An Exhortation of Obedience
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 7, keeping in mind that we have been studying the book of Deuteronomy for a number of weeks. Follow in your Bibles as I read the entire chapter so that we might get the sense of it:

Deuteronomy 7:

1When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, 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 thou;
2And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:
3Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
4For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.
5But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.
6For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
7The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
8But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
9Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;
10And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.
11Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.
12Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers:
13And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.
14Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.
15And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.
16And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee.
17If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them?
18Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the Lord thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt;
19The great temptations which thine eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the stretched out arm, whereby the Lord thy God brought thee out: so shall the Lord thy God do unto all the people of whom thou art afraid.
20Moreover the Lord thy God will send the hornet among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed.
21Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the Lord thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible.
22And the Lord thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee.
23But the Lord thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed.
24And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them.
25The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God.
26Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.

Before we look at chapter 7 in detail, let us remember that we are looking at what we have referred to as the second discourse , which Moses delivered to the children of Israel on this side of Jordan. You will recall that we told you the book of Dueteronomy is made up of three discourses: one blessing, one song, and one obituary, all of them delivered by Moses to the children of Israel over a period of forty days.

In the first discourse, Moses reviewed the failures and mistakes of past years so that the children of Israel would be able to avoid them as they entered into the Promised Land. In the second discourse, we said Moses was repeating the law of God with amplification and exhortation. The second discourse begins with chapter 5 and continues through chapter 26. The chapter at which we are now looking represents another of the exhortations which accompanied the giving of the law. We noticed one of those exhortations in chapter 6 of the book of Deuteronomy, in which Moses exhorted the people to complete obedience to the Word of God, reminding them that the perils of prosperity would keep them from giving strict adherence to the commandments of God.

Climate for Obedience

As we come to chapter 7, which we have just read in your hearing, we find the second exhortation that accompanied the repetition of the law, and this exhortation was related not so much to adherence to the law of God, not so much to obedience to the command of God as to those things which would enable them to give complete obedience to God's commands, to give complete obedience to God's Word. In other words, chapter 7 represents an exhortation to provide the right kind of climate for strict obedience to the Word of God because obedience to God's Word is never easy. There are many things that will detract, many things that will represent perils in obedience to the Word other than the blessings of prosperity at which we looked have previously looked.

In this chapter, we will notice the things which Israel had to face in order to provide the right kind of climate for obedience to God's Word. In noticing what they had to face, we will learn by way of application the things which we, as believers, even in this age of grace have to face if we are going to be obedient to the Word of God.

I think what we had better do at the outset of our discussion is to recognize a problem that exists in the minds of many people when we come to a chapter such as this. We might as well resolve the problem at the very outset so we will be able to get the lessons that are before us. The problem to which I refer is suggested in verse 2:

Deuteronomy 7:

2And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:

Then again in verse 5:

Deuteronomy 7:

5But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.

Then again in verse 16:

Deuteronomy 7:

16And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee.

Then down in verse 23-24:

Deuteronomy 7:

23But the Lord thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed.
24And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them.

All of these verses, were we to sum them up in one simple phrase, demand total destruction of the seven nations which are listed in verse 1—total destruction. We will notice the reason for it in this chapter before we get through, and we might set some of your minds at ease by saying that, even though God demanded total destruction, the Israelites did not obey. They did not totally destroy these nations, but that will come out in further discussions as we go along. The problem is, how could a just God demand total destruction of any people? Where is God's love? Where is God's understanding? How barbaric. How unreasonable. We could go on, for much has been written about this problem to which we refer—men's finding it impossible to reconcile such passages as this in the Old Testament with the love and the justice of God.

Let us establish at the outset that God demanded no more of these Israelites than He Himself would do, for in the chapter we have read in your hearing, you will notice this description given of God in verses 9-10:

Deuteronomy 7:

9Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;
10And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.

