The Torah describes the false prophet as one who attempts to “make you stray from the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to walk in.” (Deuteronomy 13:6 (5). Instead of listening to the false prophet we are commanded: “The Lord your God shall you follow and Him you shall fear; His commandments you shall observe and to His voice you shall hearken; Him you shall serve and to Him you shall cleave.”
The true prophet will encourage Israel to follow after God – “O House of Jacob: Come let us walk by the light of the Lord!” (Isaiah 2:5). The true prophet encourages fear of the Creator of heaven and earth – “Will you not fear Me? says the Lord; Will you not tremble before Me? For I have set sand as a boundary for the sea, as a permanent law that cannot be broken.” (Jeremiah 5:22). The true prophet encourages observance of God’s commandments that were set down by Moses – “Remember the Torah of Moses My servant which I commanded him at Horeb for all of Israel – decrees and statutes” (Malachi 3:22 [4:4]). The true prophet speaks of hearkening to the voice of God – “…Thus said the Lord, God of Israel: Cursed is the man who will not listen to the words of this covenant that I commanded your forefathers on the day I took them out from the land of Egypt, form the iron crucible saying: Listen to My voice…” (Jeremiah 11:3,4). The true prophet encourages service of God – “Serve the Lord with gladness, come before Him with joyous song” (Psalm 100:2). The true prophet speaks of cleaving to God as the highest ideal – My soul cleaves after You; Your right arm has supported me” (Psalm 63:9).
The true prophet knows that God has richly provided for our every need, both spiritual and material. The true prophet recognizes the blessing that is inherent in the law that God has granted to His people and all of the prophet’s words direct us towards the God of Israel and towards the path He set us on when He redeemed us from the house of bondage in a clear and unambiguous way.
The false prophet concentrates his attention on the tendency of man that fails to appreciate God’s blessings and that sees God’s law as burdensome and impossible. Instead of encouraging us to recognize the love, the life and the light that is inherent in God’s law; the false prophet claims to offer us a “better path”.
The way to resist the persuasions of the false prophet is to ask: Is there anything lacking in the path that God set before us when He took us out of Egypt? Did God not provide for our every need? Did He not shower us with every blessing?
By focusing on the blessings that God granted us we will learn to appreciate the holiness of His commandments and the life that is inherent in His law. When we appreciate His love towards us our hearts will be filled with love towards Him – and a heart that is filled with the love of God will not fall for the persuasions of the false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:4 (3).
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal