Reading through the Bible together

Sunday, September 23, 2012

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God’s love for Israel was found in His total victory over seven mightier nations than them. Some Christians question what follows: “Kill every man, woman and child!” Why did God give such a command? Was this like the slaughter of Christians during the Middle Ages? Not at all, those were against fellow believers, but Israel warred against pagans. God knew that if any pagans survived they would bring ruination to Israel’s faith. Pagans worshipped images and would influence Israel to lapse back into idol worship, as they practiced in Egypt. Complete separation was the only safeguard to protect Israel. God asked Israel to destroy the pagan altars and cut down the images so they would serve the only genuine God in the universe, the One who was alive and daily gave them victories: physical and spiritual.

 

God called Israel out of Egypt, away from idolatry, to be with Him. It was no good to call them out if they entered their new land to live among pagans again. God knew their weakness, and wanted to give them every advantage to be a holy people, wholly devoted to Him. What wonderful words He spoke to them: “the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (vs. 6-8).

 

These verses remind one of a lover who chooses a wife so that she can be safe in His love. True marriage is love between two, and off limits for anyone else to invade. God is the infinite lover, and didn’t want any competitors around. He wanted to keep covenant, a marriage bond with them, forever. This is what God wanted to do for His bride: bless them above all other peoples and take away barrenness, sickness, the terrible diseases of Egypt, the fear of greater nations confronting her. The awesome God wanted to dwell with her and drive out the nations little by little and to keep in check the numerous wild animals in their midst. God longs to be with you today, to keep you true to Him and to your life companion; to remove your fears and bless you far beyond your wildest dreams. He is an intimate God and will work within you to free you from slavery to self, the biggest human idol, and cause you to revel in His overflowing love.

 

Norman Gulley

Southern Adventist University