“Choices and Tests”
by Mark Huey
Re’eih continues where Ekev left off. Moses is persistent in encouraging the Israelites to obey the Lord with due faithfulness, so that they can prosper in the Land He is going to give them. If Israel chooses to listen to and obey the commandments of the Lord, then blessings will emanate from Him. On the other hand, if Israel chooses to disobey the commandments of the Lord, then curses will manifest themselves. Once again, the bottom line for Ancient Israel is how their choices—positive or negative—will affect them when they dwell in the Promised Land. Will Israel choose to follow Moses’ Teaching? Or will Israel choose to abandon it? Re’eih opens with a rather critical admonition:
“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).
It is not difficult to compute how obedience to the Lord will result in people being blessed by Him, and how disobedience to the Lord will at least result in some kind of penalties being dispensed. If people desire to obey the Lord, then such obedience is a manifestation of one’s love and loyalty to Him. What does it say of those who do not desire to obey Him?
In Re’eih this week, we are introduced to a variety of tests that the Lord will use to ascertain whether His people will truly choose to follow Him. The tests which are given are fairly challenging, as they will come not only in the form of false prophets, but even one’s close personal relatives. False prophets, in particular, are said to be allowed to perform signs and wonders that come true:
“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 13:2-5).
These visible and/or tangible signs and wonders have the intention of drawing people away to worship and serve other gods—especially when the signs or wonders the false prophets claim will occur, come true. But, because false prophets have every intention of leading people away from God’s commandments, Israel is instructed to execute them:
“But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 13:5).
As serious as detecting a false prophet may be, even more hard-hitting is the fact that spiritual tests may come via one’s own kin:
“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).
At this point, Moses warns Israel that siblings, children, best friends, and even wives can be used as vessels of temptation to get people to deny the Lord. God knows how intimate relationships with people who are unfaithful toward Him, can easily draw us away from Him. For Ancient Israel, at least, the answer was to similarly see that those close people would be put to death. And, the one who was tempted by a fellow family member, is the first one who had to throw stones:
“But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. So you shall stone him to death because he has sought to seduce you from the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you” (Deuteronomy 13:9-11).
This is a difficult test. After your loved one has been accused and convicted of enticing you away from serving the One God of Israel, you were required to be the first to cast a stone to initiate the capital punishment. Thankfully, we now live in an era where Yeshua’s sacrifice has absorbed such capital punishment (Colossians 2:14). Yet, even if we might not stone false prophets or relatives who worship other gods—we still have to be very mindful of the deceptive influences present in our world. We have to avoid them and not listen to them! Each of us has to make the conscious choice to fully love and serve the Lord—or pursue other things that take us away from Him and His promised blessings. Such has always been the age-old question for the followers of the God of Israel.
During the ministry of Yeshua, we also see some tests present, similar to what is described this week in Re’eih. The Apostolic Scriptures warn about the coming of false prophets, with signs and wonders, which are again going to be used by God to test the hearts of those who have claimed faith in His Son. In His Olivet Discourse on the Last Days, Yeshua warned His Disciples about the eventual coming of false messiahs and false prophets who will arise to show great signs and wonders, saying,
“For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24, NRSV).
The significance of such signs and wonders will be to test the hearts of the elect. The signs and wonders will be designed to mislead, and have the capacity to seriously disrupt how Messiah followers are to be exclusively loyal to Him. Taking Yeshua’s warning to serious heart today, we should always question the motives of any minister or ministry that is actively (or exclusively) soliciting a following based on the manifestation of “signs and wonders.” Are they the genuine activity of the Holy Spirit? Are they really confirming evidences of the work of the Lord, and in helping people be set free from their sins?
Just as Re’eih says that one’s close family may be a source of temptation, Yeshua also told His Disciples that there will be division in families, because of belief in Him:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD” (Matthew 10:34-36; cf. Micah 7:6).
In both Moses’ and Yeshua’s instructions, it is asserted how God’s people are going to be tested. False prophets will arise with signs and wonders. Families will be at odds because of loyalty to God and to His Messiah. Sadly today, the reality of circumstances on the ground is that many people actually desire to hear ear-tickling and sensational words—rather than receive instruction which can aid them in their relationship with the Lord and spiritual effectiveness. As the Apostle Paul wrote his colleague Timothy,
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
The Final Test and Choice
Within Deuteronomy the subject of prophets is seen multiple times, but it is not exclusively about false prophets who will plague the Israelites. Moses will later speak of a Greater Prophet who will be raised up by God and speak definitive words that the people must heed. This Prophet will provide the ultimate test, and not heeding what He says will bring disastrous consequences:
“I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him” (Deuteronomy 18:18-19).
The Apostle Peter knew who this Greater Prophet was, as he made a direct appeal to Deuteronomy 18:19—applying it to the ministry and work of Yeshua the Messiah:
“Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people’” (Acts 3:22-23).
Here, the test of believing in Yeshua is clearly stated. The consequences of unbelief are utter and complete ruin. Have you placed your trust in Yeshua the Messiah, the Greater Prophet? Anything else short of this, and you will have chosen poorly. Only by expressing true saving faith in the Messiah of Israel, can one also possess the wisdom and discernment to identify all of the false prophets and deceivers out there—which the world will throw at us!
 Deuteronomy 13:1, 3, 5; 18:15, 18, 20, 22; 34:10.