Saturday, March 29, 2008

Being seduced away: Dt 13

"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom 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 find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him." (Deuteronomy 13:1-4)
Our call is to cling to the Lord; to serve Him, love Him, and obey Him. All around us, forces are seeking to seduce us away from our fidelity and devotion to the Lord; to seduce us to serve other Gods and to obey another Gospel, one other than that which Jesus delivered unto us. In this chapter, Moses warns us of three specific seductions.

The seduction of the supernatural

God is a supernatural being but not everything that is supernatural is from God. While we need the supernatural manifestations of God in our lives, we must be careful to seek the Lord and not the supernatural. If we seek the supernatural above the Lord, then we open ourselves up for deception. Jesus explicitly warns of of the deception of those wielding supernatural power. "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance." (Matthew 24:24-25) This is not to say that we should despise all sings and wonders, but rather that they should not be the focus of what we seek. Paul also warns us saying, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" (Galatians 1:8) We live in a time where there is great interest in angels. Certainly the scriptures attest to the reality of angels and other things that are spiritual in nature, but we should never seek these things in place of the Lord. The Lord alone we must seek, love, and serve.

The seduction of relationships
"If your brother, your mother's son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods' (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him." (Deuteronomy 13:6-8)
It is possible to love people more than we love God. Our commitment and devotion to God must rise above our commitment and devotion towards others in our lives. This is what Jesus meant when He said, "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:26) In using the term "hate" Jesus is not saying that we should hold an emotion of "hate" towards those dear to us, rather He was emphasizing the comparison of our love for God verses our love for others in terms of degrees. Our love for God should far supersede our love for others such that, when forced to chose, we will chose for God. Even if those we love should chose to walk away from the Lord, we must still chose to walk with Him, even if alone. This is why our choice in relationships is so important and why Paul warns us, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?" (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

The seduction of riches

Moses instructs the children of Israel how to deal with those within their own borders that departed from serving the Lord, especially when a whole town or city departs from the Lord to follow after other Gods.
"Then you shall gather all its booty into the middle of its open square and burn the city and all its booty with fire as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God; and it shall be a ruin forever. It shall never be rebuilt. Nothing from that which is put under the ban shall cling to your hand, in order that the Lord may turn from His burning anger and show mercy to you, and have compassion on you and make you increase, just as He has sworn to your fathers." (Deuteronomy 13:16-17)
The Israelites who remained faithful to the Lord were to be careful not to desire the riches or benefits of those who had departed from the Lord. If we begin to desire the things of the world, we can find ourselves being seduced away by the world and by the things it has to offer. Concerning what the world has to offer, John warns us, "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." (1 John 2:15-17) This is not to say that God wants us to be poor and destitute during our stay on this Earth, but rather that we should not seek the things of this world. If we should receive from the Lord riches and blessings from this life, then we should enjoy them as gifts from the Lord, but we should never depart from the Lord to seek those things on our own. Paul also warns us about being attached to our worldly possessions saying, "and those who buy, as though they did not possess; and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away." (1 Corinthians 7:30-31) We must always remember that what this world has to offer pales in comparison to the riches and pleasures that are to be found in the presence of God.

David Robison

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