“They must not live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me. If you serve their gods, you will be caught in the trap of idolatry.” Exodus 23:33 NLT
One of my favorite restaurants here in my hometown is the Brick Street. My husband calls it, Chick Street because it tends to be occupied mostly by women. I love everything about the cafe. The food is great; the ambiance is so eclectic and fun. It seems there is little rhyme and reason to how the owner chooses her décor. If you are bored with your day when you come in, her amusing décor will make you leave kicking up your heels. It is a wonderful, delightful, and delicious experience.
Her décor might seem random, but her skill as a businesswoman is anything but accidental. Her restaurant is always full to the brim; she has a way of making her clientele leave either having eaten a piece of her famous cakes or carrying some in a take-home box. Her latest method of cake-trapping is the daily cakewalk. Approximately, at 12:05, the music becomes loud and raucous; her staff stops what they are doing and cheerfully parade around the café with cakes in their hands. Great, big, amazingly, delicious sugary cakes. My favorite is the sweet potato cake. The servers make their way to every table, telling the patrons the kind of cake they are holding. It is fun and delightful to experience. But just in case your mouth was not watering for cake before the cakewalk begins, it certainly is after the event is over! Oh, it is a highly effective technique! The cake-trap has been successfully set.
Ok, so what does this have to do with our Scripture? Moses had been up on the mountain receiving the law. The law that was going to be in a way a sitter or a caretaker for the people of Israel. This law was going to give them guidelines for wise and right living. If the people let the law guide them, they would see great success. Staying within the instructions given would make them happy and blessed. They would live righteously and be able to rejoice at everything God was doing on their behalf.
Many times, in the Old Testament, God told them, if they did not follow His rules for righteous living, they would become trapped. The Hebrew word trap, as found in Exodus 23:33, is the word, moques which is a noun meaning bait, lure, or snare. This word portrays the image of a noose for catching animals, or a hook for putting through the nose of an animal. An iron ring would be put into the nostrils of an ox so that the owner could more easily lead the ox, wherever he wanted it to go. It was an effective method of keeping an animal subdued and overpowered. The unfortunate animal was larger and stronger than the owner but unable to get freedom.
God told Moses if the people would serve Him, they would be blessed, their enemies would be made to panic, and turn and run from them; their boundaries of land would be secure and fixed. In other words, they would have a safe and bountiful homeland. But if they chose not to serve Him, they would be enslaved by others.
Just like the people of the OT, we too can be enslaved or trapped by the world around us, by the sugary-cake the world offers. It can be attractive and inviting to join in the ways of the world, but this is dangerous territory for the Christian. When we take our eyes off of Jesus, we tend to be ensnared and trapped by the appealing and self-pleasing life the world has to offer. It can look so attractive and engaging.
I have a framed saying on the wall next to my bed. It says, “In the morning when I rise give me Jesus!” I hung it several years ago. It is where I will see the words; when my feet hit the floor each morning. It reminds me to focus on him. I need the reminder daily, sometimes hour by hour and moment by moment. The world has many delicious sugary cakes to offer, but a life of freedom from enslavement and entrapment is a life lived in Jesus. Is there something that is of this world and has you trapped? A life following Jesus is so much better than any sugary thing the world has to offer!
In the morning when I rise / In the morning when I rise In the morning when I rise / Give me Jesus Give me Jesus / Give me Jesus You can have all this world / But give me Jesus And when I am alone / Oh, when I am alone And when I am alone / Give me Jesus Give me Jesus / Give me Jesus You can have all this world / But give me Jesus And when I come to die / Oh, when I come to die And when I come to die / Give me Jesus Give me Jesus / Give me Jesus You can have all this world / But give me Jesus!