The Law of False Prophets--Part 2
Feb 27, 2008
In Deut. 13 God told Israel that He would test them by sending prophets and dreamers to them who would teach rebellion and lawlessness with signs and wonders.
This may seem unfair, but actually it showed the mercy of God. The problem is that we do not know how ignorant we are of the deceit of our own hearts. We are largely ignorant of our ignorance. So God arranges tests by which we may know. Does God do this so that we might stumble? Well, yes and no. It is not done so that we might stumble "forever," nor is it done so that most of humanity might "go to hell." It is done so that we would know ourselves and thereby begin to eliminate the pride inherent in our hearts.
If God did not arrange such tests, it is doubtful that anyone could become an overcomer. These tests provide us all with opportunities to overcome. The tests give opportunity for some to inherit immortal life at the time of the first resurrection, rather than having to wait for a later time. Those who do not overcome will still come into the promises of God, but only at a later time.
If a school gives a test to determine who is eligible for a college education and a better life, it is not being unfair to those who fail the test. We have to look at it as an opportunity for some to rise higher.
We see the same kind of test in a different circumstance. In Deut. 7:1-5 God tells Israel to exterminate the Canaanites in their conquest of the Promised Land. But we also read in Exodus 23:30 that God did not intend to drive out all the Canaanites immediately, but would do so "little by little." For this reason, God warned Israel not to make covenants with them or to adopt their religious practices of burning their children in hell (vs. 31, Jones Opinionated Version).
When this actually played out in history, we find God's purpose in all of this, which could hardly be seen by a simple reading of the law. Judges 3:1 says,
" (1) Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan); (2) only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly."
Then verse 3 lists the nations God was using. Verse 4 continues,
"And they were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses."
This is the setup for the book of Judges. Israel failed the test and began to worship the gods of the Canaanites (vs. 7). This, then, is the reason for all of the captivities in the book of Judges (vs. 8).
So we see from this that when God gives a law, it does not mean that the people understood the MIND of God in this. The law only represented God's will. But to know God's plan was another matter. The will of God was to eliminate the Canaanites. The plan of God was to keep most of them there, along with their false religious systems and doctrines, in order to test the hearts of the Israelites. It was a case of the vessels of dishonor being used by God to perfect the vessels of honor (Rom. 9:21).
In other words, God was offering the Israelites an entrance exam to see if they were fit for His College of Overcomers. In those days God was not concerned with the Canaanites, for His plan for the rest of creation was not yet fully understood. If it seems unfair of God to choose some to inherit life before the others, I can only respond as Paul did in Romans 9:21-23. God has a right to do this. The Creator owns what He creates.
Yet we find that God built into His own law the promise to take responsibility for those who fail the test. It is called the law of stumbling blocks in Lev. 19:14,
"You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the Lord."
When God left Canaanites in the land, He was putting an opportunity for stumbling in front of the Israelites. That, after all, is what a test does. It offers opportunity to fail, or stumble, as well as to pass with flying colors. That this law applied particularly to the Israelites is made plain by the fact that God creates blind people (Ex. 4:11), and He did not yet give Israel eyes to see (Deut. 29:4).
In other words, Israel was meant to fail, for God could have given them eyes to see and ears to hear at any point in time. One cannot merely point to the fact that they were given the law to know His will. Without eyes to see, it was a virtual impossibility for them to fulfill the law's requirements. It is only when we come to the New Testament that such things become clearer, for then we understand that it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling us that we can begin to know and do His will.
Israel failed because it was God's intention for them to fail. God never intended that the Old Covenant would succeed. He never intended to leave us with animal sacrifices forever. He never intended that we should be dependent upon a physical city of Jerusalem, or a physical temple with an Aaronic priesthood. All of these things were meant to fail in order that they would be temporary teaching tools until that which is perfect should come.
So Paul tells us in Romans 9:32, 33,
" (32) . . . They stumbled over the stumbling stone, (33) just as it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed." [Is.28:16]
That "stumbling block," Paul says in 1 Cor. 1:23, is "Christ crucified." The law of animal sacrifices, given without the understanding that these were only types and shadows, put a stumbling block in front of the eyes of Israel and Judah. Without God opening their eyes to this truth, how could they see this? Yet God took credit for pouring upon them a spirit of deep sleep (Is. 29:10) and for putting a stumbling block in front of the people.
Even so, the fact that the law forbids doing this to people shows that God intended to take responsibility for His actions. In effect, the law was prophesying that God was making Himself liable for putting a stumbling block before the people. That simply means that He intends to reverse all the effects of His actions. In fact, not only with Israel, but with the whole world will He do this, for Rom. 11:32 says,
"For God has shut up ALL in disobedience that He might show mercy to all."
God expressed His will in the law by writing the law against stumbling blocks. Then he put a stumbling block in front of Israel and, in fact, He put a veil over all nations (Is. 25:7). Why? It was in order to make sure we understood the mercy factor built into the law and even demanded by the law, which is the will of God.
Once we begin to understand the mind of God, as well as the difference between the will and the plan of God, we can appreciate the fact that God tests us with "Canaanites" and with lawless prophets who come with signs and wonders. It is not God's intent that we should stumble, but that the overcomers might be brought forth and distinguished among their brethren. Though the majority of mankind fails God's tests, they will not be lost forever.
It is only a matter of Time, for He is not willing that any should perish (be lost), but for all to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). This is not mere wishful thinking. It is His WILL. The will of God shall always be done, but God has conceived a plan by which His will is delayed by Time. Hence, the difference between His will and His plan is Time.
This is the second part of a series titled "The Law of False Prophets." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones