Warning has been issued not to mention the names of other gods (verse 1313Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let [them] be heard from your mouth.). Here is a warning not to bow to the gods of peoples who live in the promised land (verse 2424You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their [sacred] pillars in pieces.). They must destroy those gods completely. These gods are a danger for their service to the LORD their God. They should serve Only Him. He tolerates no other god besides Himself.
Service to Him assures them of food, health, prosperity and safety. He shall bless their bread and their water, and shall ward off disease from them; miscarriage, infertility, and premature death shall not occur. They will live long in the enjoyment of the blessing, without fear of their enemies.
For us it is written in 1 Thessalonians 1 that we have converted from idols, which we have destroyed, “to serve a living and true God and to wait for His Son from heaven” (1Thes 1:9-109For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,10and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, [that is] Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.). Serving God is also our calling. We may know that our work for the Lord is not in vain, or without consequence (1Cor 15:5858Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not [in] vain in the Lord.).
The LORD takes it upon Himself to rid the land of their enemies. He does not do that quickly, but gradually. That is His wisdom. If He does it quickly, the people will never be able to work the whole area at once. Then it will become a wasteland. If they take possession of the land step by step, they can work it calmly. Their work will then keep pace with their numerical growth. That way they will be able to do the work.
This is also the case spiritually. The knowledge of God’s thoughts happens gradually. God does not suddenly open our mind in such a way that we know the whole truth at once. Taking possession of the spiritual blessings is a process, it keeps pace with our spiritual growth. If we have come to know a piece of the truth, we must first put it into practice. Then the Lord gives us to see a new aspect of it, then we discover something again in the Word. Often this happens after we have removed something from our lives, a certain sin or a wrong habit, which has hindered our growth.
That is why, at the end of this chapter, it is pointed out once again that no connection whatsoever is made with the inhabitants of the land or their gods. They are not allowed to let them live there, they are not allowed to give them space. To deal casually with this commandment will turn into a trap for them. We too must not give space in our lives to the world and its idols. It is significant in this context that John concludes his first letter with the call: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols” (1Jn 5:2121Little children, guard yourselves from idols.).