“And the Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying, ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you and destroy all their figured stones and destroy all their metal images and demolish all their high places. And you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it. You shall inherit the land… But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell.'” Numbers 33:50-55
There are some things God knows vie for our affection, and steal our devotion to Him, so He instructs their banishment from our lives. If we want to progress in spiritual well-being and ‘settle in new lands’ of faith, tolerating pet sins, flirting with temptation, and coddling the enemy with his assorted charms will surely trip us up. God says, demolish what you can, separate from the rest. The pesky foxes you allow to remain will sting as barbs in your eyes, irritating or masking your vision, and thorns to injure growth and inhibit your movement. (Song of Solomon 2:15; ￼2 Corinthians 6:16-17)
In this life there are certain stubborn ‘tares’ and temptations from which we will not escape (and must therefore resist), but there are others in which we should not dally, from which the Lord would have us extricate ourselves, or that we must remove from our menu of daily opportunities. As His children, we are to be different from the world, ofttimes counter-cultural, and sometimes this requires bold and difficult choices to renounce, destroy, or remove idols. Do I take enough quiet to recognize and acknowledge the foreign inhabitants I have befriended? Where and how have they affected my allegiances? (Matthew 13:24-30; John 17:15-17)
What do I do with my free time? Where do I allow my feet and eyes and thoughts to wander? What conversations tend to gossip, or complaining, or disparaging of others made in God’s image?￼ When and where do I indulge in looking at images and offerings that titillate covetousness, prurient desire, or greed, and what steps will I take to put them away? It may take removing myself from a mailing list, avoiding or leaving a specific place, turning off certain entertainment, or changing the subject.
So often, present trouble stems from wily enemies we have allowed a foothold somewhere in our lives– a thought, a fear, an “innocent” practice, an inordinate amount of time spent in certain activity or company, a secret idol, a root of bitterness. We wonder why there is little fruitfulness or enjoyment of our relationship with the Lord, but fail to renounce the high places we have erected and given space in our affections. Allowing them to remain will only sap our dwelling place of plenty and peace. (Ephesians 4:27; Hebrews 12:15)
Lord, lead me daily to Your good land, and drive away all that would inhibit my pure devotion or diminish Your glory.