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Deu 13:1 If there should arise in the midst of you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder-
"If" could as well be translated "when". Paul seems to allude here: "Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things" (Acts 20:30). Jeremiah feared God had deceived him (Jer. 20:7)- showing he knew such a thing was possible. Dt. 13:1-3 warns Israel not to believe prophets whose prophecies came true although they taught false doctrines, because they may have been raised up to test their obedience. God deceived Israel by telling them about the peace which would come on Jerusalem in the future Kingdom; they didn't consider the other prophecies which were given at the same time concerning their imminent judgment, and therefore they thought that God was pleased with them and was about to establish the Messianic Kingdom; when actually the very opposite was about to happen (Jer. 4:10). This is why the Bible is confusing to those who aren’t humble to God’s word.

Deu 13:2 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 previously known) and let us serve them-
The idea is that 'if the miracle appears to happen'. But that is not stated- the argument assumes, for a moment, that the alleged miracle actually happened. The idea is that the false prophet would do fake miracles in order to back up his appeal to serve other gods. Yahweh often makes the point that the signs and wonders He did for His people were far greater than anything ever seen upon earth. Likewise, the sheer magnitude of the Lord's miracles of themselves showed that all belief in demons as sources of power was utterly inappropriate. But the New Testament record assumes, for a moment, that demons had some power. Even though in reality they have no existence. And so here, for a moment, for the sake of argument, it is assumed that the alleged wonders were genuine and not fake.

We observe in this passage how empirical evidence isn't necessarily the basis for faith. Even if it apparently exists in the form of fulfilled prophecy, so it apparently can for others who teach falsely. The classic Biblical explanation of faith is in Hebrews 11:1-3: “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, the evidence about invisible things… By faith we understand that the ages have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things which appear”. Putting meaning into words, this at first blush is circular reasoning. Faith is the evidence. But on what evidence are we to believe? Faith is the evidence. The Hebrew writer was no simplistic fool. He [or she] was surely aware that this is apparently circular reasoning. Faith is the evidence. So, faith is not evidence-based. You believe on the basis of faith. The same kind of apparently circular reasoning is found often in the Bible. Once you are on the look out for it. Take 1 Jn. 5:13: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may… believe on the name of the Son of God”.

Deu 13:3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of dreams, for Yahweh your God proves you-
The reasoning here is helpful with respect to the claims made by some to perform supernatural feats. Even if it seems they might have done so, that isn’t a good enough reason to believe them; our loyalty to the one true God must not be swayed by apparently impressive deeds or predictions by those who don’t believe in Him. 

To know whether you love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul-
Yahweh was to be loved with all the heart, soul and mind (Dt. 6:5). This is understood by Joshua as meaning that those who loved Yahweh would not "mix with" and intermarry with the nations and accept their gods (Josh. 23:11,12,16). "Love" for God was not therefore a feeling; Joshua said that they must "take good heed therefore to yourselves, that you love Yahweh" (Josh. 23:11). This is the love of conscious direction of the mind, the love which is a choice rather than an emotion.    

Time and again, Moses speaks of the state of their heart. He warns them against allowing a bad state of heart to develop, he speaks often of how apostasy starts in the heart. Moses makes a total of 49 references to the heart / mind of Israel in Deuteronomy, compared to only 13 in the whole of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. This indicates the paramount importance which our Lord attaches to the state of our mind. This was perhaps his greatest wish as He faced death; that we should develop a spiritual mind and thereby manifest the Father and come to salvation. Moses likewise saw the state of our mind as the key to spiritual success. But do we share this perspective? Do we guard our minds against the media and influence of a mind-corrupting world? It's been observed that the phrase "The God of [somebody]", or similar, occurs 614 times in the Old Testament, of which 306 are in Deuteronomy. Our very personal relationship with God was therefore something else which Moses came to grasp in his spiritual maturity. Statistical analysis of the word "love" in the Pentateuch likewise reveals that "love" was a great theme of Moses at the end of his life (Moses uses it 16 times in Deuteronomy, and only four times in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers).

