What does it say?
Moses continues his exhortation to love God and obey him (Deu 11). Israel has witnessed the mighty acts of God and should love and obey him. The result will be entrance into the land and great blessing. God’s mission will be realized, but they must choose either blessing or curse (11:26). Moses gives instructions to read the blessings and curses from two mountains, Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal, once they have entered the land.
The first commandment is to have no other gods before Jehovah. All of the regulations before us here (Deu 12) are designed to protect Israel from violating the first commandment in the context of their cultural surroundings.
The subject here (Deu 13) is to avoid violating the second commandment not to worship images or likenesses of God. Actually, the last of verse of chapter 12 is the first verse of chapter 13 in the Hebrew Bible and sets up the discussion. Israel is warned about three possible sources of deception: false prophets, family and societal pressure.
What does it mean?
This is another passage loaded with application for contemporary times. Deu 11:2 uses the word chastisement, not judgment, to describe what Israel suffered in the desert for their sins. In other words, they suffered the consequences of their poor choices. Hebrews 12 is a good explanation of how the principle translates to our situation today. So much of life is a reflection of the good or bad choices we make.
See how God designed the Law to protect Israel in their cultural context from violating the first commandment (Deu 12). How might we today protect ourselves from being tempted to put anything above God in value and importance?
How might we replace God in our life with image and likenesses? Most of us would not be tempted by and idol of wood, stone, or metal like those of biblical times, but what about a car made of metal, or jewelry of precious stones projecting power and influence, or worshipping people above God? The sources of temptation mentioned in Deu 13 are just as valid today: false prophets, family and societal pressure.
How will I respond?
What is the best choice I’ve made in the last year? What is the worst? What have been the consequences from both and what have I learned? What step might I take today to learn to make better choices?
Is there anyone or anything in my life competing with God for my devotion? What “idols” do I need to destroy today?