But the Israelites did not drive out the people of Geshur and Maacah, so they continue to live among the Israelites to this day. Joshua 13.13
They did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer; to this day the Canaanites live among the people of Ephraim but are required to do forced labour. Joshua 16.10
Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. Joshua 17.12
The middle section of the Book of Joshua is a lengthy account of the division and allocation of the land of Canaan to the 12 tribes. It consists of a large number of place names which mean very little to us today and it is very easily passed over if you are using a Bible reading scheme that helps you to read the whole Bible, ideally in a year or certainly two!
However to pass over these chapters is to miss key truths which are hidden away in the text one of which is the focus of the three verses above.
Joshua’s leadership had begun with great promises from God – ‘No-one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses so I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you’ 1 v.5 and the people responded ‘Just as we fully obeyed Moses so will we obey you.’ 1 v.17
Why was there failure in the light of this promise and the commitment of the people? Certainly there was nothing in God that brought this about and yet three times it is noted that the Canaanites (who were to be driven out of the land) continued to live among the people of Israel and at a cost as God’s people assimilated false teaching and false gods from their presence.
The failure therefore must be attributed to the people themselves. There was very much which was good and we read in 21 v.43 that ‘the LORD gave Israel all the land that he had sworn to give their forefathers and they took possession of it and settled there.’
That is true for God’s promises do not fail! But people (you and I) are fallible and for whatever reason, the people of Israel failed to keep their promise and they were left with Canaanites in their midst.
As I read these words I am left with an important question and challenge. Why do we often fail to make the impact on the world that, as Christians, we should be making and what can we do about it? And I wonder if it because we have things in our lives that we have not ‘driven out’, dislodged, or allowed to be “occupied’ by the LORD.
A prayer of David
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.