Wow. Reading through Joshua and Judges, yesterday and today (research, as well as – well, reading!), I’m struck by several things. One in particular I think worth blogging about.
Israel has come out of bondage to Egypt, been forced to wander around in the desert for forty years because Israel still doesn’t get it that God means it when he says, “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt….” I’ve lost track of how many times He’s told them this.
Look. Who we worship determines what our lifestyle choices are going to be. Our morals, our ethics, our politics, our everything.
Here God is reminding Israel again and again and again, “Hey, folks, listen up: I am NOT the gods you left behind in Egypt, I’m ME, and you are my people, so prove it! – Here’s what I want from you.”
He’s given them the Law, the 10 Commandments and all those details thereof – He’s brought them twice across bodies of water, parted so they walk across on dry land (the Red Sea, leaving Egypt, the Jordan River, entering the Promised Land). He’s given them extraordinary military victories against superior political powers…
All He’s asked of them – required of them – is that they remain faithful to Him and to the covenant He made with their fathers, a covenant by which they are bound to Him as His own possession.
Part of that obligation is that they get rid of the pagan inhabitants of this land He’s given them. And guess what? They didn’t oblige. Some of Israel’s tribes let the pagans stay put. Some were put into servitude (against God’s command) and some were just left alone, in some sort of – what I expect must have been an uneasy peace.
Then the sons of Israel began marrying pagan women. The pagans began marrying daughters of Israel.
And what happened next you don’t have to be prescient to anticipate: The Israelites began worshipping the pagan gods.
But here’s what’s happening: the people of God ignored the presence of the single greatest threat to their spiritual health. They ignored the pagans and all their pagan worship practices. They let those practices catch their imagination, gain a toehold on their own family life.
We live as strangers in an alien land – in a secular world dominated by allegiances to false gods. The hallmarks of that pagan world were twofold: sexual licentiousness (surely I don’t have to draw the parallels of how that’s playing out in American culture today) and human sacrifice (abortion? euthenasia?). We’re called to live as distinctive children of God in this secular culture. And we’re falling asleep at the wheel.
How does pagan culture infiltrate the Church?
What television shows do you watch? “Oh, it’s just a tv show, it doesn’t mean anything.” Well, yeah, it does. The adulteries and fornications and lies and sarcasm and lack of respect and lack of reverence and contempt for decency that you find so funny and so entertaining are like a termite infestation eroding the best part of your own good judgment, subtly persuading you that what is twisted, perverse, and unworthy of the people of God is just ordinary human behavior, nothing wrong with it.
What periodicals do you read? What values do they promote? Do they promote chastity and fidelity, or are they full of articles on getting more gratification out of your romance du jour? Do they promote modest living or acquisitiveness?
What movies do you pay to see? What sort of music do you listen to? and how much violence, profanity, and misogyny is it promoting?
What entertains you? How do you spend your leisure time? Would you want the Final Judgment to descend upon you as you engage in these? Do you want to be held accountable for the destructive influence these recreations are having on the children in your households?
These are the subtle ways in which the Enemy of our souls is undermining and sabotaging our best spiritual life – our fidelity to our God.
And, if we don’t regain our senses, the same fates of judgment, destruction, and slavery await us – just as they did Israel.