"Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe Your commandments." Psalm 119:66
Text: Exodus 23 : 31-33
It would be all too easy for a nation to start having wild and ambitious dreams. History tells us of people whose ambitions for world conquest saw them embark on wicked war campaigns. Israel was reminded that the Lord was only giving them the land of Canaan and not the whole world.
“And I will set your bounds from the Red Sea
to the sea, Philistia, and from the desert to the River.
For I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand,
and you shall drive them out before you.”
The physical description here is almost nondescript. There was no need to describe in detail that which was already well known (Cf.Genesis 15:18-21).
A SOLEMN REMINDER
Just before the Lord closed this set of instruction, He gave a solemn reminder to Israel.
“You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.
They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin
against Me. For if you serve their gods, it will surely be
a snare to you.”
1. “You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods”
Israel had a covenant with God! In that agreement, Israel was to acknowledge no other gods! When enemies realize that they cannot win a war, they will go to the negotiating table! They will offer all kinds of tempting offers in the hope that they could stay on in the land!
Religion was so much a part of life in the early days, that inevitably, making a covenant with the inhabitants of Canaan, would involve the acknowledging of “other gods”. This line of approach was expressly forbidden by the Lord!
2. “Lest they make you sin against Me”
Israel may not have been cognizant of this danger. God in his wisdom and foreknowledge however knew that this danger existed and that it was very real! Israel being inexperienced and therefore naive, would not be able to discern the danger!
3. “For if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you”
Making a treaty with the conquered and their gods was only the first step. Other steps, just as deadly and treacherous would be taken, putting Israel at great risk. The dispossessed inhabitants would ultimately corrupt Israel with its idolatrous practices. The conquerors would become ensnared, and in time, they would end up being the conquered, rather than be conquerors!