LINK: Deuteronomy 13 & 14
We are continuing with the ceremonial laws for proper worship.
Deuteronomy 13: Idolatry
There are three ways of slipping into idolatry:
1) A False Prophet - The bottom line of this message is that all miraculous signs and wonders must be held up against the Word of God and cannot contradict God's expressed commands. The people were to trust God and His Word rather than the miracles. The false prophet was to be put to death because he had "counseled rebellion against the LORD" (13:1-5).
2) A Loved One - God was very clear. They were to kill even a loved one who tried to lure them into idolatry. This would make the people fear and not want to do such a "wicked thing" (13:6-11).
3) Worthless Men of An Apostate Town - Again, drastic punishment and complete destruction of the people and livestock was prescribed (13:12-18).
Deuteronomy 14: Purity Laws
Moses set out specific laws that would distinguish the Israelites as "a people holy (set apart) to the LORD." The people around them had superstitious beliefs about dying and the dead. Cutting oneself was a sign of mourning in the pagan culture of that day. The Israelites were not to be like the pagans around them in their mourning rites (14:1-2).
Deuteronomy 14:3-21 deals with clean and unclean animals and is discussed in greater detail in the background study in Leviticus 11.
The chapter concludes by discussing the law of the tithe (14:22-26). They were to set aside a 10th. Before, Moses said that the tithe should go to the Levites (Numbers 18:21-32), but he added that part of their tithe was to go to the central sanctuary where they were to eat a common meal with the LORD. This was to teach them to "fear" the LORD their God always. Every third year, the second tithe was to be used for the Levites, alien, orphan, and widow.
Have you ever had someone lead you astray? I was a pretty "good" kid, but I got involved with a person toward the end of my high school years and into college that led me down a destructive path. That person was a smooth-talker, and that person lacked integrity in the little things.
During a road trip, we were filling up at a gas station, and gas had just gone over the $1 mark (With prices over $4 this week, it is hard to imagine that they were once under $1). So, all the pump meters only allowed for up to two digits. Until new pumps could be installed, the "half price" of a gallon was shown on the pump and all totals were doubled. We were in Canyonville, Oregon (long before the casino) at this little gas station. The attendant filled up the tank and took our money.
My friend said, "Hurry, get in!" I didn't know why, but I followed her order. We got in the car, and she laughed as we reentered I-5.
"What an idiot!" she said. "He didn't know he was supposed to double the gas total. He will probably be doing that all night! We just got ourselves a tank of gas for half the price!"
I sat there horrified and begged her to go back and pay the man because he would probably lose his job over this. It was to no avail. She just kept driving north, and I wondered what I had gotten myself into in this friendship. In the long haul, that friendship was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.
The memories of this friendship are what my mind went to when I read this today: "If . . . your friend who is as your own soul, entices you secretly . . . you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him . . ." (13:6-8).
At one time, this friend was my "soulmate," but it cost me my soul to continue our friendship in terms of compromise. Eventually, I had to cut off the friendship because an incident like this was just one of many that continued to happen. I yielded and listened far too many times. Sometimes, she used manipulation that caused me to pity her and give in to her manipulations. It took me a long time to realize that I was not being "mean" by cutting off the friendship. I learned the hard way that some times that is the best course of action.
I might add that cutting myself off from that friendship meant leaving a Bible Study we attended together (Yes, she could have called herself a follower of Jesus, but her actions did not show that.). Through the new Bible Study I attended after this one, God gave me true "soulmates" who continue to be friends decades later.
Our choice of friends is HUGE in our growth and development. Do you find that you slip away from the LORD because of the influence of others on your life? Spend some time evaluating the influences in your life.
Lord, I pray that You would give each and every one of us soulmates who would lead us toward a greater devotion to You and not lead us away from you. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.