Deuteronomy Chapter 7: 7 Enemies Who Occupied the Promised Land, Natural and Spiritual LessonsFeb 10th, 2010 | By admin | Category: Deuteronomy, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)
Deuteronomy Chapter 7: 7 Enemies Who Occupied the Promised Land, Natural and Spiritual Lessons
Deut. 7:1 When 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;
These seven enemies occupied the Promised Land, which the Israelites were about to enter.
Spiritually speaking, they represent enemies of the New Creation that are inherent in the inherited flesh of Adam. Because of the weaknesses of the flesh, these seven enemies have become very powerful except as the Holy Spirit countermands their leadings.
Notice that the Philistines and the Amalekites are missing from this list. When the Israelites entered the land under Joshua, they brought the seven enemies into subjection except for the Jebusites, with whom they compromised. The Amalekites lasted until David’s day, and the Philistines were a problem throughout the entire 450-year Period of the Judges.
Verse 1 is a statement of fact. Moses said that the Israelites would enter the land, that God would give them the victory, and that they would possess the land. For the New Creation, who are entering the heavenly Promised Land, verse 1 is more or less an instructive picture.
Deut. 7:2 And 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 show mercy unto them:
The Jebusites were a problem in David’s day. In the conquering of Jerusalem, Joab, who was David’s general, was successful in their capture.
Comment: The principle is that a little leaven leavens the whole lump (1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9).
Reply: Yes, that is the problem with compromise, bargaining, and/or diplomacy with an enemy. No mercy was to be shown to the seven enemies.
Deut. 7:3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
Deut. 7:4 For 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.
Parents were responsible for seeing that their sons and daughters did not intermarry with any of these enemies. Each generation was to instruct its children. Other people can be very nice on the exterior, but God was warning of great dangers, particularly from the religious standpoint.
Comment: In his old age, Joshua repeated this exhortation with some additional emphasis.
“Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God. Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you: Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you” (Josh. 23:11-13).
Reply: Yes, Joshua provided additional details of the dangers. Marriage was to be within each tribe. Thus the Israelites’ liberties were not to extend beyond certain parameters.
Comment: As spiritual Israelites indeed, we are to avoid such marital practices as well. Otherwise, our faith could be shipwrecked.
Reply: Not being unequally yoked is part of making straight paths for our feet (Heb. 12:13).
Comment: The exception for marrying one who is unconsecrated is where a brother has kept company with a woman for some length of time prior to consecration.
Reply: Yes, under that circumstance, one could marry an unconsecrated person, for the woman had passed the “flower of her age” (1 Cor. 7:36).
Comment: The Christian is to wage holy warfare against the sins within, just as the Israelites were to utterly slay their enemies.
Reply: Yes, that is the thrust, but of course we cannot utterly destroy our sins. We need the help of the Holy Spirit in this lifetime battle, which continues until the flesh actually dies. Until the stake is pounded through the heart of these evils, or sins, pinning them to the ground, sin will always have undue power over the Christian. “Get thee behind me, Satan” must be our attitude (Luke 4:8). Trusting in the Lord, not self, for power and the victory is the experience of the Little Flock. When some Christians fall, the experience so awakens them to a realization of their danger and the Lord’s mercy in rescuing them that from henceforth, they exhibit in their life the determination the Lord is looking for.
Comment: The Apostle Paul said, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
Reply: Certainly that is the ideal, but each of us can attest to the fact that while we are to cast down every imagination, there are moments when we fail in certain respects because of fatigue or other circumstances. In other words, we cannot perfectly obey the Law of God as given to Moses because it condemns us. We are not victorious in every single instance in our life.
Deut. 7:5 But 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.
Good King Josiah was remarkable in his zeal to rid the land of idols and the worship of false gods.
Deut. 7:6 For 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.
Because of the history of God’s dealings with Israel, one might ask, How can they be a special people who are “above all people that are upon the face of the earth”? God even called them a “stiffnecked people” (Exod. 32:9; 33:3,5). However, when true conversion takes place, people of strong characters become very special above those who are just nice, benevolent, noble people.
When transformed from their stubbornness, they are outstanding advocates for good. It is astounding that today, amidst present conditions in society, the little nation of Israel comes up with scientific, agricultural, and biological discoveries and inventions. Very small in number, the Jews are top-grade in honors.
