You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars. So you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you. (Exodus 23:24-25)
Spoken in conjunction with the admonition to heed the voice of the guiding Angel, upon entering the land, Israel was to break down the idols and false gods that had been worshipped in the land of Canaan. It is interesting they were never instructed to do this in any other land but the one that was promised to them by the Almighty. The implication is that what would eventually be called the land of Israel was His land — and He would have no other gods being exalted in His Land, and especially by His people.
God’s people were not to bow down to the gods of the nations but were to bow down and worship the LORD. Furthermore, they were to take steps to remove anything that would offend the fact that He alone is God and will not share His glory with another. When they were true to this holy standard, He would bless them with provision and health in order to “fulfill the number of your days.” Consequently, we can conclude that wisdom that comes from on High doesn’t permit acknowledgment of other gods — wisdom knows that they aren’t gods at all. Also, the longer truly wise and obedient people live, the better society at large will become. The opposite of wisdom would result in the other extreme — corruption and chaos.
Therefore, we should see that the command to abstain from the worship of others gods is not exclusively due to God’s jealousy in the way that we would understand that as men and women. To abstain from the worship of other gods is for our immediate benefit and for the benefit of future generations — our children and grandchildren. When we decide to abandon what is worshiped by man and cling to the one and only God, we are sowing seed that produced live-giving fruit for those who will follow us. So it seems appropriate to declare the words of a great song made popular by Joshua Aaron which says, “We will not bow to the gods of men but we will worship the God of Israel.” Amen.
Blessings and Shalom,