There are many principles that God illustrates to us through the lives and actions of the people who populate the Old Testament. In Genesis 24:6,8 we see one of these principles enacted through Abraham’s servant Eliezer when Abraham sent him to the place of his extended family in Ur to seek a wife for his son Isaac:
“Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there…But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there.””
Abraham twice emphasized to Eliezer that under no circumstances should he take Isaac back to the land of Abraham’s birth. God had promised Abraham the land of Canaan would be his possession for him and his offspring (Genesis 12:7) and he believed Him. That belief was so deep that even when Sarah died, Abraham would not accept the offer of free land in Canaan near Hebron from the Hittites to bury his wife. Abraham insisted that he pay for that land (Genesis 23:17-18). This initial purchase gave the Israelites everlasting possession of the land, which was to become Israel. (As an aside: This action long ago provided Israel with the legal title to this land. Any claims by any other people group – such as the so-called Palestinians – that they originally had possession of Israel are false. In fact, there are no true Palestinians. That name first came about in 135 BC when the Roman emperor Hadrian renamed Israel to Palestine in order to eradicate any memory of the Jews from the land.)
If God did not want His people to return to the land of their original ancestors and ensured that Abraham understood this, how does this apply to us today?
When we are born again and saved by the blood of Jesus, we become new creatures in Christ. He gives us a new heart. We become aliens and strangers in the world because we have a new home that is promised to us in heaven. Our old home is the world we continue to live in for the time being, but it’s a place in which we should no longer ever be comfortable. We should not be like Lot’s wife who turned her eyes back toward Sodom because she missed that evil place and her heart wasn’t in the escape (Genesis 19:26). For that she paid a great price: the loss of her salvation.
This applies to all Christians, but especially newer and immature followers of Christ: So as to escape the lures and temptations of our old life, there are four things we must avoid:
- Old people
- Old places
- Old patterns
- Old playgrounds
We must be dead to our life prior to Christ. The only reason for any of us to return to the old things is because God has given us a specific ministry among them. Other than that, we should reject the old life that Satan had ensnared us in through the deceptions of the world.
If we look with longing at our past and think we can dabble in those things that previously kept us from God, we are sadly mistaken. Those old people, places, patterns, and playgrounds will grab hold of us and drag us back away from God’s presence. Just ask anyone who has struggled with alcohol, drug, or other dependencies what happened when they compromised to take just one drink, a single toke, or a harmless little snort.
We are to look forward and up toward our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His imminent return.