Deuteronomy 7:1–2 (HCSB)
1 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess, and He drives out many nations before you—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and powerful than you 2 and when the Lord your God delivers them over to you and you defeat them, you must completely destroy them. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy.
This chapter is a warning and a command for the Israelites to remain pure for God upon entering and taking Canaan. Despite what initially seems to be a callous, harsh, command, there is much to glean from this chapter.
- God is powerful, the Israelites are not. Moses immediately reminds the Israelites just how weak and powerless they are, and how powerful God is. Although the Israelites will be taking part in displacing the peoples from Canaan, Moses makes it clear that it is God that “drives out many nations”. It is interesting that there are seven, a number that generally represents completeness, nations listed, more powerful than the Israelites, that will be defeated. And just to remind the Israelites how weak they are, Moses says in Deut 7:7, “you were the fewest of all peoples.” There can be no question that the conquering of Canaan will be credited to God alone.
- Man is susceptible to sin. It is always easy to look back and think, “I wouldn’t have eaten the apple,” or “I wouldn’t have made the golden calf.” But the truth is we are all corrupt, and easily captured by sin. This is no surprise to God either, and perhaps this is why He has Moses record the repeated warnings about what will ensnare and trap His people. Deut 7:3-4 says that if the Israelites intermarry with the inhabitants of Canaan, then their sons will be turned away and begin worshipping pagan gods. And the Israelites are not to worship the gods and idols of the Canaanites, as they will be a “snares” (Deut 7:16, 25). Freedom only comes through God, and the multiple warnings here make it clear that we must be diligent not to be ensnared with false idols and gods.
- Righteousness and sin do not mix. We might see the commands in this chapter as harsh, but in reality they are both gracious and just. God’s grace is evident in that He has chosen a people to lead in a righteous path, through following His commands, and, ultimately in the big story, saving all who come to Him through Himself. But He is also just in that as a perfect Being, God cannot, and will not, tolerate sin and disobedience. So we should see the sentence on the pagan nations as a result of that: God dealing with detestable sin, while providing a way to righteousness. Just because we might not like it, normally because we would like to continue in our sin, does not mean God’s judgement is not just… all it means is that we are sinners.
Lord, thank You for the grand story that has You saving us, providing a path, a way to eternity with You, cleansed from our sin through Your blood. I ask for forgiveness for the many, many, many times I chose, and continue to choose, my idols over You. Help me to smash them, and worship You alone. And guide me in a world that is constantly pulling me to the Canaanite lifestyle and culture, so that I can remain in Your grace, seeking and observing Your commands. Amen.