The first part of this paragraph does not present a problem to most people. They like to talk about the faithfulness of God. They like to talk about the fact that God keeps covenant and mercy with those who love Him. They like to emphasize that God keeps His commandments even to a thousand generations. But when they come to verse 10, they somehow or other want to back up and think about a different kind of God because verse 10 tells us that God is not any more slack in repaying evil than He is slack in keeping promises of blessing. The Bible says that the Lord is not slack concerning His promises as some men count slackness, and everybody knows that that means that God will keep His word. You can depend upon it. We would remind you that the same God is not slack in relation to just retribution, for if God excused sin, it would make Him a party to sin. If God smiled upon evil, it would make Him a partner in that evil. He would be violating the very laws which He had written, and in violating those very laws which He had written, He would be establishing a precedence whereby it would be impossible for Him to even keep the promises which He had made.

The problem concerning total destruction in these seven nations can be resolved in the minds of intelligent people if they keep in mind two statements which are presented here in verse 9: “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God…” That is the first statement. “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God…” That one simple statement gives the biblical explanation for God's doing what He does without explaining to man why He does it. Someone may say, “I don't like that explanation.” Well, I am sorry. That is the explanation which God's Word gives and you might as well recognize in your own minds that God is true and honest and upright and every man is a liar or else just reject the entire Word of God.

The Apostle Paul takes this same thing in relation to the nation of Israel in relation to God's setting aside Israel and bringing in other nations to carry on His will and purpose. He faced it in relation to Esau and Jacob. He faced it in relation to God's dealing with Pharaoh. He answered it in this manner. Notice Romans, chapter 16, verse 9:

Romans 9:

16So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
17For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
18Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
19Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
22What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

All of this could be summed up in one phrase: “The sovereignty of God.” God is Who He is. Therefore we have no right to question what He does. We may wonder about some of the things that He does. We would like to know why, but we should never question the judgments and the wisdom of God. This may sound like an archaic teaching to some and it may sound rather foolish to others, and people are inclined to say that God expects us to be simply robots doing what He says without question. In the final anaylis, God expects us to recognize His sovereignty and know that what He does, He does, and He is not obligated to give an explanation to anyone. In the sovereignty of God, He has a right to order the destruction of people.

Having said that, I must say that if we are going to present the whole truth that is found in the Word of God, that God would never order the destruction of people as dictators order the destruction of people. That is for the furtherance of His own purposes. God would never order the destruction of people as earthly rulers have ordered the destruction of people and then discover that they had made an error. For example, in a like situation, but one not quite so serious, is the chastening of the Lord. In chapter 12 of Paul's letter to the Hebrews, the apostle represents the fact that God chastens everyone whom He receives, but he hastens to add that the chastening is different than the chastening which earthly parents give their children, for earthly parents give their children chastening and oftentimes are mistaken in the chastening. But God never is, and when God orders the destruction of an entire people, you can be sure that He has a reason for it.

The reason for this particular order for destruction lies within the Canaanites themselves. Their sins were such that God could tolerate them no longer upon the earth, and He but used the Israelites as instruments in His hands for their destruction and removal. That we know without doubt that this is true is verified by what God told Abraham in the book of Genesis. You will recall that God told Abraham that he and his descendants were going to inherit the land of Canaan, this very land on the borders of which the present generation was cast while Moses was presenting this particular discourse at which we look. But God said to Abraham in Genesis, chapter 15:

Genesis 15:

13And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
14And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
15And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.
16But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

What was it God said to Abraham? “Abraham, I am going to give you the land of Canaan, but I can't give it to you today. As a matter of fact, I won't be able to give it to you for something over 400 years, and the reason is the Amorites, the Canaanites, have not yet relinquished their control of it, but in that length of time, they will have.” God, in his sovereign omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence knew that the Canaanites would have sinned away their day of grace and forfeited their right to the land.

So in answer to the problem which is presented to the minds of many in this first verse and its related verses, may I say that God is not doing anything wrong, and there is no real problem if it is interpreted in the light of God's Word.

