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Follow-up to a Fear Failure

Desert to Do-Over  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  26:05
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After fearful retreat, God cleanses and bandages the wound then starts on a process of recovery by providing in 4 ways.

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Rarely is a mistake truly fatal.
Last week we left the children of Israel at Kadesh Barnea as an epidemic of fear is spreading through the camp like fire sweeping over a pasture during a spring burn. The fear that consumed them was more than paralyzing, it was prompting retreat.
Have you ever experienced that level of fear? When was the time that you uttered, “When dad finds out about this, he is going to kill me!” Based on the observation that you are hear this morning, I guess he didn’t kill you after all.
There are 3 times that I know of when our kids got themselves into this type of a jam and were afraid of how we as parents would react. 1 was a single-vehicle car accident, 1 was an encounter with campus police, and 1 was an unplanned pregnancy. While we (well mostly me) made plenty of mistakes in our parenting, I can honestly say that none of the above incidents created an impenetrable wall between parent and child and our kids would now admit that we walked with them through all of the outcomes of these events.
In my own youthful indiscretion, I never had a “he’s going to kill me” moment, but there were a few “they would be so disappointed if they ever found out” experiences.
Today’s text will display that while God became disappointed by the fear of the Hebrews, this fearful unfaithfulness never threatened the covenant relationship God had unilaterally established with the descendants of Abraham.
Of all the 40 years between Kadesh Barnea and the battle of Jericho, why did I pick this chapter? This chapter is the pinnacle of the pyramid that is laid out from Deuteronomy 4 – 11. All 8 of these chapters address the obedience that would be required of God’s people if they wanted to get past their history of fear and move on toward the promises of God.
Exhortation to obey Yahweh (Deuteronomy 4–11)
alessons from Yahweh’s awesome acts at Mount Sinai (4:1–40)
blessons from the first giving of the tablets (4:41–5:33)
cdon’t forget! lessons from Yahweh’s past and future care (6:1–25)
dCENTER: completely destroy the Canaanites! promise of victory; warning against following their ways (7:1–26)
c′don’t forget! lessons from Yahweh’s past and future care (8:1–20)
b′lessons from the second giving of the tablets (9:1–10:11)
a′lessons from Yahweh’s awesome acts in Egypt and wilderness (10:12–11:32)We, as those who according to Romans 11 have been grafted into the root of promise, also find that we are peculiar, preferred, protected, and provisioned.
Transition: Even after we experience fear and rebellion, we find that…

The People of God are Pre-warned (7:1-5)

Deuteronomy 7:1–5 ESV:2016
1 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you, 2 and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. 3 You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4 for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. 5 But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire.


1. Seven nations – representative of all the peoples. 7 is a number that generally refers to wholeness or completion. E.g. All that was created, was created in 7 days. warned
2. NOT ethnic cleansing! According to Webster’s dictionary, ethnic cleansing is done by a majority population for the purpose of ethnic sameness. According to 7:1, the Hebrews were a smaller and less powerful people & the purpose was not ethic sameness, but Religious purification.
a. The English phrase “devote them to complete destruction” (“utterly destroy” in NASB, “completely destroy” in CSB, or “destroy them totally” in NIV) is a 2x occurrence of “charem”.
b. Hebrew charem is similar to the middle-eastern idea of a harem – an exclusive group set apart for a specific purpose. The occupants of the land were designated for removal.
c. This word charem appears most in Joshua and 2nd most in Deuteronomy. This makes sense because Joshua is when the people set out to actually do what they were instructed in Deuteronomy.
d. Next week we will look at the story of Jericho and we will see that the people and belongings were charem, there was to be no plundering of the goods or people, because they were “set apart for removal”.
3. Because of charem…
a. There were to be no deals and no mercy
b. There were to be no weddings (v.4 states the danger was in being led astray from devotion to God). Chronologically the books of Ezra & Nehemiah describe the last scene of the OT before 400 years of silence and then the events of the NT. It is interesting that the final chapter of Ezra and the final chapter of Nehemiah both describe how intermarrying with foreigners had caused problems.
c. Their altars, pillars, Asherim & carved images were all marked for destruction.
You know what your temptation is, and you know what your boundaries should be.


1. The person who struggles with drunkenness shouldn’t hang around the bar.
2. The person who struggles with gambling should visit the casino (even if the buffet is a good deal)
3. The person who struggles with gossip may need to find a new barbershop or nail salon.
4. The person who spends too much may need to stay off of Amazon and block the shopping channels.
5. God tells his covenantal partners, the place where you are going is rife with all sorts of temptation so I’m telling you in advance to purge the invitation.
Transition: The peoples of Canaan would be a snare, because…

The People of God are Preferred (7:6-11)

Deuteronomy 7:6–11 ESV:2016
6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10 and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. 11 You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today.


1. Why do verses 6-7 say that God chooses? I wish the text said that He chooses all, but that is not what it says.
2. John 6:44 Jesus states that the Father chooses to draw some to the Son and apart from His drawing, not a single one of us would choose Christ on our own. Acts 13 at the end of Paul’s sermon we read that those who had been chosen believed (not that those who believed were chosen). The teaching of Scripture is not that Jesus came to make good people better or bad people good; He came to make dead people alive. And that is the pre-salvation work of the Holy Spirit to make us alive in order to respond to His call (1 Pet 3:18).
3. Apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, in our natural state, if we were given 100,000 opportunities to choose self or Christ – every single time we would choose self.
4. V.7 of today’s text clear states that God’s people are NOT chosen because they are better in any way. V.6 says “you are treasured because you were chosen” not “you were chosen because you were treasured.”


