Today's devotion from .
I was almost guilty of seeing God's words at the conclusion of Numbers 33 as a statement of, "Do this, or I'll do this to you." That's not the case at all. When God tells the people to drive out the inhabitants of the land, destroy their idols, and dismantle their places of worship, He is not commanding them to exact vengeance, but the preemptively protect themselves.
He knew the people. Because of this intimate knowledge God had of them, He knew precisely how these people and their pagan practices would become thorns in the lives of the Israelites. He knew Israel would bow to false gods and be caught up in the sensual worship of the idols. Therefore, they would void the blessing of God. Their sin would push Him away. The result of this separation would lead to the sad truth, "...what I had planned to do to them, I will do to you." (Numbers 33:56, CSB)
This isn't a threat, but a warning. When we act out in sin, we choose the punishment that sin brings. We choose the separation from God and the result is in our being counted among those who He warned us about. No. This isn't about God threatening an unfaithful people, but warning them to rid themselves of anything that might lead them astray because they could not pay the price incurred.
If we see God as some cosmic judge just looking for an opportunity to throw lightening bolts on us, then we will see these words as menacing and to be feared. However, if we see God as our caring Father, then these words are the loving words of warning that all fathers would give. Don't play in the street. Don't play with fire. Don't play with temptations that will cause your demise.
I need these words in my life. Sometimes I get confused and think I'm a responsible adult. I imagine that I have everything under control and the pet sins I play with couldn't possibly hurt me or anyone I love. That's usually when they turn on me. What is there in your life that you should drive out before its too late?