AN EXPOSITION OF DEUTERONOMY 7:6-9
“For thou art a 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. 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: 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. 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.”
The study of the sacrifices and feasts days associated with the Tabernacle in Leviticus, assumes the reader is familiar with the life of Abraham, the history of Israel, the Law of Moses, and the destiny of the Exodus Generation camped in the Sinai Desert.
Therefore, it is instructive to remember why it was the Hebrew people who were in the desert, poised to enter into the Land of Promise, and not some other group of people who were given the land of Canaan. Why did God choose Israel? The answer to this question takes us to Deuteronomy 7:6-9 for the definitive answer.
A Basic Tenant of the Christian Faith
One of the great tenants of the historic Christian faith is that there is divine revelation. Beginning in the 18th century with the Age of Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason, Europeans began to reject the concept of divine revelation as they moved from theism, to deism with natural laws to observe, then to materialism and a mechanical view of the world without a need of God, and finally rested in a pantheistic sensualism reflected in the hedonistic philosophy, “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you may die!”
While there are countless individuals who limit their worldview to contemporary science, human rationale, and sensual pleasures, the Christian continues to look upward to heaven in confidence that God exists and speaks to those who care.
The Manifestations of God
The Christian faith maintains that God has always employed various ways to communicate His will to mankind. Hebrews 1:1 says that “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets”. When God spoke personally to individuals in the Old Testament era, He revealed Himself in theophanies.
The Lord walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden. Genesis 3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
The Angel of Jehovah appeared to Hagar. “And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. 8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? And whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. 9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands” (Genesis 16:7-9).
The voice of the Angel of the Lord spoke to Abraham as he was about to slay Isaac. “And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (Genesis 22:11-12).
God spoke through dreams. The Lord came to Abimelech in a dream “by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife” (Genesis 20:3).
The Lord spoke to Jacob in a dream. “And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of” (Genesis 28:12-15).
The Lord spoke to Joseph to the exasperation of his brothers who mocked him. “And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh” (Genesis 37:19).
The Lord spoke to Nebuchadnezzar “wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him” (Daniel 2:1).
God spoke through the voices of the prophets and through their writings. When God has the attention of a person who believes, He speaks. The Lord does not hesitate to enter into intimate fellowship with the heart that seeks after Him.
Conditions for Divine Fellowship
But there are conditions. The conditions that God has imposed for an intimate relationship are five fold.First, there must be faith that God exists for, “without faith it is impossible to pleace him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6)
Second, there must be a seeking of the Lord’s face. “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek” (Psalm 27:8). True fellowship with God is not entirely casual or haphazard. The eleven o’clock Sunday morning worship hour may bring out the “Nod to God Crowd”, but a sincere seeking of the Lord will occupy the heart of the serious soul throughout the week.
Third, confession of all known transgressions is mandatory. The psalmist said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18).
Fourth, there must be the cessation of known sins in as far as possible. The heart prays it will not enter into temptation and will be kept from the Evil One.
Fifth, there is to be an abiding faith and lingering trust. Biblical faith is defined as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
The word for substance means “to set under”. Undergirding the things hoped for is faith. The reward of faith is to see the things hoped for. Moses was a man who began to enjoy special communion with the Lord at the age of 40, and he kept on having communion with God for an additional 80 years until his death at the age of 120. Because of his own relationship with the Lord, Moses was able to become a source of blessing to others who believed God speaks to His people. The Hebrew people were ready to follow the man who followed God.
From the backside of the Midian desert, the Lord directed Moses to return to the courts of Egypt where he had grown up. Having fled in fear 40 years earlier after murdering an Egyptian who was hurting a fellow Hebrew, Moses returned fearlessly to confront the ruler of Egypt in the power of the Lord. People become fearless when they are convinced God is with them.
In the courts of Pharaoh a great confrontation took place. On one side was Moses, the chosen vessel of God under a personal divine mandate. Moses had a message for Pharaoh of Egypt. The term Pharaoh (lit. “great house”) was the title of the rulers of Egypt until the 3rd century BC.
While the particular Pharaoh which Moses faced is still a matter of debate (Thutmose II or Rameses II), the significant exchange that brought forth the first Passover, and then the great Exodus of Jews from the land of Egypt, is not in debate.
According to the Bible, the ruler of the land of Egypt did not want to let anyone leave his kingdom. When Moses appeared in the royal court and declared, “Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go!” (Exodus 5:1), Pharaoh laughed.
Allowing one million or more people to leave the country at the same time would create an immediate shortage of cheap labor and disrupt production of goods and services. Some of the native born Egyptians might actually have to go to work. Pharaoh was not going to let the Hebrew people go.
By way of spiritual application, keep in mind that Egypt is a representation of the place of bondage. Every person is born into Egypt and is under the authority of an Oppressive Ruler called the Devil.
Like Pharaoh, Satan will show himself powerful and resilient in order to keep a soul in bondage to himself. Like Pharaoh, this Enemy of God will not let a person go away from him easily. A great spiritual battle rages. The apostle Paul wrote of this angelic conflict with these words.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).
Following the narrative in the book of Exodus, the discovery is made that terrible plagues came upon the Egyptians.
