"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Saturday, January 7, 2023

DEUTERONOMY: A REHEARSAL ON HOLINESS, A CALL TO FAITHFULNESS - Ch. 7

Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez, and James Fire

DEUTERONOMY 7: “A WAR ORDER BY THE LORD” by James Fire, check out the complete teaching here!

INTRODUCTION: As we journey through life with the LORD leading the way, we learn of Him in all of His glory and grace; His love, His tender mercies, His wisdom and knowledge, His truth and His faithfulness, His glory, and His meekness. His holiness, justice, and judgment.

And just as Israel has a history with YHWH, we have a history with our LORD that we can recall from days and years before, how GOD was and is always faithful in coming through for us and blesses us. This gives us hope and courage in facing any challenges that lie ahead which we know nothing about right now, but they are well within the view of the LORD’s eternal eyes!

He not only sees our circumstances but has already made provision for these unforeseen challenges. The LORD has promised to lead the way and provide for our prosperity and protection, amidst problems and persecutions,
We see this very thing in this book. The children of Israel are going from one challenge to the next, ever since the days of their deliverance from Egypt!

In the previous chapter, we see how the LORD revealed Himself and His marvelous ways through the teachings and warnings He gave to His people, which they were to pass on to their children and to every generation going forward! Last time we read:

DEUTERONOMY 6:1-3
1 "Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, 2 "that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 "Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you-'a land flowing with milk and honey.'


Something that might not be obvious in the text, but readily observable if you take a step back; and that is, the children of Israel are being called into allegiance with the kingdom of GOD, and stand against the kingdom of darkness, represented by the pagan nations and the false gods they worship rather than the biblical and true GOD of creation. This is a war – not over land so much but rather, to determine whose kingdom will reign upon that land, and eventually, over all of this world.

DEUTERONOMY 7:1-5
1 "When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, 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 you, 2 "and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. 3 "Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. 4 "For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly. 5 "But thus you shall deal with them: you shall destroy their altars, and break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire
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The destruction of these seven pagan nations under GOD’s judgment reminds us of GOD’s perfect judgment against all unrighteousness, transgressions, and iniquity. This wasn’t five nations, or six or eight – but seven – the number of perfection and completion.

So GOD’s judgment will be! We hear the words of the saints, king David and apostle John:
“The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether (PSA 19:9)”.

“For true and righteous are His judgments: for He has judged the great whore [Babylon], which corrupted the earth with her fornication, and has avenged the blood of his servants at her hand (REV 19:2).”
Just as the LORD is judging these seven nations of their false religions, so He will judge the “mother of harlots” – the source of all false religions, the spirit of Babylon that will thrive in the days of antichrist over all the world – this will lead to the righteous declaration of Who will reign over all the world - the One Who redeemed this planet by His blood, the LAMB of GOD!

GOD declares that these seven nations are “greater and mightier” than His nation of Israel, but as we must remind ourselves: “…greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world (1 JOHN 4:4b).” Remember, even if all the world stands against you, GOD plus you makes up the majority – always!

The LORD instructs His people that Israel was to make no covenants with the pagan nations of Canaan. No treaties, no compromises, no dialoging to come to a mutual consensus. GOD already established His covenant with Israel! It’s YAHWEH or no way! This is a war that must not ever seek a peace treaty! Evil must be destroyed, and one day it will be. Think of a world where evil doesn’t exist: that’s our destiny, saints!

The same with us: we are to make no compromises, no peace treaties with the world that wants to conform us to its ways and draw us away from the LORD and His ways (ROM 12:2)!
Likewise, no compromises with our sin nature, the old man: it’s the enemy of the new man in Christ, and it’s a war that must have only one objective, one outcome – defeat and death to the sin nature!

If we are not intentional about crucifying the flesh (GAL 5:24) and excommunicating (cutting off) ourselves from the sinful rebellion of this world (GAL 6:14), then just like the children of Israel, these enemies of ours will turn us away from serving the LORD, from loving and obeying Him!

