“If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, “Let us follow other godsand let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer.”
How are we to know the difference?
After all, if someone comes along and is able to perform miracles, would it not be a sign that person is from God? And how are we to know if the words from him are true or not?
Deuteronomy 13 underscores the total authority of God’s written word. The difference is seen in whether what is said corresponds to what has been written. The only God there is, the only God to be worshiped, is the God that led Israel out of Egypt. Any God that did not do that must not be worshiped. Any command, contrary to the written will of God contained in these books of Moses, must be assumed to be from another god, and should not be followed.
And any attempt by any person from among God’s people who would entice the community of faith to a way of life and worship not found in the revealed way of God written by Moses was to be treated in the harshest of ways.
Because it threatened the community’s relationship with God, and thus its very health and existence. In modern terms, such a false teacher should be treated like a bio-terrorist intent on destroying a community.
This text has often been used as justification for what has amounted to mean-spiritedness among Christians. But frankly, most of the things Christians have fought over have not been matters about which God has specifically spoken. They have been more matters of opinion and tradition. In point of fact, those who would exalt opinion and tradition to the status of revealed will have themselves called their hearers to another god and should be avoided at all costs.