“Behold! [See! Take a look!] I set before you today a blessing and a curse:
the blessing, THAT you obey the commandments of the YHVH your Elohim which I command you today;
and the curse, IF you do not obey the commandments of the YHVH your Elohim, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.” – Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:26-27
If there is a single parsha, or weekly Torah portion, which exemplifies the differences between the movement of “Torah Observant Believers” in the Messiah Yahushua, and much of the mainstream ‘church’ — the 1700+ years of “tradition” which teaches that God somehow changed His mind and did away with His own Written Word — it is the one which begins with that admonition. (“Re-eh”; Deut. 11:26 through 16:17). These approximately four chapters literally encapsulate the heart of much of what Scripture says we are to “hear and obey”; things the Sunday church attempts to teach are “old”, no longer matter, and have been “nailed to the cross”.
Who will we choose to believe? What we have “heard it said” by men that it should say, or what our Creator Himself Wrote down for us? After all, what does “let God be true and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4) mean otherwise?
The essential message of most of Scripture is that we have a choice: between “good or evil”, blessings or curses, and obedience or rebellion. It boils down to, “Who do we serve?” These parts of the Book of Deuteronomy repeat the same message literally over and over again (no doubt because He knows we are stiff-necked, and the message is important enough to repeat!) that we are to love Him…and that this literally means to keep His “commandments, statutes, and judgments”. (See, among many examples, Deut. 10:12-13, 11:1, 11:13, 11:22 – and so on!) Not because we can “earn” His love, or His salvation, certainly, but because that is exactly how He tells us to show our love for Him!
But chapters 11 through 13 of Deuteronomy make a particularly important point. Our Creator literally hates idolatry. Not only does He repeatedly forbid it in any form, liken it specifically to adultery, and tell us clearly that this is why He drove the various Canaanites out of the land which He then gave to His people (and later sent them again into exile for the very same crimes) — but He lays out some of the most specific, and most graphic instructions concerning idolatry in these chapters in all of His Word. The evil pagan practices by which those people served their gods are abomination to Him: “You shall NOT do so unto YHVH your Elohim.” (Deut. 12:4) And we are not even to risk being “snared” (v12:30) by inquiring how they served those evil ‘gods’, much less doing likewise, and thinking it somehow pleases Him.
Deuteronomy chapter 13, however, is so “politically-incorrect” that many state-licensed clergy simply don’t even want to touch it. The reason is obvious, because it contradicts so much of what so many of them teach, in contradiction to Scripture. It is also, I have found, one of the most obvious ‘stumbling blocks’ when it comes to many Torah-literate, observant Jews, who reject what they have been told about a “Jesus”, who “did away with the Law of Moses”. Over the years, I have come to know many such who were literally astounded to hear that the Messiah I know, and who was witnessed by those who walked with Him, did NO SUCH THING. Instead, He said that not the smallest part of His instruction (torah) would pass away so long as “heaven and earth” still exists (Matt. 5:17-19, etc) and that those who did not believe Moses’ Writings would not believe His Words either. (Luke 6:46). The difference is stark…and it is Deuteronomy 13 which tells us why. Had He done so, He could NOT have been the One of Whom Moses foretold! Some, as Shaul (Paul) noted, literally preach “another Jesus“, which we “have not preached“. His warnings in Gal. 1:6-10 echo those of this chapter.
And, no, we are in well-deserved exile, NOT in the land, and certainly not in a physical kingdom which claims Him as King. So NO – neither I, nor anyone I know of has ever suggested stoning false prophets. But we should certainly know better than to listen to them, much less follow them! Our Savior called the scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites” (and worse!) for making forbidden “additions” to His commandments and claiming their traditions were “law”, and then He literally died in their place — and ours. But the principles outlined there are clear, and certainly should make those who preach that it’s somehow OK to “add to” or “subtract from” how YHVH specified He was to be worshiped, substituting pagan practices based on “gods” like Mithras or Ishtar, very nervous. Those of us who diligently seek Him must turn away from such!
“…you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for YHVH your Elohim is testing you to know whether you love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 13:3)
Most importantly, however, Moses told us how to know that the Messiah Who would come after him was the Real Deal, as opposed to “another Jesus”. Yahushua Himself, when He fulfilled those promises, as well as those of YesheYahu (“Isaiah”, whose Hebrew name literally telegraphs the Savior’s Name!) and the other faithful servants of YHVH who told us of His coming, gave similar warnings. Many would come in His Name, claiming His authority…and they would be liars. (MatitYahu/Matt. 24:4-5, 11-12, etc.) They are literally “without torah”, in that they deny His instruction, by changing His Word.
We are entering into a time of increasingly great Deception, perhaps the greatest the world has ever seen. Wars and rumors of wars are nothing new, and even “earthquakes in diverse places” are but “the beginning of sorrows”. To my mind one of the greatest ironies is that a ‘church’ which so often claims to act in ‘love’ but then teaches lawlessness, and which has “added to” and “subtracted from” His Word for the better part of two millenia, is a large part of that deception. Some such have no doubt “left thy first love.” No wonder He says that “the love of many will wax cold”.
If we are to be ready to give account for what we believe, and testify to others who ask us about WHY we know that our Savior IS exactly Who He IS, it is imporant to “study”, to show ourselves approved, and rightly divide the Word of Truth. It is impossible to mix the pagan with the ‘qadosh’ or set-apart (‘holy’), or the clean with the unclean, and still please Him.
In these brief and yet blunt chapters, Moses lays out the differences between what it means to worship the True Creator of the Universe and an imposter. We can choose blessing or cursing. His commands aren’t even burdensome (He says so!)…
…so long as we avoid the continuing temptation to twist them according to the vain traditions of man. Just like the Son shows His love by obedience to the Father, so should we.
What could be simpler? Yahushua put it this way, in perhaps the most succinct summary of what it means to “love Him” in Scripture:
“If you love Me, keep my commands.” (Yahuchanon/John 14:15)