Moses is preaching one of his final sermons to the people of Israel before they enter into the promised land. Moses is explaining the law to the people so that they will have success and enjoy the blessings of the promised land. In Deuteronomy 6 we see Moses expressing who God is and how the love of the Lord must be from their own hearts and taught to their children to do likewise. To enter the promised land, not only must the people know God and teach the love of God to their children, but they must also know who they are because of what God has done for them. I would like to draw your attention to the key verse of this chapter, which is Deuteronomy 7:6.
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 of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 7:6 ESV)
The Lord chose you to be his treasured possession. We will come back to this and see what God is saying to the people in just a moment. I just wanted us to see the big idea so that the surrounding passages will make sense as we move through them.
Cut Out Temptations To Sin (7:1-5)
Moses begins by teaching the people about what God is going to do for them. The Lord is going to bring you into the land and clear away all the nations for you (7:1). Notice that Moses tells them the reality at the end of verse 1. These are seven nations that are more numerous and mightier than you. When you go into the land, the numbers are going to look bad. But look at verse 2. The Lord your God will give these nations over to you and you will defeat them. God will defeat the people for you. They are more numerous and stronger than you but God will give them over to you and you will defeat them by God’s power.
Therefore, God tells them to that are not to make any alliances or treaties with the inhabitants of the land. They are not to show these people any mercy. Why? Does this not seem wrong? But notice it is not that God is merciful and we are in the wrong for not showing mercy. God is instructing the people to not have mercy on the inhabitants of the land because this is God’s judgment against the people of the land. This is God’s judgment on the people’s wickedness. Now we do not know this from God at this point in the book, though God will say this in Deuteronomy 9:4-6. But God declared this truth earlier, as seen in Genesis 15:16 and Leviticus 18:24-30.
Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. (Leviticus 18:24–25 ESV)
So God is not giving out random, unfair judgments. The nation is worthy of judgment for its sins and God is using Israel as the instrument of judgment. Remember God will do the same toward Israel, using Assyria as the instrument of judgment and also against Judah using Babylon as the instrument of judgment. God is equal in his treatment of the nations. The wicked will perish under God’s judgment and prolonged rebellion will not be shown mercy.
Therefore God calls for the people to not be like those people that are receiving this judgment. Do not marry those in the land of Canaan. They need to cut down the idols in the land. Rip out all temptations that could cause them to sin. It is easy to be led away to sin. So God tells the people to cut out the temptations toward sin.
The big reason why is what we read in the introduction to the lesson. The people are to be holy to the Lord (7:6). You are called to be different because you belong to him. You are chosen to be God’s treasured possession. Israel was to understand the special relationship that they enjoyed with the Lord. They were to understand that they were chosen by God and because they were chosen, they were to live differently from the world.
Not Merits, But Love (7:7-8)
But God does not want his election to lead to arrogance or self-righteousness. Listen to verse 7-8. God did not choose Israel because they were more in number. They were not more in number. So they were not chosen on their merits. They were not chosen because of their size. Why did God choose Israel? It was not something about Israel but because “the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers” (7:8). The question answers itself. If I ask you parents why you love your children, what would be your answer? The answer is because you do. It is not because they have done anything. We love our children because we do. We love them because they are our children. This is God’s answer to Israel. Why did God choose Israel? It was nothing about themselves that they did anything. God loves them because God chose to love them. God loves them because he does and he keeps his word. The source of God’s election is his own love and his own faithfulness to his word.
Be Careful To Obey (7:9-16)
Because this is God’s nature and basis for love, then we can know with confidence that God keeps his word. He does what he says. God keeps covenant and steadfast love. Here is God’s faithful word: God blesses those who love him and keep his commands and God repays those who hate him to his face. God keeps his covenant. The question is which part of God’s covenant faithfulness would Israel experience. Would they love God and receive blessings or hate God and receive punishment?
Knowing this about God, the message to the people is to be careful to do all the commands (7:11). A chosen people possessing these great privileges demonstrate their commitment to the Lord by their obedience. God’s love demands a response. Verses 12-16 express the tremendous blessings Israel will enjoy for loving God and keeping the covenant God gave them. There are covenant blessings for covenant obedience. Future blessings were based on obeying what God told them to do. Notice that God loves Israel no matter what but blessings would only come if the people maintained faithfulness to the Lord. The Lord would take away every sickness and disease (7:15) and inflict those who were Israel’s enemies.
