The Bible dictionary defines 'defile' as: 'to make unclean or impure'. The purpose of OT laws about defilement was to preserve the holiness of God's chosen people, but the rabbis had turned them into a legalistic system emphasising ceremonial cleanliness while ignoring spiritual purity.
Jesus reversed this by stressing moral purity and ethical living. Nothing that enters a man from the outside (e.g. eating with ceremonially unclean hands) makes him unclean. It's what comes from within that does so.
Out of men's hearts come evil thoughts [top of the list], sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. (Mark chapter 7 verses 21/22).
As Creator, God never wanted this to happen
In loving His creation 'to the max', God gave mankind freewill to seek Him but this fully enabled them to also ignore Him: to live life in unrestrained freedom to do their own thing.
Such is the nature of true love. As with our children, true love must involve the possibility of outright rejection. It we could force our children to love us, such 'affection' would not be love at all because force and freedom, as direct opposites, are mutually exclusive.
How had the Israelites defiled their land?
God's charge was that they had defiled it: "by" their conduct and their actions...they had defiled it "with" their idols. (Ezekiel chapter 36 verses 17/18).
Do we have idols today?
We do. Ours are more subtle than stone carvings or totem poles covered with feathers and shells. Anything that creates a gap, space or distance between us and our Creator-God that draws us away from Him, is an idol.
Thus: sport, money and possessions, power, gardens, hobbies and travel, lust (the physical act minus the spiritual dimension of love, commitment, restraint and loyalty) and out-of-marriage sex (to mention but a few) can become such attractions; worldly indicators of happiness or/and success, of 'having arrived'.
Lust and wrongful sex, and a possible over-emphasis on any of those other matters, can easily become harmful to a healthy relationship with God.
Through Peter's writings, God urges Christians to: abstain from sinful desires which wage war against your soul. (1st Peter chapter 2 verse 11).
Way back in OT times (but still applicable today), God said to the Jews: Because Israel's immorality "mattered so little" to her, she defiled the land. (Jeremiah chapter chapter 3 verse 9).
How are we any different today where marriage is largely ignored and sexual purity is almost non-existent? Doesn't our immorality 'matter so little' to us?
What have we done?
Australia's 'standout god' is probably the universal desire to live the good-life, closely followed by sport: the former mindset being that personal pleasure is our major aim. This can usher in self-indulgence of every kind: that 'I am number 1'.
In itself, personal satisfaction is not an unworthy aim if it is kept in healthy perspective.
What does God say?
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:...to keep oneself from being "polluted by" the world. (James chapter 1 verse 27).
We are to no longer follow: the ways of this world [and the] god of this age... [such] that they "cannot see" the light of the gospel, this meaning the good news of Jesus' offer of life to the full in the here-and-now and in the hereafter. (2 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 4).
Different nations may defile their land in different ways. One may have earned itself a reputation for having full-on compromised sexual morality, or via its legal system for being 'soft' on drugs. Another for being awash with private gun ownership bringing with it seemingly endless mass shootings and trigger-happy police.
Some have reputations for treating women and girls poorly, or for having an appalling human rights record. Another may be a lawless nation having warlords, gangs, a drug culture and annual murder rates in the thousands.
But all is not lost
Although the following currently seems to be a vain hope, God nevertheless graciously promises (not only to the Jews then but to us now) that:
"If" My people...will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, "then" I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2nd Chronicles chapter 7 verse 14). Our action: God's response.
Historically, revival follows spiritual drought.
Achieving national uplift
To receive God's blessing as a nation there is a serious need to strive to achieve it, commencing with the practice of drawing near to Him once having recognised and acknowledged His presence. Regrettably, here in 'secular Oz' church attendance barely registers on the 'spiritual radar screen' and our television news reports the daily consequences of this.
Nationally, if we were to re-discover Biblical spirituality, we would realise that: Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a disgrace to any people (Proverbs chapter 14 verse 34), and that "For lack of guidance a nation falls". (Proverbs chapter 11 verse 14).
It's His world after all
As Dr David Jeremiah says in the introduction to the book of Amos in his Study Bible: "The discerning will [nevertheless] see the hand of God at work in the world that belongs to Him."
Gavin Lawrie is a retired Barrister and Solicitor from Tweed Heads NSW Australia and author of the book: 'THE EVIDENCE OF EVOLUTION: Uncovering The Faulty Science Of Dawkins' Attack On Creationism'. He is married to Jan with two adult children and they are grandparents.
Gavin Lawrie's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/gavin-lawrie.html