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W.I.S.H. – Weekly Insights for Spiritual Health 10-13-2021

Read:  Joshua 6  (Please read first!)

Last week we began to look at “herem” the complete destruction of an enemy: killing all men, women, children, babies and animals.  It’s hard for us to understand and it doesn’t seem like the way of Jesus Christ.  That’s where we pick up this week.

God warns the people that if they do not purge the promised land of Canaanites that it would lead to BIG problems down the road.  Could the Canaanites really be THAT bad?  Some Bible scholars attempt to make that case.  The Canaanite culture had some rather appalling qualities.  Here are some factors that may be in play:

1. The Canaanites were a constant military threat to God’s people.  Entering the promised land could easily have been a “kill or be killed” situation.

2. The pagan Canaanites practiced human sacrifice of first-born babies to Baal or Baalzebul (Baal the prince) whom Jesus many centuries later called Baalzebub meaning “a god of flies or death”. Baalzebub is another name for the devil.

3. The Canaanites worshipped Baal, a fertility god, that some Christians today consider to be “devil worship”.  Along with sacrificing first-born babies (archeology has somewhat confirmed that practice), the Canaanites worshipped their fertility god simulating acts of fertility, namely temple prostitution.  The prostitutes (male and female) and openly had sex at the pagan temple with male worshippers (see Dt. 23:17-18 for prohibition; see 1 Kings 15:11-12 for historical reference).

The concern of God seems to have been that “God’s people” not be corrupted by the Canaanites.  God wanted “the chosen people” to be a light, an example, to the other nations. God’s concern was well founded.  In the end the Canaanites were not all destroyed.  Over time Israel was corrupted by the Baal-worshipping Canaanites. They intermarried and the two religions even fused, a process called syncretism.  Generations later some of the kings of Israel had Canaanite wives, built temples to Baal, tore down temples to the LORD, and even sacrificed first-born babies at those temples.  God would send many prophets to call for repentance and reforms, but judgment was not far off.  Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Shalom,

Pastor Rob Nystrom