Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God you have until now.
When someone is close to death, we usually give full attention to what he or she says. I remember a few days before my grandfather died, he told me that he thought he was going to die. Of course, I told him that he should not talk that way, but when he repeated it to me, I began to pay attention.
When Joshua knew that he was going to die soon, he gave the Israelites their final instructions and they paid attention. Joshua emphasized that they must refuse to ally themselves with the enemy who remains in the land. He warned them not to associate with the pagan nations or to serve false gods. Joshua knew from their past history, the people of God from time to time had become idolatrous, forgetting their God. Before he died, he warned them not to assimilate into the pagan culture.
Shortly before Jesus died, He prayed to God the Father. (John 17) We pay special attention to these words. He prayed and gave instructions to His disciples before He went back to be with the Father.
In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses warned the Israelites that when they entered the Promised Land they must be careful to observe His commands: See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it.
(Deuteronomy 4:5) He reminded them to be careful not to fall into idolatry: Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape…(v.15-16) God warned the people through Moses that they were to destroy the enemy in the land lest they be tempted to fall into their pagan ways.
We should take note of Joshua’s admonitions. As children of God, we are grafted into the same covenant with Him and therefore have the same call to obedience if we are to receive the privileges and blessings of God. We sometimes find ourselves making peace with our enemies when the Lord wants us to destroy them. Our enemies today are the things that tempt us to turn from God. Idolatry in today’s world takes on many forms, such as worshipping money, power, or prestige. Idolatry can be worshipping people rather than God or living a life that is contrary to God’s commands.
The world today is full of temptations, but we are not to ally ourselves with them.
Forgive me where I have allowed idolatry into my life – where I have entertained the “enemies” of God, the things that draw me away from You. You are calling me to live a life fully devoted to You, and I let go of all the things (fill in the blank) that separate me from You.
In Jesus’ name, Amen