Some of the events recorded in the Bible seem strangely quaint.
People believed in localized or oddly restricted deities.
Naaman, Syrian general, followed the advice of his captured Jewish slave girl and sought healing for his leprosy through the Jewish prophet Elisha. He was told to wash in the Jordan River but wanted to wash in superior Syrian rivers instead. After he washed in the Jordan and was healed he wanted to take some dirt home with him so he could worship the God of the Jews. He also told the prophet that as part of his duties he had to go into the temple of the Syrian god and worship with the king. He wanted the prophet to assure him that God would pardon him for this. The prophet excused his narrow view of God and sent him on his way with the dirt. (2 Kings 5)
After a defeat at the hands of the Jews on a hilly battlefield, Ben-hadad, a Syrian king, concluded that the God of the Jews was a god of the hilltops. He arranged to fight the next battle on the flat plains but was defeated there as well. (1 Kings 20)
Balak, a king of Moab, hired the prophet Balaam to curse the Jews. He thought changing locations would change God’s message from a blessing to a curse. But God led Balaam to bless the Jews from every location they tried. (Numbers 22-24)
Even among the Jews there were curious contradictions.
Rachel stole her father’s gods when she left Syria to return with Jacob to the land of Abraham. As they approached a time to worship God on their return Jacob told the members of his family to put away other gods before they worshipped the true God. (Genesis 31:19; 25-35; 35:1-4)
When he knew he was near death, Joshua gathered the Jews who had recently experienced the miraculous crossing of the Jordan, had seen the walls of Jericho fall, and had seen God give them victories over the Canaanites. He told them to renew the covenant with the God who had brought them to this point. They agreed. He told them that their ancestors worshipped false gods and they must not do this. They agreed. Then he told them before they could renew the covenant they had to put away their idols. The mixing of the worship of the true God with the worship of lesser gods was a consistent problem for the Jews from the time of Joshua until the exile under the Babylonians about 800 years later. (Joshua 25; 2 Chronicles 36:11-16))
The message of the Bible is clear. There is no place where God is not God.
Today, we are sure that we are more sophisticated that the ancients. Are we? Christians acknowledge that God is all-knowing and present everywhere but we keep areas of our life that are not submitted to his control. It might be our thoughts, money, or another area we try to keep secret from an all-knowing God.
Are there any areas of your life where God is not allowed?
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