We live in a world of compromise—a society that as abandoned moral standards and Christian principles in favor of expediency or pragmatism.
The underlying philosophy is based on accomplishing goals by whatever means are necessary. This self-centered perspective should have as its motto: “If it works for you, do it!” This notion inevitably leads to compromise of conscience and convictions. Because compromise is so prevalent in our society, you could say we no longer have a national conscience; guilt and remorse are non-factors in determining behavior.
Politicians, who should be upholding the high ideals of our country, instead are leading the way in compromise. They promote their lofty standards and high ideals prior to their elections but compromise them once they are in office. The same holds true in business, from corporate executives down to salespeople; in the courts, from judges to attorneys; in sports, from owners to athletes; and in all walks of life.
As a result, people learn to lie, cheat, steal, and shade the truth—to do whatever is necessary to get what they want. Thus compromise becomes a way of life.
Unfortunately, the philosophy and practice of compromise has even invaded the church. The world is a seducer. It seeks to attract our attention and our devotion. It remains so close at hand, so visible, so enticing. It pleases us—much of the time, anyway—and we often live our lives to please it.
Scripture calls us to the opposite of compromise. From one end of the Bible to the other, God clearly commands His people to live apart from the world.
We are told in Romans 12:2—“DO NOT CONFORM TO THE WORLD.” The Israelites were told the very same thing at Mt. Sinai when God spoke the Ten Commandments to them. These commandments were to make them holy—to set them apart from the world.
By the power of God, Moses delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, which typified the world’s enslavement of the human race. The world, however, is very enticing! The stiff-necked Israelites longed to go back to Egypt!
Time after time they voiced their dissatisfaction with God and His provisions. For instance, they wailed to Moses in Numbers 11:5-6—
We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”
Gratifying the flesh was far more important to these Israelites than sustaining their spiritual life with the LORD. The Golden Calf Debacle exhibited their desire to return to the world and the flesh. It was an act of self-gratification! They bowed down to it and rose up to indulge in revelry. One compromise led to another! And apostasy was the result!
Seeing the calf, the dancing, and people running wild and out of control, Moses smashed the Two Stone Tablets of the Ten Commandments.
Chapter 34 is a record of the replacement of the broken commandments with two stone tablets like the first ones. The new stones are chiseled out by Moses, but the very same words will be written on them by the finger of God.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS stand unaltered and unchanged. God remains UNCOMPROMISING. He does not lower His standards of holiness because of the people’s failure. They remain a TESTIMONY that exposes and condemns the Israelites stiff-neckedness, wickedness, rebellion and sin.
Keenly aware of the magnitude of the Golden Calf Debacle, Israel’s mediator approaches the Holy One in Exodus 34:8-9—
Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. “O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes,” he said, “then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”
Then the LORD said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you. Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.
For the third time God says that He drive out those who inhabit the Canaan, the Promised Land. The critics down through the years have decried this. Apparently, they have not investigated the reason for this extreme measure.
Israel disobeyed God and did not completely clear the land of these people and suffered the sad consequences. Eventually, an idolatrous Israel was taken from the land into Babylonian Captivity.
Why did God want to eradicated the Canaanite people from the Land? COMPROMISE! Look at Exodus 34:12—
Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you.
The first violation of this command is recorded in Chapter 9 of Joshua. When the Gibeonites came to Joshua, they tricked the Israelites. They pretended that they had come from afar and had worn-out sacks, old wineskins, patched sandals, old clothes and stale bread to prove it. Neither Joshua nor the men of Israel inquired of the LORD and they fell prey to the deceptive scheme. Joshua made a rash and foolish peace treaty with the Gibeonites, who lived five miles northwest of Jerusalem. Joshua discovered the deception, but honored his treaty.
The Gibeonites were given menial tasks, being made woodcutters and water carriers, but the fact that they were enemies remained. They are analogous to the spiritual forces that beguile us—“the wiles” or “tricks” of Satan, who often “masquerades as an angel of light” according 2 Corinthians 11:14.
This compromise led to Israel’s failure to secure all the land promised by God. The Gibeonites became a snare to the next generation of Israelites, who apostatized, turning to idols—falling away from the LORD.
Centuries later King Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah tried to annihilate the Gibeonites. However, God sent a three year famine on the Land of Israel because Saul broke the treaty of Joshua. When Yahweh’s people take an oath, God is a witness to it and He takes it seriously!
The breaking of oaths, promises, covenants, treaties anger God for His Name is at stake and He is JEALOUS! Deuteronomy 10:20 says—
Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name.
Isaiah 65:16 adds—
Whoever invokes a blessing in the land will do so by the God of truth; he who takes an oath in the land will swear by the God of truth.
Yahweh is the God of Truth and His people are to be people of truth! Our primary obligation is to glorify God—to HALLOW HIS NAME!
Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles.
