Book of Deuteronomy Chapter Seven Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Verses 1-2: "When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you,2 and when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them." Just like the Lord chose Israel, He has chosen you. He could have created you as a guppy or a fruit fly, but instead you are a human being with the potential to be His child, a son of God, now and forever. He has an assignment, a calling for your life, and though it's not likely you will be called to invade some land or another, you may well be asked to take the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to someone that nobody else could reach. You have meaning and are important in God's plan for humanity.
Verses 3-4: "Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. 4 For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you." As the mission God assigns you to unfolds, you may be called TO a certain people, but you are not to become LIKE them. Quite the reverse: You bring the water of life to a people who are desperately thirsty for the living God, and they likely don't know what their thirst is all about. Such groups have, in centuries past, created religions that are like polluted water, counterfeits, temporary "fixes" for this thirsty world. And just like thirst can lead to a painful death, rejecting the one Lord we saw in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, leads to an even more painful reality—spiritual death, lasting—forever.
Verses 5-6: "But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. 6 For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth." I remember my first "comparative religions" class in school. Finally I had discoverved that I liked to learn, but wondered in that class: If religion is what we need, which one should I choose? The answer I later learned is this—we are not choosing a religion at all—we need to choose the Lord! Religions involve works. We are taught about special days, certain postures and times of prayer, books of theology and doctrines we are to read, and more. When Jesus was asked the question, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" He responded, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent" (John 6:28-29). He also said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). There are many who have claimed to be somebody special, often creating some kind of religion, but Jesus Christ is the One who leads us to forgiveness, to the Father, and to eternal life.
Verses 7-8: "The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt." Jesus speaks to us in our hearts and through the centuries, as He says, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you..." (John 16:16). God chose Adam and Eve, who failed to trust in the Lord and His Word; He chose little Israel, who would fail also. The Father chose Jesus, who was faithful in every way... He succeeded and though we stumble and fall, we get up again and live forever through faith in Jesus Christ. He "chose you," rescuing you from the slavery of sin, and He is faithful, for He keeps the oath sworn to His people: "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6,8, Hebrews 13:5). He is faithful—you can trust in Him.
Verses 9-10: "Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;10 but repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face." These verses speak of our eternal decision—God has chosen to offer us a relationship with Him, not based merely on our outward works, but on faith in the Lord. This is called the "grace," the unmerited favor of God. He sent the One who merits our love into this world to save us from our sin. His faithfulness is imputed to those who "believe in Him whom He sent" (John 6:28-29). We win the race, not because we are fast, but instead we ride on the shoulders of the One who has won the race.
Verses 11-15: "Therefore, you shall keep the commandment and the statutes and the judgments which I am commanding you today, to do them. 12 Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers.13 He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you.14 You shall be blessed above all peoples; there will be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle.15 The Lord will remove from you all sickness; and He will not put on you any of the harmful diseases of Egypt which you have known, but He will lay them on all who hate you." Here is God's alternative for us all: If we were to simply KEEP God's commandments, as seen in Chapter 5, incredible blessings could be ours. If we respect and honor God, are honest in our dealings with others and keep God's ways, good will come to us. That's the way it could have been for Israel. They would have healthy children and lush crops, the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be theirs in its fullness, and sickness and disease would be gone from the nation. Wow! And so, WHY did these blessings pass them by?—because of unbelief. They, like the rest of us, lacked the faith that the faithful Lord would keep His word. We have and will fail to keep the Law, but we can trust in the Lord. HIS faithfulness will sustain us—forever.
God's promises to the people, expresed through Moses, continue in Verses 16-19: "You shall consume all the peoples whom the Lord your God will deliver to you; your eye shall not pity them, nor shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you.17 If you should say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?’18 you shall not be afraid of them; you shall well remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt:19 the great trials which your eyes saw and the signs and the wonders and the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the Lord your God brought you out. So shall the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid." If you are chosen by the Lord, then certain promises will begin to unfold in your life. The promise to Israel was specifically that they would conquer the land of Canaan and live there, a place they largely occupy today. Just like they were delivered from Egypt after 400-years of slavery, the land in front of them across the Jordan River would be theirs... not because they deserved it, but because God is faithful. We are to see His faithfulness, unfolded in Israel through the centuries, and trust in Him who is faithful in all His ways.
Verses 20-24: "Moreover, the Lord your God will send the hornet against them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you perish.21 You shall not dread them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God.22 The Lord your God will clear away these nations before you little by little; you will not be able to put an end to them quickly, for the wild beasts would grow too numerous for you. 23 But the Lord your God will deliver them before you, and will throw them into great confusion until they are destroyed.24 He will deliver their kings into your hand so that you will make their name perish from under heaven; no man will be able to stand before you until you have destroyed them." As you watch or listen to the news and study history, you'll notice that the abiding emotion of mankind is fear, rather than the love we should have for one another. God told the people through Moses, "You shall not dread them," but they did. And notice the careful planning of the Lord for their future, and by implication, for ours: He would not clear out Canaan's human inhabitants all at once because He knew that wild animals would proliferate in the absence of human occupants and become a danger to God's people. Therefore, the Canaanites and other tribes would be defeated "little by little." And if the dream, the call placed into your heart by the Lord is slow in coming, it is likely because of a danger He sees but you don't expect. Again—trust in Him who has called you—He who is faithful will bring it to pass.
Verses 25-26: "The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, or you will be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God.26 You shall not bring an abomination into your house, and like it come under the ban; you shall utterly detest it and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is something banned." The nations that Israel was to displace had lapsed into utter idolatry. Their whole national systems revolved around the worship of false "gods." It would have been easy for Israel to fall into such practices and so Moses, as prompted by the Lord, told them to utterly destroy the idolatry of that land, not even salvaging the precious metals and other materials that made up those idols. God intends that we will worship Him alone, for since He is our Creator and He is absolutely good in every way, we reasonably worship the Lord and none other. The images that fill many homes and public buildings of the world often have idolatrous origins. We are to avoid them and place our faith in the One who is faithful. It will be to His glory and our benefit—forever.
Thank You, Father, for You are faithful. Thank You for being full of grace in sending the Son to save me, for I am hopelessly imperfect. Please forgive me and heal me. I praise Your Holy Name and place my faith in You. In Jesus Name. Amen.