Deuteronomy 7:

16 “And you shall destroy all the peoples whom the LORD your God delivers over to you; your eye shall have no pity on them; nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.

To some, this proclamation seems a bit harsh. Why would God order His people to completely destroy the nations and claim the land God promised to Abraham. Does this seem cruel?

As with many parts of the Bible, we have to dig below the surface to understand what is going on. The first indication of this coming event was given to Abraham in the book of Genesis. God swore to Abraham that the land he stood on would be the possession of his descendants forever; however, there would be a four-hundred-year delay. Look at Genesis 15:13 and 16:

 13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.

 16 “But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

God was not going to remove the people in the land for another four-hundred years because ‘their iniquity was not yet complete’. In other words, Abraham’s inheritance was going to be given at the same time the current inhabitants are judged.

What we often don’t see in retrospect is that the world was very superstitious back then, and they formed very cruel religions. This region was known for having very demonic type religious practices. God’s people could not cohabitate with the people because they would be drawn into idolatry. If they allowed them to remain, the people would be lured into the same idolatrous practices. Practices that were more cruel than God’s jusgement.

This had already happened twice along the journey to the Promised Land. In Exodus 32, when Moses was gone for 40 days in the mountain of God, the people thought he was lost forever. So, they turned back to the gods they had seen worshipped in Egypt. They built two golden calves and had a pagan ritual. They unclothed themselves and threw off all moral restraint. A similar thing happened in Numbers 25. The women of the land used sexuality to lure the young men into idolatry and pagan worship.

Now the nation was on the edge of the Promised Land. They had already fallen, and there were much worse practices these nations participated in. Look at 2 Kings 17:31

The Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.

These religions were so demonic that they would sacrifice their children to the gods they worshipped. God sent prophets to warn the people until the time when all the land was corrupted and had to be driven out. Eventually, Israel’s kings would welcome in these same cruel rituals they observed from other nations. This is when God judged Israel and drove them out of the Promised Land.

It may seem harsh that God seemed merciless to the people Israel was commanded to drive out, but it was to bring an end to these types of pagan practices. In those days, they did not have the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Even with the Holy Spirit guiding believers today, we still see the church drifting into the world when they neglect the call to renew their minds in the word of God. If we struggle to keep our focus, it’s not hard to understand why their only option was to remove anything or person that held to idolatry.

Now we have this promise of John 16:13-15

 13 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
14 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.
 15 “All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

The Bible teaches that God places His Spirit within us, and He guides us into all truth. Then we are called to renew our minds daily, so we are not conformed to the world around us (Romans 12:2). We are renewed through the knowledge of Christ – through the word of God. Through this understanding, we make a conscious effort to put on the new man. (Colossians 3:10) The new man is the new way of thinking through our new spirit. We receive understanding as we seek God through His word. Then we have a natural course correction. You cannot drift very far off course when your eyes are on Christ. You will always drift in the direction you are looking.

Finally, as we are looking to Him, we have the promise of the washing of the Holy Spirit and the renewing of our strength by the Spirit. Worldly thinking is washed away, and we are renewed by His strength.

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