Deu 13:4 You must walk after Yahweh your God and fear Him and keep His commandments and obey His voice-
"Go after" is a phrase Moses frequently uses in his last speech in Deuteronomy, but not elsewhere. It means literally to follow or walk after. He warns against going after other gods (Dt. 4:3; 6:14; 8:19; 11:28; 13:2; 28:14), and urges following / walking behind / going after Yahweh alone (Dt. 13:4). I suggest he was reflecting upon how by following after Yahweh in the Angel, the people had been brought out of Egypt, through the wilderness and to the promised kingdom. Caleb had faithfully followed / walked after Yahweh, and so entered the land. The phrase is used of the people following after the ark to enter Canaan (Josh. 3:3; 6:9). Following after idols led them just to pointless wandering in circles. And so it is in human life today. Following idols leads to pointless wandering, whereas following Yahweh has a specific destination in view- possession of the Kingdom. Elijah uses the phrase when telling Israel they could either follow after Baal, or Yahweh; and if Yahweh is God, then we are to follow Him (1 Kings 18:21). We cannot follow two directions. But Israel followed after (s.w.) vanity and thereby became vain (2 Kings 17:15). They carried the tabernacle of Moloch and also of Yahweh, throughout the wilderness journey (Acts 7:). Following after Baal is paralleled with following / walking after the imagination of their own evil heart (s.w. Jer. 3:17; 9:14; 13:10), walking after their own spirit rather than God's (Ez. 13:3 s.w.) and their own covetousness (s.w. Ez. 33:31). To walk / live just according to the word of our own imaginations is our great temptation. But we are to instead follow God's imaginations and heart, as revealed in His word (Ez. 20:16 s.w.). This is where our acceptance of the word of God as indeed His word... has endless implications.

And you must serve Him and cleave to Him-
The idea of 'cleaving' to God is a big theme of Moses in Deuteronomy (Dt. 4:4; 10:20; 11:22; 13:4,17; 28:21,60; 30:20); the only other time Moses uses the word in his writings is in Gen. 2:24, concerning a man cleaving to his wife. Moses seems to have been suggesting to Israel that their covenant relationship with God meant they were marrying God. This was a real paradigm breaker. We may be used to such things. But against the theological background of the time, not to say the generally low level of spirituality among Israel, this was a shocking idea. It reflected the heights to which Moses had risen. 

The Lord’s common Upper Room theme of ‘abiding’ in Him uses the same word as Moses used in the LXX when exhorting his people to ‘cleave unto’ God (Dt. 10:20; 11:22). This abiding involved loving God and keeping His commandments- all ideas which occur together in Dt. 13:4; 30:20.

“If you love me you will keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15,21,23; 15:10) reflects a major identical theme in Dt. 5:10; 7:9; 11:1,22; 13:3,4; 19:9; 30:16. Moses at the end of his life, when he spoke Deuteronomy, was very much the image of the future Lord Jesus.

Deu 13:5 That prophet or that dreamer of dreams must be put to death, because he has spoken rebellion against Yahweh your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to draw you aside out of the way which Yahweh your God commanded you to walk in. So you must put away the evil from the midst of you-
Moses' frequent references to the way in which the Exodus had separated Israel from Egypt show the colossal difference there is between us and this world as a result of our Red Sea baptism into Christ (13:5; 15:15; 16:12; 1 Cor. 10:1,2); as our Lord in His time of dying was so strongly aware of the way in which He was redeeming us from this present evil world (Gal. 1:4). 

Deu 13:6 If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom or your friend, who is as your own soul, entices you secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which you have not known, you nor your fathers-
Moses  speaks as if he assumed that surely Israel would love their neighbour as themselves: "Thy brother...or thy friend, which is as thine own soul" almost unconsciously reveals the depth of Moses' positive faith in their obedience, even though on the other hand he clearly understood their future apostacy. So often family loyalties deflect a person from their loyalty to the one true God. The same has always been the case. Our spiritual family should ultimately be more meaningful to us than our natural family; that at least is the ideal, although all families have their dysfunctions, including our spiritual family.

Despite omitting some of the Law's commands in his speech, there are other commands which Moses really emphasizes and repeats within his speech; e.g. the need to destroy idols and false teachers, and to provide cities of refuge to cater for the sins they would commit without intending to (Dt. 7:5; 12:3, 23-25; 13:6-14 = 17:2-7). This surely reflects our Lord's attitude to us; it is his desire that we recognize our sinfulness, our likelihood of failure, our need to separate from things which will lead us away from Him. And yet the Christian community is increasingly blind to this. Moses' frequent references to the way in which the Exodus had separated Israel from Egypt show the same spirit (Dt. 13:5; 15:15; 16:12); as our Lord in his time of dying was so strongly aware of the way in which he was redeeming us from this present evil world.  

