Moses’ address is meant to remind Israel of where they came from and how God has brought them into the promised land to make them a nation. His intent is to show Israel just who God is, how great he is and worthy of their worship and devotion. Moses wants Israel to know that they serve a faithful God, who keeps his promises and who directs world events towards his purposes. All of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) serve to show that this is God’s world, which he created and which he still cares for and directs. And so, when Israel takes the land from the Canaanites (Amorites), it is not they who accomplish this but it is God himself. When great things happen in our lives, especially those that seem (or really are) impossible, we should recognize God’s hand at work for us. These are opportunities to remember him, to grow in devotion and faith to him, and to bring him glory. This is not time to inflate our own ego and wander from our loving and merciful Lord.
An often repeated criticism of the Bible is the God’s command to Israel that they completely destroy Canaan, and especially the people of Canaan. I can understand how this seems ruthless, and not the dictate of a truly loving God. But too often we take a myopic view of love. We think love only encompasses complete tolerance and a laissez faire approach in regards to the lives and actions of others, especially those we love. But the truth is that real love takes the hard road of calling out wrongs; it confronts sin and takes steps to help keep others from further harming themselves. God’s dealings with the Amorites in Canaan may seem the antithesis of love. But really he uses Israel as his tool to intervene and prevent them from further hurting themselves and other – a real act of both love and justice. He forewarned in his covenant to Abraham that the sin of the Amorites would, in about 400 years, reach its height and he would have to intervene, using Abraham’s descendants to drive them out (Genesis 15:16). We know today that the practices of the people of this land included rampant and widespread child sacrifice, prostitution, and divination. To feed their religious cults, these people also enslaved their neighbors and preyed upon others for human trafficking and as sex slaves. They were murderous and evil. For their own good, and that of others, God intervened to stop the sin of the Amorites from growing any deeper.