We see an angry God, very disappointed in his people. What was happening in this time and place was not good. The world was corrupt with sin. The people had not passed God’s “test.” “I did this to test Israel—to see whether or not they would follow the ways of the Lord as their ancestors did.” Interesting that God admits he was testing his people to see if they would stay true.
How would we do on this test? Would we pass with flying colors or would we need God to save us with a rinse and repeat kind of rescue? I’m looking forward to the chapters to come as God continues to reveal his great love for his people in sending these judges. We’ll meet some interesting folks. We might want to consider that what life throws at us is our test to see if we give in to temptations or turn to God.
I do remember wondering why Joshua and his army were not able to completely rid the land of the “enemy.” They had so many victories, and they were relying on God’s promised inheritance of this region. I should have known that God had his hand in it.
How badly did the people want the land? Would they fight harder and longer, continuing to trust God for victory? It seems like they gave up or thought God had changed his mind and wanted some outsiders to remain alive. In fact, it was all God’s doing. He wanted “to see whether or not they would follow the ways of the Lord as their ancestors did.”
As new generations were born, the remembrance of what God had done for their ancestors became more distant. With no active warfare, the people were clueless on what it meant to fight for their rightful ownership of the land God had given them. Another reason for leaving some non-Israelites alive was to “teach warfare to generations of Israelites who had no experience in battle.” It doesn’t appear the people were all that interested in learning. They were failing the test over and over.
Would you agree that the Israelites appear to be satisfied in keeping the status quo and blending in with the people who they were not able to destroy? “If you can’t beat them, join them” is a phrase that dates back to the 1930s, but it would seem to apply to what the Israelites are doing. They were intermarrying and worshiping the gods of their neighbors rather than following the one true God.
I wonder how this is speaking to you and our culture today? Are we behaving like the Israelites and trying to blend in? Do you ever wonder about why there is so much emphasis on being “politically correct” or “being inclusive,” or “not rocking the boat”? It seems we can’t say things as freely anymore without hurting someone’s feelings. I am not talking about bullying. I remember in my first marriage I felt like I was walking on eggshells much of the time for fear of angering my husband. That was no way to live.
In business, we call it polarizing the audience. When I make my faith known (which I am not afraid to do), many people are repelled and don’t want to work with a “Christian” coach. That’s okay. Because there are plenty of other people who are looking for a Christian coach. If I wasn’t being myself, they wouldn’t have found me.
So, what of the “test” we see in our reading today? Do you think God is still testing us today? Don’t you want to be the person God made you to be? Are you still trying to figure that out?
I’m confident that as Christ followers we have an inheritance. We need to claim our inheritance and live! God is not through using people for his purposes. He is using you, and he is using me. Take some time today to reflect on how God is calling you to fit into his story.
Let’s pray …
Lord, forgive me for how I have failed and fallen short of your grand desires for my life. Whether there is a “test” or not, I thank you for giving me the grace and mercy I have needed to get back on track. I love being able to worship you freely and see that as an immense honor and blessing. Guide the way for me to serve you as you desire. In Jesus’ name. Amen.