Deuteronomy 20

Sunday Evening Bible Study

November 29, 1998


The name Deuteronomy means "second law". It is Mosesí final address to the people. It covers the last 1 Ĺ months of Mosesí life. Heís 120 years old. Itís Godís "review" for the people to make sure they understand His ways before they go into the land.

Deuteronomy 20

:1 be not afraid of them


The size of your fear is related to the size of your God.

Itís not like we intentionally forget how big God is, but it seems that the more we focus on the size of our problems, the less we are aware of the size of our God.

When Jehoshaphat was surrounded by an overwhelming force of enemy armies, he was scared,

(2 Chr 20:3-6 KJV) And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. {4} And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD. {5} And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, {6} And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?

Jehoshaphatís prayer starts with talking about how powerful God is, not because God needs reminding, but because Jehoshaphat needs reminding.

:3 let not your hearts faint, fear not

It was the priestsí job to be comforting and encouraging the people. It was their job to help the people be trusting in God for victory.

:5 the officers shall speak unto the people

Even though all the fighting age men were to be a part of the army, not everyone ought to be fighting. This was to be the procedure to make sure the army was a strong fighting machine.

:6 is he that hath planted a vineyard,

This exemption of not having tasted of the fruit of your vineyard could last up to five years (Lev. 19:23-25).

:7 what man is there that hath betrothed a wife

Iíve heard this used as a reason for newlyweds to pull back from ministry.

I couldnít disagree more. Unless that is if your ministry could actually cause you to die as a battle might. One of my greatest concerns for newlyweds is that they often tend to drop out of church to "work on their marriage". Donít get me wrong, marriages need working on. But I personally think that being involved in a ministry would only enhance a marriage, not hurt it.

:8 What man is there that is fearful

Those that were fearful were supposed to stay out of the battle.

Fear is contagious. Be careful that you donít catch it!


Fear makes a weak army.

Godís desire is that fearful ones stay home. If they donít then their fear will spread to the rest of the army and there will be disaster.

We see this actually done in one battle.

(Judg 7:1-3 KJV) Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. {2} And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. {3} Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

The army is eventually whittled down to 300 men, and because God is in it, and because there is no fear, they are victorious.

If you are a person who is motivated by fear, be careful that you donít let your fears become a discouragement to others in the battle.

Instead, Godís desire is that you overcome your fears.

(Psa 34:4 KJV) I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.


Donít manipulate people.

There are times when we could twist peopleís arms into doing things. We can make them feel guilty and try to get them to do what we think they ought to do.

But the danger is that youíll fill your army with weak soldiers.

If you are going to war and thereís not enough men in the army, either Godís going to do a Jonathan kind of work (saving by many or by few, 1Sam.14), or else perhaps youíre in the wrong battle.

:15 unto all the cities which are very far off

The cities that were surrounding the land of Israel were to be treated differently than the cities that would be occupied.

The distant cities were to be offered peace first. If the peace was accepted, then the city would become a tributary to Israel, paying taxes, and becoming servants to Israel. If the peace was rejected, then the city was to be destroyed.

This is similar to what happened with the inhabitants of Gibeon (Josh 9).

The inhabitants of Gibeon were living in the Promised Land, but when they heard about the Israelites, they decided to try and make a peace treaty with them. They sent messengers to the Israelites dressed in ragged clothes and carrying stale bread. They told the Israelites that they were from a far country and that they wanted to make a peace treaty with Israel.

(Josh 9:14 KJV) And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.

As a result, Israel made a treaty with them, even though they shouldnít have. These people were part of the ones that God had pronounced judgment upon, yet because of their treaty with them, they were unable to follow through. As a result, the Gibeonites became a kind of sore spot to the Israelites and caused them trouble for years to come.


Pray for wisdom in applying Godís Word.

Sometimes things seem like simple decisions to us. We get to thinking that we donít need to bother God with such details. We always need His help!

:18 That they teach you not to do after all their abominations,

The cities that would be occupied in the land of Israel were to all be wiped out.

We have a hard time with this until we begin to understand that there was more here than just Israel finding a new home.

One of the most important things that was happening was Godís judgment upon these seven nations. Their sins had become to great and it was time to judge them. Israel was to be Godís hand of judgment.

One of Godís greatest concerns was that His people not learn the ways of the world.


God is concerned that you donít learn the worldís ways.

Sometimes we think that the Israelites were asked to get a little too radical in the way they were deal with things. But in reality, God is just as serious about us following Him and not the world.

(1 John 2:15-17 KJV) Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. {16} For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. {17} And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

(Rom 12:2 KJV) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

:19 thou shalt not destroy the trees

This was a common practice among conquering powers, destroying the fruit trees so as to totally conquer a land. But Israel was to keep the fruit trees because they were going to live there.