“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams” (13:1-3). So, we have a situation, here, in which some guy comes along and performs a marvelous work, which intimates that he must be sent from God. But the Lord would have Israel and us pay close attention to his words; if he instructs or counsels contrary to God’s Word, he is not sent from God, and he was to be put to death by Israel.
This is a good reminder to be aware that people can appear to be something they are not. Especially, we must be careful about those to whom we listen. There are myriads of voices around us, all calling out for our attention. Isaiah counsels, “Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn” (Isaiah 8:20 NIV). So different from others, “the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). Our commitment must be to follow Isaiah’s counsel and to mimic the Bereans’ actions, always relying upon the Scriptures and testing all we hear by God’s Word.
Behold the morning sun begins its glorious ways; its beams through all the nations run, and life and light convey.
How perfect is thy word! and all thy judgments just! Forever sure thy promise, Lord, in which we surely trust.
I hear thy word with love, and I would fain obey; send thy good Spirit from above to guide me lest I stray. –Isaac Watts (1719)