Reading: Exodus 34:12-26
God renews the covenant with Israel to show His great power (for example, by driving out the Canaanite nations) and receive all the glory. God also renews His covenant to fulfil His promises to Israel, that is to be their loving God and, more specifically, to give them the Promised Land. This land was occupied by powerful heathen nations who lived in walled cities. But God is stronger and promises to drive out “the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite” (vs 11).
God reminds Israel that His covenant is two-sided. God gives promises, but Israel must respond by obeying God’s covenant commands. In vs 11 God says “Observe what I command you this day”, and in vs 27 “according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”
What does God command? God summarises His law in verses 12 to 26. God knows that once Israel enters the Promised Land they will be tempted to make friendship with the unbelievers which will result in serious sins. Israel will be tempted to “make sacrifice to their gods”, join their religious feasts, eat of the idol sacrifices, and inter-marry (vs 15-16). Therefore God first strongly warns them not to “make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land … lest it be a snare in your midst “(vs 12). God also commands them to “destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images” (vs 13). Once the nations have been driven out or destroyed God does not want Israel to use the pagan places of worship for any purpose.
God, in grace, makes a covenant with His people; and then we must obey his covenant commands. This still applies today because it is “an everlasting covenant” (Genesis 17:13).
Key verse: Exodus 34:12 “Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst.”
Question: How should you apply Exodus 34:12 today?