No Political Alliances

We want to get on with our chapter. At the beginning of this discussion, we said that in this chapter we are going to find some things which Israel, as a nation, was prohibited from doing in order that they might be able to create an atmosphere in which the obedience to God's Word would be easier. If you will look down at verse 2 again, noticing particularly the last statement. He said: “Do not make any political alliances with the people of the land of Canaan. If you do, you will not be able to obey God's Word thoroughly.” We will see, when we get over to the book of Joshua, that they did the very thing that God told them not to do. They made some alliances with the Gibeonites and they had trouble no end because of it. Make no political alliances. That was the first prohibition that God enjoined upon them if they were to create an atmosphere in which the Word of God could be fully and completely obeyed.

Then you will notice down in verse 3:

Deuteronomy 7:

3Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

No Marital Alliances

Not only were there to be no political alliances, there were to be no marital alliances, no marriage relationship, with these unbelievers.

Then in verse 5, we read:

Deuteronomy 7:

5But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.

The reason for it is, later on in the chapter, they should not serve their gods. Notice verse 16:

Deuteronomy 7:

16And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: [now notice] neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee.

No Religious Alliances

So there were to be no religious alliances. Let's think for a moment about what we have said. God said that if they were to create an atmosphere in which they would find it easier to obey God's Word, they should be prohibited from making political alliances, marital alliances, or religious alliances.

No Worldly Alliances

By way of application, I would like to suggest that those same prohibitions are given to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ today. Those same prohibitions are enjoined upon us. For example, even though we are told that we should pray for those who are in authority and that we should do all that we can that we might lead a peaceable and godly life on this present earth, we are told to ever keep in mind that we are in this world, but we are not of this world. We are warned against making worldly alliances. We are told, for example, in Philippians, chapter 3, verse 20, that we should always remember that our citizenship is in Heaven. We should never forget it. We should be constantly looking toward Heaven for our direction and not toward any earthly capital center of government or what have you. We are told that we are soldiers and pilgrims here. It is when this Church of the Lord Jesus Christ forgets that it is a stranger and a pilgrim and settles down in the world that real trouble begins.

The attitude of the believer toward the world, as far as being in it but not of it, is concerned, is described very accurately by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians when he reminded them that in relation to this world, they should be in the world, but not of the world. They should learn to use the world without abusing the world. The suggestion is related to Christians' making use of the world for blessings and development in relation to God's plan and purpose, but never settling down in the world to the extent that the world has its claim upon them.

The fact that there should be no marriages on the part of the Israelites with the Canaanites by way of application can be considered by the child of God in no uncertain words because we are told in I Corinthians, chapter 6, that believers in this age should come out from among them and be separate and touch not the unclean thing, making no alliances with them. Notice II Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 14:

II Corinthians 6:

14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

There are many kinds of yokes in the world, we are quick to recognize, but let us also recognize that one of the most binding of all yokes is the yoke of marriage. So when Moses said to the children of Israel, as they went into the land of Canaan, that they should not intermarry with the Canaanites, he was providing an illustration of the fact that believers today are given the same command not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.

You will recall that the third prohibition which Moses gave to the Canaanites was the prohibition related to religion. He said, “Destroy their altars . Move them out of the way. Do not leave even one vestage of their religion showing because if you do, then you will soon be serving their god, and you must not serve their god.” There is a spirit of tolerance which has grown in this country which concerns me, a spirit of tolerance related to false doctrine, related to erroneous teaching. It seems that in the generation in which we live, there is the feeling that men, if they are saying some good things, should demand our support and should demand our sympathy.

Wait just a moment. I am not talking about the idea that there should not be religious freedom in our country. There should be; there must be. I am talking about the fact that in the religious world, men are not taking the stand that they used to take in relation to specifics from the standpoint of biblical doctrine, and because they are not taking that stand, they are tolerating a great many things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Moses prohibited the children of Israel from doing that with the Canaanites and the Spirit of God prohibits us, as believers today, with making any kind of religious alliances with individuals in this world in which we live, when those individuals are not walking according to the truth.

