The book of Deuteronomy is the fifth and last book of the Torah (“law”). It continues the story of the first 4 books and picks up exactly where the book of Numbers ends (with the people on the plain of Moab). Therefore, as we set the context for the book of Deuteronomy, it is important that we briefly summarize the theme of the previous books to see how the story of God unfolds.
Genesis describes God’s plan to bless the Israelites and the world through one man named Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). Exodus focuses on God’s loving act by which He rescued the Israelites from Egypt in order to have a covenant relationship with them. Once the children of Israel are redeemed, Leviticus instructs them to live a holy life that reflects the life of their covenant redeemer (cf. Lev. 19). Since the first generation of the Israelites failed to obey God wholeheartedly, the book of Numbers displays a strong contrast between God’s faithfulness and the nation’s failure. That is why the book of Deuteronomy reiterates and expands on the covenant to a new generation of Israelites poised to enter and conquer the Promised Land. The message of the book is centered around two key terms: love and loyalty (Deut. 6:4-5).
Chapter 7 describes who the people of Israel are and how they should relate to their Suzerain (Ruler) in order to please Him in the land of Canaan.
The chapter begins with Moses’s call to Israel to eliminate the peoples living in Canaan along with their corrupt practices (vv. 1-6). This is followed by a reminder that Israel’s election as His children was based solely on God’s gracious love and faithfulness, but gaining the experiential blessings promised under their covenant with Him required obedience (vv. 7-11). Because of God’s unfailing love and promises, Moses commands the Israelites to obey God’s precepts and to fear Him, instead of fearing the people of Canaan who outnumbered them (vv. 12-19). The chapter concludes with Moses’s reassurance to Israel of the enemy’s total defeat by God, followed by a warning to Israel not to covet or take any objects belonging to the enemies (vv. 20-26).