April 29, 2023
“The people worshiped the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua. They had seen all the Lord’s great works He had done...”
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“These are the nations the Lord left in order to test Israel, since the Israelites had fought none of these in any of the wars with Canaan. This was to teach the future generations of the Israelites how to fight in battle, especially those who had not fought before.” Judges 3:1-2 (HCSB)
Make no doubt about it. The Lord was not pleased with Israel at this moment. Israel had sinned against Him by failing to drive out the former inhabitants of Canaan. Adonai had promised to ensure victory for each tribe who fought faithfully and boldly. So, what are we to make of this statement that God left some nations in Canaan to teach future generations of Israelites how to fight?
I am glad to know that God is not just the God of the “second chance.” (I used up my second chance years ago.) Rather, I rejoice in knowing that God is the God of “another chance.” Do you remember what Paul told the Church in Rome?
“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those are called, according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (HCSB)
God will accomplish His purposes, regardless of our decisions. If we choose to obey and follow Him, He elects to go before us and bless us. If we choose to disregard the Lord, He will still accomplish His purposes while rebuking us. His will is not bound by our decisions, but our peace with Him is.
God had (and still has today) great purposes for Israel. (Romans 11) In Judges 3, Israel had settled among the Canaanites. Instead of driving them out, Israel had chosen to take Canaanite daughters as wives for themselves, give their own daughters to their sons, and worship their gods.
Israel’s choice of “inter-national” compromise ensured inevitable future warfare with those nations. This was not God’s desire for Israel. But His gracious mercy toward Israel was that He parlayed their bad faith decisions into a teaching scenario.
The Israelites needed rebuke because they had forsaken the Lord. On the other hand, they also needed to be preserved as a nation because God was raising up Messiah Jesus through their bloodline. All things worked together for the greater good of God’s purpose.
Ask yourself: Do you want God’s purpose for your life to be advanced by His GRACE through your faithful obedience or by His REBUKE to spite your rebellion?
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©Steve Wiggins 2021