Do I hear someone saying, “Well, we can't all agree about everything.”? That is quite true, but the Bible makes one basis of distinction to which we must adhere, and if we do not adhere to it, then we are creating problems for ourselves. Notice, please, II John, verse 7:

II John:

7For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
8Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
9Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
10[Notice carefully now]If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
11For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

The basis of fellowship is the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and the related doctrine—the sufficient sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world. This is the doctrine which is the basis of all fellowship, and we are told in this passage of Scripture that if a man does not hold to this doctrine, then he should not be welcomed into the fellowship of believers. Yet, in our day, there are men who are excusing this very thing and entering into all kinds of alliances with people who deny the virgin birth of Christ, with people who deny the sufficiency of the atoning work of Christ. Moses warned the children of Israel not to make religious alliances with the Canaanites, and God warns us today not to make religious alliances with the people of the world.

Reasons for Prohibitions

Let's go back to Deuteronomy, chapter 7, as I offer to you some suggestions as to the reasons for these prohibitions. You know, sometimes we parents have to tell our children certain things and they don't quite understand the reason for it and they will say, “Well, I don't see why you say that.” We say to them, “Well, we just said it.” That is not going to get the job accomplished nearly so well as if we say, “Let me point out to you why I say this particular thing.”

God, as sovereign, as we have already pointed out in our lesson, has a perfect right to say what He will without any explanation to anybody, but in His mercy and in His grace, He does give us the reason oftentimes. Here are the reasons these prohibitions were set into effect. He said, “The reason that you should not make any political or marital alliances with the people of this land is:

Deuteronomy 7:

4For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.

“You want to know why I prohibit you from making these alliances? I will tell you why,” God said. “These alliances will turn your children away from Me, and then I will have to chasten you. You will leave Me no other choice, and I don't want to chasten you. I want to bless you. But if you make these alliances, you will be bringing yourself into the place of chastening.”

You make your own application to our Christian living today, and when you have time, read what is recorded in I Corinthians, chapter 11, where God deals with this very subject among believers, that it is neccesary for Him to chasten us when we step out of line, when we are out of fellowship with Him.

Another reason that Moses gave is found in verse 6:

Deuteronomy 7:

6For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

There is a very real sense, and you know this from our teaching, that Israel is a chosen people, chosen above all the people who are on the face of the earth. God has a special plan and purpose for them. In a different sense, not replacing the children of Israel, but an entirely different sense, we should recognize that the Church is a chosen people. “You are a chosen generation,” said Peter to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. “A royal priesthood.” Since Israel was a chosen people, more was expected of them than was expected of the nations round about them. By the same principle, we can say that since we as Christians are a chosen people, more is expected of us than of the people round about us. When you have time, reread the Ephesian letter in the light of this statement. You will find the first three chapters of the Ephesian letter discussing what a chosen people we are, chosen in Christ, if you please, even before the foundation of the world. Then the last half of the letter is dealing with some ways in which we should walk in view of the choice place we have in the plan and the purpose of God.

God's grace, in relation to the choice of Israel, is beautifully presented here, and we must not pass over it, for these are wonderful words indeed. Notice verse 7:

Deuteronomy 7:

7The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
8But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Did you notice what he said? “He didn't choose you, Israel, because you were important. As a matter of fact, you were the fewest of all people when God chose you, but He chose you because He loved you. He chose you because He made a promise to your fathers, and that promise was that He would do the very thing that He said He would do.” Here is a beautiful parallel in relation to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul concerning the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ: “He has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. He has chosen the weak, the insignificant things of this world to confound the mighty, that all the glory and all the praise might be to God.”

Conclusion

I do not know of a better passage of Scripture with which we can close our meditations at the moment than this that is found in the Corinthian letter. Notice I Corinthians, chapter 1, verses 26-29, where we read:

I Corinthians 1:

26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29That no flesh should glory in his presence.

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