In the Old Covenant, God promised a country, Canaan, to the Israelites.1 In the New Covenant, He also promises a country to believers, ‘… they are looking for a country of their own.’ 2 There is a parallel between the two ‘nations.’
God prepares us with vivid historical pictures to make sure we arrive at that future country. Scripture says, ‘For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.’ 3 What does God teach us through the example of the Canaanites?
# Two requirements for success to the Israelites
God gave the Israelites two commands that would ensure their successful conquest of their promised land.
- Obedience to His commands;
- Idolaters and their idols must be destroyed. One of the Ten Commandments is, ’You shall have no other gods before me.…’ 4
# Two requirements for success to believers in Christ
The same ‘right of admission’ applies to the ‘New Covenant’ believers.
- ‘If you love me, you will obey what I command.’ 5
- Revelation 21:8 tells us specifically that no idolater will ever inherit the new heavens and earth. Idols are a strong force. We see it in the following description of the end times, ‘The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshipping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood – idols that cannot see or hear or walk….’ 6
# The problem with idols
- God, the All-knowing Creator, tells us what is wrong with idols, ‘…These gods [idols] who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’ 7
- The fact of the matter is that idols destroy one’s future with God. It is a serious issue. That explains God’s seemingly harsh command to destroy the Canaanites.
- God wants people to be with Him eternally, not with the devil in the lake of burning sulphur.
# Another parallel
Another parallel between the Israelites and the followers of Jesus:
- Israelites: ‘For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. 8
- Followers of Jesus: ‘…you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God….’ 9
- God loves and cares for His people. He knows what eternity with or without Him means. He wants everyone to be saved and to be His children. He knows how the devil lies to people.
- Unfortunately the punishment on the unrepentant Canaanites will also come on the unrepentant modern day unbelievers.
- But if we obey and destroy the idols, we will have ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.…’ 10
- Genesis 15:18
- Hebrews 11:14
- Romans 15:4
- Deuteronomy 5:7-8
- John 14:15
- Revelation 9:20
- Jeremiah 10:11
- Deuteronomy 7:6
- 1 Peter 2:9
- 1 Peter 1:4