This is part 2 of 2 on our lesson: Promised Land Captives.
Then shall ye drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places: And you shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it.
God’s people were to destroy and/or pluck down:
- All their pictures
- All their images
- All their high places
If these influences were to remain, it would not be long before the Israelites were worshipping idol gods. This is exactly what happened; they did not deal with them as God instructed. Thorns in their flesh they were until they were brought into captivity. Over and over, Israel went through seven cycles of idolatry bondage and deliverance during the period of the judges.
There are ungodly pictures and images in the minds of some of God’s people. If they are not destroyed, the effects will be no less devastating then they were for Israel. As children growing up in a godless society, we often absorb the environment around us. Concepts and limitations are built into us, infused into our thought patterns. Images of failure, pictures of abuse, all being used to form a distorted personality.
Childhood tragedy is a reason for future failure, not an excuse! Some cling to their past, refusing to step out of the bondage that their predecessors put them in. If you are willing, God is able to set you free. Some will be all at once; some will be little by little. The disobedient congregation in the wilderness spoke over their children that they would be victims (Num. 14:3). However, God had something to say about that. You don’t have to stay a victim! You can be a Victor!
But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised.
Religion can’t pull down these strongholds. In fact, religion itself can be a stronghold. The Pharisees were the most religious people at the time of Christ. This is what Jesus said about them: “You are of your father the devil and the lusts of your father you want to do” (John 8:44). Jesus told them in another place that their traditions were making the Word of God of no effect (Mark 7:13).
God once used a brazen serpent on a pole to bring healing to His people (Numbers 21). It was symbolic of looking to Christ (John 3:14). However, over the course of time Israel began to look to this bronze snake as a god. If God uses something in your life, don’t let it take your eyes off of Jesus. That is idolatry. King Hezekiah finally tore down the monument (II Kings 18:4), just like we need to tear down our religious traditions and formulas. Charismatics may have more sacred cows than anyone.
High places were places of immorality and idolatry set up on the hillsides of Israel. The Scriptures say that many kings “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, but did not tear down the high places.” A Christian can outwardly do all the right things, yet inwardly be bound. The high places of the mind – the strongholds – must be torn down! Many people seemingly had it all together only to meet with disastrous fate. The moral failure of preachers can be identified with this root. Jimmy Swaggart was one of the mightiest evangelists in history; millions were saved under his preaching. Outwardly, he was on top of it all. What went wrong? What would drive a man to lose in twenty minutes what took him twenty years to build? Indications go back to the problem with pornography in his youth that were never dealt with. The stronghold of lust was never torn down. It is not enough to be outwardly conformed to God’s will; we need to be free from the inside out!
It takes the supernatural power of God to pull down a stronghold. Weapons of natural wisdom and self-help will not bring lasting freedom. It is also to be noted that you can’t cast the stronghold out. We’re not dealing with demon possession here, but controlling habits and compulsive behavior that stem from the battle for the mind. Jesus said in John 8:32, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” It is not the truth that sets us free, but rather the truth that we know. Dig into the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit begin to renew your mind and tear down all of the external patterns that don’t come from within.