Explore The Bible Study: Revealed

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Moses' warning to the people of Israel is also a warning to believers as they strive to live their faith in a world that is increasingly rejecting Christian values: "When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not imitate the detestable customs of those nations." (Deuteronomy 18:9) LifeWay's Explore the Bible Study: Revealed, will help you guide a discussion on how we can follow these instructions.

As you study Deuteronomy 18:9-22, consider what believers today face, compared to what the Israelites were about to face as they entered the Promised Land. This is how Moses described, in Deuteronomy 18:9-14, the ungodly customs to which they would be exposed as they crossed over the Jordan into the Promised Land and how they were to respond:

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not imitate the detestable customs of those nations. No one among you is to sacrifice his son or daughter in the fire, practice divination, tell fortunes, interpret omens, practice sorcery, cast spells, consult a medium or a spiritist, or inquire of the dead. Everyone who does these acts is detestable to the Lord, and the Lord your God is driving out the nations before you because of these detestable acts. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. Though these nations you are about to drive out listen to fortune-tellers and diviners, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do this.” (Deuteronomy 18:9-14)

A Greater Threat Than Strength and Size
You might recall that, when the 12 spies returned from the land of Canaan, the greatest fear was not their moral and religious practices but their size: "but the people who live there are strong, and the cities have walls and are very large." (Numbers 13:28). The perceived threat was the strength of the people and their fortified cities that seemed impossible to conquer. Yet, we see from Deuteronomy 18 a very different threat – the ungodly practices of the culture they were about to enter. This was more dangerous than any army. The greater danger was in what they believed and practiced, not how numerous, big, or powerful they were.

Moses warns the people of what they would be facing. They would enter a land that had rejected God. The cultural practices had brought about their judgment because they were “detestable to the Lord.” (v.12)

Because of this, God leads Moses to give them instructions regarding how to avoid compromising their faith as they took possession of the land.

The Lord Your God
Throughout the verses we are studying today, the phrase, “the LORD your (our) God” is repeatedly used. God Almighty was Israel’s God. The One True God, the LORD, was their God! This is in contrast to what everyone else in the land believed. They either didn’t believe in God, but worshipped idols and false gods. This led to ungodly, and unimaginable practices. They did not know the God of Israel, “the LORD God.”

If we look around us today, we need to realize that we are in a land that doesn’t embrace our God. Most don’t know “The LORD our God”; therefore, we must realize that, it isn’t the threat of persecution, or the creation of laws, or the power of people that will cause us to fall. It is the moral and spiritual compromise that we embrace as believers and as the church body, that will destroy us.

Who is a False Prophet Today?
Practical Application of Deuteronomy 18:20-22

Moses explained that people claiming to be prophets would be validated when what they spoke came true, or in our case today, is not validated in Scripture. The people were told that if a person’s message wasn’t validated, then they were to consider that individual a false prophet to be ignored.

Colin Smith in an article from The Gospel Coalition entitled, 7 Traits of False Teachers, provides a great way to evaluate based upon 2 Peter 2. The following is a summary of his list (Note, the list below only includes 6):
  • They will claim additional revelation other than Bible (i.e. the Mormons claim to have “another revelation from Jesus Christ.”) – 2 Peter 2:3 states that false prophets will "exploit you . . . with made-up stories."
  • They will preach a different message – They “will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them” (2 Peter 2:1, ESV). Notice the word "secretly." The false teacher will speak about how other people can help change your life, but if you listen carefully to what he is saying, you will see that Jesus Christ is not essential to his message.
  • They will preach different lifestyles other than striving to live a holy life – "For by uttering boastful, empty words, they seduce, with fleshly desires and debauchery, people who have barely escaped from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them." (2 Peter 2:18-19)
  • They will promote a different character – The false prophet is marked by arrogance and slander (2:10). They have “hearts trained in greed” and “their eyes are full of adultery” (2:14). They also “despise authority” (2:10)
  • They will produce different fruit – These people are springs without water, mists driven by a storm. The gloom of darkness has been reserved for them (2:17)
  • They will have a different end – Verse 1 states that they “will bring swift destruction on themselves” and verse 3 states that, “Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.
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