1. The pages of Scripture are full of teaching that not one of us was chosen because we are better than anybody else. The only reason that any of us can be saved, adopted into God’s family, and destined for eternity with Him is ONLY due to God’s grace, and nothing within us. It is a gift of God lest anyone should boast.
2. Just because I don’t know “why He chooses some but not others” does not mean that there is no reason, it only means that He hasn’t chosen to reveal that reason.


1. God only tells you about you. It isn’t your responsibility to figure out everybody else. We simply tell them as if they are chosen, and prayerfully they will respond in repentance and faith.
2. I believe there is a hint (but it is only a hint) as to why God chooses some and not others.
James 2:5 ESV:2016
5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?
3. Remember what we learned in our study in the beatitudes. It all starts with the first ring.
Matthew 5:3 ESV:2016
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4. Those who are poor are the ones who inherit the kingdom.
5. God chooses some, not because they are better, but because the poor common people are the ones who respond by accepting the free gift.
6. The doctrine of election or choice does not lead to arrogance, it leads to humility.
Transition: The text goes on to say that not only are God’s people pre-warned and preferred, but also that…

The People of God are Protected (7:12-16)

Deuteronomy 7:12–16 ESV:2016
12 “And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers. 13 He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you. 14 You shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you or among your livestock. 15 And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you knew, will he inflict on you, but he will lay them on all who hate you. 16 And you shall consume all the peoples that the Lord your God will give over to you. Your eye shall not pity them, neither shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you.

Explanation (Ex 23:25-26)

1. Vv.13-14 families, crops and herds would experience abundance.
2. V.15 health would be upon God’s people even if the unbelievers fell to the diseases they had seen in Egypt.
3. V.16 military victory would proceed them.
4. The Hebrew words that Moses chooses to describe these protections are connected with Canaanite gods of Dagon (the grain god), Tirshu/Tirash (wine god), Yishar (god of olive oil), Shaggar/Sheger (cattle), Ishtar/Astarte (fertility).
Transition: Finally we find a 4th quality of God’s people who are forgiven and moving forward.

The People of God are Provisioned (7:17-26)


1. God’s greatest provision is forgiveness. As I read this chapter several times this week I found that God describes who He is, what He has done and what He will do. On the other side of the relationship, He describes who the Hebrews are and what they would do, but He never mentions their past deeds.
2. In v.17 Moses recalls how fear terrorized the parents and grandparents of his current audience so he gets out in front of it by proposing a hypothetical question. He then address the fear by reminding of God’s faithfulness in the past (vv.18-19) and God’s current promise (v.20)
Deuteronomy 7:17–20 ESV:2016
17 “If you 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 what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, 19 the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm, by which the Lord your God brought you out. So will the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. 20 Moreover, the Lord your God will send hornets among them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you are destroyed.
3. If hornets don’t sound like that tough of a challenge. Remember these people are only 1 generation removed from the plagues of Egypt and I’m sure their parents told them frequently of the flies, frogs, and locusts. Add to that the fact that the particular species of hornet that Moses mentions was known to have a deadly sting, especially when swarmed.
4. In vv.21-24, Moses doubles down on the difference between Caleb and the 10 by specifying “God is in our we”. God would go before them. Throughout their desert wandering God had provided manna. Each morning He provided as much as they would need for the day and all they had to do was pick it up.
Deuteronomy 7:21–24 ESV:2016
21 You shall not be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God. 22 The Lord your God will clear away these nations before you little by little. You may not make an end of them at once, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you. 23 But the Lord your God will give them over to you and throw them into great confusion, until they are destroyed. 24 And he will give their kings into your hand, and you shall make their name perish from under heaven. No one shall be able to stand against you until you have destroyed them.
5. Moses is saying God is going to go before us and knock out our enemies one camp at a time and all we will need to do is walk through and collect the fallen.

Illustration (vv.25-26)

Deuteronomy 7:25–26 ESV:2016
25 The carved images of their gods you shall burn with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them or take it for yourselves, lest you be ensnared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God. 26 And you shall not bring an abominable thing into your house and become devoted to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest and abhor it, for it is devoted to destruction.
1. These verses remind that not only were the people charem, but their religion and their wealth was also marked for destruction. The gold that the Hebrews plundered from Egypt led to the golden calf incident and the riches in the Canaanite villages held the same temptation.


1. These last 2 verses provide a good reminder for each of us today.
a. Do not become ensnared by the shiny things of this world. What seems harmless at first can become an addiction.
b. Do not bring abominable things into your house. And by your “house” I mean the inner part of your dwelling. In your imagination and your heart do not hold on to detestable attitudes or feelings.
Last week I asked you if you were going to step out in faith or shrink back in fear. Today our question is directed at those who want to get past the history of fear failures, Will you move forward in obedience, or be defeated by compromise?
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