Deut. 7:7 The 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:
At present, Israel is a tiny nation among the large surrounding Muslim and Arab nations.
Q: Does this reference to Israel’s being the “fewest of all people” refer to the time when Jacob and those with him—70 souls in all—went down into Egypt? After that, the nation began to multiply miraculously.
A: Yes. However, what startles us is that 2 million Israelites exited Egypt and 2 million entered the Promised Land, so each of the seven enemies must have outnumbered the nation of Israel under Joshua. Moses gave this discourse at the end of the 40 years, which was about 1575 BC, a relatively late date not too far from the Christian era. Therefore, we can understand that the numbers would be large, but at the time of Jacob, there were only 70 individuals. During the 215 years the Israelites were in Egypt, they multiplied from 70 souls to 2 million people.
Deut. 7:8 But 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.
Because God, the great Jehovah, loved the Israelites and would keep the oath He had sworn unto their fathers, He brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand. As great as Moses was with his outstanding qualities as a servant of God, he was an imperfect mediator with a perfect Law. Moses looked forward to the Messiah (Heb. 11:24-26).
Deut. 7:9 Know 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;
Deut. 7:10 And 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 “faithful God” keeps the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant “with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.” As originally given, before Abraham entered the Promised Land, the covenant was conditional upon his obedience. Following Abraham’s obedience, the covenant became unconditional, unilateral.
Comment: The colloquial expression “to a thousand generations” means “indefinitely.”
Comment: When verses 9 and 10 are combined, God is described as faithful and just.
Reply: Yes, verse 9 emphasizes God’s love (mercy) and faithfulness. Verse 10 talks about repaying those who hate Him. Thus love and hate are essential to the characters of all those in the Little Flock. Because Jesus loved righteousness and hated iniquity, God has anointed him “with the oil of gladness” above his fellows (Heb. 1:9). By birth, we tend to be lopsided in our development, being either too strict or too soft. God is looking for the balance of firmness of character with gentleness. These two characteristics blend into the type of individual the Lord is seeking to be the kings and priests of the future. There are conditions for everlasting life, and the education of our conscience becomes essential.
Comment: God is represented in Revelation 4:3 as being a combination of jasper (the diamond) and the softer sard stone.
Comment: With the Great Company being an immature, half-baked class, a danger, especially in Laodicea, is that they will be too emotional and merciful. The fact that the tribe of Ephraim is missing from the listing of spiritual tribes in Revelation 7:4-8 supports this thought.
Reply: To become a member of the Little Flock, one must be polarized in determination and singleness of purpose, whereas character development embraces other qualities that must be balanced or centralized. To win the race and gain the prize, one must run all out.
Q: Verse 1 started with God’s commandment to Israel to destroy the seven enemy nations.
Wouldn’t some of the Israelites have been hesitant to kill women and children?
A: Not at the time of Joshua. Today we are fighting against not merely flesh and blood but also spirits in high places. The fight will call for the exercise of the utmost faith when the hour of temptation comes. Contained within that hour are both spiritual and natural forces, which will be overwhelming except for those who have the fullness of the Holy Spirit. God tells us not to fear but to trust Him. We question within ourselves, “Do I have a sufficiency of faith?” If only we had the assurance that we would be faithful, we could rest secure. It is easy to talk in advance about what we will do, but when the test comes suddenly, how will we react? We cannot trust in ourselves but only in the Lord and His armor. Hopefully, we will put on all of the component parts of the armor (Eph. 6:13-17).
Q: How did God repay “to their face“ the ones who hated Him?
A: There were two ways. The Israelites were a covenanted people, having promised at Mount Sinai, “All the words which the LORD hath said will we do” (Exod. 24:3). Now, at the end of the 40 years, Moses was advising the Israelites to keep the commandments, saying that God loved those who obeyed. Consequently, those who had His commandments and did not endeavor to keep them were at enmity with Him. (In antitype, the Israelites represent God’s professed people of the Gospel Age.) There were different types and degrees of repayment depending on the nature and degree of the sinfulness that was involved. God had promised the Israelites that if they kept His statutes, judgments, and commandments, He would greatly bless them. Not only would their seed multiply, but even their crops would prosper—the land as well as the fruit of the womb. And they would be in good health. Conversely, if they were not faithful, the opposite would take place in their present life back there. Generally speaking, the rewards and punishments were contemporary according to their obedience or disobedience. Therefore, if the Israelites experienced physical evils, they knew that something was wrong. However, the Scriptures do say that some men’s sins go beforehand to judgment and some men’s sins will follow afterward with stripes in the Kingdom Age, so there are exceptions (1 Tim. 5:24).
