Monday, May 18, 2015

God's Strict Orders -- Exodus 23:13


“Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let them be heard from your mouth.”
 
I remember as a young lad being put on a Greyhound bus from Toronto to New York to visit my aunt and uncle during summer and Christmas breaks, as well as Easter breaks (for that is what they were called when I went to school; not March or Winter breaks). The reason for my visits was that my father and mother both worked and I would have no one to take care of me.  I remember all the instructions I was given about what I was to do on the bus ride and how to be on the alert for various things, plus what to do if by chance my uncle or aunt were late in coming to the New York city bus terminal to meet me. Those directives or teachings came from my loving parents who were reluctant to let me go, yet realized they had to for my own welfare. Overall, these were pleasant separations between a parent and a child. But the world is also full of unpleasant, unkind, and very often undesired separations between parent and child.
No matter the circumstances of separation, when there is time and opportunity to do so, a wiser older person will often say to the younger, weaker one, “Now remember everything I have told you. Watch out for those that may hurt you or trick you or rob from you. Be alert. And whatever you do, do not . . ..”
That’s exactly what is going on in this verse. You will remember way back in chapter 19 of Exodus, the story begins of Moses meeting God on that awesome mountain. It is during that time with God that all the commandments and directives of how the Israelites are to live were made known. And while there are some instructions with respect to various feasts and other matters still to come, for the most part this awesome meeting with the Living God Almighty is drawing to a close. So God says to His beloved children of Israel, “Remember everything I have told you. Be alert.” It was as if God was saying, “Sons, daughters – you are going to need to do these things if you are going to survive and do well in your life for the Enemy is great and active and just looking for a chance to ensnare you.” How true that is of life for us today.
But God also goes on to give a very significant warning that I believe many of us have either forgotten or we have chosen to ignore. God says, “ . . . do not mention the name of other gods. Do not even let them be heard from your mouth.” In context, God was likely referring to Baal and other similar idols or heathen gods that people worshipped at the time. He knew that uttering their names or talking about them in any capacity except to denounce them was dangerous, as they had the power to entice and lure people into their realms, inch-by-inch, thought-by-thought, and practice-by-practice.
We also know that for us today, “another god” is anything that takes us away from our reliance and dependence on God and God alone. Be it that new car, some form of music, sports, making money, that summer escape, a bigger home we desire, any vice, and anything else we can think of that makes us lose our focus on what is God’s desire and plan for my life right now. God says, “Stop talking about those things!” Doing so does not help and it can definitely hurt.
This verse is a gem that many of us miss. Or we try to avoid it all costs.  But we do so at our own peril. Be alert.  If we love our Heavenly Father the way we say we do, at least during the worship singing time at church, then we must listen to His very strict order to us –“Stop talking about other gods in our lives.”
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