ASHERAH was the name of a sensual Canaanite goddess of fertility. Asherah is the same goddess worship under the names of Semiramis, Isis, Aphrodite, Venus and Madonna—the Queen of Heaven. It is the mystery religion rising from the Tower of Babel. This goddess under various names is the prototype of the WOMAN of Revelation 17:5—
This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
From the second generation in the Land until the Babylonian Captivity, the Israelites became ensnared in the worship of Asherah. If the enticement is not removed, it will snare its victim!
The pagan peoples of Canaan as well as their worship places and objects were to be eradicated. If not, they would become snares, tempting the Israelites to offer sacrifices to idols, contrary to the command of God.
The NT understands idolatry to encompass more than making and idol and worshiping it. Paul writes in Colossians 3:5—
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
Paul defines GREED or COVETOUSNESS as IDOLATRY. An excessive love of money is the root of all evil. GREED is the insatiable desire of having more, and of having more than one’s own—not being satisfied, but still craving more, without making any good use of what is possessed:
The covetous person, and the idolater, worship the same for matter and substance—gold and silver! The covetous person lays up money, makes no use of it, as if it was something sacred; he looks at it, and adores it, and puts his trust and confidence in it, and his heart is so much set upon it, that he neglects the worship of the true God; and indeed Jesus says in Matthew 6:24 —
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
Christians are born again and have a new nature, so it is our duty to make God all in all. Like the Israelites, we are to put to death everything that would entice us away from God. Our earthly nature has an appetite and passion to love things other than God. If we compromise and yield to its desires, that’s idolatry and idolatry invokes jealousy.
Yahweh’s infinitely holy character cannot tolerate rivals. Exodus 34:14—
Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
The Hebrew adjective (annq qanna) translated JEALOUS is used only of God in the OT. It is mentioned twice for emphasis. Faithfulness is a matter close to God’s heart! This not simply a formal matter with God, it touches God’s very emotional life.
JEALOUS expresses not only what the LORD expects from His people, but what God also feels for His people. God cares deeply for Israel and, because of that, cares about what Israel does with its allegiances. This is a serious matter indeed! Because of jealousy, God is moved to pain and anger.
His jealousy springs from love, from a selfless concern for what is best for those He cares for. God, therefore, demands our exclusive devotion. When we give it to something else, He is hurt and becomes intolerant, indignant, irate, outraged by our unfaithfulness.
Entanglements lead to compromises that lead to apostasy and that arouses God’s jealousy! Therefore, the LORD emphasizes again the necessity of separation. Exodus 34:15—
Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices.
Americans are assaulted day and night by snares, enticements and temptations! God didn’t want Israel to live in a land like that! He yearned for them to be a separated people—a holy nation!
Having been redeemed and regenerated by the LORD, the Christian’s life is to be different from that of the non-Christian world. Certain actions, attitudes, and thoughts are to be different from what we formerly were and from the conduct of the world. Holiness, not evil, is to be the characteristic feature of the believer’s life. As such, SEPARATION is the negative aspect of sanctification.
The Israelites were not to engage in the practices of the ungodly nations. And likewise Christians are set apart from this world, even though we are in it.
In the OT, the Israelites were not to engage in the religious practices of the ungodly nations, they were to abstain from eating certain foods that God called unclean, and they were not to intermarry with these nations.
In the NT, the emphasis on separation is even stronger on the fact that God has called His people to be unique, selected by Him as His temple, to be indwelt by Him. Again and again the NT argues that we are now new creations belonging to the LORD, and we should conduct our lives accordingly.
When a person receives Christ, a whopping transformation occurs. Paul describes this change in Colossians 1:12-14—
Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Here’s the great divide between a believer and an unbeliever. Unbelievers belong to the dominion of darkness—they are not only alienated from God and His enemies, but also dominated by Satan. They live in the realm of moral rebellion, insubordination, and human independence.
The Bible teaches that those of the darkness are opposed to those of the light. They are spiritually dead and sinners by nature and by practice. Since they are not born again, they are not a new creation in Christ. They love the darkness and hate the light.
Therefore, no Christian should be surprised by the command and questions of 2 Corinthians 6:14—
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what FELLOWSHIP can light have with darkness?
Of course, the answer to both questions is NONE!
A Christian is not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. The principle behind the unequal yoke is based upon the OT law of Deuteronomy 22:10—
Do not plough with an ox and a donkey yoked together.
The ox was a clean animal to the Jews, but the donkey was not; and it would be wrong to yoke them together. Furthermore, they have two opposite natures and would not even work well together. It would be cruel to bind them to each other. In the same way, it is wrong for believers to be yoked together with unbelievers.
Picture if you will, two oxen tied together at the neck by a wooden crosspiece so they can pull a plow. They are two animals of the same species who have been jointed together to do a specific job. They have been carefully trained to respond to the same commands, and once they are united, they are considered to be a team.
A wise farmer picks two animals of similar size, strength and temperament because he knows they will work best together. If one of them was terrified at even the sight of a whip, it would seem unwise to tie them together and expect them to work as a team. One “teammate” would frantically be trying to run away, while the other one would stubbornly be refusing to budge.
In fact, if two like this were joined together, it seems that disaster might be at hand—with possible damage to the equipment, hurt and confusion to the “teammates,” and of course, the work would never get done. Then how ridiculous it would be two yoked to different animals!
