“And in all that I have said to you,
you shall watch yourselves,
and the name of other gods
you shall not invoke
nor shall it be heard on your lips“
Verses 1-12 of Exodus chapter 23 dealt with rules and regulations between man and man.
Now from verses 13-20, a 2nd category begins….that of how man is to relate to the Lord which includes the pilgrim festivals.
Note the Lord’s stern “in all I have said to you, you shall watch yourselves”.
This summarizing command reiterates the obligation of loyalty to a single God.
It also serves as a transition from the group of laws dealing with justice and social equity to the laws of the pilgrim festivals.
See, the thing is, the ancient Israelites were just like us in always trying to find loopholes to get out of their idolatrous tendencies.
We will see the Israelites struggle with this problem time and time again and YHVH constantly reminding them that other Gods are absolutely NOT to be tolerated.
So far in the Torah, we are told that Israel is commanded to not makes images of other gods nor to worship other gods.
And now the Lord is saying they are not to even SPEAK about, invoke, or chant the names of other gods.
NO WIGGLE ROOM AND NO LOOPHOLES ARE ALLOWED WHATSOEVER!
This command forces me to take a good look at a movement that has gained tremendous popularity in the West.
I’m talking about yoga and all of the chanting that goes on when its practitioners are putting themselves through a variety of bodily contortions.
The simple truth about yoga is that it is deeply rooted in Hinduism.
The meaning of the word “Yoga” is “union” (derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj”).
In fact, our English word “yoke” also comes from the same Sanskrit root.
So to practice yoga means to essentially attempt to “yoke” oneself with the divine.
Although many will argue that as a physical discipline, there is nothing inherently harmful in the practice, the truth is all of the yogic postures, breathing and chanting were NOT originally designed to bring about better physical health and well-being.
They were designed to bring about a sense of oneness with what is termed “BRAHMAN”.
This is the Hindu word for the absolute being that pervades all things.
We’re talking about pantheism here folks.
But rather than focusing on all of the physical contortions that comprise this Eastern discipline, in light of the Lord’s stern prohibition to not even in the slightest bit “utter” the names of other gods, I’m more concerned about all of the chanting that goes on in a yoga class.
For example, what is this repetitive “OM” (actually spelled A-U-M) sound all about?
The best concise explanation I could come up with is as follows:
OM is a representation of the divine, all-encompassing consciousness as it manifests in the form of sound.
It is essentially a description of the universe in its constant process of unfolding or coming into being from nothingness.
I don’t know about you, but the phrase “divine, all-encompassing consciousness” smacks of a religious/spiritual significance that I would personally have difficulty accepting.
I’ve never been to a yoga class but I have a non-believer friend who goes regularly.
I heard in one class, the students were asked to chant the word GANESH.
GANASH is actually an elephant headed deity, the son of Shiva and Parvati and one of the most celebrated and widely worshipped deities in Hinduism.
In another yoga class, I heard that the students are called on to say this prayer.
“I bow to the lotus feet of the Supreme Guru;
I prostrate before the sage Patanjali”.
Holy bazooka brains!
I can’t bow down in prayer to some Hindu yogi.
I only bow down to YHVH, the Creator.
I was talking about how we believers have all these loopholes we turn to to explain away questionable behavior, behavior that may be quite detrimental to our relationship with the Lord.
Are not all of those Christians who practice yoga and use every excuse under the sun to justify their participation in this practice possibly a good example of all of this loophole finding?
For example, check out this quote from a Christian yoga practitioner reasoning that it’s okay for a believer to chant OM.
“Since OM comes near to the utmost limit of what can be uttered or heard, it is considered better fitted than any other sound to express the bankruptcy of word and thought when the mind is directly presented with the ineffable mystery of God.
The contemplative or apophatic (way of negation) tradition of Christian prayer is based on the same premise: that there are no words or images or concepts which can ultimately capture the reality of who and what God is. This is what Psalm 46 witnesses to when it says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
I don’t know about you, but it sounds like a “loophole” to me.
God’s Torah clearly says and the name of other gods you shall not invoke nor shall it be heard on your lips“
However, many Christians for the most part operate under the assumption that God’s Torah is no longer valid for their lives.
So maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised.
Actually, this brings me to the biggest loophole of them all that many Christians use to get out of obeying God’s clear commands on many matters.
The loophole that the Law has been done away with.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets;
I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”