Comment: Fruitfulness of the womb was one of the promises for obedience, yet some of the holiest women in Old Testament times were providentially kept barren for a period of time for the purpose of the type. The test of barrenness must have been difficult for those women.
Reply: Yes, there were exceptions for higher purposes. Rewards will be given accordingly in the next life for obedience.
Deut. 7:11 Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.
Deut. 7:12 Wherefore 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:
The overall lesson or principle of verses 11-15 is that obedience would bring temporal, natural blessings to the nation of Israel. The blessings were conditional upon their obedience. Instead of preceding the words with “Thus saith the LORD God,” Moses used a manner of address that was almost like a personal message. Of course the Holy Spirit was speaking through Moses, but he pursued a personalized method in giving the instruction. If the Israelites kept the judgments, God would keep “the covenant and the mercy” He had sworn unto their fathers.
Deut. 7:13 And 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.
The noble statesman Moses included a tenderness in the fatherly counsel being given: “And he [God] will love thee [if you hearken to His judgments].” Such statements were probably most helpful to Joshua, Moses’ successor, who had been very obedient throughout the 40 years. God would also bless and multiply the Israelites if they obeyed. He would bless the fruit of their wombs, their produce, and their flocks.
Comment: Moses’ words sound almost like a reversal of the curse that was placed upon the ground following Adam’s disobedience.
Reply: In giving such particularity of detail, Moses was delineating how the blessings would be fulfilled. He repeatedly reminded the Israelites that these blessings were God’s promise and that they were about to enter the Land of Promise. God was the foster parent of His chosen people.
Comment: In thinking of the promise to Abraham, which was repeated to Isaac and Jacob, we see that Jacob prospered in regard to serving Laban, for the herds greatly increased. And Abraham was wealthy for his day, being blessed temporally.
Reply: Although no one could keep the Law perfectly and gain the reward of life, a certain leniency, mercy, and consideration attended those who purposed and exerted effort to comply to the best of their ability.
Deut. 7:14 Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.
What a wonderful assurance that God would bless them for obedience!
Comment: Prior to the Exodus, the population growth of the Israelites was extraordinary and hence considered a threat by the Egyptians. Now they were given an additional promise of fruitfulness of the womb “above all [other] people.”
Deut. 7:15 And 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.
Here is another wonderful promise of blessing for obedience—all sickness would be removed.
Deut. 7:16 And 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.
Q: From an antitypical standpoint, what does verse 16 represent? No pity was to be shown to “the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee.”
A: First, before discussing lessons for the Christian, we will consider the type. The Israelites were very successful in eliminating the problem on the east side of the Jordan River. Now they were about to cross the river and enter Israel proper, where enemies were sprinkled throughout the land. For instance, the children, or strange progeny, of Anak still occupied the southern part of the land, and later, when the instructions of Moses and Joshua wore off—that is, in the third generation after this advice was given—problems occurred with the heathen gods of the land. The gruesome nature of those gods can be seen, especially in the Hebrew.
Unfortunately, most translations soften the remarks of the Hebrew in regard to the sordid and sadistic cannibalistic behavior that accompanied heathen worship. Not only was the worship of foreign gods a problem but also the practices that accompanied the false religions. Hence a thorough purging was needed. Are there suggestions for the spiritual application of verse 16?
Comment: The seven nations that were to be utterly destroyed picture our old nature, namely, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, Hittites, Hivites, Jebusites, and Perizzites.
Reply: Sometimes the term “Canaanites” is used to cover all of these enemies, but they were actually a separate people. The seven peoples represent seven spiritual enemies that the Christian has to face, and perhaps most of the battle is in the mind-set. Various suggestions enter the mind to deviate from the path of righteousness. The old creature reasons that it is all right to dabble a little in order to get experience, but even temporary experimenting can wean the Christian away from doctrines that the Heavenly Father and Jesus have promulgated.
Comment: The Apostle Paul said, “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (1 Cor. 10:21).
