Meditating on the Judgements of God:
Lev 18:24,25 Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.
We need to clearly understand just WHY God has planned for Israel to take this land. We have already had a hint in the first meditation this part when we observed, “In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” (Gen 15:16) and the quote, “Just how sinful many Canaanite religious practices were is now known from archaeological artefacts ….. Their “worship” was polytheistic and included child sacrifice, idolatry, religious prostitution and divination,” and there I commented, they had seriously strayed from God’s design for human beings!
Our verses above start with “Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways,” and therefore it is necessary to look at the previous verses to see what ‘these ways’ refers to: “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD. Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. `Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.” (Lev 18:21-23) We see more previous verses but these immediate verses will give enough of a feel of what life in that land was like – child sacrifice, homosexual practice and bestiality. By most people’s standards behaviour less than a civilized society. Note the Lord uses such words as profane, detestable, defile and perversion.
These things then, says our verse above, defiles people. Defile means to make filthy or dirty, to pollute or make unclean, to spoil and to corrupt. It is all about changing God’s good creation and making it less than it should be and that can apply to people or land. The tenses in these verses appear a little unclear: “this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.” (Lev 18:24,25) The Lord seems to use the past tense about what He has already done and yet they follow clearly what He is about to do. Whether it has already happened once in the past or He simply speaks from outside time, is unclear. Nevertheless what is clear is that He is going to act against an unholy people.
In the previous meditation we also noted, “My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. (Ex 24:23) Now when we see that in the light of the many references to Him driving them out, it would appear to mean He will simply bring an end to them as nations. Of course if He sees they will not be driven out, then it is a clear judgement to bring an end to this awful culture.
In Leviticus in the midst of the teaching, we find, “Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them.” (Lev 20:22,23) The first reason for the Lord’s actions is clearly an act of judgement to remove and stop a culture that ran entirely counter to God’s design for humanity and which if left, could spread.
These verses also provide as link to the second reason – to provide a home for a new holy nation, a nation which would reveal Him to the rest of the world. After instructing them what to do with the land, the Lord, in Deuteronomy declares through Moses, “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” (Deut 7:1-6)
However, they are always to keep it in perspective: “After the LORD your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.” (Deut 9:4) Yes, they will be a holy nation revealing Him but the primary reason for this action is judgment on these people who have strayed so far from God’s design and who, if left, may spread to other nations. There is no alternative to stop the earth being polluted. It is a surgical operation.
We will see from studying all that went on that there were, in fact, three possibilities for the inhabitants of Canaan – but the choice was theirs. They could leave the land and resettle elsewhere, they could change and become part of Israel (as did happen with one group) or they could stay and resist Israel and suffer the consequences of war. The choice was theirs.