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In the Gates

Discover, Dismantle, Destroy

The Second Commandment

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Deuteronomy 12.2-4

You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place. You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way.”

Acts 19.18, 19

These verses suggest an active campaign on the part of the people to discover, dismantle, and destroy all venues and forms of pagan worship. Constant vigilance against pagan ways must be practiced or Israel’s holiness would be compromised, and God’s Name would be profaned.

Mountains and trees are often regarded as sacred places – connecting points with the heavens and the unseen realm. God Himself uses these venues in leading His people to think of His greatness, majesty, and beauty. These venues were not to be avoided; rather, they were to be redeemed. Whereas pagan peoples used stained their mountains and groves with the blood of innocents, Israel would liberate them as pristine pages in the book of creation, once again allowing the glory of God to show through.

Our task is not unlike this in every area of life. Wherever something which, in itself, is not inherently evil has been taken over by corruption and unbelief, there the followers of Christ have a duty to clear the decks and restore an arena for God’s glory to shine. This includes not only places in the environment but such daily activities as conversation, dress, eating and drinking, and how we do our work. All such areas, wherever pagan and unbelieving ways obtain, are to be cleansed and renewed by the Word and Spirit of God, that the glory of God hidden in them may shine through for all to see. This is our calling as the chosen people of God (Prov. 25.2; 2 Cor. 10.3-5; 1 Cor. 10.31).

This series of In the Gates we present a detailed explanation of the Law of God, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and working through the statutes and rules that accompany each commandment. For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the practice of ethics, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to and click on our Book Store.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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