I was recently doing some pleasure reading in the book of Deuteronomy. That’s pretty common, right? Anyway, in case you haven’t perused it lately, Deuteronomy is the book of the Bible where Moses basically lays out all of the commands that God has for the Israelites as they enter the Promised Land in Canaan. It’s a list of dos and don’ts, and rewards and punishments that you will receive based on your level of obedience. Fun stuff, really.
After reading through a few chapters, I started noticing a pattern. At the end of almost every list of dos and don’ts, the Israelites are told to purge the evil from among them. Sometimes it refers to other gods worshiped by other nations, sometimes it refers to the actions of God’s people, and other times it refers to the people performing those actions.
Nevertheless, the people are told ten times by Moses to purge the evil from among them. Being a fan of justice, that intrigued me. I started thinking about what that would be in my own life, my own church, and in my community. But every time I started to think about grabbing my sword, jumping on my horse, and galloping into town to purge the evil doers, I got one of those “not so fast” feelings from the Holy Spirit. To me, that meant that I had yet to find the right evil to purge and I needed to keep looking.
As it turns out, there are other parts of the Bible that reference eradicating evil.
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:5 NIV)
When I realized that the Holy Spirit was leading me in that direction, I’m not going to lie, it got a little bit awkward. I had to start thinking about all of the evil, all of the sin in my own life that I needed to get rid of. As it turns out, purging your own evil can be a bit more challenging than pointing your finger at the specks in everyone else’s eyes. Did Moses really say that ten times? Geez…time to get to work.