Put Away & Purify
From Volume 3 Issue 5 of Unless the
Lord ... Magazine
Jacob had just seen a lot of trouble. There had been a great tragedy in his family. His children had become very friendly with the peoples of the land and adopted some of their ways. His only daughter had gone into the town with her friends, only to be kidnapped by a young man from a leading family there. Two of Jacobís sons freed her and took vengeance, but it was a terrible vengeance. Not only did they kill the offender, but also all the men of his family and of the whole town!
Now, as if the prior tragedy was not enough, Jacob feared disaster upon his entire family. Would not the surrounding towns now come to take vengeance upon them all? Would this not mean the death of his whole family?
In his time of need, God spoke to Jacob, telling him where to move his family and calling upon him to renew his devotion to God. Jacob then called upon his whole household to change their ways. They must put away the idols in their midst, idols that they had adopted from the peoples of the land, and worshipped along with the true God. They must purify themselves (possibly from many things they had adopted from their neighbors). They were also commanded to change their garments (perhaps the clothing of the land displeased God, or perhaps it was to help make a more complete cultural break with their godless neighbors). The "garments" evidently included their jewelry as well (they got rid of their earrings). Jacobís children obeyed their father and together they moved away from that place and God protected them from vengeance from the cities around them.
Jacob had brought these troubles upon himself, but God allowed them to come for a purpose Ė to turn Jacob and his whole household back to Him. I doubt if Jacob ever ceased to worship God, but his devotion had grown cold and he had allowed his children to wander from God, being greatly influenced by their ungodly neighbors. It was time to repent, to put away things that had caused them to stray or that were associated with their straying. It was even time to move away, to get away from those people and that area and to begin anew.
This situation is not unique to Jacob and his family. Even today we may be called to do much the same. We can get too comfortable with the lifestyle of the world around us. We can be influenced by the world in many ways that initially seem harmless. Yet these influences may eventually draw us away from God. Our ways may become much like those around us and may be less and less pleasing to God.
Sometimes it takes a tragedy to make us see it. At other times, God is gracious to show us our need for change before the tragedy occurs. We may need to take action and cleanse our whole family of things that are not pleasing to God or that are subtly drawing us away from following Him. We need to purify ourselves. We may need to break off some relationships. We may need to change churches. We may need to move elsewhere. The needed action will differ from time to time and family to family.
Have you ever needed to do this? Have you ever done this? We have, more than once. Very early in our marriage we saw a need to purify our household of many things, such as certain music and books that we had accumulated. These were things that were not profitable for our Christian growth, that were not a good testimony to others, that might have a bad future influence on our children, and that had not been the best of influences on us. The Lord appeared to honor our willingness to give up these things as we desire to walk closer to Him.
Many years later, when we again decided to make some significant changes, it was harder as we now had children in the teen years. We had increasingly been following the world, and much of it was from simply fitting in with our brethren at church (who were also following the world in a number of ways). It was time for strong action, without delay, lest much of our labor in raising our children for the Lord be lost. This included significant lifestyle changes with instituting daily family Bible studies and a number of other things. It included changing our dress and again changing some of the music that we listened to. It meant creating some distance in some relationships while seeking out other relationships that would be more edifying and encouraging in the path we had chosen.
Our decision to move to the country was also similar. We had seen the influences of the upper middle class neighborhood we had been in, both on us and the older children. We wanted to further escape those values ourselves and remove our younger children before they were strongly pulled in that direction.
Are there things your family needs to be purified of? Things that are slowly pulling you or your family farther from God either directly by their influence, or indirectly, by the time they fill that might be better used in family devotions, service to the Lord, or in building relationships? Have you adopted any of the Ďgodsí of the land around you? Do you "worship" any of the things your godless neighbors do? Does your life or your familyís life, center around the same things as the unbelieverís?
Perhaps itís time to put away some things. Perhaps you need to stop watching certain TV shows or videos. Perhaps you need to get rid of the TV altogether. Perhaps there are books and reading materials in your home that would be better left unread (whether romance novels, fantasy, certain literature, certain magazines or comic books). Perhaps there are games that are played that need to be disposed of. Perhaps there is some music that you would do well to forsake and radio listening that would be better excluded. There may be both hobbies and certain friends that would be better forsaken. There may even need to be a change of clothing, or of churches or homes.
Itís not all a matter of just forsaking things. Itís also what you replace them with. We need to make God the center of our lives and to order our days to serve Him. We should become His ambassadors and His servants. Our lives should be a testimony to Him. We should be good examples to both believers and unbelievers. We should be the ones influencing the world around us for God, rather than mostly being influenced ourselves by the world. We need to walk with God.
Some of us may need to be regularly brought back to the path. Things that may not appear to be a problem today, may later need serious change. If we are living for the Lord, we should be prepared to change however He directs us. We must not hold tightly to the things we have, our pleasures, or any values that are not truly His values. Donít be afraid of change or of being different. Take courage. "Be strong and courageous" (Josh 1:9).V