Some bits of the Bible shock us – it is right that they do! They help us to see truths we would otherwise miss.
Deuteronomy 7 When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— 2 and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.
Destroy the people totally! This sounds a bit harsh. A bit over the top! But these were the commands of Almighty God which He expected His chosen nation Israel to obey. They illustrate very powerfully the sinfulness of in and the dangers of compromise.
Do not intermarry
3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons,
Destroy their objects of worship
Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles (symbols of the goddess Asherah) and burn their idols in the fire.
WHY? Because you are to be holy!
6 For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
7 The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.
God has chosen His people Israel. He has rescued them from slavery in Egypt and made them His treasured possession. He is bringing them into all the blessings of the Promised Land. They belong to Him and Him alone.
DANGERS OF FOREIGN GODS
Almighty God certainly sees worshipping foreign gods as a most serious offence:
First two commandments
Deut 5: 6 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 7“You shall have no other gods before me.
8“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 9 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God.
God is a jealous God. But there is only one God! What does Almighty God have to be jealous of? God is not jealous OF the objects of this misplaced worship. God is jealous FOR His chosen people and doesn’t want them to be misled or led astray. God will not tolerate His chosen people worshipping foreign gods. So he commands the destruction of those who do worship false gods, and even of Israelites who are led astray in that way.
Deuteronomy 13: 6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. 9 You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no-one among you will do such an evil thing again.
Let’s be very clear about one thing. This is not racism. God is not racist! When God told His people to destroy the other nations and not intermarry with them it had nothing to do with racial purity, and everything to do spiritual purity. God did not have anything against people with a different skin color. God wanted his people to live in spiritual purity, in their relationship with Him. God’s reasons for not wanting His chosen people to mix with the people of other nations were not because of race, but because of spiritual issues.
God knew that the tribes who lived in the land worshiped other Gods and that they would drag his people into the worship of other gods.
Again this is not a RACIAL issue. God is not racist. God the creator of all human beings wants a relationship with all human beings. God did chose and create one nation for a special relationship with Himself – but in Christ that special nation are chosen from ALL nations and races.
Acts 10: 34 Peter began to speak: “I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
Gal 3:26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The issue is NOT racism! But spiritual purity. The danger is of spiritual pollution – worshipping false gods. And God sees that as a SERIOUS problem!
But what is the problem? Idols are just pieces of wood or stone or metal – so what’s the problem? Well the problem is that idols are NOT just pieces of wood or stone or metal. The truth is that these false gods were not just empty and powerless. Behind the idols and false gods are very real very dangerous spiritual powers the Bible calls demons leading people away from the true God to worship evil.
Passover and plague on firstborn.
Exodus 12: 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.
12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
God’s judgment was not falling on the leaders of Egypt or the people of Egypt. His judgment was on all the gods of Egypt, the demons pulling the strings behind the scenes. The demons behind so much of the evil of the Canaanites and all the other nations around.
Deut 18:9 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no-one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practises divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the LORD your God.
Fortune-telling is not all harmless fun. Tarot and astrology and crystal balls can reveal supernatural knowledge which human beings are not meant to possess. Witchcraft and sorcery and spells are not just Harry Potter entertainment. There are real witches and sorcerers and magic spells and curses are not just empty words – they can channel powerful evil. Mediums and spiritualists may think they are consulting the dead, but it is demons they are in contact with. So God wants to protect His chosen people from evil. No compromise.
Lev 20: 27 “ ‘A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.’ ”
God wants to keep his chosen people away from the idols and the false gods of the Canaanites – from the powerful demons who led the nations astray and into evil.
So there must be no compromise with the foreign gods of the nations around!
DANGERS IN INTERMARRYING
3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.
Is this an area where Christians have compromised over the years? Does it really matter if our sons and daughters have relationships with people from other religions? As long as they are sincere in the faith they have, and let our children and grandchildren follow Jesus, does it matter if their wives and husbands worship other gods? Yes, it does! I had a discussion in Canada with Baptist pastors. They would refuse to marry a Christian to a non-Christian. They would refuse to conduct the ceremony! No compromise!
DESTROY ALL IDOLS
DEUT 7:25 The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the LORD your God. 26 Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.
Surely mere objects aren’t dangerous? An idol is only a block of wood or metal. A piece of tribal art. Surely it can’t matter if we have one in our home for decoration? Surely it can’t make any difference if that object has been used in idol-worship. Well God thinks it does matter!
Joshua 7 is the story of Achan. After the battle of Jericho God commanded the Israelites to destroy all the people of the city and also to destroy all their possessions.
Joshua 7 But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel. So the Israelites were defeated at their next battle at a place called Ai. God explains the problem.
11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you any more unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.
13 “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it.
So Achan brought God’s judgment on Israel and he and his family were stoned to death in punishment.
God makes clear that all the possessions of the foreign nations were tainted. So they were to be devoted to God, devoted to destruction, to protect the Israelites from any evil. This is because objects used in worship of false gods can be dangerous. They can become channels for the demonic. Idols used in animistic worship, objects used by witchdoctors, charms and scrolls used in magic can become channels for demons to get a hold on innocent human beings.
ACTS 19:17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honour. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. 19 A number who had practised sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
Destroy them completely. No intermarrying. Destroy all their idols. No compromise!
So what should WE do about all these things? In this sermon I am NOT advocating any form of violence against anybody of any religion. I do not believe that God now calls (or ever in the past has called up) on his church to wage war against any other religion. But the message is clear – no compromise.
No compromise over the way of salvation. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me.”ACTS 4:12 12 Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) We are not obliged to be charitable. Other religions do NOT lead to God. And we need to be very clear on this point! No compromise.
And when it comes to so called “multi-faith worship”. Only God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Holy Spirit are worthy of true worship. Worship to the false gods of Islam and Hinduism and Sikhism is not true worship. Christians should have nothing to do with such empty expressions of political correctness! No compromise.
And no compromise with worship of false gods in all the different forms of the occult. Magic and witchcraft. Fortune telling. Spiritualism and contacting the dead. These are not just harmless games. They are doorways to danger – opening ignorant lives to the powers of demons. The false gods of the Egyptians and the Canaanites are still worshipped today and still leading people away from God and into hell. Idols and foreign gods are as dangerous today as they have ever been. No compromise!