April 18, 2023
“This was the inheritance of the tribe of the descendants of Ephraim by their clans, together with the cities set apart for the descendants of Ephraim...”
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“This was the inheritance of the tribe of the descendants of Ephraim by their clans, together with the cities set apart for the descendants of Ephraim within the inheritance of the descendants of Manasseh – all these cities with their villages. But, they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer. So the Canaanites live in Ephraim to this day, but they are forced laborers.” Joshua 16:10 (HCSB)
Today’s passage continues the notion that Israel’s deliverance into Canaan is also a metaphor for our deliverance through Jesus. Once the major enemies had been destroyed, the individual Israelite tribes were tasked with driving out the rest of the land’s inhabitants.
This is a metaphor for us because, while Jesus has conquered sin and death, we are charged with the task of subduing our fleshly desires, our “former masters,” so to speak.
The apostle Paul said, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” Philippians 2:12b-13 (HCSB)
Paul wasn’t telling the Philippians to work in order to earn their salvation. We are saved by ‘grace through faith,’ not of good works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) What Paul was saying is that Christians must work hard to drive out the “old self” in order to enjoy the fullness of our salvation, which was given to us from God by His grace. If we will fight, God will go before us, even giving us the will to fight if we choose to follow His leading.
In the same way, Israel was delivered into Canaan by God’s grace. But they would never enjoy the land until they removed the remaining insurgents. Think of the recent Middle East warring. The U.S.-led Coalition forces eliminated Iraq and Afghanistan’s ability to wage full-scale war years ago. Still, there will never be peace until all the terrorist insurgents are completely removed, either through death or complete surrender.
The tribe of Ephraim puts a new twist on “failure to dispossess.” Consider how some of the Judean family tribes (who believed they could not drive out the Jebusites) allowed some of the Jebusites to remain neighbors. Ephraim chose to make the remnant of Gezer their slaves.
Please, don’t rest until you have driven out ALL the “former inhabitants” of your land. You cannot be “neighbors” with your old sin nature, nor can you make it your “slave.” It will not be mastered because its nature is to master YOU! So, determine to kill the old self and deny its advances whenever it surfaces with a plan to negotiate you away from God’s great design for your life.
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©Steve Wiggins 2021