When a danger is called “huge” it should not be taken lightly. In this case, the people were being warned of the danger of associating with a country that worshiped false gods. The concern was that by living closely with these people, the people of Israel would begin to accept some of the practices and culture that was against the Word of God.
Jesus ate with sinners. He spent time with many people who were not pure. However as we read the Gospel, it is clear that Jesus did not spend all of His time with these people. He spent a lot of time with His Father in prayer. He spent a lot of time teaching and preaching as He traveled along with His disciples. He was so engrossed with His mission and He spent much time with the Word as was demonstrated during His time in the wilderness and while teaching. He often recited Scripture. It was written on His heart. It was at the core of His being.
If we do not go out in the world to share the Gospel, then the Gospel won’t get shared. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world to stay safe from temptation. Even in isolation, you will be tempted. Temptation is everywhere. But you can be cautious and keep yourself from spending too much time around “huge danger.” Paul wrote about focusing on what is worthy of praise. You can opt to take in a lot of negative and find out that what you take in will eventually come out. Or you can opt to focus on Him and the right, the pure, the lovely and find that it begins to pour from you.
“Don’t make any deals with them or their gods. They are not to stay in the same country with you lest they get you to sin by worshiping their gods. Beware. That’s a huge danger.”
– Exodus 23:32-33 [MSG]
There was a myth that spoke of two men that went through an area and were not received well by the people. Only one couple accepted these two men and in exchange for their acceptance, the couple was given a huge palace to live in while the others paid the price for their disbelief.
In Acts 14, as Paul healed a lame man through Christ, the people shouted about the gods coming down. They called Paul Hermes and Barnabas Zeus. They wanted to offer sacrifices. They did not want to be like the people in this myth.
Do you have a palace state of mind? If you would see a miracle before your eyes, would you attribute it to wherever the crowd was pointing? Or would you only point to Christ? The people of Lystra were eager for Paul and Barnabas to be gods. It would fit with this myth. It would make sense to the storyline in their minds. We, too, can believe in myths or we can make another choice—we can choose truth. We can choose the Truth. Don’t let the myths in your mind thwart you from accepting the Truth. God is not in a box. He is more than you could imagine. He will knock your socks off. Get ready!
“When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have come down to us in human form!’” – Acts 14:11 [NIV]
Remember the gold calves that were created? Jeroboam made two gold calves and said it was “too much trouble” for them to go to Jerusalem to worship. The gold calves he said were to represent “the gods who brought you out of Egypt.” He wanted the people to believe they could worship these two gold calves rather than travel to Jerusalem and worship the one true God. It was a shorter trip.
But the gold calves were not about God at all. If you read the text, he was not making these two gold calves to save them a longer trip to worship in Jerusalem. The king was fearful about both his position and his life. God was not first in his life—he was first. He feared that if the people would go to Jerusalem to worship they would return to King Rehoboam and they would eventually kill him as well.
There are moments in our lives when we make gold calves. We have a great excuse for them—and our reasoning makes it sound legitimate. But often, if we evaluate things closer, if we strip down the pieces, we find that there is something else at the surface. Today, look at your own life. Are there any gold calves lying around?
“So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, ‘It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!’” – 1 Kings 12:28 [NLT]