DO NOT create ‘LOOPHOLES’ in your PATH of OBEDIENCE
February 19 Bible Reading: Numbers Chapters 31-33
Now the Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you have crossed the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places; you shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land and dwell in it, for I have given you the land to possess. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell. Moreover it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them." (Num 33:50-53, 55-56)
Just as the Israelites were preparing to invade the Promised Land, God gave Moses instructions for the people about the conquest of Canaan. Israel was to exterminate the Canaanites and take full possession of their land. For over 400 years, from the time of God’s covenant with Abram in Gen. 15:17–21, God had warned that a time would come when He would punish the sinfulness of the Canaanites. The Canaanites, by their continual wicked acts, had no right to live in the land of Canaan. God, whose land it really was, transferred the right of possession to Israel. So, God’s command to the Israelites was to completely exterminate the inhabitants of Canaan as He had spoken to them many times earlier (see Exodus 23:24; 34:11–13; Leviticus 20).
This may seem cruel to people today, but actually these Canaanites were among the most corrupt, immoral, depraved people in those times. God patiently dealt with them for over 400 years without seeing any change on their part. Israel would become infected by their immorality and idolatry if they did not exterminate them completely. So, not only were the Israelites to kill the people, but they were to destroy every trace of idolatry (v. 52). A further reason the destruction of the Canaanites was necessary was to protect the purity of Israel, in order to guarantee success of the missionary mandate of Israel.
Thus, the Israelites must drive out (v. 52) or dispossess (v. 53) the inhabitants of the land. Failure to do so will result in the Israelites being driven from the land, as Yahweh intended to do to the Canaanites (v. 56). The warning in verses 55 and 56 became a reality, because they failed to exterminate the Canaanites eventually (Judg. 1, 2), and the Canaanites caused Israel to become like them and be spewed out. This resulted in the Assyrian captivity of Israel (722 B.C.) and the Babylonian captivity of Judah (605 B.C.)
This concern illustrates the incompatibility of our old way of life with our new life of faith. When we accept Christ and become His children, we have to get rid of all our old habits and ways. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Cor 5:17) We must destroy anything that may lead us back to our old sinful life. Otherwise, if we create loopholes in our path of obedience, let us understand that they will become a hangman’s noose that will destroy us eventually!