Look To God, Not To Self (7:17-25)
Listen to the confidence God is giving the people. If they become afraid, saying in their hearts that the these nations are greater than them and that they cannot dispossess these nations, then here is what they are supposed to do. Do not be afraid but remember everything God did to Egypt (7:17-18). Remember what God did in the past to Egypt and know that he will do this to these nations also. Israel is not too look to themselves but to look to God. They are to look to God and see what God did in the past. This was to remove the fear that they would have. Further, they were not to be afraid because God was in their midst (7:21). Because God is with you then fear is removed. The Lord your God is a great and awesome God. Fear is removed with the knowledge that God is with you. God will clear away the enemies (7:22) and no one will be able to stand against them (7:24). So destroy their idols and images of their gods (7:25). Listen to how this part of the sermon ends in verse 26. They are to hate what God hates. God hated and detest idolatry and so his people are to do likewise. Regard it as vile (NIV).
Now we might have the tendency to read this chapter and be impressed by all that God said to Israel regarding his blessings and promises. But this section of hope and promises are the same hope and promises made to us. Draw your attention back to verse 6, the key of the chapter, and the descriptions given to Israel. God chose them to be a holy people, a treasured possession to the Lord. Notice that this is the imagery the apostle Peter uses as he writes to Christians.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9–10 ESV)
You also are chosen to be a holy people, God’s treasured possession. You are now God’s people who have received his mercy. Listen to how the apostle Paul uses the same imagery to speak of who we are and what God has done for us.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11–14 ESV)
Think about what God was telling Israel in Deuteronomy 7. First, cut out temptations to sin because you are God’s chosen people. Look at what Peter and Paul are saying to us. Cut out temptations to sin because you are God’s chosen people. Second, you are chosen, not because there is something you have done to make God love you, but simply because God loves you. The grace of God has come making a people who were not a people to receive mercy that they did not have before. The grace of God has come training us to leave ungodliness and worldly passions. Third, Moses told the people to be careful to obey because of the mercy they had received from God. Paul also says that our great God and Savior Jesus Christ gave himself for us to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. We are careful to obey all that God has said because he has redeemed us and purified us.
What was to be the hope of the people of Israel? They could eliminate their fears by looking to God and not looking to themselves. They could have hope by knowing that God is in their midst (7:21). This is why Jesus is our hope. His name as Immanuel means “God is with us.” In Jesus we see God in our midst. God is with us. Therefore we look to him in our times of fear and concern. We have been chosen by God and our hope rests with him because he is with us. This is what motivates me to hate what God hates. This is what motivates me to destroy the false gods and rip the idols out of the heart. This is what motivates me to cut out sin. God is with us. God loves us. God has chosen us. God has made us his treasured possession. We will receive tremendous blessings from God if we are careful to do all that has been given to us in this glorious covenant established by Christ. We have redemption because God loves us. We have hope because God loves us. Let me end with one more idea. We have healing because God loves us.
Turn to Deuteronomy 7:15. In this verse God promises to take away their sicknesses and diseases. The picture is not that no one would ever get a cold. Sickness and disease are used by God to speak of our fallen condition and our need for healing. This is why when Jesus comes, what does he go around doing? Jesus is doing miracles of healing. Why? Jesus could do any miracles he wanted. He could make stars fall from the sky. He could make the sky open up. He could do anything. Why are the majority of his miracles ones that heal people? Jesus is fulfilling this hope!
And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. (Matthew 4:23 ESV)
Listen to what the Gospel of Matthew records later.
That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16–17 ESV)
Now that is a quote from Isaiah 53 which we know is a prophecy about the suffering servant coming to heal the people of spiritual diseases and illnesses. He took away what afflicted us. We are spiritually sick. How did God show he was healing us spiritually? He used something that we could see: physical sickness and disease. The healing of these physical diseases proves that Jesus has come to do what we cannot do: heal us, rescue us, and make us whole. Deuteronomy 7:15 says that God would take away the sicknesses and diseases of his people. This came to its great fulfillment when Jesus came and took away from us all that would keep us from being with our holy God.
You were chosen to be God’s treasured possession. Look to God, not to self. Be careful to obey all that the Lord has spoken. Cut out the sins in our lives. Understand that our hope is in his love and grace.