2019-09-22 - Introduction to the First Commandment
When the Israelites went into Canaan, they confronted this perversion in the form of paganism. Along with primitive peoples everywhere, the Canaanites greatly depended on natural forces. In such societies everyone keenly understands that you have to sow the seed at the right time, that the temperature has to be right, that rain needs to come at the proper time, and that soil must be fertile in order to result in a good harvest. Such people recognize what we in our modern technological society forget: We cannot survive in our world without these powerful natural forces.
The primitive people of Canaan tried to identify these natural forces and decided they had the power of deities. When the primitive Canaanites heard the thunder rumble, they called it the deity of thunder. When they saw the sun shine, they saw a god behind the sun. They recognized gods of fertility and fecundity. Soon they ended up with thousands of gods, all clamoring for attention. Using their perverted religious instinct, they had put together two and two and came up with five – a pantheon of deities that formed the basis of their paganism.
The Canaanites believed that the gods of fertility and gods of the crops had to be appeased and placated, and there was a clear link, in their thinking, between the fertility of the soil and the fertility of their wives. In other words, crops and sex became almost synonymous. The worship of the gods of fertility became a worship of sexuality. In their perverted ingenuity, they produced all kinds of wonderfully perverted sexual activities in the name of religion. As a result, John Bright, a respected and renowned Old Testament scholar, says, “Canaanite religion presents us with no pretty picture. It was an extraordinarily debasing form of paganism.” 1
And it was in preparation for this culture, that God chose to give the commandments, prior to Israel entering the Promised Land.
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