Reply: To drink of both cups and partake of both tables is experimentation. Sometimes brethren think there is benefit in innovation, but a step in the wrong direction leads to another and another, whereas one step at a time in the right direction brings more security in attaining the future goal of the high calling.
Q: Did the instruction to have no pity on these inhabitants of the land include everyone—men, women, children, and the elderly?
A: Yes, there was to be a thorough cutting off. However, it should always be kept in mind that no torture was involved in putting them to death. In contrast, heathen worshippers took sadistic pleasure not only in being loyal to their religion but also in extracting the most excruciating pain. The cutting off was to be abrupt and thorough, and it was necessary. If we could see motion pictures of the practices of these heathen peoples, we would probably be astonished at the degree of depravity that resulted from the worship of their false gods. We would then see the necessity for a firm “Thus saith the LORD” and for handling the matter in this fashion.
Comment: Some of the incidents in the Old Testament show what vile and gruesome acts were committed, such as ripping open women who were pregnant.
Reply: Molech worship required the burning alive and even the eating of infants. The nuances of these practices are hidden in the Hebrew. If modern civilization could see the cannibalistic behavior that occurred back there, they would have a different perspective in reading the Old Testament. By God’s grace, we were born with some natural faith, which has blossomed since we dedicated our lives to serve Him. As a result, we trust in the wisdom of His instructions, knowing they do not inherently contradict the statement that He is the God of love (1 John 4:8). The seeming contradictions will be sorted out and thoroughly revealed and explained in the Kingdom, when man will walk by sight rather than by faith, as we do in the Gospel Age.
Deut. 7:17 If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them?
Comment: The principle with the seven nations is similar to the Christian’s saying, “I have too much sin. How can I overcome it?”
Reply: That is true, but faith gives the victory. Faith can overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil.
When the Israelites fought these enemies, they battled them one at a time. Not only did the Israelites enter the land one step at a time, but they fought one enemy at a time. The Lord is gracious in not allowing us to be inundated with the permission of evil so that we can develop a measure of strength with victories and partial victories. Hopefully, we are growing in understanding and experience from the infant stage into teenage maturity and then adulthood. The growth is accomplished in steps and stairs.
However, if we think of, and try to overcome, all of our enemies at the same time, the effort is overwhelming. One brother used the illustration of a woman who is contemplating marriage. If she could see in advance the mountains of meals she would have to cook and the number of dishes she would have to wash as an obedient wife, the overwhelming experience would make her think twice about entering into wedlock. But when the chores are done little by little each day, each week, and each year and on and on, those doing them become veterans. The mind can enlarge and exaggerate a situation, whereas the Lord has promised He will not overwhelm us but will guide us by His hand through trials and difficulties. This happens in a gradual manner whether or not we appreciate His method.
Comment: We are not to look at the number and strength of the enemies but are to rely on the strength of God. For example, David was punished when he asked Joab to number the Israelites to see if there were enough fighting men to overcome the enemy (2 Sam. 24:1-15). Instead David should have relied on the strength of the Lord. The principle is, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).
Reply: Yes, several pertinent incidents are recorded in the Old Testament. On another occasion, David slew the giant Goliath. Faith in God brings the victory.
Deut. 7:18 Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the LORD thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt;
Past experience with both victories and defeats is helpful. Each experience—and our reaction to it—has instructional value for the lessons learned and for the experiences that will confront us in the future. As has been said, it is not the gale but the set of the sail that determines the goal.
Comment: Romans 8:31 expresses the same theme: “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
Deut. 7:19 The 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.
Comment: The “mighty hand” was used to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. God told Moses, “Lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea…. And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen” (Exod. 14:16,26).
Reply: We think we understand exactly where the Israelites traversed the land of Egypt and crossed the Red Sea. A particular nodule, a little hillock, is situated just before the place where they crossed. It seems reasonable to assume that Moses climbed that natural “pulpit” and then stretched out his hand so that the Israelites could see him raise his hand according to the Lord’s instruction. Dramatic visual demonstrations were made possible to a great portion of the nation so that they could enter into God’s instructions and providences with proper empathy.
In view of the tremendous victories and miracles performed on their behalf, the Israelites were without excuse for their later behavior and disobedience.
Deut. 7:20 Moreover the LORD thy God will send the hornet among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed.
