God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

February 10 - Exodus 33-35: God Prevents Split Allegiances

Today’s Reading: Exodus 33-35

The Message

English Standard Version

Much of today's reading repeats what has already been written in Exodus. For this reason, I want to give a longer explanation of a point that is essential for understanding the rest of the Old Testament.

Thought to Guide Your Reading

God decides the best thing for the Israelites is if He did not go with them into Canaan.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

God repeats his promise that he would drive out the Canaanites because of their idolatry and give the land to the Israelites. Now, however, He would not personally go with Israel—for their safety. The Israelites mourned the decision.
God repeated His covenant with the Israelites to Moses. Because of this, Moses' face glowed and he wore a veil to hide it. Moses wanted to see God's glory and God allowed this request.
Moses, after writing the covenant on tablets, repeated it to the Israelites. They accepted and took an offering for materials to build the tabernacle.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

God decided not to enter Canaan with the Israelites because He would have destroyed them.

This is a strange thing to say. God is removing Himself from their travel party because he cannot stand their backbiting, grumbling, and quickness to give up on Him. He knows that His patience goes only so far. What a sobering thought. God is not among us for our own protection.

God drove out the people living in Canaan to keep Israel safe from temptation.

This is the reason he tells them,
Stay vigilant. Don't let down your guard lest you make covenant with the people who live in the land that you are entering and they trip you up. Tear down their altars, smash their phallic pillars, chop down their fertility poles. Don't worship any other god. God - his name is The-Jealous-One - is a jealous God. Be careful that you don't make a covenant with the people who live in the land and take up with their sex-and-religion life, join them in meals at their altars, marry your sons to their women, women who take up with any convenient god or goddess and will get your sons to do the same thing. (34:12-16, The Message)
God demands full allegiance to setting all things right on the earth through Him. He requires his people to stay away from people with different allegiances to prevent having split allegiances. This is the reason he forbid marrying the women of Canaan. It wasn't for racial purity. The people of Canaan were probably the descendents of Abraham. The reason was because He knew they would cause the men to give up their allegiance to God (and eventually they would).
This point is essential for understanding the rest of the Old Testament. God's only care for Israel was for full allegiance to His way because His way is the only way things are set right on the earth. The entire Law of Moses was given to help them stay focused on that goal. All of God's dealings with the nation of Israel dealt with their allegiance to God. God cannot set all things right on the earth when His people have split allegiances.
How does this translate to today?
First, don't marry someone who doesn't have full allegiance toward God setting all things right on the earth. There is too much temptation to change allegiances. But remember, just as God's commandments were not about racial purity this is not about denominational purity. It's about our God being a jealous god. God will not share us with any other entity or thing. We should keep ourselves pure from anyone that could influence our allegiance away from our Creator who is setting all things right on the earth.
Also, groups of Christians we call the church should not include people who are not fully committed to God. Let me reiterate—this isn't about denominational purity or racial purity. It's about the church having full allegiance to God. God does not want his people making covenants with people not focused on God setting all things right on the earth because the temptation to leave their allegiance would be too great.
Visitors are welcome (God makes several references to "strangers" and "sojourners" within Israel). However, eventually visitors should either choose to align with God to set all things right on the earth or leave for a lack of common ground. Strangers and sojourners could become part of Israel, but they had to become one of the Chosen People. I cannot see how churches can stay God's Chosen People when they allow those who are not fully committed to God to join them. If God did not want that for His people then He does not want that for his people now.

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