And the LORD spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,…
I. THE COMMAND GIVEN. The Israelites were to he delivered from complicity with the immoral idolatry of Canaan by such extreme measures as these.
1. The idolaters were to be utterly driven out, and in some cases exterminated. On no account were covenants to be made with them (Exodus 34:12-17).
2. The idols were to be broken to pieces; even the precious metals on them were not to be spared (Exodus 23:24, 30-33; Deuteronomy 7:25, 26).
3. The high places, groves, altars, pillars, &c. were to be destroyed (Exodus 34:13; Deuteronomy 12:2, 3).
4. Works of art, "pictures," &c., were doomed if tainted by idolatry.
5. The very names of the idols were to he consigned to oblivion, and all curious antiquarian inquiries as to the idolatries of the land were discouraged (Deuteronomy 12:3, 30, 31). Our missionaries have had to urge similar precepts on converts from heathenism; e.g., in Polynesia. And these precepts suggest applications to all Christians who have "escaped the pollutions of the world" and its spiritual idolatries, but who are still surrounded by them. No "covenants" are to be made with men of the world which would compromise the servants of Christ, or mar their testimony against the evil deeds of the would (2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:11). Apply to marriages with the ungodly, and to other close alliances of interest. Illustrate from Jehoshaphat's history (2 Kings 8:18: 2 Chronicles 18:1; 2 Chronicles 19:2). Even things lawful in themselves may have to be abandoned; whether money, in order to conquer "covetousness, which is idolatry" (illustrate Mark 10:21), or pleasures which may have associations of evil clinging to them (1 Corinthians 6:12), or even past helps to devotion - e.g., 2 Kings 18:4, Popish images, &c. To look back with strong desire even towards things elegant and attractive in themselves, but infected to us by the spirit of worldliness, may be fatal (Luke 17:32; 2 Corinthians 6:17). The Church of God has the duty of possessing the whole land, "the world" (1 Corinthians 3:22); but to do this they must "dispossess the inhabitants," i.e., they must make no compromise with the spirit of the men of the world. Worldliness is a spirit rather than a course of outward conduct. We must "use the world as not abusing it."
II. THE MOTIVES URGED.
1. The peril of perpetual unrest (verse 55). Just so if Christians seek to make compromises with the sins and idolatries of the world they are called to overcome (1 John 5:4), and become subject to its maxims and fashions, there can be no true rest. The joy of entire obedience can never be known (Psalm 19:11). Compromise is perpetual conflict, with the conviction of being on the losing side. We are wounded in the tenderest part ("pricks in our eyes") and vexed in the secret chamber of conscience ("thorns in our sides").
2. The peril of being regarded as "conformed to the world," and therefore treated as "enemies of God" (verse 56; Psalm 106:34-42; Romans 12:2, Philippians 3:18, 19 James 4:4; 2 Peter 2:20-22). From such guilty compromises we may be delivered through Christ - through his atonement (Galatians 1:4), intercession (John 17:15), example (ibid. 16:33; 17:16), and Spirit (Romans 8:2; 1 Corinthians 2:12). - P.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,