Have you heard of “echo chambers”? I was listening to a podcast this week where a guy said that in our day and age, especially because of the many, many choices we have for news, and because of social media, that Christians too often live in an echo chamber.
Echo chambers are rooms where you can talk and hear the sound waves of your voice bounce off the walls and repeat over and over so you hear an echo, echo, echo, echo. We do this in life too, especially with the news, when we listen to one viewpoint over and over. For example, if you believe that one particular news outlet is biased, you might decide to never listen to or read any reports from that news outlet. What happens is that we tend to load our social media feeds with producers of news that tend to agree with us. Or we watch TV news shows that affirm our beliefs. Usually this falls along political lines. It doesn’t matter if you are conservative, progressive, or liberal, it is human nature to want to be affirmed. But that can create an echo chamber in our lives, where we almost always, or maybe only, listen to what we already believe. We don’t listen to other points of view and actually become insulated from hearing them at all.
Here’s the thing: Christians should not be in an echo chamber. Instead Christians should be people who are able to evaluate multiple points of view with a Kingdom perspective! The question, then, for Christians is, where do we find this truth?
As we will see in Deuteronomy 18, God was also very concerned that Israel would be able to find the truth too.
In the last few months studying Deuteronomy, we’ve seen laws about worship, food, holidays, governance, generosity, and time and time again, God tells Israel that they are not to be like the nations around them. Israel is to be different because they follow God. God wants Israel to be different because he loves them and has a heart for justice, for human flourishing. In the nations surrounding Israel, there is much injustice. So Israel must look different.
Once again in Deuteronomy 18, we see God warning Israel about the temptation to be like the selfish, destructive nations around them, because those nations had many detestable practices.
Look at what he says in Deuteronomy 18:9-14. Verse 9 tells us that in the Promised Land of Canaan, the land Israel was about to enter and take over, there were nations who did all kinds of detestable practices.
I tried to imagine how it would feel for the people of Israel to enter into this foreign land and see all these different kinds of practices.
Have you ever been to a foreign country where Christianity is not the dominant religion? It is an eye-opening experience. When I was in Guyana, India, Nepal, Cambodia and Malaysia, I encouontered a bit of this. I saw numerous temples and flags and statues devoted to the gods of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. It was certainly very interesting, for example, visiting a Buddhist temple in Cambodia, talking to a Muslim Imam in Guyana, and watching Hindus enter their temples in India. I felt uncomfortable, and yet curious, but I didn’t feel tempted to give my life to those religions.
So from my vantage point, it seems like Israel would not be tempted to get into all those detestable practices, especially because they have God on their side. Why would they ever think of anything else? Well, God knows his people. Consider that slave mentality could be a factor here. They were slaves 400+ years in Egypt, and thus it would be very unlikely that in the 40 years since they left Egypt that they would have removed this mentality from their way of thinking. Slaves did as their rulers told them. God knows, therefore, that his people could be tempted by the powerful nations around them to fall back into that slave mentality.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the detestable practices people in other nations used to gain knowledge and power, practices that God wants Israel to have nothing to do with.