“Do not look on them with pity…” (Deuteronomy 7:16) This might need to become your personal rallying cry. It has become my family motto.
Pity, at least the word used here in Hebrew, seems to carry the idea of having no limits. Where a person might normally stop or restrain himself, Israel is to proceed without hesitation. Hang with me a bit and let me explain a little about Hebrew. The word used here for pity is pronounced ‘hus’ and consists of three characters: hey, vav, and samech. Every Hebrew letter is a symbol carrying long held meanings. We could loosely compare it with the way we use the letter X to signify ‘the spot’ or A to signify ‘excellence’. In ‘hus’, the first letter, hey, symbolizes ‘the breath of God’, vav is the symbol for ‘a man of the word’, and samech represents ‘support for the fallen.’ To get the connection, watch what is going on in the word. Within it we see God’s word and a man who represents or embodies it. This godly man is the support for the fallen. It is easy to connect these dots to Jesus – the Word of God come to support those fallen from God. He’s there as God’s representative to help those who have fallen from God’s word.. But….wait….wasn’t he merciful? Didn’t he show pity?
Good question! We’ll get to the answer. But first, remember the context of Moses’ statements. Fresh from their wow-moment with God, and straight out of a land filled with gods, Israel was about to enter Idol-Central. Now, Canaan, though flowing with milk and honey, wasn’t a beautifully serene country with tidy religious practices sequestered to quaint little whitewashed structures. Idols, sorcery, witchcraft, demonology, and even human sacrifice lined the streets. Innocent human blood flowed in the name of the necessary price to pay.
Years ago, I experienced something similar to this blanketed idolatry. With my wife, I traveled to the countries of Benin and Togo in West Africa. Literally, every 10 feet along both sides of the village roads there were idols. Odd looking things. Eerie. Ghostly stone figures roughly made with no real art to them, just images resembling the human form close enough to be recognized as that. Everyone wore charms and bracelets. Skin packets, small cloth pouches, and bundles of straw or sticks were attached to their homes and businesses. “Voodoosee’ was openly advertised on handmade billboards. Crowds marched through town with one or more of them apparently in some state of demonic or spirit possession. Idolatry was everywhere….and so was poverty, discord, filth, and any type of evil you might imagine. Idolatry does not promote unity, love, care, compassion, or consideration. It enslaves, limits, impedes, and divides. Idolatry is selfish, works based, and depletes energy and resources. It was into territory like this that Israel was told, “Have no pity.”
Moses’ instructions became very specific. Don’t intermarry them. Don’t make any exchanges or treaties with them. Crush and burn the idols, symbols, and any jewelry or artifacts associated with their fallen state. In other words, Israel was being told to have no area or arena in which they were to tolerate the local’s behaviors or beliefs – no pity. This clear line of difference, distance, and distinction apart from being an uncompassionate act was actually an offer of vitally necessary aid to the fallen. By removing the evil, by destroying the images, by resetting the stage, those who had fallen (see Rahab later in Joshua 3) and those who might fall were enabled to stand again. This is a much needed instruction for us today. We are offered a new life through Jesus, but it isn’t an add-on. It’s an all-or-none offer. We can’t participate in evil, even a little, because we’re to be men who have no pity for anything contrary to God’s breathed word. Our ‘no pity’ stance is an offer of strength to our society, but especially to our sons.
We all know the fallacy of a Dad directing his son, “Do as I say do, and not as I do.” It just doesn’t sit well and it certainly doesn’t inspire better behavior. If I tell my sons, “No sexual immorality,” while I’m spending hours a day viewing porn online…well, you understand my point without me having to spell it out. A man who has self-control is in the most powerful position to support and help his son to avoid falling into evil. “No pity” is the greatest help a dad can offer his boys.
“No pity!” is a position of strength. Consider the ties that need to be severed, the idols that need to be trashed, the associations and agreements that must end in your life. Take action. Remove them ALL so you can access all the good God has for you and for your sons. Put no limits on what goes; attack without hesitation! NO PITY! NONE!