We are in some tough chapters of Exodus this week. Tough, because we are reading many laws and regulations that God gave to Moses to give to the Israelites, following the Ten Commandments. Here we read laws about, keeping servants, personal injuries, protection of property, social laws, justice and mercy, Sabbath laws, and festivities.
What's really cool though, these laws are the framework for a great nation to begin building itself and conquering land with God's guidance and blessing.
Exodus Chapter 23 wraps itself up with an Angel of God preparing the way. God promises His angel to go ahead of His people to guard them as they go to the place He has already prepared. He warns the people not to bow down to the idols of other nations' they will definitely encounter. He reminds them to worship the Lord their God and serve Him only, and if they do this, His blessing will be on them.
Another interesting thing is God explains that He isn't going to drive out the other nations all at the same time, or all within the year. And we're asking, "Why God?" "Can't you just obliterate all the enemies now?" But He has a plan for this. He says, that if He did, the land would become desolate, abandoned, or bleak. The wild animals would take over, and they would become too numerous for the children of God to deal with.
He says, "Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land." Ex. 23:30
And then the chapter ends with another command, or appeal, not to make covenants with the enemies, or to bow down to their gods. God also warns the people not to let the enemies remain, or else they may be influenced or ensnared by their sins.
So what does this have to do with us?
God is still giving us grace to take possession of the land in our lives. This isn't physical land, or property or possessions. This is sin strongholds in our lives. Turning and saying "Yes" to Jesus' way, is really just the beginning of a big spiritual battle in which we must go in and possess the land God directs us to. This is the land He has already marked out for us. The holy life He calls us to live. A life that honors Him with heart, soul, and mind.
Strongholds that might still need "taking possession of" might be things like:
- Fear, anxiety, worry
- Addictions (of any kind)
- Gossip, or controlling the tongue
- Being ungrateful - discontentment
- Dishonesty ---- lying
- Wanting what others have (material things, or lifestyles) ---- coveting
When we "take possession" of the land (or these sin areas), we are first recognizing them as sin, confessing them to God, and then beginning a journey of repentance. It's not going to be perfect. But this is such a huge shower of God's grace in our lives. Firstly, it's His Holy Spirit who reveals these areas to us! And then secondly, once we respond in obedience to go in and clean them out of our lives, it's God's grace empowering us to keep up the fight.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Rom. 12:2
The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
I Thess. 5:21