The plague of blood Exodus 7:20-25
The plague of frogs Exodus 8:1-15
The plague of lice Exodus 8:16-19
The plague of flies Exodus 8:20-32
The plague on cattle Exodus 9:1-7
The plague of hail Exodus 9:13-35
The plague of locusts Exodus 10:1-20
The plague of darkness Exodus 10:21-29
The death of the first-born Exodus 11:1-12:42.
Ten times divine judgment fell upon the land of Egypt. Nine times the heart of Pharaoh refused to respond in a positive way and do right by the people he had enslaved physically. Nine times God hardened the heart of Pharaoh.
It is a sobering and frightening concept. Not only did Pharaoh harden his own heart, but God hardened it as well. One way that God hardens our hearts is to give us what we want.
Pharaoh wanted the Israelites to remain in the land. God allowed the Israelites to remain in the land until Pharaoh grew to hate what he thought he cherished.
Sin is like that. The soul wants something in particular. The heart wants a particular toy of time at any price, and God allows a saturate of the soul with that particular desire. Before long the heart grows to hate what it once cherished so dearly, be it drugs, illegitimate money, an inappropriate relationship, power, position, or an expensive item a person cannot afford. There is pleasure in sin, but only for a season.
The story of Pharaoh is a compelling story to remember, for it reminds everyone that the strength of sin is enormous. In grace and mercy God must come and change the heart, and turn it towards Himself with omnipotent power, for the natural inclination of the mind is to resist God and harden one’s heart against the Lord.
In the contest for the soul of man, Satan unites with the natural tendency of the heart of an individual to resist the known will of God.
Despite being cast out of heaven (Rev. 12:7), despite having his worldly kingdom invaded by Christ (John 12:31), despite the victory of the Lord at Calvary, Satan still stalks souls to accuse and condemn. He goes about roaring like a lion seeking those he might devour (1 Peter 5:8). Satan does not want to let souls go easily from the sphere of his dominion, but go they will when God, in an effectual manner, calls them forth from spiritual Egypt, the sphere of death and bondage.
Has God called you out of Egypt? Can you sing the words of the song written by William T. Sleeper in 1887?
“Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee.”
The God Who Says, “I Will”
The message of God to Moses is a message of what God will do. God is the God who says, “I will.” What God has said is that He will have a people for Himself whom He will redeem, deliver, and guide. And so He does.
Why God Chose Israel
But it was not just any people whom the Lord will have. The Lord will have a people of His own choosing. Both Scripture and history testifies to the fact that God chose the nation of Israel to be a special people unto Himself. The question that arises is, “Why Israel?” “Why did God choose Israel among all the nations of the earth?” Deuteronomy 7:6-9 provides the divine and definitive answer.
“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. 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: 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. 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.”
Stated negatively, God did not choose Israel because they were a great nation. Compared to other nations, Israel was small in number. Israel could not boast of any great legacy or national accomplishments. For four hundred years of their early development, the Hebrew people were in slavery to the greater civilization of Egypt which could boast of having Pharaohs, pyramids, and a conquering army.
Stated positively, the nation of Israel was chosen, “because the Lord loved you.” The love of God was a sovereign love. God was under no obligation to love Israel, or anyone else, and yet He chose to set His affection upon the Hebrew people. The love of God was a selective love. God singled Israel out from among many nations on earth. God passed by other nations to select Israel. The love of God was a singular love. The Bible does not say that God selected Israel to be one of many nations He loved. His love was singular, and it was exclusive to all others. This does not mean that God is not gracious to all nations, for He is. In common grace God makes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust alike. God provides water, food, and resources for every nation on earth to thrive and enjoy His bountiful supply. But to Israel alone it is said, “the Lord loved you.”
The love of God for Israel was a steadfast love. Under the most difficult circumstances, the love of God for Israel was consistent. Even when Israel became a difficult and stiff-necked people, God was faithful. When Israel was an ungrateful people, God was faithful. When Israel turned to worship idols, the heart of God was grieved, but He loved Israel with a steadfast love.
The love of God was a sworn love. God swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would make Israel to be a great nation. The LORD God kept His word. God will always keep His word for He cannot lie. The love of God was a shining love. With a mighty hand God redeemed the Hebrews out of the house of bondage and from the hand of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. God did this so that the children of Israel would know four fundamental truths about God. God is God, and there is no other. Israel, listen, “The Lord thy God, He is God.”
The gods of Egypt were numerous. Ra was their chief deity. But the gods of Egypt were mere figments of human imagination. The Lord, He is God and there is no other. God is faithful. God is faithful to love. He is faithful to forgive sin. He is faithful to cleanse souls from all unrighteousness. God is faithful to provide abundantly for the social, civil, and spiritual needs of His people. God is a covenant keeping God. Once God decrees something will be done, it is accomplished. God is a covenant making and a covenant keeping God. God is a merciful God. He will show unmerited favor to the undeserving.
In response to the love of God, the faithfulness of God, the covenant keeping promises of God, and the mercy of God, the children of Israel were to do two things. The children of Israel were to love God. Love for God is a natural heart’s response when the soul is engaged upon Him.
“O Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds
Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars,
I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout
the universe displayed.
And when I think of God,
His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.
Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art,
How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art,
How great Thou art!”
The children of Israel were to keep God’s commandments to a thousand generations. To trust God, to love Him, and to obey His commandments are not unreasonable demands.
“When we walk with the Lord
in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
John Sammis, 1887