The Scriptorium

Those Who Corrupt

Guard your heart. Deuteronomy 13.6-18

Guarding Purity: Deuteronomy 13, 14 (2)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 83.1-8
Do not keep silent, O God!
Do not hold Your peace,
And do not be still, O God!
For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
And those who hate You have lifted up their head.
They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.
They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”
For they have consulted together with one consent;
They form a confederacy against You:
The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites;
Moab and the Hagrites;
Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek;
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
Assyria also has joined with them;
They have helped the children of Lot.

Psalm 83.1-8
(St. Chrysostom: We Have not Known Thee As We Ought)
O God, do not be quiet now; do not be silent, nor be still!
See how Your foes erupt in a row and those who hate You chafe at Your will.
Shrewdly they plan, conspiring as one, against Your daughters and Your sons.

“Come, let us wipe them out,” they say. “Let Israel’s name no more be heard!”
Bold they conspire to do us away, and covenant against You, O Lord.
Peoples and nations cast in their lot for this ambitious, wicked plot.

Today’s Text: Deuteronomy 13.6-18

1. What was so bad about what these people were doing?

2. What measures were to be taken against them?

Here is the sternest warning and harshest condemnation yet of the practice of idolatry. Over and over, Moses has emphasized that the people must not give themselves to idols. Idolatry leads to the abandonment of God and the good works His Law prescribes; and it leads to paganism, with all the violence, licentiousness, deceit, and death that entailed. Anybody who practiced idolatry would be severely judged. Anyone who drew others away into idolatry would be more severely judged.

The people must not even spare their loved ones, if their loved ones entice them to worship other gods (vv. 1-10). Even if only corrupt men should cause a whole city to turn to idolatry, that whole community must be destroyed from Israel, just like the Canaanites whom Israel would displace (vv. 12-17).

These terrible judgments against idolatry were meant to deter all Israel from the practice (v. 11), and to keep them listening to the voice of the Lord, and keeping all His commandments (v. 18).

We think the punishments commanded here seem harsh. They were harsh; indeed, they were terrible. But what does this tell us about God’s love for His people? About His determination to keep them looking to Him and dwelling within His holiness and love? The mere presence of these statutes “on the books” in ancient Israel should have deterred any of those who might have considered corrupting themselves or others. That in fact, they did not, simply reminds us of the hardness of Israel’s heart toward God.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Much today seeks to entice us away from the whole Law of God. Things that are bad are said to be good; and we are told we must be tolerant. That being tolerant is showing love. Really? To whom? Isn’t tolerance merely throwing in the towel and not truly loving at all? Of course, the civil law is not in our hands, and the judgment rendered in Deuteronomy is no longer ours to carry out; but we must still guard our own hearts, and by doing so, serve the one true God. “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.” “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (Prov. 12.26, 13.20; 1 Cor. 15.33). These words teach us how to navigate the enticements we come up against every day; and none of these enticements, whatever they may be, should remain in our hands or our hearts. We must be sure that God knows we are listening to His voice, and keeping the commandments He has given us, to do what is right in His eyes. We absolutely don’t want to be in the fierceness of His anger, but to be shown His mercy and compassion. Then we can reach out to others with this same mercy, compassion, and love. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jn. 5.2, 3).

1. What are some ways that corruption and idolatry work their way into our heart?

2. How can we protect ourselves against such enticements?

3. What should we expect if we continue faithful in the commandments of the Lord?Moses teaches first, that the rule of a holy life must be sought from the mouth of God; and then adds that

He must be obeyed not partially, but universally. He confirms also what I have said respecting obedience, for men only please God when they listen to His voice. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Deuteronomy 13.18

Guard my life against corruption today, Lord, so that I keep Your commandments and…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 83.9-18
Pray that God would protect His Church from all corruption, and that He would bring revival in the Holy Spirit to all His people.

Psalm 83.9-18
(St. Chrysostom: We Have not Known Thee As We Ought)
Deal with them, Lord, and bring them down, as You against old foes prevailed,
when You Midian cast to the ground and all her kings and princes assailed –
all who Your pastures sought to possess You brought to ruin and deep distress.

Make them like whirling dust, O God! Scatter them like the windblown chaff!
Rage like a fire consuming a wood, like flames that burn a mountain pass!
Blow like a tempest, bring them to harm, and terrify them with Your storm!

Fill with dishonor every face that they may seek Your Name, O Lord.
Bring them to shame, dismay, and disgrace, and let them perish under Your Word,
that they may learn Your infinite worth, O God Most High of all the earth!

T. M. and Susie Moore

Listen to our summary of last week’s study in Deuteronomy by clicking here. You can download all the studies in the series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore