Friends and brethren, I ask you, “are we too comfortable in this world?” Have we still the discomfort of Lot who was “tormented” (“vexed” KJV) by the wickedness of the land (2 Peter 2:7-8)? Or, have we become more like those of Jeremiah’s day who no longer blushed at sin (Jeremiah 6:15)?
Our aim is to look at how the children of Israel tolerated sin to their own destruction. We can be guilty of the same.
Before the children of Israel entered the promised land, God told them: (1) The Canaanites were losing the land due to the fullness of their sins (Genesis 15:16). (2) He would be with them in driving out the Canaanites (Exodus 23:28-ff; 33:2). (3) The conquest wouldn’t occur in one year. It would happen little by little (Exodus 23:29-30). (4) They were to drive them out (Exodus 23:31; Numbers 35:51-52; Deuteronomy 7:2, 5, 16). (5) They were to make no covenants with these people (Exodus 23:31-33; 34:12, 14; Deuteronomy 7:2; Judges 2:3). (6) They were not to marry these people (Exodus 34:16; Deuteronomy 7:3; Joshua 23:12-13). (7) They were not to worship the Canaanite’s gods (Exodus 23:32-33; Deuteronomy 7:4). (8) If you will not comply with my instructions, I will no longer continue to drive them out before you (Numbers 33:55; Joshua 23:12-13; Judges 2:1-3, 19-20). Such will lead to your down fall (Numbers 33:56; Genesis 15:16; cf. Matthew 23:32 cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16).
- They allowed the Canaanites to remain in the land (Psalm 106:34).
Early on, they seemed to be a people intent on driving out the Canaanites. The walls of Jericho fell by faith (Joshua 6 cf. Hebrews 11:30). We recall the determination of Caleb (Joshua 14:6-12 cf. Judges 1:20). They are described as a generation which “served the LORD” (Joshua 24:31; Judges 2:7). They are described as “obeying the commandments of the LORD” (Judges 2:17).
However, In time, the nation would fail to keep up the good fight (Joshua 16:10; 17:13; Judges 1:27-36; Psalm 106:34).
Why? (a) Some had become too comfortable and at ease (Joshua 17:13; Judges 1:28). They were pre-occupied with their own lives (Deuteronomy 6:10-12a; 8:7-14). Josephus “tired of fighting, the Israelites turned to cultivating the land, and derived wealth and luxury from it unwilling to go to war preferring a life of peace and prosperity” (The Essential Writings, p. 84).
Folks, let us never allow our comfort, and ease, and material possessions to distract us from our task. Read Luke 8:14.
(b) Others came up with what they must have thought was a more practical plan. Once they gained the upper hand on the Canaanites, the tribes of Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, and Naphtali placed a “tribute” (KJV) on the Canaanites or made them “forced laborers” (NKJV/NASB), slaves if you will (See Joshua 16:10; 17:13; Judges 1:28, 30, 33,35; Also – 1 Kings 9:20-21; 2 Chron. 8:7-8). They were never authorized to do this. Matthew Henry, “They spared them out of covetousness that they might profit by their labor and deal with them for tribute (Vol. 2, p. 67).
May we never be guilty of placing business interests ahead of what God says.
(c) In the case of Judah, there was a lack of faith or faithfulness ( Judges 1:18-19 cf. Joshua 17:17-18). The issue was not that God couldn’t drive out iron chariots (Joshua 17:17-18; 11:4- 6; Judges 4:3, 13-16). Brother Tim Ayers has written of Judges 1:18-19: “Perhaps the answer is found in dividing verse 19 into two separate time periods – one in which Judah was faithful and thus successful, and the other in which it had turned away from the Lord and no longer had His support and help cf. Joshua 23:12-13” (13th Annual Denton Lectures, p. 161). This truly was an issue (Joshua 24:12-13 cf. Judges 2:2-3, 20-21).
Let us always remember unfaithfulness will hinder us today as well (James 5:16).
2. They, in time, began to associate with the Canaanites (Psalm 106:35).
They “mingled” with the heathen. The Bible warns, “He that walks with wise men will be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20). It says, “As iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). Also consider this warning, “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare for your soul” (Proverbs 22:24-25). Also read this, “Be not deceived, evil company (evil communication – KJV / bad company – NASB) corrupts good habits (good manner – KJV / good morals NASB)” (1 Cor. 15:33).
They also intermarried with these people. They were warned against doing this (Exodus 34:12-16; Deuteronomy 7:3-4; Joshua 23:12-13). However, they still did this (Judges 3:6).
Brethren let us set our standards high. Those we make our friends, and especially our mate, will influence us greatly for the better or the worse. If we have children, who we “mingle with,” and especially who we select to the their mother (or father) has much to do with how they turn out, and whether they’ll make it to heaven or not. Let us “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” in all things.
3. Finally, they learned from them (Psalm 106:35b – 39).
They learned their ways. They, in time, took on many of the Canaanite religious practices (Deuteronomy 18:10-ff cf. 2 Kings 17:13-20; 16:3; 21:6; 23:10; 2 Chronicles 33:6-9; Psalm 106:36-39; Jeremiah 32:35; Ezekiel 16:20-21; 23:37).
May we always be concerned enough religiously speaking to “test all things; (and) hold fast (unto) that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21); and to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Let us never borrow beliefs and practices from false systems of religion.
Understand God did not want us to “go out of the world” (1 Corinthians 5:10). Jesus did not pray that we be taken “out of the world” (John 17:15). Instead we are to be in the world but not of the world (John 17:15, 16; John 15:19). Let us be careful to be influencing the world in a positive direction instead of allowing the world to influence us in an evil way.