Deuteronomy 7 - Commands to Conquer and Obey
A. Conquest of the Canaanites commanded.
1. (1-5) The command to completely destroy the Canaanites and their culture.
a. When the Lord your God: Israel wasn't in the land yet, but Moses still instructs them as if it were a certainty. This is the faithfulness of God, but also according to His principle of preparation. God prepares us before He brings us into a place.
b. Greater and mightier than you: "Sure," Moses says, "the Canaanite nations are greater and mightier than you. But they are not greater and mightier than God." God was bringing Israel to face a challenge which was impossible in their own strength - but entirely possible in Him!
c. When the Lord your God delivers them over to you: Not "if," but when. God could be counted on.
d. You shall conquer them and utterly destroy them: Yet, God would not do it all for them - the extent of the work would depend on their faithful response to what God had done.
i. Utterly destroy them . . . nor show mercy to them: This is the key to victory as we take the "Promised Land" of blessing and peace God has for us in Jesus. We show no mercy to our enemies in the land, but we destroy them utterly. Many of us, truth be told, simply do not want to completely destroy the sins which keep us from God's "Promised Land" of blessing and peace - we want to weaken them, and have some control over them, but we do not want to utterly destroy them.
e. We are especially to destroy anything which would lead us into a false or foreign worship: destroy their altars, and break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images.
i. Why such a complete destruction important? Because of the depraved nature of the worship of the Canaanites, who worshipped male and female gods of sex, and who practiced human sacrifice with their own children.
2. (6-8) Conquer them completely because the Lord loves you.
a. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God: Israel was holy in their standing before God before they were holy in their conduct. They were set apart unto God by His choosing (God has chosen you to be a people for Himself), and were then called to live as chosen people.
b. As much as anything, their election meant the Lord set His love on them. Their motivation for such a total obedience was to be that they knew they were loved by God.
i. This is the great motivation for obedience - knowing and walking in the love of God. When we really believe God loves us, and live with that belief as a conscious fact, we find it so much easier to obey - and to utterly destroy anything that would wreck that relationship of love!
3. (9-11) Conquer them completely because you serve a God of justice.
a. The Canaanites had demonstrated, over many generations, their hatred for God - now, God will repay them, using Israel as His instrument. He repays those who hate Him to their face.
B. Blessing on an obedient Israel.
1. (12-16) Abundant blessings for obedience.
2. (17-24) Have confidence in God's strength.
a. Their recollection of God's faithfulness in the past will give them hope for their current struggle.
b. You will be unable to destroy them at once: God will go before Israel and fight for them (the great and awesome God, is among you) but He will not drive all the enemies out at once. Israel may have wanted to have the land all cleared out before them, but God knew it was not best for the land or for them.
c. The "easy" way (for God to clear all Israel's enemies out at once) had consequences Israel could not see or appreciate (lest the beast of the field become too numerous for you)
d. Little by little: Much to our frustration, this is often the way God works in our life; clearing things out little by little, though we might prefer it all at once. But God wanted Israel to grow spiritually in the process of taking the Promised Land.
i. Doing it all at once might seem easier and better to us, but will have consequences we cannot see or appreciate. God cares that we grow, and so He grows us little by little.
3. (25-26) Do not share in their abominations.