Deu 13:7 of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near to you or far off from you, from the one end of the land to the other end of the land-
In Josh. 12:1,7 we meet “the kings of the earth”, i.e. of the land, and this must surely be the basis of how we are to understand the references to “the kings of the earth” in Revelation. Dt. 13:7 defines “the peoples which are round about you” [Israel] as being “from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth” (RV). Those peoples which bordered with the Israelites were “the earth” / eretz.

Deu 13:8 you must not consent to him nor listen to him. Neither shall your eye pity him, neither shall you spare, neither shall you conceal him-
These words are quoted in Jer. 13:14 of how God would not pity nor spare an apostate Israel. They were being asked to adopt His perspective.

Deu 13:9 but you must surely kill him. Your hand shall be first on him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people-
There is stress upon close family members were to be the first to slay apostate members whose apostacy they had reported (Dt. 13:9; 17:7). They were being taught that they had to love God far more than family, and the Lord Jesus continued this teaching (Mt. 10:37). 

Deu 13:10 You must stone him to death with stones because he has sought to draw you away from Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage-
The use of stoning (Dt. 13:10; 17:5; 21:21; 22:21,24) was to show their connection with the death of the apostate. It was to also make them realize that any attempt to deny the saving work of God in bringing them out of Egypt, or attempt to reverse it by returning them to bondage, was worthy of death (Dt. 13:10). We note that false teaching, enticing others to sin, is seen as the most serious kind of sin. The New Testament teaching about church discipline takes a similar approach; moral weakness of individuals was tolerated, although criticized; but those teaching such behaviour were condemned. Stoning resulted in the covering of the body with the dust of the earth, as if recognizing that the death being brought about was also to be the fate of all under the curse in Eden.  

Deu 13:11 All Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall not do any more such wickedness as this is in the midst of you-
The group involvement was intended to teach others that such apostacy from Yahweh was unacceptable. We recall a similar judgment of Ananias and Sapphira in the New Testament, which lead to "fear" within the church- and then straight after that we have a notice that the church yet again experienced a growth spurt. 

Deu 13:12 If you hear concerning one of your cities which Yahweh your God gives you to dwell there saying-
Like Paul in his time of dying, Moses in Deuteronomy saw the importance of obedience, the harder side of God; yet he also saw in real depth the surpassing love of God, and the grace that was to come, beyond Law. This appreciation reflected Moses' mature grasp of the Name / characteristics of God. He uses the name "Yahweh" in Deuteronomy over 530 times, often with some possessive adjective, e.g. "Yahweh thy God" [AV- i.e. you singular], or "Yahweh our God". He saw the personal relationship between a man and his God. Jacob reached a like realization at his peak.

Deu 13:13 Certain bad men have gone out from the midst of you and have drawn away the inhabitants of their city, saying Let us go and serve other gods, which you have not known-
As discussed on :10, the worst level of sin is when people turn others away from God to idolatry. The gods "which you have not known" means effectively 'With whom you cannot have relationship'. For this is the Hebrew idea of 'knowing'. The idea is not that anything new must be wrong just because they are new. Yahweh was characterized above all as the God who thirsts for personal relationship with His people.

Deu 13:14 then you shall inquire and make search and ask diligently. Behold, if it is true and certain that such abomination is done in the midst of you-
Allegations of misbehaviour or wrong teaching within the family of God must be taken seriously and not pushed under the carpet. But they aren’t to be acted upon without a very careful investigation, during which the love which believes and hopes all things is paramount. This passage cannot be used as a reason to divide from those who have a slightly different Biblical interpretation of something than we do, whilst believing in and worshipping the same Lord. The situation envisaged is if someone were seeking to draw Yahweh’s people away to a totally different god (:13).

Deu 13:15 you must surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly and all that is therein and its livestock, with the edge of the sword-
Striking a city with the edge of the sword and completely destroying all life within it was what Israel did to the cities of Canaan (Josh. 10:32 etc.). But the phrase is that of Dt. 13:15, about what should be done to an apostate Israelite city who turned to idolatry. This explains why the account of Joshua's campaigns list cities like Libnah and Lachish, against which the Assyrians "encamped" and fought against them (2 Chron. 32:1; Is. 37:8 = Josh. 10:31). Israel were judging the Canaanite cities for their idolatry; the fact they committed the same meant that they were more than hypocritical. They had done that which they had judged. And they thereby become a warning for us.

