blessing machinery. He can’t be blessing the nation because He’s got sand in the gears, so He’s got to get the sand out of the gears and you do it by eliminating this apostasy.

[18] “because you have listened,” He swore to your fathers, “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].” Now that last verse that closes out chapter 13 tells you how it is hard to keep those commandments. I mean, that whole chapter 13, starting at least with verse 6, is giving two sections. One is extremely emotionally hard to stand for the Word of God when it’s going to antagonize close personal relationship, and God understands that. And it’s an argument against peer pressure. I mean, if young people ever want a passage that talks about how to deal with peer pressure, here it is. And God is saying this is hard, this is like killing your wife, it’s like killing a son, to be able to go against, stand for the Word of God and the Lord Jesus Christ over against friends that are very, very close to you. That I hard, but that’s what God calls us to do, “keep My commandments,” that’s what I, God, want you to do.

So, in our conclusion, on the handout, I just wanted to reiterate application to sanctification in our personal life. I’ve already said point A, “Fore-view of what the coming Kingdom of God will look like,” but B, “Inward view of the spiritual battle we fight in our hearts.” In the Christian dispensation the Holy Spirit indwells us like He did not indwell in the Old Testament. And the reason that happens is because we have a meeting place, just like they had a meeting place. They had a physical meeting place. Now don’t confuse this with God’s omnipresence. We’re not talking omnipresence here. Think of the Garden of Eden and God walked and talked with Adam and Eve. It was a meeting. Now was it true that when God wasn’t walking and talking with them that God was also there? Yes, He’s omnipresent. But was it also true that they were not actually having a conversation and personal relationship? Yeah, because God chooses the time and the place to have that relationship.

So now the Holy Spirit indwells every believer, now the meeting place is no longer physically on Mount Zion in Israel, it’s in our heart. Well, if that’s the case, then the protocols, and I give you them, passages in 1 John, all that emphasis on cleansing, and just quickly here, follow it through, from chapter 1:5 to 2:1 in 1 John it’s talking about fellowship with the Father and there’s a whole passage there that talks about you can’t have fellowship with the Father, even though the meeting place is in the heart, He’s not on speaking terms if we’re not confessing our sins. And in John 2:15-17, “Love not the world, if any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him,” … “not in him,” what do you mean “not in him,” isn’t God omnipresent? Yes, God is omnipresent. Is the Holy Spirit indwelling? Yes. But when it says, “the love of the Father is not in him,” it means we’re not having a meeting, we’re not conversing here, the communication has been ruptured. And the way back is 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins….”

Then in 1 John 2:2-6 it’s talking about if you love the Lord Jesus you will keep His commandments. So now we have a relationship with the Son, the Second Person, and this emphasizes what He has taught us. And that’s why, in verse 22-27 you’ll see him talking about “abide in Him as He has taught you.” So that’s the sensitivity of the leading of the Holy Spirit. And then finally, verses 7-11, fellowship with the Spirit. This is a little hard to see because remember, our relationship with the Holy Spirit is different than the relationship with the Father and the Son in that the Holy Spirit doesn’t glorify Himself, He glorifies the Second Person. So while we’re having a relationship with the Holy Spirit it’s not like it’s up front in our face. So when John deals with the relationship with the Holy Spirit he deals with it in fellow believers.

And you look at that passage in 1 John 2:7-l1, he says that he who hates his brother is in darkness, he walks in darkness, and he knows not where he goes, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. The sensitivity there is a corporate sensitivity. In other words, it seems that what John is saying here is that we have a relationship with the Holy Spirit and we recognize and welcome His work in other people’s lives. That is having fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Now it’s true, you have fellowship with the Holy Spirit, filling and so on, but the way John is expressing it has a corporate sense and this is why he gives you 1 John 3:12-13, the first homicide in history. And he says don’t be like Cain; he’s talking about believers now, he’s talking to believers, this is not unbelievers, it’s believers, don’t be like Cain, he says, who slew his brother. And why did he slay his brother? And this is a fascinating analysis of the first homicide.

Why did Cain kill his brother? Now if you ask a sociologist they’ll have all kinds of theories about economic deprivation, his mother dropped him on his head when he was a baby too many times, or there’s some other excuse for why somebody killed somebody. But the analysis in John is that Cain killed his brother, not because they had a personality clash; he killed his brother because his brother’s works were righteous and his works were unrighteous. So what was the real issue with Cain killing Abel? What was he really hating? He was hating God. He just resented the fact that when Abel was blessed it was like in my face. Here this guy is, I’m disobeying God and I’m getting my butt kicked and this guy, he’s getting blessing. Instead of asking why are you getting your butt kicked and why is the other guy getting blessing, he takes it out on the guy. Why does he do that? He can’t take it out on God, can he? God isn’t around. God’s not vulnerable to an assault. So he takes it out on the nearest thing. It would be interesting to apply this same kind of analysis to present day homicide. How many of these present day homicides are actually lashing out at God for not blessing them, as Cain did?

So anyhow, these are the kind of things and the closing idea here is that God, you can see, in Deuteronomy 12 and 13, is very, very zealously guarding relationship with Him. And He demands that that relationship take priority over every other thing.