Final Lessons on Devotion from Deuteronomy

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is my privilege to write to you one more devotion this month. This devotion will conclude my series on studying Deuteronomy that I began with you back in October. I hope that you have been blessed by my teaching of God’s word and that today’s devotion will continue to cause you to grow in your love for God and in your dedication to Him alone.

Today we will be looking at our last passage in this section of Deuteronomy – at chapter 7:1-11. But let us review once more before we arrive at that text. Remember that this section began with the 10 Commandments, which were introduced in chapter 4 and presented in chapter 5. When we studied God’s Law, we learned that each of the 10 commandments relate back to the events at the very beginning of time, back to creation and the fall as recorded in Genesis 1-3. These commands pointed to the fundamental reality that God is the all-powerful Creator and Sovereign King over His world and over His people. His people were to worship Him and Him alone (commands 1-2). They were to bear His name rightly (command 3). They were to submit to His plan for their time and for all history (command 4). They were to be obedient to the authority He placed over them (command 5). They were to represent Him and His character by upholding life (commandment 6), by upholding the holiness and purity of marriage (commandment 7), by upholding God’s authority over what they owned and what their neighbor owned (commandment 8), and by upholding justice and truth (commandment 9). Lastly, their submission to, and contentment with, God’s sovereign rule was to extend to His ordination of their possessions (commandment 10).

In chapter 6 we saw that the heart of this entire law is summed up in the greatest commandment found in 6:4-5, “4 “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut 6:4-5). God’s people were and are commanded to love Him exclusively and entirely.  He alone deserves such love for He alone is the Creator of all things, He alone is the King of Kings, He alone is God – He alone is our God. In verses 6-9 of Chapter 6, Moses taught that the first way God’s people are to love Him  is by impressing His Word in their hearts (vs 6), teaching His word on every occasion and at every moment (vs 7), binding it to their personhood (vs 8), and inscribing it on their possessions (vs 9).

Then in the rest of chapter 6 and on into our text today, Moses gives 3 specific examples of how Israel was to love YHWH. If you look at the passage of 6:10-7:11 you will see three repetitions of the conjunction “when” or “then” (Heb: ki) which marks the start of the 3 sections of the text. In the last devotion we saw that in 6:10-19 Moses showed us that we love God by not forgetting Him. And then in 6:20-25 Moses revealed that we love God by teaching our children to love God. Today, what we see in the last section, in 7:1-11, is Moses teaching us that we are to love God by hating what He hates.

Hate what He Hates – 7:1-11

Look with me at chapter 7:1, “1 ‘When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you, 2 and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. 3 You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons,’” God was expelling these Canaanite nations from the land because of their sin and idolatry (Genesis 15:6, 1 Kings 21:26). Israel was to carry out God’s just judgement against these nations by conquering the land that God promised to their forefathers.

Furthermore, by thrusting the Canaanites out of the Promised Land, Israel would have been removing the temptation to join in their sin and their worship of false gods. One of the most tragic days in Israel’s history leading up to this point was the rebellion at Baal Peor, which is recorded in Numbers 25. It was there that the Israelites were seduced into adultery by Moabite women. These women then led the Israelite men to worship after their idols and even be as bold as to fornicate in front of the Tabernacle of God. God sent a plague on the people of Israel to judge them for their sin and 24,000 men died. This is why Israel was prohibited from mixing with the Canaanites. If they did, they would be led astray into idolatry, which, as we learned in Deuteronomy 5, was committing spiritual adultery against God. To do so was not loving to God, but an act of outright hatred and rejection. Again, and it’s important for me to make this clear, this was not a command meant to preserve racial purity as some have mistakenly used this passage. Instead this was to keep the heart of God’s people holy by destroying that which would lead to idolatry and spiritual adultery, verse 4, “4 for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. 5 But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire. 6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.”

God’s people are holy, set apart for His purposes. They are to love Him and Him exclusively. This is what was commanded in the first 2 commands and in the Shema. Loving God means choosing Him and what He wants over and above anyone or anything else. Conversely, to love something on this same level is to choose not to love God – to choose to hate Him instead. Israel was to hate idolatry and deal sternly with anyone or anything that tempted them to idolatry. I will again quote Abner Chou here, “God’s demand for Israel’s actions are not because of some arbitrary hatred for foreigners but rather to ensure Israel’s purity (all the while establishing God’s justice). It is to ensure that nothing lures Israel away from their God. Compassion to such temptation is not “kind” but rather an affront to God.”

Israel was to have a radical zeal for God, which meant that they were to have a radical zeal to reject, to remove, to turn away from anything that tempted them to hate Him. To motivate such radical love for God, Moses reminds the people of God’s amazing love for them, “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. 7 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 peoples, 8 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.” See here that God’s relational love is at the foundation for His commandments. See also that God chose them, not because of any quality within themselves, but because He loved them. He chose them out of all the nations to be their God. He was faithful to them and to their fathers. He delivered them. Therefore they were to know that YHWH is God – He alone is God and they should worship, obey, and love Him alone.

Practical Application

So then, dear brothers and sisters how shall we apply these truths? At risk of being redundant, I want to remind you again that we now have the ability to truly love God as He desires because we have all entered into the New Covenant relationship with Him. We have been filled by the Holy Spirit who is our helper in these things. We have been set free from the curse of disobedience to this law by Christ who bore our curse on the cross.

Let us love God then by hating what He hates. Let us be filled with a zealous love for Him that leads us to reject, and remove, and run from anyone or anything that pulls us away from our dear Savior. As Christ has commanded us, we must hate that which causes us to stumble by cutting it out of our lives (Matthew 5:29-30, 18:8-9). We must not deal mildly with temptation and sin. Instead we must act with radical zeal by running from temptation and mortifying our sin. Remember, God demands exclusive love and acting like this demonstrates that we have love for Him and Him alone. Furthermore, for those of you who are single, for the young adults and the youth, apply this truth to how you choose your future spouse. Do not pursue someone who will turn your heart away from Christ. Do not covenant with them, or as Paul writes, do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever (2 Cor 6:14). Let your love and devotion to Christ guide and guard your heart as you enter into relationships. Lastly, dear saints, strengthen your love and devotion to Christ by fixing your eyes on God’s rich love for you. While you were yet a sinner, He died for you (Rom 5:8). While you were dead in your trespasses, He made you alive (Eph 2:4-5).  Contemplate His choosing of you from before the foundations of the world and the reality that His election of you was an act of His sovereign love (Eph 1:3-6).

It is my prayer that these truths from God’s word have been helpful for you and have stirred you into greater devotion and love for our great God.

In Him,

Pastor Ben