We want to continue with the discussion of why God commanded the Israelites to kill the idolatrous Canaanites. The New Testament sheds some light on the issue. Two verses, in 1 Corinthians 10 explain why it is important for us today:
- ’Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 1
- ’These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfilment of the ages has come.’ 2
# What are the evil things the Israelites set their hearts on?
What is so important that we are warned against it more than 3,000 years later? Among others, Deuteronomy 4 explains, it was idolatry.
# The idolatry of the Egyptians
- The Egyptians worshipped all kinds of strange looking animals while the Israelites were in slavery there. Those idols did not help them when God paid them back for their cruel bondage of His people.
- God destroyed their country with the 10 plagues. Their army drowned in the Red Sea and Pharaoh learned, in his death, that the God of the Hebrews is powerful and in complete control of history. His idols could not save him.
# The danger of idolatry
- History relates that when Moses was on the mountain with God, the people asked Aaron, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us.’ 3 Then they had a wild celebration and, ‘Moses saw that the people were running wild…’ 4 Three thousand Israelites lost their lives that day, and then God struck them also with a plague. 5
- Idolatry destroys and invokes God’s wrath. It took God 40 years in the desert of Sinai to get the Egyptian idolatry out of the hearts of the Israelites. So when the Israelites were about to enter their promised land, they faced a new threat from the Canaanites who worshipped false gods.
- God knew the consequences of serving idols. He wanted to spare them because He, as God the Father, cares for His children.
# Does the Canaanite case have a lesson for us?
- One of the definitions of idolatry is ‘extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.’ Instagram statistics show how some of the celebrities of our time are idolised: Selena Gomez has 133 million followers on instagram; Christiano Ronaldo, 121; Ariana Grande, 117; Beyonce, 111; Kim Kardashian 108; Taylor Swift 106; Kylie Jenner 104 million. 6
- Please note that we do not begrudge those people their popularity or talent. However, Jesus is first and foremost, ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.…’ 7 He is the one to be idolised.
Idolatry always leads to disastrous results. Whether one’s idol is a physical object like the stars, materialism, immoral living, or the worship of people, it closes the way to eternal life with God.
- 1 Corinthians 10:6
- 1 Corinthians 10:11
- Exodus 32:1
- Exodus 32:25
- Exodus 32:26-28; 35
- L Keong and R Epstein, The Top 10 Most-Followed Celebrities on Instagram in 2018. Marie Claire 21 February, 2018
- Hebrews 12:2