As the people look forward to life in the Promised Land the Lord teaches them important truths about being His people in the world and living for Him. There is a great deal of language in our reading today about making sure that God’s people do not take on the lifestyle of the people of the land who worship the gods that are no gods. God promises great blessings of health and prosperity if His people will make sure that they stay devoted to their Lord and avoid entanglements with the pagan aspects of the people of the land.
What would be so bad with slipping into pagan habits? Verse 33 lays it out quite clearly. God’s people would end up sinning, and these sins would become a snare to them. They would be captured in some way, captive to the powers of evil who are devoted to hurting God by ruining the lives of His people.
Living in a non-Christian land is always a tricky thing for God’s people, even today. The New Testament calls us to live among the lost in a redemptive way, loving them, serving them, and inviting them into the salvation that God so clearly wants them to have. But at the same time we are, just like these Israelites in our reading today, called to keep a separation between ourselves and the pagan way of life that so many live in this land of ours. It is a tricky line to walk, that is for sure.
As you live out life today in the world in which you inhabit, keep this call in mind. We have to be connected with the lost so that they might be saved, but we can’t allow ourselves to take on their values and habits. For we are a separate people, devoted to the Lord.