As the Children of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, Moses gave them final instructions in possessing the land and faithfully obeying God’s commands who was giving them the land. The Book of Deuteronomy is a record of Moses’ final words to those he had led from Egypt, through the wilderness, and on to their final destination. With Moses’ prohibition from entering the land flowing with milk and honey due to his disobedience of God’s command to speak to the rock to receive water, upon which Moses “smote the rock twice” in anger during the wilderness wandering (Numbers 20:7-13), his words to them were filled with great significance concerning the seriousness of obeying God’s Word.
God’s command to the Children of Israel entering the Promised Land after crossing the Jordan River was to destroy all the inhabitants that were occupied there: the Hitties, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; “Seven nations greater and mightier than thou… For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods.” The Israelites were to “destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire,” all of which pertained to the idol worship that permeated the land (Deuteronomy 7).
The very first commandment given by God on Mt. Sinai forty years earlier had been, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me,” (Exodus 20:3-5). The commandment included not to make any graven image, bow down to them, nor serve them. The Promised Land they were about to enter was polluted with idolatrous images which were bowed down to and served by those who resided there. God’s judgment was about to be poured out upon those who dwelt there by His Chosen People in destroying the idol worship that God forbids.
Much is written in the Book of Deuteronomy concerning not following other gods, in addition to the Book of Exodus where God further commands, “Make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth,” (Exodus 23:13). In Deuteronomy 13 the Children of Israel were admonished, “If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones… Because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you,” (Deuteronomy 13:6-10).
“Thou shalt have no other gods before Me”