Bible Reading / Book By Book: Genesis to 2 Samuel

Day 37 / Deuteronomy 7

Chapter 7 presents one of those difficult issues when God commands Israel to completely destroy the nations in the land God is giving them. The first thing to recognize is that the nations Israel is to destroy are not just political, they are also religious. Each nation had its own gods. If one nation defeated another, it was assumed that the god of the stronger nation was the stronger god. It was necessary for Israel to defeat other nations to prove their God was strongest and, in reality, the only God. Second, these nations were really evil.

Their worship included child sacrifice and prostitution. God used Israel as part of his judgment of evil. In Noah’s time, it was a flood; here it is military conquest. Third, the religions in the area could easily turn Israel away from the worship of God. In destroying the nations, God was also destroying false worship. What they were doing was motivated by a desire to see God worshiped in the best possible way.

When Jesus walked the earth, he taught a very different way. Nations no longer represented a particular religious system. We are taught to love our neighbors, but the most loving thing we can do is turn them away from false beliefs and toward a relationship with Jesus. Living a life that separates us from false beliefs is still a good thing, but how we draw others from false belief is very different from what is seen here.