Comment: Two other Scriptures mention the hornet. “And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee” (Exod. 23:28).
“And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow” (Josh. 24:12).
The symbol of a fly was used in Egypt, although it looked more like a bee. It was believed that the god who could control the insects of nature to fight for a people against an enemy was the “lord” of that particular incident. The devil is sometimes likened unto Beelzebub, which means “lord of the fly.” The Adversary copied many of the symbols the Lord used and gave them another application. In this case, Satan perverted the Hebrew account as stated here in Deuteronomy, for Jehovah is the Lord of the hornet. The Pharaohs who used these symbols ruled at a later date than is commonly perceived.
We do not usually think of an insect as having a brain, so to have a command over insects is more extraordinary than having a command over an animal or a beast. In verse 20, God shows that He is the Lord of anything, animate or inanimate, that He wishes to be His “angel” and do His bidding. For example, if an enemy fled and hid, hornets could pursue that enemy even into the holes of a cave, and screams from the pain of the stings revealed the hiding place to the Israelites. It was as though the hornets guided the Israelites to the hiding place so that they could destroy the enemy. Thus even the remnant who escaped was sought out and killed, and the land was subsequently inhabited in peace. Hornets are tenacious in pursing their victim.
In recent times, some miraculous incidents occurred in regard to Israel’s defeat of the Arabs, especially in the war of independence in 1948. There was an incident with hornets. Another incident involved putting stones in empty barrels and rolling them down the hill at night. Hearing the sound of the rattling, the Palestinians thought a large enemy host was pursuing them, and they fled in panic. For a week or two, the Israelis claimed that God had given them the victory. Shortly afterward, many credited their own efforts.
Q: Is there a spiritual significance to the hornet?
A: Yes. The significance would depend on the nature of the temptation. For instance, along sexual lines, the devil might use a woman (or a man depending on the gender of the one being tempted) to entice a Christian to be disloyal to his covenant. The instrument of temptation persists even when given a rebuff, not taking “no” for an answer. With tenacity in one way or another, the tempter ingeniously uses wiles. Proverbs 7 pictures an innocent young man who ends up in the residence of an immoral woman through her wiles. The Christian is tempted in various ways along the lines of the flesh. Certain practices might be employed through an inordinate appetite, for example. The devil must be abruptly resisted: “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Sometimes we do not realize that Satan is behind the temptation. Unseen powers exist to try to stumble the Lord’s children in their walk. We fight “not against flesh and blood [only], but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).
Another example is an invitation to a seance. One must take a definitive stand in order to offset the demon power that can be exercised at the table. A brother related years ago about the dangers of the Ouija board, which was a method of beguiling him. He had been told about fallen angels but did not believe in them. Therefore, their existence had to be proven to him, and several incidents with the Ouija board woke him up.
Another brother was tempted by a fallen angel through a women who claimed the individual would become a great violinist by listening to the advice. Seeing that the influence was evil, the brother cut it off, but the fallen angel was tenacious. After the brother had been consecrated for a number of years, the same woman came to his residence, which was even in a place distant from where the original experience had taken place. When he saw her, he was astonished and let her in. During the subsequent conversation at the table, the brother’s wife said she did not believe in fallen angels. Lo and behold, from the floor in a corner of the room came forth a voice responding to her. That experience woke her up, although she played dumb at the time, pretending she had not heard the voice. We relate this experience to show the persistency that can be involved with a temptation, especially if one has a particular inherited weakness, a besetting sin along this line (Heb. 12:1).
Deut. 7:21 Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the LORD thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible.
If the Israelites obeyed, they would “not be affrighted at them [their enemies—the Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, Hittites, Hivites, Jebusites, and Perizzites],” for the LORD their God was among them, “a mighty God and terrible [awesome].”
Deut. 7:22 And 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.
Comment: If the Israelites conquered the land too quickly, they would not have time to cultivate it and thus keep the beasts from moving in and the land from going back to the wild.
Reply: That is one reason. In cultivating the land in ancient times, people usually constructed a tower so that they could see if any beasts or predators were encroaching on their property.
Q: Was the land also conquered little by little to help the Israelites see the hand of the Lord over a period of time?
A: Yes, they would be assured that God was among them. The principle was the same with the Ark of the Covenant being in their midst.
