Once again, we are told, that these are the laws God is giving to his people, and the first mentioned here is to destroy anything which has to do with the worship of other (specifically the Canaanite gods). Once they are destroyed, we are told emphatically that we must not worship the one true God in the way the Canannites did. At this point we are not reminded, but we should keep it in mind, that one of the reasons that God commanded the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites was because of their many sins, many of which had to do with their religion. I'll not go into any great detail, but among other things, the Canaanites sacrificed their children and practiced ritual prostitution, both heterosexual and homosexual.
Now at the time the Israelites entered the land, the current idea is that each god had his place, and that is where that God was to be worshipped. The Israelites living among the Egyptians probably picked up some of their religious ideas, and we recall that when Samaria was taken over by Assyria, the Assyrian king sent back for Israelis to teach the new Samaritans how to worship God, and in the Psalms, we here the question, "how may we praise the Lord in a strange land. " Of course the answer to this was that there is one an only one true God, and we worship him in spirit and truth, whereever on or off earth we may be.
Now we can see that the high places were a tempation to the Israelis. There God was a God of deliverence, but maybe they needed the local gods for help in agriculture. The worship of God wa limited to one, place but the worship of the Canaanite gods was not. Great tempation. God knew what he was doing when he commanded that the high places be destroed. Unfortunately, they were not destroyed for many years. We know that Solomon went the the high places to worship.
Two ideas are adressed here. The first is that of syncrotism. Syncretism is the mixing of relitions. There is a great temptation today in the US and the west to syncretise religions. Many say that all religions will lead us to God. A Buddhist or Hindu or Satanist are all going to heaven because all religions lead to God. this is not what the Bible tells us. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Jesus states very clearly, he is THE way, THE light and THE truth. Noone may come to the Father except by him. It doesn't sound fair to western ears, but in fact it is the Kingdom of Heaven, and not the democratic republic of heaven. The King is THE king, not a puppet king limited by parliamentary procedures. If we want to go to heaven, we must go on his terms, or we face the alternative, which is Hell. Let us not follow those who would introduce the idea that all are going to heaven, or that all relgions are equal, it is not so.
The second idea is false worship. Worship can be false in two ways. First, we do not truly love whom we are worshipping. Yeshua told us clearly, we cannot be the slaves of two masters. We must have only one, and therefor should analyse our lives. What do we spend our time, money and effort on. Except in the case of the poorest who are barely surviving the answer to this question will tell us where our hearts are. Our time and money and effort should be spend on the kingdom. If if is not, then what we give our time money and effort to is our God. This could be sports, house, children. It could be something handy like being a volunteer fireman, but that cannot be our God either. Either the Lord is Lord of All or HE is not Lord at all.
The second way that worship can be false is by worshipping something that is not God. Many try to subvert God into something else, the common subconsious, or the Great Spirit, Brahman, etc. But none of those is God. God has revealed himself in Holy Scriptures, and through Jesus Christ. Anything else is not God. Even the Muslim Alah is not god. They are monotheistic, but the concept of Allah is completely different from our heavenly Father.
So let us ask ourselves this week, do we know who the God of the Bible is? If not, we should come to know him. Second question, do we give our time, money and effort to God, or is something else truly our God?
May the Lord richly bless you,
Shalom b'yeshua haMoshiach
Mar Michael Abportus, O.S.L