Deuteronomy 7:1-15


“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, and when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you [a]defeat them, then you shall [b]utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your [c]daughters to [d]their sons, nor shall you take [e]their daughters for your [f]sons. For [g]they will turn your [h]sons away from [i]following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you. But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacredpillars, and hew down their [j]Asherim, and burn their graven 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 His [k]own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the [l]earth.

“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, 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 [m]slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps [n]His covenant and [o]His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; 10 but repays those who hate Him to [p]their faces, to destroy [q]them; He will not delay [r]with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face.11 Therefore, you shall keep the commandment and the statutes and the judgments which I am commanding you today, to do them.

Promises of God

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 [s]His covenant and [t]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, [u]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.

There is something folks seem to struggle with regarding the conquest of the Promised Land, and it is the idea that God is this blood-thirsty monster, who commanded the genocide of multiple nations.

But idea of a reckless brutal God, is missing several pieces of information. First, these were nations that did not fear God, but had every reason to do so. They were all descended from Noah, who knew and worshiped God. Many of them had also been neighbors to Abraham before the Israelites moved to Egypt and spent 400 years in captivity. They had seen firsthand how God blessed Abraham. They had seen Abraham rally his men and defeat multiple kings because they had kidnapped his nephew Lot and his family.

These nations chose to worship gods of their own imagination rather than the one true God, and they incorporated terrible rituals into their worship. Often they would include prostitution, or things like making children walk through hot coals, or worse, even sacrificing their own children to the fire. So this was not reckless, this was judgment for their failure to choose what was right, and diving very deep into evil practices instead.

Second, one might object that the children had no part in this, so why must they be killed, and one would be right. So it is important to realize that God makes a very distinct exclusion for those who have not reached “the age of accountability.” That is to say, they were just following orders, and didn’t really know what was going on. Even though we find it easy to sin from a very early age, almost from birth, there comes a time when one recognizes good and evil, and makes a decision to serve God or self.

So, many innocents were killed also, and that seems horrible, but in an odd twist, it would actually be an act of mercy to spare these children having to grow up without their parents. Further, since they were “innocents”, it is my belief, according to the word of God, that these children would have immediately been with God in heaven the moment that they were killed. They were freed from a lifetime of bondage to false gods (not to mention the anguish and torment of losing their family and home), and given an eternity with their creator, which is the hope of all who trust in God. It seems a harsh reality on the face of it, but when one believes that the soul is eternal, we know that this is true, and much better than if they had been spared.

But all of that is a side note really, for the main reason the Israelites had to purge the land of the inhabitants was for their own protection. Knowing all of the above, how they worshiped false gods, and knowing that the human will is weak, it is easy to see that the Jews would have been tempted to intermarry with the people of Canaan, and follow their false gods.

Further, this is what actually happened, for the Jews failed to purge the land, and God made the survivors a continual distraction to prove the loyalty (or fickleness) of His chosen people. And time and time again, while there were many who chose God, there were just as many, if not more, who gave into their weakness and strayed from God’s commands.

Which reminds me of something I heard yesterday, which is that we are quick to blame the devil for our troubles. But more often than not, God sends us storms and trials, to test our character, and to improve it. For when we trust Him, and make it through the storm, we come out stronger than before. And when we don’t trust God, well, you can imagine, or just read the rest of the Old Testament, and you’ll see the result. Trust God in everything, even when it doesn’t make sense, and He will work everything for good. Even if we don’t see it, He works everything for good.

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