Traps have been set in our lives to take us back into a place of bondage. They are designed with specificity to capture our attention and then lead us into a place of deeper temptation.
As Moses was instructing the Israelites about how to live in the lands they captured, he mentioned a word of caution, “Do not worship their gods or they will trap you” (Deuteronomy 7:6). These would be traps set in places of convenience by intermarrying with the people of a captured nation. This would create a familiarity with those nations who were meant to be displaced. A few verses later, Moses again mentioned the word “trap”, “You must burn their idols in fire, and you must not covet the silver or gold that covers them. You must not take it, or it will become a trap to you, for it is detestable to the Lord your God” (vs. 25).
The word “trap” is also translated as a snare. It is like a baited trap set to draw the attention of an animal. The first trap sets the stage to lure a person toward sin and then lead them into an even deeper sin. These traps are set in places of victory and overconfidence, not places of weakness. Once a nation was conquered the captives would become a submissive and convenient trap causing God’s people to intermarry even though the Lord had forbidden such activity. It was a trap of convenience and familiarity.
The second trap had to do with the false gods of the conquered nation. The people were told to not let the glitter of the silver or gold that covered their gods become a second trap. These idols were detestable to the Lord and must be burned.
It seems to be out of touch with the declining norms of our culture to obey God’s word in our current context. Some of what we defined as sin twenty years ago has now crept into some parts of the Church and is being declared as the new norm. The purity of our human sexuality is one. What about the value of life, both at the beginning and at the end? Another example is a couple living together before marriage and worshipping in our churches and no one loves them enough to reveal a better way.
What is causing this kind of acceptance? We forgot to burn the false gods. We have become overly compliant with the world’s standards not wanting to empty the pews if we speak the truth in love. It would be like an over-confident Israelite marrying a woman from a conquered land and then seeing the gold-covered false gods and taking them as a spoil of war instead of burning them.
The Lord is in the process of calling those who follow Him to a higher place of integrity in the victory we share in Jesus. Personally, I’m being challenged by God to examine areas in my life that contain even the smallest element of compromise. Lines are being drawn and in some cases, redrawn.
Some will see this as demon-chasing or an over-zealous attempt to be a prude. It’s not. It is what it means to live in a land filled with enticements – traps within traps – that step by step want to lead us farther away from God. Once these traps have taken hold we will lose the distinctiveness of our faith and look more like the world from which we were set free than the freedom to which we have been called.