God knew that the idols of the surrounding nations weren’t benevolent, loving, rulers. They were lifeless images that could provide neither supernatural intervention nor relationship with their followers. Mere wood and clay, they were the enemy’s weapons of destruction, devices used against the humans he’d hated since the Garden. Therefore, if God’s people showed no tolerance for the wickedness influenced by evil spirits, then the division between darkness and light could reveal the one, true, loving God to a deceived world. Israel’s set-apartness wasn’t imprisonment; it was the sweetest kind of love: protection and revelation, disclosing a God who looked after His own.
But Israel didn’t get it, and they didn’t heed the warning. They found heathen gods alluring. They resented distinction and gave their affections to a lie. Israel failed to flourish in relationship with the divine. Confusion reigned as holy blended with heathen. By refusing to destroy the enemy’s altars, images, and groves, they dimmed their own light, and they, too, became blind, unable to see that whatever is served has an altar, and image, and a dwelling for worship. While God’s altar brought bounty to man in order to enrich his life, the heathen altar took human life. While God’s people were the image of the unidentifiable Almighty, images crafted by man’s hands were inferior, lifeless replicas of the known. While God chose to dwell among His people, God’s planted trees, His blessings, were abused for sacred spaces for idol worship.
The contrast between what God wants for us and what Satan desires for us is much the same, and, like Israel, we get to choose who we will worship. God, calling us to be His and His alone, asks us to eliminate things from our lives that can disconnect us from Him. Centering our worship on Him widens the gulf between us and the world, protecting us from evil and representing God to those who have been hoodwinked by the destroyer. Standing FOR God, we rise AGAINST the altars, images, and groves of Satan’s influence. We don’t sacrifice at the world’s altar. If we aren’t craving fame, comfort, or wealth, we won’t surrender our family, time, or conscience to the enemy who wants them killed. Rejecting society’s dictates regarding our appearance and our character, we, the imagers of God, reveal the Christ within. Serving the Giver with gratitude for His gifts, we benefit from what He has provided. Because we are unashamed of the One who has led us out of bondage, we want to eliminate every association that is in opposition to God…and by default, working against us. This separation from the unholy is the wisest personal decision we can make and the most loving action we can take on behalf of another. It’s a different path, one that leads to life everlasting.
Tip/Tidbit: Distractions that seem harmless can divert your attention away from a sweet relationship with God. Stay focused on who you are and who He is so that nothing come between you and the One who loves you most.