by Steven Chan
17 August 2008
It is interesting to note that before the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, God through Moses gave them a series of warnings, among which is the following one:-
“When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly.” (Deut 7:1-4) A similar instruction was stated in
Num 33:54-56: “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell. Moreover it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them.”
God was concerned about the things that may influence the children of Israel from remaining faithful to Him in the future.
Due to that concern, God instructed the Israelites that they should conquer the nations occupying Canaan fully and not forge any relationship with them. God knew that there would be a real threat of bad influence on the people of Israel when they live together closely.
We note that the Israelites failed to obey the instructions of the Lord as stated in Deut 7:1-4. In Judges 1:21, the Bible records thus: “And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.” This failure was probably a cause for the sin which befell the entire tribe of Benjamin in the latter part of Judges 19-21 when it was reported that they “committed lewdness and outrage in Israel” (Judg 20:6). Later on the Psalmist recorded thus: “They did not destroy the peoples, concerning whom the LORD had commanded them, but they mingled with the Gentiles and learned their works; they served their idols, which became a snare to them.” (Psalms 106:34-36).
The record in 1 Kings 11:1-4, tells us that the wise king, Solomon was not spared from this source of bad influence:-
“But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites– from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God.”
It is apparent that God’s advice was not heeded by His people throughout those generations – and it became a constant problem that plagued them throughout their stay in the Promised Land. What about Christians today? Do we have to be careful about who may be influencing us and our children? Do we have similar instructions or warnings from our Lord?
Perhaps the clearest passage was penned by the apostle Paul in 2 Cor 6:14-16:
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.”
Many have argued about whether the afore-stated passage refers to mixed marriages (i.e. the marriage of a Christian with a non-Christian) – and in the process, the underlying rationale in the afore-stated Scripture of the dangers of influence in our lives that may draw us away from God is forgotten. The Lord said: “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” But Solomon clung to these in love! See what love can do to us – and to our interpretation of clear and unambiguous Scriptures! Are we like Solomon? In spite of his great wisdom with which he was blessed by the Lord, he could not obey the Lord in this area of succumbing to the influence of those whom he loved.
We have lost many of our young people to the world because they “clung to their friends, office colleagues and prospective partners for life” in love. They failed to heed God’s warnings of looking out for those who may influence us to depart from the Lord. In Eph 5:11, the Bible clearly states that Christians are not to “have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness”. 1 Cor 15:33 sums it up very well: “Do not be deceived: “Evil company/companionship corrupts good habits.” – isn’t that very true?
Of course, the best result that we would like to hear is for Christians to influence those who are in the world such that they would come to repentance and submit their lives in obedience to the Lord – as may the case of a believer who is married to a non-believer as stated in 1 Peter 3:1-2: “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.” In spite of the hope for positive result that is alluded to in 1 Peter 3:1-2, it would be fool-hardy for one to ignore the many warnings given by the Lord against voluntarily placing oneself in a position/relationship whereby there is a great likelihood that one may be influenced to depart from the Lord – whether because like Solomon, we clung to them in love!
For the sake of clarity and to avoid any doubt that may have arisen, one should not interpret what has been written hereinbefore as a basis for leaving/destroying a mixed marriage – for the Bible says in 1 Cor 7:12-13: “If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him.” It appears that the need for the specific and express provision in the afore-stated scripture implies that otherwise some Christians would have been inclined to leave their unbelieving spouses. Notwithstanding that, and given the warnings abundantly stated throughout the Scriptures as regards the danger of influences that may lead one from the Lord, one should choose wisely when choosing a mate for life. The questions remain: “Do you know what or who is influencing you today? Are they bringing you closer to God or further from Him?”