Deu 13:16 You shall gather all its spoil into the midst of its street and shall burn with fire the city and all its spoil, everything, to Yahweh your God, and it shall be a heap forever. It shall not be built again-
The absolute destruction of everything in the apostate city meant that there was no possibility of personal gain for those judging it. This meant that the motivation in considering an accusation of apostacy would be treated without any temptation to consider personal benefit if the city were indeed judged apostate.

Deu 13:17 Nothing of the devoted thing must cling to your hand, that Yahweh may turn from the fierceness of His anger and show you mercy and have compassion on you-
Those who wanted to devote themselves to other gods ended up devoted to Yahweh in destruction. There is a powerful logic to devotion. The reasoning seems to be that the false teaching of the city would have spread, and all Israel would have been affected by it- and so God's fierce anger would have come upon them. It is therefore foolish to assume that wrong teaching will not spread; it is attractive by its nature. There is a strong teaching throughout the Bible about shutting down false teaching, whilst having an open attitude to sinners and misbelievers and those who misunderstand within the congregation.

And multiply you, as He has sworn to your fathers-
The entire promises to Abraham and the fathers depended for their realization upon human obedience: “Hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord your God shall keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He sware unto your fathers” (Dt. 7:12). That covenant was initially given in terms which omitted direct reference to any conditions for fulfilment. But it would be ‘kept’ by God if His people ‘kept’ His ways. The promises that God would multiply the seed of Abraham were conditional also; if Israel separated themselves from the peoples of the land, then  He would “multiply you, as He has sworn unto your fathers” (Dt. 13:17).

Deu 13:18 when you listen to the voice of Yahweh your God, to keep all His commandments which I command you this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of Yahweh your God-
On one hand, the promises to Abraham and the fathers depended for their realization upon human obedience; even though on the other hand, the covenant of Gen. 15 appears to be a unilateral expression of God’s grace and assurance to His people. “If you listen to these ordinances and keep and do them, Yahweh your God will keep with you the covenant and the loving kindness which He swore to your fathers” (Dt. 7:12). That covenant was initially given in terms which omitted direct reference to any conditions for fulfilment. But it would be ‘kept’ by God if His people ‘kept’ His ways. The promises that God would multiply the seed of Abraham were conditional also; if Israel separated themselves from the peoples of the land and were obedient, then He would “multiply you, as He has sworn unto your fathers” (Dt. 13:17,18). The strength of God’s grace also makes some of His promises ‘conditional’ in a different sense; thus He had promised Reuben and Manasseh that they could return to their possessions only when the others had possessed the land (Dt. 3:20). This condition never happened- yet they were allowed to return. And our very salvation from death and the consequences of sin is in a sense another example of this kind of thing.

The word so often used for "keeping" / "diligently observing" Yahweh's commandments is from the word meaning a thorn hedge; the idea originally was to hedge in. Taking this too literally led Judaism to all their endless fences around the law, i.e. forbidding this or that because it might lead to doing that or this, which in turn would then lead to breaking an actual commandment. And those various fences become elevated to the level of commandments. But this is not the idea. We are indeed to hedge ourselves in ("take heed to yourself", Dt. 11:16; 12:13,19,30,32 s.w.), so that we may keep / hedge ourselves in to keep the commandments of God (Lev. 18:4,5,26,30; 19:19,37; 20:8,22; 22:9,31; 25:18; 26:3; Num. 28:2;   Dt. 7:11,12; 8:1,11 [s.w. "beware"]; 10:13; 11:1,8,22,32; 12:1; 13:4,18; 15:5,9 ["beware"];  17:19; 19:9; 23:9 ["keep yourself"]; 24:8; 26:16-18; 27:1; 28:1,9,13; 29:9; 30:10,16; 31:12; 32:46). And without falling into the legalism of Judaism, self discipline does require a degree of fencing ourselves in to the one way. Thus the man struggling with alcoholism avoids the supermarket where alcohol is pushed in front of the eyes of the shoppers; the married woman struggling with attraction to another man makes little laws for herself about avoiding his company. And if we do this, then the Lord will "keep" us, will hedge us in to keeping His way (s.w. Num. 6:24).