I hope you never put me in a group of doomsday thinkers for long. I’m just not wired anymore to see failure as anything but something to learn from. What we see happening in this passage is just the opposite of what we saw in the last one. You’ll recall how God’s victory continued beyond the life of Joshua. Now what happened?
We see Israel’s failure to remove the remaining Canaanites. As I mentioned before, the problem was not the fear of the Canaanite’s military might but their religious beliefs which ran contrary to God’s will. It wasn’t just one tribe affected either. We see nearly half of the tribes being unsuccessful in ridding their lands of these people. I can’t say “foreigners” because they were there before the Israelites.
Interesting, too, that despite the fact the tribes couldn’t overpower them militarily, the people became their slaves. There would be continued interaction between the two peoples. It was very likely that traditions of each could easily be adopted or shared. That is precisely why God had wanted them eliminated.
The scene was being set for what would come many generations into the future. The people would eventually get so distracted and off course that God would need to come himself to set things right. What may seem like an insignificant little passage about some failures is setting the stage for what is to come.
There is plenty to learn from the failures of others. We can often avoid many of our own mistakes when we listen to the counsel of people who have gone before us. That’s precisely what my husband and I do for other Christian coaches building their practice online for a virtual reach. We have made many mistakes that we can help others avoid. We’ve had coaches along the way do the same for us, helping us avert dead ends and obstacles.
We glean from this passage the importance of listening for God. We have the benefit of seeing how things played out for the Israelites. We know that God intended for this people to be safer. Whether God allowed it or not, we know what the best-case scenario was. When the people let that slip away, they were never going to be totally free.
The final lesson for us here is to understand the compromise made. When the Israelites failed, they looked for alternatives and overtook their “enemies” a different way and put them to work for them. That seemed to be a good use of resources. When we fail, do we settle for something less than God desires for us like they did?
Take some time today to think through a time in your life when you failed miserably at something. Looking back, what have you learned? How could God have been more involved in that situation?
Remember that no matter how much we fail or fall short, God loves us just the same!
Let’s pray …
Lord, thank you for how you love me despite my flaws and failures. Thank you for this reminder that we should be looking at our failures as learning opportunities and not just reason for disappointment. Help me to focus on the positive things I can do to avoid failures in the first place. May I be attuned to your voice and leading. In Jesus’ name. Amen.