April 24, 2022 – Deuteronomy 13

Lesson Date: April 24, 2022

Focal Scripture Passage: Deuteronomy 13:1-18

AIM: To lead students to recognize the seriousness with which God views false religion, and to discuss the deadly effects of false religion in our modern world.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Deuteronomy 13 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Bring the attached picture of an offender locked in a pillory.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to the picture of a man locked in a pilloryAsk: “What is happening in this picture?” (a man is being publicly humiliated and punished).  Explain that the wooden device in which he is locked is called a pillory (also sometimes called the stocks).  In colonial times, pillories were used to punish people for crimes such as public drunkenness and blasphemy.

Ask: “Why was such punishment carried out in public?” (to humiliate the offender and to serve as an example and warning to others who might be tempted to commit similar crimes).  Tell the students that throughout history, many punishments – even capital punishment – have been carried out in public.  Give the following examples:

  • In ancient times the Jews stoned people to death. Many people were involved in throwing the stones, and even more witnessed the gruesome execution.
  • In Jesus’ time the Romans executed the worst criminals through crucifixion, which was carried out beside a main roadway where many people would see it.
  • In more recent times in America, public hanging was the common method of execution.

Tell the class that these and other methods of execution were carried out in public, to serve as a warning of the deadly consequences of crime.  Public punishment was an effective deterrent to crime.  Modern people, however, do not want to be confronted with the ugliness of public punishment.  Criminals today, if they are punished at all, are locked away out of sight.  Crime does not appear to carry a high price, so crime rates are much higher than they used to be.

Today’s lesson is from Deuteronomy 13.  In it, we will discover the seriousness with which God views false religion, and the deadly effect false religion still has today.  The title of today’s lesson is Deadly Idolatry.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that last week was Easter, and we had an Easter lesson from Acts 13.
    • Our last lesson from the book of Deuteronomy was about guidelines for worship.
    • Remind the class that Deuteronomy is made up of sermons Moses preached to the children of Israel shortly before they entered the Promised Land.
  2. False Religion Spread by False Prophets.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Deuteronomy 13:1-2.
    • Explain the following:
      • False prophets are people who claim to speak for God, but their message doesn’t agree with God’s Word.
      • A “dreamer of dreams” is someone who claims to have received truth from God through dreams.
      • This section is sometimes described as the “Test of False Prophets.”
    • Ask: “Was the test whether or not the sign or wonder that the false prophet predicted came to pass?” (no; verse 2 says the sign might occur just as predicted).
    • Stress the fact that miraculous signs and wonders are NOT the ultimate test of the truthfulness of a prophet, because Satan can enable false prophets to perform miracles.
    • Ask: “What is the test?” (whether or not the prophet’s words agree with the Bible).
    • Ask: “Are there false prophets and dreamers in our world today?” (yes).
    • Tell the students the way to identify a false prophet is whether his or her teaching agrees with the Bible.
    • Read Deuteronomy 13:3-5.
    • Ask: “According to verse 3, why would false prophets and dreamers arise in Israel?” (to test Israel’s love for God).
    • Ask: “What did God tell His people in verse 4?” (to obey and cling to Him).
    • Ask: “According to verse 5, what did God command the Israelites to do with false prophets?” (execute them).
    • Stress the fact that in ancient Israel false religion was punishable by death!
    • God warned Israel not to listen to false prophets and dreamers, but to fear and love Him. The Lord told them to execute false prophets and dreamers.
    • Ask: “What does the last sentence of verse 5 say about why they were to execute false prophets and dreamers?” (to remove the evil from their midst).
    • Summarize: God warned the Israelites not to tolerate false religion spread by false prophets and dreamers.
  3. False Religion Spread by Family or Friends.
    • Tell the class in the next verses God warned His people about false religion coming from another source.
    • Read Deuteronomy 13:6-11.
    • Ask: “What is the source of false religion in these verses?” (one’s own family or close friends).
    • Ask: “According to verses 8, how were faithful Israelites to deal with loved ones who tried to lure them into false religion?” (they were not to consent [agree with them], hearken, pity, spare, or conceal their sin).
    • Ask: “According to verses 9-10, what were they to do with loved ones who tried to lure them into false religion?” (kill them by public stoning).
    • Stress the fact that all the people were to participate in this public execution.
    • Ask: “What does verse 11 say would be the result of the public execution of those following false religion?” (it would cause people to fear the Lord and stay away from false religion).
    • Summarize: God warned the Israelites not to tolerate false religion spread by their family members or close friends.
  4. False Religion in an Israelite Town.
    • Tell the students we have learned about the danger of false religion from false prophets, dreamers, close friends, and even family members.
    • Read Deuteronomy 13:12-13.
    • Explain that the rest of the chapter tells what the Israelites were to do if an entire town became involved in false religion.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Deuteronomy 13:14-18.
    • Ask: “According to verse 14, what was the first thing they were to do?” (make inquiry to determine if the charge of false religion was true).
    • Ask: “If the charge was true, what were the other Israelites to do to the idolatrous town and its inhabitants?” (utterly destroy the town and kill its inhabitants).
    • Ask: “Does this sound harsh to you?”
    • Stress the fact that before the entire town could go into false religion, the people of the town must have already disobeyed the clear instructions about false prophets and family members found in verses 1-11.
    • Ask: “Why do you think God prescribed such harsh punishment for Israelites who became involved in false religion?” (because He is the one true and living God, all other gods are fakes promoted by the devil, and He wanted His people to remain pure and unpolluted).
    • Ask: “Why do you think God told them in verse 16 to leave the heap forever and never rebuild the town?” (as a perpetual object lesson throughout all of Israel’s generations; another visible sign of public punishment serving as a deterrent to future generations).
    • Summarize: God warned the Israelites not to tolerate false religion that had taken root in one of their towns.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Remind the students that the title of today’s lesson is Deadly Idolatry.  Tell them in ancient Israel false religion led to death.  That’s because ancient Israel was a theocracy under the rule of God.  Everyone was to worship and serve the Lord God of Israel.

Explain that we do not live in such a theocracy, we are not Israelites, and the New Testament does not tell Christians to kill those who follow false religions.  Ask: “What does it tell us to do?” (try to tell them the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ so they can be saved, but be careful not to become closely involved or entangled with them).

Stress the fact that anyone who claims his so-called god told him to kill those who follow other religions is deceived and being used as an instrument of the devil.

Ask: “Followers of false religions are not put to death today, but does false religion still produce deadly results in our modern world?” (yes).  Ask the students to suggest some of the deadly effects of false religion (suicide, terrorism, suicide bombings).  Tell the class these things are awful, but the worst thing about false religion is that it leads people away from the truth about salvation through Jesus Christ, taking them to hell.  False religion, because it is inspired by the devil, propagates death and leads to death.

Tell the students anyone who becomes involved in false religion will:

  • Have bad associates,
  • Make bad choices, and
  • Have a really bad eternity in hell!

False religion is DEADLY.

Tell the class God’s clear instruction for us is found in Deuteronomy 13:4: “Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and ye shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him.”

Encourage everyone to thank God for protecting them from false religion, and commit to respond to false religion by telling people how they can have eternal life through Jesus Christ.  Lead a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize John 14:6.  Urge them not to listen to false teaching this week, but to read the Bible daily so they will recognize false teaching when they hear it.

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