Driving out the Nations

Deuteronomy 7 – The Program for Conquering Canaan

Deuteronomy 8 – A Call to Commitment in the New Land

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One Reply to “Driving out the Nations”

  1. The themes of chapters 7 and 8 are pretty straightforward: love God alone, don’t forget it was his power that saved you and utterly destroy the people who occupy the land God has given you.

    The first two concepts are easy to discuss, they are consistent with the words of the Law and seem completely sensible. “The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord love you” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). Moses continues to remind the people to pay attention to the laws, to follow them, to keep their side of the covenant (7:12) and as a result, you will be blessed (e.g., children, crops, wine, herds, etc.) (7:13-15).

    Moses calls the people to remember those times when God delivered you from your captors and especially in the wilderness where he fed and clothed you miraculously. Don’t forget “your clothes did no wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years” (8:4). The Lord disciplines his own in order to keep you humble. And you must remain humble even after taking over the land. Don’t become proud and arrogant (prophetic words in 8:12-14).

    These two are not difficult to discuss with nonbelievers that open the Bible and drop in the middle of Deuteronomy then look at you and ask, “what is it about your God that requires ‘his people’ to completely destroy these people?” How do we defend these questions? Part of me concludes that these stories are captured in the Bible to intentionally cause people to ask. The Israelites certainly did what God required (much of the time) and history will show that these things did in fact occur. It’s not that we’re proud of ancient history, but if we look at these times, that’s what people did! We don’t advocate genocide or the ruthless destruction of cities these days, but we can’t avoid the fact that this is a history that we must accept. If these stories weren’t in the Bible, we would be forever attempting to defend our ancestors and bicker about who killed who. Instead, God puts all the cards on the table face up. Here. This is what they did.

    Not only that, but they denied God and indulged in immoral behavior, turned their backs on him time and time again. They repented and turned. They worshipped and honored. They were good and they were horrible…just like we are today. They even denied Jesus as the Messiah that was foretold by the prophets they greatly honored. Yes, these histories are riddled with stories of indiscretion, but also of incredible devotion, of promises kept, of enduring faithfulness and of hope. God is the God of hope and this is really why we have these rich histories so blatantly portrayed in the likes of Deuteronomy.

    Don’t cower when someone asks about the destruction of tribes, cities, kingdoms in the Old Testament. Don’t speak of it with pride either, these were dark times when evil was openly portrayed. Do speak of the love of Christ and the hope of the future without reservation. Yes, we all screwed up, but now we have seen the light and are moving forward. Our past is behind us, though not forgotten, we move toward a greater goal.

    Thank you Lord for revealing to us this history, even if it’s difficult for us to understand in today’s political-social climate. Help us to hear those who question you when they read these passages, help us to see their underlying desire to know you because they are seeking. Give us patience and wisdom. Thank you for the opportunity to point others to Christ this day!

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