“When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? – that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.”
The Lord sternly admonished His people against becoming curious about pagan worship practices, especially as though these might hold some benefit or promise for informing the worship of the living God.
I don’t think these verses prohibit an informed awareness of pagan practices. Rather, I think they are intended to put a hedge around the hearts of God’s people, lest they allow their fancies and imaginations to bring corruption into the worship of God.
God made known to Israel how they were to worship Him. They could learn nothing from the pagans but what would corrupt their community and profane the Name of God.
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 www.MyParuchia.com and click on our Book Store.