Israel was instructed to “…destroy their altars, and break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire.”
These idols that stood in “groves” were often carved from the stocks of trees, and then adorned with silver and gold as seen in JER 10:3-5 (some see these verses as describing the modern day Christmas tree, but if you read this carefully, and compare it with other verses, this describes an Asherah pole, a pagan idol).

The goddess most popular among these Canaanites was Astarte, and these cults – like so many other pagan cultures had gross sexual rites practiced by temple prostitutes, and so these “sacred pillars” mentioned here were symbolic for phallic energy (in Hinduism this is seen in their tantra sexual magick, deeply demonic and enslaving).

This is the same sort of so-called “energy” (read that demonic spirits) that traps souls in pornography. In fact these carved idols often portrayed the pornographic images that were worshiped by pagans. So idolatry and pornography went hand in hand in those days, just as it does in our society where sex of any variety is worshiped. BUT GOD ordained a man and a woman, with no other alternative in the order He created. Any other way is, according to GOD’s Word, an abomination! Wake up and repent America!

Israel was commanded to keep their nation free of any pagan influences that would inevitably come through mixed marriages with pagan nations. Note what Scripture says,

DEUTERONOMY 7:3-4
3 Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. 4 For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods”


Not “they might turn” or “they could turn” – “they will turn”.
A marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian will not work, not the way that GOD intends. It’s many times a slightly different story when a couple gets married when both spouses aren’t born again, and then one of them comes to faith.
But when a born again disciple, who is a child of Light enters into marriage with a non-believer who is by nature a child of darkness, this can’t work.

As Tevya from the film A Fiddler On The Roof put it:
A bird and a fish might love each other, but where would they build a home together?

They have two different natures, in two different worlds and so there’s no way to experience unity and harmony between them.
And the born again disciple will find themselves compromised and will experience all kinds of unnecessary strife, pain and suffering as a result of such a mixed marriage.
Now we have the grace of GOD in a deeper way than did the children of Israel. I know of some – not many – marriages that started out like this, and the non-saved spouse came to faith.
There are marriages in this condition that I’m praying and believing for, that the non-saved soul will find salvation in Christ and complete the marriage with unity in the Spirit.

Yet we pastors of SHINE BRIGHT church strongly admonish all of you who are single; do NOT compromise yourself by getting involved in a relationship with a non-believer.

The Bible says:
2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-15
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
And there are some who profess to be Christian but aren’t. And in eagerness they get married to a genuine Christian only to find out the truth, and then the true believer is stuck with an unsaved spouse.

This is one reason why I personally believe in long engagements, from 3-5 years (it’s hard for anyone to pretend that long to be a Christian! And think about it: people commit 4-8 years in a college education to prepare for a professional career – marriage is far more important than that – why not take the time to prepare for it? Be thankful you wouldn’t have to wait fourteen years like Jacob waited for Rachel! GEN 29:27). However, if the marriage is GOD ordained, He very well may shorten that engagement!

Strong biblical marriages are not only a blessing, but a necessity for a strong family, a strong church, community, and nation!

DEUTERONOMY 7:6-8
6 "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. 7 "The LORD did not set His love on you, nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; 8 "but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt
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“It’s not fair”, some would say, “that GOD should choose Israel as His special treasure and ignore the other nations!”
Aside from the fact that GOD is sovereign and can do what He likes, He did invite the nations to follow after Him when He commanded the nations to replenish the Earth, but they refused and instead built the tower of Babel. So in effect, GOD said, “Fine – no one wants to choose Me, then I’ll choose someone – and He chose Abram of the city of Ur in Chaldea, Babylon.

Israel was holy to the LORD, set apart, consecrated, living a totally different life than the Gentile nations. The Jewish people, GOD says, is His special treasure! How would you like GOD to call you His special treasure? If you’re His child through Christ, you are (a chosen people; 1 PET 2:9)!

Notice the reason why the LORD loved and continues to love these people: it wasn’t for their greatness in numbers, their size, or any qualities of their own.
Have you ever felt like a nobody? overlooked while others are favored? the least in a crowd? Someone who doesn’t amount to much at all, who is inept, useless, lightly esteemed?
I know I did – in many respects, I still do!
So if the LORD didn’t love Israel for any of those reasons, why did He love them? Look at verse 8:

“…but because the LORD loves you…” The reason why GOD loves you, why He loves the world, is because He loves – even if you are a nobody, overlooked, the least who doesn’t amount to much; inept, useless, lightly esteemed; Scripture states, “GOD is love”! (1 JOHN 4:8) This is called unconditional love.
GOD’s love isn’t merited to anyone any more than His grace is!

