Thursday, June 5, 2008

Day 156: Deuteronomy 7 & 8

Destroy the Canaanites & Remember Where You Came From

Deuteronomy 7 & 8

Moses is continuing with instructions for the Israelites when they enter the land God is giving to them. First, they are to completely destroy the seven nations who currently live there. Those societies are entirely corrupt and if left intact will corrupt God's people. Although these nations are stronger than Israel, they are not to fear them, for God will go ahead of them to drive them out and deliver them into their hands.

Many people ask: Why would God want the Israelites to destroy these people? Isn't that rather harsh? But from God's standpoint, the Canaanites are ripe for judgment. Remember back in Genesis 15:16ff when God promised this land to Abram? He wasn't giving it to Abram then because He said, "the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete." In other words, God was merciful and patient with these societies for several generations. But ultimately they never repented and just became more and more corrupt. So now the Israelites would enact God's judgment on these nations.

Second, God instructs them (again) to keep His commandments. And if they do, He promises to bless them greatly. They will live in abundance, will not be plagued with diseases, and will be victorious over their enemies.

God also reminds Israel of the care He has provided while they wandered in the wilderness. Since God has proven Himself to be so faithful, they ought to be faithful to God by keeping His commandments.

When God told Israel to destroy the seven nations who are bigger and stronger, He also assured them that He was the one who would really be doing it. And lest they be afraid to obey, He reminded them of His demonstrated power in Egypt. God truly is a mighty God, and if He tells me to do something -- even though it may seem impossible -- He is the one who will provide the power for me to do it.

God also reminded Israel that He didn't choose them because of what they could do for Him. He chose a powerless, tiny people who could do nothing. That way it's only His power that is demonstrated. They did nothing to deserve His love, so His love is what shines, rather than how great they were that God should choose them.

The Israelites are not holy because they keep the Law. They are holy because God made them holy. He set them apart from the rest of the world, and that is what makes Israel a holy nation.

God reminded Israel of His history with them. He is not asking them to take the land from the Canaanites with blind faith. They can see what God has done before. God has a track record, so to speak, so He showed them that they can trust Him on this next phase.

And God reminds them of one more thing -- when they get proud and forget God (which they will do once life gets easy), He will discipline them, and it won't be pretty!

Likewise, I need to remember that as a believer, I am holy. But my holiness is not a result of anything I do or don't do. I am holy because God made me holy. He chose me and set me apart for His purpose. He did not choose me because I could do some certain service for the Church. He did not choose me because of my value. He did not choose me because of my strength. He did not choose me because of my obedience. I have service to give, value and strength and obedience because He chose me.

So, when God asks me to do something that looks impossible to me, I need to remember that it's HIS power that will complete the task He gives me. I have the entire Bible, the accounts of many believers throughout history, the accounts of people I know, and the working of God in my own life as examples of God's faithfulness. Isn't that enough! I need to look to Him when I face temptation, when I face trials, in times of great sorrow, in times of hurt or confusion, when the task is too great for me to accomplish. For He is the one who will accomplish the work at hand -- in me and through me.

Lord, I thank you for choosing me and making me your child. I know that I do not deserve such status. I did nothing to earn it and was small and insignificant. You have chosen to love me and have called me to be holy and to love and obey you. Help me to be mindful of who you are as the God who provides and gives strength for me to love and obey you. Let me not become proud and take credit for myself for the things you do in and through me. Amen.

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