So we should not be surprised that Scripture is absolutely clear that God is opposed to His people entering into an unequally yoked marriage. Look at Exodus 34:16—
And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.
There is no IF’S AND BUTS in the God’s prediction: THEY WILL LEAD YOUR SONS TO DO THE SAME. It’s an axiom—a fundamental law—unbelieving spouses influence believing spouses to compromise to the point of apostasy!
One of the hardest aspects of an unequally yoked marriage or friendship is the feeling of competition between the partners as each partner is pulling in different directions. However subtle or unspoken it may be, the competition is felt. The believer’s values and ideals will constantly be challenged. The unbeliever does not enjoy the things of the Lord, he hates them!
Inevitably, competition leads to compromise. It is almost impossible for a mixed marriage to survive (and they usually don’t) unless the believer compromises his or her faith almost to the point of having none— or losing salvation!
Case in point is the wisest man who ever lived. Do you know his name? Solomon, king of Israel. Let’s look at what happen to him from 1 Kings 11:1-6—
King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.”
Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.
Here we have a man who once was a spiritual giant, he even wrote Scripture. But, Solomon, the wisest person who ever lived, could not convert his wives, but was converted by them! How can a Christian expect to covert an unbeliever he or she marries?
One of the more heart wrenching events of the Bible occurs in Chapters 9 and 10 of Ezra. The Jewish exiles have returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity and we read in Ezra 9:1-3—
After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.” When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled.
Why was Ezra so upset? The future of the kingdom of Israel was hanging on the restored remnant. If they plunged themselves into idolatry again, history would be repeated. And based on God’s marriage axiom it was certain to happen!
Do you what happen? SEPARATION! Ezra prayed to God and made confession, the people repented and put away foreign wives as well as the children of these mixed marriages!
Seventeen priests, Ten Levites, and eighty-seven other men had married heathen wives. It is frightening to find priests deliberately disobeying God, for when the spiritual leaders COMPROMISE, what can we expect of the rest of the people?
It is always easier to obey God initially than to suffer the consequences of disobedience!
Since God is jealous and will not allow His glory to be given to another, He warns in Exodus 34:17—
Do not make cast idols.
Idolatry is spiritual adultery and like physical adultery, it provokes jealousy and anger. The LORD very frequently addresses us in the character of a husband; the union by which He connects us with Himself, when He receives us into the Church, having some resemblance to that of holy wedlock, because founded on mutual faith.
As God performs all the offices of a true and faithful husband, so He calls for love and chastity from us; that is, that we do not prostitute our souls to the world, the flesh and the Devil. And idolatry is prostitution of all three.
Hence, when God rebukes the Israelites for their apostasy through the prophets, He complains that they have cast off chastity, and polluted themselves with adultery.
Therefore, as the purer the husband is, the more grievously is he offended when he sees his wife inclining to a rival. Such is the case with the LORD, who has betrothed us to Himself in truth, declares that He burns with the hottest jealousy whenever, neglecting the purity of His holy marriage. In addition, we defile ourselves with abominable lusts. When we the worship of His Deity, we must be most carefully to keep our worship unimpaired, and not transferring it to an object or idol.
So God warns Israel again—DO NOT MAKE CAST IDOLS and calls Himself JEALOUS because He cannot tolerate an adulterous partner. And because Yahweh is the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving sin—He forgives those who repent of their wicked and rebellious ways.
That’s the point of Exodus 34:18—
Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt.
At first I thought this verse doesn’t belong here! Yet, the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to placed it here! Why?
When God established the nation Israel, He built into the Israelites’ daily living the principle of separation from the world. Their religious observances throughout the year served as safeguards to prevent them, as unique people from intermingling with pagans.
And of all the celebrations, the FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD best symbolizes separation from the world—a lifestyle that does not compromise with sin!
Canaan was a desirable land, and the neighboring nations were greedy; yet God says, “They shall not desire it.” Let us check all sinful desires against God and His glory, in our hearts, and then trust Him to check all sinful desires in our hearts. The way of duty is the way of safety.
The NT application of this command is found in 1 Corinthians 5:7—
Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
In other words, the Christian is to live an uncompromising life when it comes to the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Our whole life must be as it were the Feast of Unleavened Bread, since we are partakers of Christ.
As the Jews, at the celebration of the Passover, gave all diligence in removing leaven from their houses— searching every part of their dwellings with lamps, that they might remove every particle of leavened bread from their habitations—so the apostle exhorts us to use all diligence to search out and remove all sin from our life.
Anything less than total devotion to our LORD in both character and conduct amounts to compromise with the world and that makes Him JEALOUS!
What we have from verse 10 to verse 28 of this chapter is God’s carefully crafted answer to Moses’ prayer in Exodus 34:9—
“O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes,” he said, “then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”
God’s forgiveness depends on Israel’s loyalty—faithfulness—loving Him! As Jesus puts it in John 14:15—
If you love me, you will obey what I command.