Thursday, August 9, 2012

Don’t Get Caught In a Tangle

Deuteronomy 7:1-11

"When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.  For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.  But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.” (Deuteronomy 7:1-5)

The land Israel would be moving into was already occupied by seven other groups, any of which was larger than Israel.  God was taking the land away from them because of the wickedness they had allowed in the land, according to Leviticus 18:24-25.  “Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.”

Israel was not to make any treaties or allow them to live in the land, and they were especially not to intermarry with them, not because of their race, but because they would encourage Israel to turn away from God’s covenant, even to the point of worshipping other gods, and bring God’s judgment on themselves.   Christians are given the same warning in II Corinthians 6:14-18.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:14-18)

Adopting the attitudes and standards of unsaved people leads to a lifestyle God can not bless, and may progress to the point he has to chasten the Christian.  I Peter 4:17-18 warns, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?  And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”  God did not intend for his people to be like the world’s.

“For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.  The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8)

God had chosen Israel to be a special people to himself.  He had not chosen them because they were better or richer or stronger, but because he loved them and had made a promise to their ancestors.  Because of that promise and his love, he had miraculously delivered Israel from slavery.

In the same way God has chosen Christians to be a special people to him.  I Peter 2:9-10 tells us, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”  

He did not choose us for any special accomplishments or abilities.  Titus 3:5 informs us. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”  John 3:16 declares, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  He simply loved us and offered salvation to anyone who would believe in him.

“Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.” (Deuteronomy 7:9-11)

By his very nature, God can be depended on to keep his promises to save and keep those who believe on him.  By the same nature, he can be depended on to punish those who refuse to believe him and hate him.  Because of that nature, it is critical that his people obey him.  II Timothy 2:11-13 warns, “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”  

Titus 3:8 repeats the thought.  “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.”  Galatians 5:1instructs “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

There are a lot of guys who participate in rodeos in our area, and several of the ropers are missing a finger or two.  It is almost always the result of carelessly having allowed a little slack in the rope which then tangled around the finger.  When the animal they roped hit the end of the rope, the tangle was jerked down on the finger, amputating it.  Allowing a little slack in our obedience of God can similarly result in entanglement and injury.  Too close an association with nonbelievers may well distract God’s people into allowing a little slack.

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