When the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, God said, “I did not choose you because you are a mightier nation than the seven nations that occupy the land, for they are greater in number than you” (Deut. 7:7). If the seven enemies are considered collectively, many millions of people were involved, for Israel itself had 2 million people. Moreover, the Israelites were to fight one enemy at a time and thus conquer the land. Of course the step-by-step, foot-by- foot conquering was also related to preventing beasts from entering the land.
Comment: Another practical reason for conquering the enemy one by one is that the dead were not buried, and the greater the number of dead bodies, the more the wild beasts would be attracted to enter the land and devour them.
Reply: Yes, the corpses were bounty to the beasts. The land had to be cleansed, for it was considered defiled while the corpses were exposed.
Comment: Spiritually speaking, Christians are to conquer their enemies little by little, especially the enemies of the flesh, for victories that come too fast are not as appreciated.
Comment: Matthew 12:43-45 brings in another aspect: “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” If, when the evil influence is removed, the void is not replaced with the Holy Spirit, the unclean spirit returns with seven other unclean spirits, and the individual is in an even worse state.
Reply: When an evil spirit is evacuated from the mind of a Christian, that vacuum has to be filled as best he can with proper “furniture”—with good thoughts and occupations beneficial to the new creature—so that a reintrusion of fallen spirits will be more difficult. Otherwise, the last condition can be worse than the first. Prayer, fasting, and filling the mind with holy music, thoughts, reading, etc., are necessary to keep the “room” occupied.
Deut. 7:23 But the LORD thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed.
Notice that “the LORD” was conquering the enemies. Even though the Israelites were fighting battles, God gave the victory. There is an obvious spiritual counterpart because spiritual enemies are more powerful than the Christian. Principalities, powers, “the rulers of the darkness of this world,” and “spiritual wickedness in high places” are far superior unless the Lord is on our side (Eph. 6:12).
Deut. 7:24 And 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.
Comment: A repeated theme in the Book of Deuteronomy was the necessity to withstand and destroy the enemy peoples who occupied the Promised Land. Since this command occurred at the end of the 40 years, the indication seems to be that Christians at the end of the Gospel Age will particularly have to withstand and resist the fallen angels.
Reply: Yes, that statement is true when the account is spiritualized.
Comment: Verse 24 hones in on the problem, thus giving the Christian confidence in God.
Reply: Verse 24 is a promise from God, and faith is trust in God’s promises. To spiritually identify each of the seven evils, evil spirits, or enemies is beyond our comprehension. The account is saying that the Christian has different enemies, but they are all of the same origin—they are all comrades of Satan in one form or another. Usually the more successful enemies are those that encroach upon an individual’s particular weakness, the besetting sin. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). If Christians are honest in examining themselves, each one knows of a particular weakness that requires the most struggle and is especially difficult to overcome. Therefore, the besetting sin is one of the seven enemies.
Deut. 7:25 The 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.
Deut. 7:26 Neither 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.
The silver and the gold of a graven image were to be burned with fire because they were “an abomination to the LORD thy God” and “a cursed thing.”
Comment: Achan’s sin was keeping a Babylonish garment and not destroying it (Josh. 7:20-25).
Comment: The Israelites were to utterly destroy everything connected with the worship of heathen gods. In a study on the “Practical Law” many years ago, the statement was made that it would be wrong to meet in a room that was used by an occult group.
Reply: The burning with fire had a purifying effect and kept the Israelites from desiring and coveting the abominations. Even though an idol might have a monetary value because of the gold and silver, the radical treatment shows how infectious the cursed idol was. It was to be completely detested.
The same principle applies to evil spirits. For example, years ago advertisements offered to put a curse on an enemy. The individual had to send in an article that belonged to the enemy so that a curse could be placed upon it. Then the article was returned to its owner, who was unaware of what had transpired. The evil spirit thus gained a foothold into that home. The same principle operates with regard to items that belong to a spirit medium. Even the room the spirit medium sleeps in or occupies becomes contaminated, and if the house is sold, it becomes a “haunted” house. The spirit principalities are very powerful. As Christians, we are sometimes tested, but by God’s grace, we are protected from destruction.
Comment: From a positive perspective, Paul blessed handkerchiefs and sent them out for good (Acts 19:11,12).
Reply: Yes, that was a constructive purpose.