Note: Some say that GOD loves the church more than He loves the world. How much does GOD loves sinners in this fallen world? He “so loved” that He sacrificed His only begotten Son (JOHN 3:16; ROM 5:8; 1 JOHN 2:2). What greater demonstration, what higher form of love can there be than that?!

That love is realized by a sinner who has received salvation, and that love takes on a different level: a relational love as the new born child of GOD responds to their Abba – something unrepentant sinners won’t do because they don’t know GOD, they don’t want GOD!
It isn’t that GOD loves the church more, but that the church responds and returns GOD’s love, which is what He desires and finds deeply satisfying! Nevertheless, GOD is also holy, and because the world rejects GOD’s love, He will ultimately judge the unrepentant sinner who is already under GOD’s condemnation (JOHN 3:18).

The other reason why GOD loves Israel: because He made a promise, and an oath to Abraham that He would bless him, rescue, that is, “redeem” his descendants from Egypt, and bring GOD’s ultimate blessing on Abraham’s decedents who follow his example of faith, establishing the nation over which GOD Himself will rule as the Messiah-King of Israel!
HEBREWS 6:14-18a
14 saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you." 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. 17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie…
DEUTERONOMY 7:9-11
9 "Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; 10 "and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face. 11 "Therefore you shall keep the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them
.

He is the only GOD in existence, He knows all things and He knows of no other GOD (ISA 44:8).

The GOD of the Bible is the only One, who in all the pages of religious books, the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Book of Mormon, etc., Who makes and keeps promises. That makes Him reliable, trustworthy, and in that sense, predictable. Keeping His promises to those who love Him to a thousand generations – if a generation is 40 years as some say, that means 40,000 years! That’s a lot longer than this earth has been in existence!

Those who love GOD may be assured of His covenants, and that He is a GOD of His Word, which as we know, He esteems His Word at least as highly as His own Name (PSALM 138:2).

Even though GOD is good to all, sending His blessings on the good and the bad, the righteous and the unrighteous (MATT 5:45) – still, they refuse to acknowledge Him as GOD (ROM 1:21). They reject His truth because they have no love for the truth (2 THESS 2:10), they don’t obey the Gospel (2 THESS 1:8) and have an evil heart of willful unbelief (HEB 3:12); therefore they trample on the precious blood of Jesus as though it was trash (HEB 10:29).

Vs. 10 “…and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them…”.

The hatred for Jesus Christ is spewed from mouths that seem to have Satan’s own words put in them. I recall one atheist who I saw on YouTube, that said,

“These Christians really believe that Jesus is coming back again. I sure hope they’re right, because if He does come back, I’m going to put Him where He belongs: back on the cross!” Yet for all I know, this man is still breathing, still receiving blessings from GOD with the continual daily provisions of life! But Judgment Day is coming!

The LORD GOD is presenting Himself in these passages, as well as throughout the book of DEUTERONOMY as a suzerain, which is a higher authority that reigns over a lower vassal state.

Babylon was a suzerain because they were an empire composed of many nations that served Nebuchadnezzar as his servants, abiding by his laws and edicts. In return, these lesser nations received benefits of the wealth of Babylon as well as its protection from enemy states that would attack them if not for the might of the Chaldean armies.
More recently there was the British empire that was a suzerain over Colonial America, India, Jamaica and more than eighty other nations and island-states.

Pastor Albert kicked off our study in DEUTERONOMY with his teaching entitled, “FINDING OUT WHO YOU ARE AND WHERE YOU ARE GOING”.
Israel is a servant and a representative of GOD, a vassal state as it were, to the highest suzerain authority that there is, the very throne of the GOD of heaven! And as Israel served GOD, obeyed His commandments and laws, she received all the benefits from the LORD – the wealth of His blessings and the security of His protection, as we read in the following passages:

DEUTERONOMY 7:12-15
12 "Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the LORD your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. 13 "And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. 14 "You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock. 15 "And the LORD will take away from you all sickness and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known but will lay them on all those who hate you
.

