We continue to work through Deuteronomy in our series “Faithfulness for the Next Generation.” Moses instructs Israel that in their conquest of Canaan, they must make no compromise. Faithfulness to God means devoting these nations to complete destruction. Israel must show no mercy, give no truce, allow no marriage, make no covenant. Why? Because the LORD God has chosen Israel as his covenant people––to be holy, treasured, blessed above all peoples. Because Israel is chosen by God, they must not compromise this covenant with anyone or anything. This covenant keeping or covenant compromise will not only affect your life but the next generation, even to a thousand generations.
“When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out 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 mightier than you, and when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the Lord will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly. But thus you shall deal with them: you shall destroy their altars, and break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire.
“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face. Therefore you shall keep the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them.
“Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock. And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you. Also you shall destroy all the peoples whom the Lord your God delivers over to you; your eye shall have no pity on them; nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you. (Deut. 7:1-16)
No Covenant Compromise (7:1-5)
The Lord gives direction for how Israel must conduct their conquest in Canaan. Seven nations are listed, and God requires Israel to devote them to complete destruction (vs. 1-2). What God demands is drastic. Take no prisoners. Show no mercy. Give no peace. Make no covenant. The Lord requires all the people to be destroyed. Why? “For they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods” (vs. 4). Moses further directs in Deuteronomy 20:18, “That they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against your God.” Don’t learn to worship who they worship. Don’t learn to worship how they worship. (Deut. 18:9-13).
God requires total destruction of the false, evil, demonic worshippers, but also all objects of false worship––the altars that burn babies, the pillars, the Asherim, and burn the images. Don’t become like the Canaanites, so that God would not treat you like the Canaanites.
Chosen for God’s Treasure (7:6-9)
Why must Israel not compromise her covenant with these other nations or give allegiance to their gods? Because they have been chosen by the LORD to be his own treasured possession. Here’s the flow of the argument––Make no covenant with these nations (no mercy, no marriage, no sacrifices) because you are already a nation covenanted with the LORD God. Verse 6, “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” Israel can’t be go and give her worship to these other gods, because she’s taken. Israel is the Lord’s. The Lord has chosen her and selected this people as his own. Out of all the people of the face of the earth, God chose Israel as his treasured possession. Israel is to be like her God––holy.
Even though Israel is treasured by the Lord, Israel shouldn’t conclude that God chose her because she was such a treasure. Moses chucks a cold bucket of reality on Israel, “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all people…” (vs. 7) Israel was not chosen by God because she was so choice, nor successful because she was so deserving. In chapter 9, Moses emphasizes that Israel’s successful conquest was not based on her righteousness (9:4-6). All he has do is lean into the mic and say, “Golden Calf.”
If is was not because of Israel’s great population or military prowess or courage or righteousness, then why was Israel chosen by the LORD. Deuteronomy 7:8 gives the answer, “But it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (vs. 7-8). Why then? Because the Lord loves Israel and he is faithful to keep his covenant promises. And this is very good news for Israel and for all his people. This is good news because you are NOT tall enough, strong enough, obedient enough, righteous enough to merit God’s election. Our election is based on God’s grace. You are treasured by God, not because you were such a treasure, but because you have been treasured by God! You are in covenant with God because he loves you and keeps his covenant. And you should know Him.
Covenant Blessings to a Thousand Generations (7:9-16)
Moses concludes in verse 9, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them.” We are to know the Lord––that he is God, he is faithful to his covenant, he deals with all people. What is the essence of keeping the covenant? Loving God. What is the essence of breaking the covenant? Hating God. Know that God will bless those who love and obey him. Know that God will repay those who hate him. And so you must make no compromise.