The Promised Land Within
Lord, You are rich in mercy and lavish in Your care. Your great name be praised.
Read Exodus 23:20-33
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“How much better it is to offer to God the most acceptable gift—an uncorrupted faith, an unyielding strength of mind, and an evident devotion” (Cyprian, died AD 258).
This is the final part of the “Book of the Covenant” (chs. 21-23) and follows the structure of ancient covenants by giving promises as well as warnings. God will go with his people and help them possess the Promised Land by sending his angel (best translated “messenger”). The identity of this messenger (20-23) is unclear. Is he a human leader like Joshua, an angel, or God himself? The fact that God has put his Name (or character) in him, that what he says is identical to what God says (22), that he has the power to forgive (21), and that the people were to listen to him carefully (21,22), suggests that the messenger is very close to God and may even be God himself. We see this in Jesus who was sent by God, and was God himself; his name is “Immanuel—which means, God with us” (Matt. 1:23). Whatever is the right interpretation of these verses, we see God’s promise that he will be with his people on their journey from slavery to freedom (Deut. 31:6).
The Promised Land had to be rid of all its idols and idol worshipers. Some may have problems with the divine instructions to wipe out the Canaanites (23). The point is that God will not tolerate idols, for idols destroy us by distorting true worship (33). We need to apply these principles today through repentance, renunciation, and self-denial. Writer and missionary Stanley Jones once said that there are three worlds to be conquered—that which is to come, that which is around us, and that which is within us. Our inner lives may become a spiritual landscape polluted with idols that must be removed if Christ is to be allowed to reign within (1 John 5:21). Then we will have all the blessings (cf vs. 25,26).
How much of your inner spiritual landscape has been brought under Christ’s rule? If any has not, pray about that now.
Lord Jesus, sometimes I make idols of good things: family, work, recreation. Help me to order my priorities to always put You first.
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