Likewise we have the LORD Jesus, Who is King of kings and LORD of lords and the suzerain of the church.
Only in Christ, all the blessings of salvation are given to us upfront, with the expectation that as a child of GOD, we will be faithful to Him, with the objective of matching His faithfulness to us – but never quite reaching it (not in this lifetime, but the next!).

And even in the times when we are unfaithful due to the sinful weaknesses of our humanity, He nevertheless proves faithful to us because we have entered into covenant with GOD. We have received Jesus Christ as our LORD and Savior, and by faith are bound to the new testament, becoming His holy representatives just as Israel was intended to be GOD’s holy representative before the nations.
May the goodness of our LORD motivate us with prayerful desire and intention to obey Him in all things, thus proving our love for Him – for He has absolutely proven His love for us and continues to do so!

As the vassal of the LORD, Israel was then commanded the following:

DEUTERONOMY 7:16-19
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. 17 "If you should say in your heart, 'These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?' - 18 "you shall not be afraid of them, but you shall remember well what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt: 19 "the great trials which your eyes saw, the signs and the wonders, the mighty hand and the outstretched arm, by which the LORD your God brought you out. So shall the LORD your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid.


As the vassal of Jesus Christ, the church is likewise commanded to destroy the sins and pockets of rebellion in our lives: those areas in our lives that are not fully submitted to the will of GOD, not yet sanctified (pet sins that we aren’t willing to give up, or if willing, find a perceived inability to conquer).
We’ve said it before: GOD will never command us to do something that we aren’t capable of – through the power of the Spirit of Christ – to obey! To live holy!

Just as GOD proved Himself to Israel by defeating the most powerful king of the day, Pharaoh of Egypt, so too our LORD proved Himself to us the church by defeating the most powerful world leader of all time – Satan, at the Cross of Calvary.
If He can strip Satan of his power – and according to COL 2:15 He did! – then what sin has so much power over you or I, that He can’t defeat? The LORD Jesus says to us, “So shall the LORD your God do to all the [sins of which] you are [intimidated].” Sinful strongholds that you think you are powerless to overcome can be overcome if we by faith obey GOD. Pastor Sonny has said it many times: “victory through obedience”!

DEUTERONOMY 7:20-26
20 "Moreover the LORD your God will send the hornet among them until those who are left, who hide themselves from you, are destroyed. 21 "You shall not be terrified of them; for the LORD your God, the great and awesome God, is among you. 22 "And the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you little by little; you will be unable to destroy them at once, lest the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. 23 "But the LORD your God will deliver them over to you and will inflict defeat upon them until they are destroyed. 24 "And He will deliver their kings into your hand, and you will destroy their name from under heaven; no one shall be able to stand against you until you have destroyed them. 25 "You shall burn the carved images of their gods with fire; you shall not covet the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it; for it is an abomination to the LORD your God. 26 "Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing
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These seven verses could entail a series of teachings all by themselves! In brief Israel’s conquest over Canaan wasn’t an overnight event. It took time: “little by little” (vs. 22). With each victory there would be those who “hid themselves” from Israel – and the LORD would send hornets after them and drive them out. They were not to be afraid of them just as the one-day king of Israel, David, wasn’t afraid of Goliath.

By faith in GOD, fear of the enemy and any abomination accepted into our house – that is, into our lives, is driven out of our hearts.

When we come to Christ we’re justified by His atonement, none of our sins are counted against us. The LORD then begins the work of sanctification, so that the power of sin diminishes in our lives. And like Israel driving out her enemies, our sanctification doesn’t happen overnight.

I think it would be nice to no longer have any struggle against sin, never know the feeling of temptation or be influenced by its draw, but that isn’t the way GOD chose for us: He calls us to carry our cross daily and follow Him – dying to self on a daily basis, conquering sin in our lives one at a time; slowly, gradually growing in our sanctification, our Christlikeness.
MATTHEW16:24-27
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me 25 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works
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