Fast Devotional – Day Four Text: Deuteronomy 16:21-22
Written by: Evan Christopherson
God’s prohibition of planting a tree or setting up a pillar in Deuteronomy 16 commands the Israelites to avoid the practice of syncretism. Syncretism is a very dangerous and despicable practice that the Israelites repeatedly participated in. Biblically speaking, syncretism is the mixture of the worship of the living and true God with pagan gods, goddesses, or practices. Asherah, who is mentioned in the passage, is a fictional Canaanite goddess. To mix the worship of the holy God with false gods is abominable. In our passage today, God says that he hates it and commands his people to avoid it.
It’s easy to look down on the Israelites with judgmental eyes and wonder how they could be so sinful to participate in syncretism. The reality is, we are susceptible to doing the same thing. People often ask for prayers and good vibes. This is an example of syncretism today. It is mixing prayer to the true God with good luck.
Another aspect that we must recognize is that we are without excuse for improper worship of God. Had the Israelites set up a pillar out of good intentions, it would not excuse them from the sin they committed. It could be argued that Uzzah’s heart was in the right place when he tried to save the Ark of the Covenant from falling. In doing so, he violated God’s command. Using the excuse for “our hearts being in the right place,” is not acceptable when God has plainly revealed how we are to worship. The point is, we must be familiar with God’s Word to know what pleases him.
Do whatever it takes to make time in God’s Word a daily thing for you. God has spoken with clarity. We must know his word in order to properly honor him with our lives and worship.
Father God, we humbly come before you and ask for forgiveness for every time we have mixed you in with our pagan practices. Please forgive us for looking at the Israelites with judgmental eyes while falling into the same sins. As you said in Ezekiel 36:27, put your Spirit in us and cause us to walk in your statutes and be careful to obey your decrees. In 2023, we pray that you plant a desire to know your Word inside of us and cause us to become more like you as we read. In Jesus' name, Amen!