The old phrase “curiosity kills the cat” certainly applies to the ancient Israelites concerning the pagan nations that surrounded them. The book of Deuteronomy is a re-statement of the law for a new generation of God’s people poised to enter the Promised Land. The previous generation had experienced a failure of faith and perished over the course of a forty year sojourn in the desert. But now their children were ready to enter the land and receive the promises of God.
The Lord knew that the people would be curious, in all the bad sense of that word. These verses are a clear warning to keep away from the practices of the nations that God was about to dispossess from the land. Sitting here now thousands of years removed from the Old Testament, we know the end of the story. The Israelites, although having a remnant of people faithful and devoted to God’s law, as a whole allowed their curiosity to get the best of them and did not follow the Lord.
Before becoming a Christian thirty-five years ago I did not live according to God’s commands. Because of that reality in my life, I have always found it “curious” that there are believers who wonder if they are missing out on something, having always been in the church. They may even adopt some cultural practices, like offering their children on the altar of wealth or sports, serving the idols of security or getting ahead. We must all have the wisdom to identify the healthy practices of our culture consistent with God’s Word, and the unhealthy curiosity to pursue endeavors uncritically without making sound godly decisions.
Ever-present God, you have given me your Word to know and live by. Strengthen my knowledge of you and my faith so that I will serve you faithfully today and always through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.