When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces. (Ex 23:23-24)
The Israelites were moving into an area with peoples that worshiped other gods. God would not push these Canaanites out right away. Instead, he would leave them that they might provide a “test” for Israel. They would be proving ground for Israel’s faith as Israel was tempted to adopt their ways and bow down to their gods. Reading from our perspective, we are galled with the Israelites. How could they turn away from God so easily and bow to these false gods of the peoples being pushed out? But let us not be too hasty. We too are a people sent into cultures that bow down to false gods. The cultures in our schools, in our workplaces, and in our social circles bow down to gods of political correctness, materialism, power, pleasure, etc. and we are everyday tempted to go along with the flow of things. It looks so normal. And yet, God calls us too not to “bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do.” We are to “utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces” by showing them the power of the gospel.
Lord, help us to stand strong against the flow of culture that would have us bowing before false gods. We confess we are greatly tempted and fall often! But you are great and your mercy is new every morning. And so we plead that mercy and ask for strength. Give us regular reminders of the crown of glory that awaits for your spiritual soldiers, who wield the sword of the Spirit in the living and preaching of the gospel.