Parashat Masei (Journeys)
Bamidbar (Numbers) 33:1–36:13
In this week’s Scripture portion we find some very interesting principles, but there’s one that I find to be true in the physical world as well in the spiritual world…
Then the LORD spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you cross 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 molten images and demolish all their high places; and you shall take inherent of the land and live in it, for I have given the land to you to inherent it. And you shall inherit the land by lot according to your families; to the larger you shall give more inheritance, and to the smaller you shall give less inheritance. Wherever the lot falls to anyone, that shall be his. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land in which you live. And it shall come about that as I plan to do to them, so I will do to you.’”
Before I continue, it is important that I remind us of something I have said before: the Land is God’s, and He chose to give it as an inheritance to the children of Israel. This was not out of favoritism, but instead because the land was an important part of His covenant with Israel.
God’s command to Israel here is very clear, and seems like it may be overly harsh in our modern-day mentality. But God had a reason for commanding Israel to drive out all the inhabitants from the land of Canaan and to destroy all of their idols. The principle behind it is actually something very important for our lives today.
The LORD — יהוה — wanted to be Israel’s one and only God. He knew Israel would not be able to stand in total devotion to Him in the midst of the Canaanite paganism. He knew that if Israel didn’t drive away the local inhabitants and destroy their idols, Israel would be tempted and fall into idol worship.
But aren’t we just like that today? How easy is it for you to stand in firm devotion to the LORD when you’re immersed in the world and its anti-God position? Just like with Israel, God’s desires to be our God alone; He is zealous for us! The principle is just as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago; abolish the idols surrounding you so that you may be in full devotion to the LORD and not be tempted into idol worship yourself.
We must be careful to not allow the world around us to become like “pricks in [our] eyes and thorns in [our] sides…” We must be vigilant to “drive out” those things that will keep us from growing closer to Him in our every day lives. Otherwise, just like Israel, we are at risk of allowing sin to enter our hearts, which will result in inevitable idol worship, and falling away from the LORD.