Ye shall destroy their images - See the subjects of this and all the following verses, to Exodus 34:28, treated at large in the notes on Exodus 23 (note).
The precepts contained in these verses are, for the most part, identical in substance with some of those which follow the Ten Commandments and are recorded in “the Book of the covenant” (Exodus 24:7).
Cut down their groves - This is the first reference to what is commonly known as grove-worship. The original word for “grove” in this connection אשׁרה 'ăshêrāh is different from that so rendered in Genesis 21:33. Our translators supposed that what the law commands is the destruction of groves dedicated to the worship of false deities Judges 6:25; 2 Kings 18:4; but inasmuch as the worship of asherah is found associated with that of Astarte, or Ashtoreth Judges 2:13; Judges 10:6; 1 Samuel 7:4, it seems probable that while Astarte was the personal name of the goddess, the asherah was a symbol of her, probably in some one of her characters, made in wood in some conventional form.
An expansion of Exodus 34:12. The unfaithfulness of the nation to its covenant with Yahweh is here for the first time spoken of as a breach of the marriage bond. The metaphor is, in any case, a natural one, but it seems to gain point, if we suppose it to convey an allusion to the abominations connected with pagan worship, such as are spoken of in Numbers 25:1-3.
See Exodus 20:9; Exodus 23:12. There is here added to the commandment a particular caution respecting those times of year when the land calls for most labor. The old verb “to ear” (i. e. to plow) is genuine English.
Neither shall any man desire etc. - Intended to encourage such as might fear the consequences of obeying the divine law in attending to their religious duties. Compare Proverbs 16:7.
God then charged Moses to make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither they should go, lest they should be insnared thereby. But they should destroy their idol altars, break their images, and cut down their groves, which were dedicated to their idols, and where the people assembled to hold their idolatrous feasts, given in honor of their idol gods. He then said to them, “Thou shalt worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” God claims, as his due, supreme worship. He gave special directions in regard to his Sabbath. “Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest. In earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.” The Lord knows that Satan is continually at work to lead his people to transgress the law of God, and he condescended to be very definite in his directions to his erring people, that they might not err, and transgress his commandments for want of knowledge. He knew that in the busiest season of the year, when their fruits and grains were to be secured, they would be tempted to transgress the Sabbath, and labor on sacred time. He would have them understand that their blessings would be increased or diminished according to their integrity of soul, or unfaithfulness in his service. 3SG 292.1Read in context »
The utter destruction of the people of Jericho was but a fulfillment of the commands previously given through Moses concerning the inhabitants of Canaan: “Thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them.” Deuteronomy 7:2. “Of the cities of these people, ... thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth.” Deuteronomy 20:16. To many these commands seem to be contrary to the spirit of love and mercy enjoined in other portions of the Bible, but they were in truth the dictates of infinite wisdom and goodness. God was about to establish Israel in Canaan, to develop among them a nation and government that should be a manifestation of His kingdom upon the earth. They were not only to be inheritors of the true religion, but to disseminate its principles throughout the world. The Canaanites had abandoned themselves to the foulest and most debasing heathenism, and it was necessary that the land should be cleared of what would so surely prevent the fulfillment of God's gracious purposes. PP 492.1
The inhabitants of Canaan had been granted ample opportunity for repentance. Forty years before, the opening of the Red Sea and the judgments upon Egypt had testified to the supreme power of the God of Israel. And now the overthrow of the kings of Midian, of Gilead and Bashan, had further shown that Jehovah was above all gods. The holiness of His character and His abhorrence of impurity had been evinced in the judgments visited upon Israel for their participation in the abominable rites of Baalpeor. All these events were known to the inhabitants of Jericho, and there were many who shared Rahab's conviction, though they refused to obey it, that Jehovah, the God of Israel, “is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath.” Like the men before the Flood, the Canaanites lived only to blaspheme Heaven and defile the earth. And both love and justice demanded the prompt execution of these rebels against God and foes to man. PP 492.2
How easily the armies of heaven brought down the walls of Jericho, that proud city whose bulwarks, forty years before, had struck terror to the unbelieving spies! The Mighty One of Israel had said, “I have given into thine hand Jericho.” Against that word human strength was powerless. PP 492.3Read in context »
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). 2SM 121.1
The Lord's injunction, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14), refers not only to the marriage of Christians with the ungodly, but to all alliances in which the parties are brought into intimate association, and in which there is need of harmony in spirit and action. The Lord gave special direction to Israel to keep themselves distinct from idolaters. They were not to intermarry with the heathen nor form any confederacy with them: “Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: but ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: for thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:12-14). 2SM 121.2Read in context »
When we accepted Christ as our Redeemer, we accepted the condition of becoming laborers together with God. We made a covenant with Him to be wholly for the Lord; as faithful stewards of the grace of Christ, to labor for the upbuilding of His kingdom in the world. Every follower of Christ stands pledged to dedicate all his powers of mind and soul and body to Him who has paid the ransom money for our souls. We engaged to be soldiers, to enter into active service, to endure trials, shame, reproach, to fight the fight of faith, following the Captain of our salvation. 2SM 124.1
In your connection with worldly societies are you keeping your covenant with God? Do these associations tend to direct your own mind or that of others to God, or are they diverting the interest and attention from Him? Do they strengthen your connection with the divine agencies, or turn your mind to the human in place of the divine? 2SM 124.2
Are you serving, honoring, and magnifying God, or are you dishonoring Him and sinning against Him? Are you gathering with Christ or scattering abroad? All the thought and plan and earnest interest devoted to these organizations has been purchased by the precious blood of Christ; but are you doing service for Him when uniting yourselves with atheists and infidels, men who profane the name of God, tipplers, drunkards, tobacco devotees? 2SM 124.3
While there may be in these societies much that appears to be good, there is, mingled with this, very much that makes the good of no effect, and renders these associations detrimental to the interests of the soul. We have another life than that which is sustained by temporal food. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” (John 6:53). Jesus said, “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life” (John 6:54). Our bodies are built up from what we eat and drink. And as in the natural, so in the spiritual economy; it is that which our minds dwell upon which sustains the spiritual nature. Our Saviour said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Spiritual life must be sustained by communion with Christ through His Word. The mind must dwell upon it, the heart must be filled with it. The Word of God laid up in the heart and sacredly cherished and obeyed, through the power of the grace of Christ can make man right, and keep him right; but every human influence, every earthly invention, is powerless to give strength and wisdom to man. It cannot restrain passion, or correct deformity of character. Unless the truth of God controls the heart, the conscience will be warped. But in these worldly societies the mind is turned away from the Word of God. Men are not led to make it the study and the guide of life. 2SM 124.4Read in context »