When a prophet or visionary gets up in your community and gives out a miracle-sign or wonder,
and the miracle-sign or wonder that he gave out happens and he says, "Let's follow other gods" (these are gods you know nothing about), "let's worship them,"
don't pay any attention to what that prophet or visionary says. God, your God, is testing you to find out if you totally love him with everything you have in you.
You are to follow only God, your God, hold him in deep reverence, keep his commandments, listen obediently to what he says, serve him - hold on to him for dear life!
And that prophet or visionary must be put to death. He has urged mutiny against God, your God, who rescued you from Egypt, who redeemed you from a world of slavery and put you on the road on which God, your God, has commanded you to walk. Purge the evil from your company.
And when your brother or son or daughter, or even your dear wife or lifelong friend, comes to you in secret and whispers, "Let's go and worship some other gods" (gods that you know nothing about, neither you nor your ancestors,
the gods of the peoples around you near and far, from one end of the Earth to the other),
don't go along with him; shut your ears. Don't feel sorry for him and don't make excuses for him.
Kill him. That's right, kill him. You throw the first stone. Take action at once and swiftly with everybody in the community getting in on it at the end.
Stone him with stones so that he dies. He tried to turn you traitor against God, your God, the one who got you out of Egypt and the world of slavery.
Every man, woman, and child in Israel will hear what's been done and be in awe. No one will dare to do an evil thing like this again.
When word comes in from one of your cities that God, your God, is giving you to live in,
reporting that evil men have gotten together with some of the citizens of the city and have broken away, saying, "Let's go and worship other gods" (gods you know nothing about),
then you must conduct a careful examination. Ask questions, investigate. If it turns out that the report is true and this abomination did in fact take place in your community,
you must execute the citizens of that town. Kill them, setting that city apart for holy destruction: the city and everything in it including its animals.
Gather the plunder in the middle of the town square and burn it all - town and plunder together up in smoke, a holy sacrifice to God, your God. Leave it there, ashes and ruins. Don't build on that site again.
And don't let any of the plunder devoted to holy destruction stick to your fingers. Get rid of it so that God may turn from anger to compassion, generously making you prosper, just as he promised your ancestors.
Yes. Obediently listen to God, your God. Keep all his commands that I am giving you today. Do the right thing in the eyes of God, your God.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)