Judges 3:5-8a The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.  They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.  The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.  The anger of the LORD burned against Israel …

The instructions given to Israel as they came into possession of the land promised to them as their inheritance were quite clear: the nations living there were to be soundly defeated and destroyed because of their worship of ‘other gods’ and idols, and their immoral and unethical lifestyle – they were certainly not to be intermarried among or fraternised with in any way.  To fail to OBEY this instruction was to ‘do EVIL in the eyes of the LORD’, and so to incur his wrath.

We are reminded of Paul’s warning in Romans 1:18, 2-23: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, … For although they knew God [through the overwhelmingly clear evidence of Creation], they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and EXCHANGED THE GLORY of the immortal God for IMAGES made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”

As the culture that surrounds us continues to ‘suppress the truth’ by its ‘godlessness’ and ‘wickedness’, and especially its ‘foolishness’ in failing to ‘acknowledge’ God as Creator and Redeemer, are we taking diligent care NOT TO ALLOW this culture to subtly influence our thinking?  Are we, instead, making every effort to be powerful ‘salt’ and ‘light’ to make a difference to where our society is heading in its ‘futile and foolish’ thinking into increasing darkness?  Are we taking every opportunity to GLORIFY HIM and GIVE THANKS TO HIM for the depth to which HIS LOVE has gone in CHRIST to RECLAIM us as his people and to REMAKE us in his OWN IMAGE and LIKENESS?

Paul warned and encouraged the Christians in Corinth to actually LEARN from Israel’s experience and not to follow their bad example (1 Corinthians 10:1-12), and he warned and encouraged the Christians in Rome to “NOT conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2).  So let us take seriously what it means to live in the world as GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE, to be used by him to bring BLESSING to a broken world.  This is exactly what he had intended for Israel!