The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. —Deuteronomy 13:3-4
Series: Awesome Father, Precious Son
by Ron Ritchie
P. C. Craigie writes, “The words emphasize God’s sovereignty and permission. The temptation would test the true disposition of the hearts of the Israelites, and while the temptation was genuinely dangerous, the overcoming of that temptation would strengthen the people in their love of God and obedience to his commandments. The sovereignty of God is also seen in another manner: The performance of a sign or wonder did not mean that the gods advocated by a false prophet or dreamer had any real power, but only that the true God would permit certain things to happen in order to test and thereby strengthen his people. Moses then stresses once again God’s basic requirements of his people.” (11)
In Job 1:7-8 God initiated a conversation with Satan in which he gave that angel of ligh permission to test his servant Job, who was “a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” When God appeared on Mount Sinai in the midst of the thunder and lightning, the people were terrified. Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning” (Exodus 20:20). The prophet Isaiah spoke to a sinning Israel on behalf of God (48:10),
“Behold I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”
We are encouraged by the apostle Paul to test ourselves at times: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5) Peter told the suffering Christians of Turkey, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold, which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ….” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
The precious Son Jesus, who was tempted to worship Satan, responded with the words from Deuteronomy 6:13: “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'” He is the same Lord who said to Peter and the other disciples just before his trial and death on the cross of Calvary, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brother” (Luke 22:31-32).
“It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.” Herein are six steps of sincere love for the Lord: (1) “It is the Lord your God you must follow….” Moses is saying, “Your parents were so tempted to follow the gods of Egypt, and this was quickly seen when they arrived in the wilderness and built a golden calf to worship. You as their sons and daughters will also be tempted to follow after the nongods of Canaan who will promise you life, but in the end faith in them will produce death. There is only one living God, and you must by the power of the Holy Spirit within you make a choice to follow him when you come into the promised land.”
(2) “…Him you must revere.” Moses continues, “For it is Elohim-Yahweh who loved your fathers and who loves you. It is he who rescued you from the slavery of Egypt, and guided, protected, and provided for you in the wilderness. That same God who is your personal God will be with you in the land of Canaan. So show him honor, respect, and reverence out of a heart of love and appreciation.”
(3) And with this same heart and the power of the Holy Spirit, “Keep his commands….” Moses says, “for they are for your good and not your evil. They are not a burden, but they are ‘holy, righteous and good’ [Romans 7:12]. They are not given to restrict your life but to save your life as you live in a fallen world and society.”
(4) “…Obey him….” Moses is saying, “Develop a heart that wants to shâma’, a heart that is willing not only to listen to him but to obey what you hear.”
(5) “Once you have a heart to obey him,” Moses continues, “show it by being willing to ‘…serve him….’ in acts of righteousness, especially toward the fatherless, widows, and resident aliens.”
(6) “And finally,” Moses says, “in the midst of this great temptation to follow after other gods, remember how Elohim-Yahweh has committed himself to you the way a husband holds fast to a wife. So you as the wife ‘…hold fast to him’ in the midst of the temptation to take another husband (other gods).” Hebrews 13:8-9 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.”
The precious Son Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:9-12).
We are to check out the character of the messengers that roam our society and the Christian churches, the source of power behind the miracles, and the content of their messages. The best way to do that is to test our own hearts to see if we are sincerely in love with Jesus Christ, the beloved and now risen Son of God.