One line, one clause really from Joshua chapter 23 nearly “arrested” my attention this morning! Here God’s faithful leader (Joshua) is charging the Israelites to continue living for the Lord, obeying His Word diligently.
Then comes the warning! About the vestiges of heathenism that still remain (little “spotty” areas not yet conquered) within the Land.
“Neither make mention of the name of their gods.”
Not yet … don’t worship their gods!
Not yet … don’t swear by their gods!
Not yet … don’t respect their gods!
But … “Neither make mention of the name of their gods.” Joshua 23:7
The verb “make mention” is even stronger than it appears, the Hebrew word. Simply spelled “zakar,” it is translated “to remember” or something equivalent 184 times in the King James Version of Scripture! FORGET ABOUT THEIR GODS! In Hebrew, with the negative adverb … “lo zakar” … without exception, do NOT make mention of their devilish gods!
Yes, “zakar” is rendered as “mention” 21 times in the Old Testament too, and legitimately so. If you do not “remember” something … you can hardly “make mention” of it!
Wow, our great God “draws a line” when it comes to other gods, other so-called gods! “Neither make mention of the name of their gods.”
No “comparative religions” classes would have existed in early (still obedient) Israel, then! It would be hard to drift into apostasy, falling before the face of sheer heathenism, if one could not even notice (“make mention”) of their gods!
Regarding Himself, God legislates: “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7, to which I am saying AMEN in my heart this very second!
But for the scattered, remaining gods of these filthy nations (or “pockets” of them remaining among the Israelites) … “Thou shalt not even make mention of the name of their gods!”
Treat God’s Name with submission!
Treat the names of the Canaanite gods with omission!
“Be careful little lips what you say!” Or so went a little chorus we used to sing in Sunday School. I had no idea the Bible background that catchy little line possessed! “Neither make mention of the name of their gods.”
So … God does limit knowledge in certain areas!
I guess that was the whole idea behind the “tree of knowledge of good and evil!”
It’s all right in God’s Eyes to learn about good, but not acceptable to learn about evil!
Here’s Paul on the subject: “I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.” Romans 16:19, where “simple” means “ignorant, unlearned, pure.”
Plus 1 Corinthians 14:20 … “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” In other words: when it comes to wisdom (understanding) and prudence … be grown-up, knowledgeable! But when it comes to malice (sinful things like “idols”) … be unlearned, very much like little children!
And … today’s lesson as well.
— Dr. Mike Bagwell