And I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.’ ” – Judges 2:3 NIV
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Joshua had taken over the leadership of the Israelites from Moses and led them to cross the River Jordan from where they moved on to take over remaining lands promised by the Lord, through their involvements in many battles – Josh. 1:1-9. In the instruction that was given to him by the Lord during his commissioning, he was told to be careful to obey all the laws that he was given by Moses and ensure that he did not turn away from it – Josh. 1:7. Part of those laws was the fact that in every place where they had the grace to step into and take over, they should destroy everything there aside from the articles devoted to the worship of the Lord – Josh. 6:15-27. This was the trend except on few occasions when the instruction was defied, and they were equally punished (Josh. 7:1-26) else they kept largely to this instruction.
This trend also continued after the demise of Joshua with Caleb taking charge. The men of Judah were reported to have joined forces with the Simeonites to attack the Canaanites living in Zephath and they totally destroyed the city – Judges 1:17. It was therefore strange to find out that for unstated reasons, the Benjamites failed to drive out the Jebusites just as the children of Mannaseh did not drive out the Canaanites. Same applied to the children of Ephraim, Zebulon, Asher, and Dan as they all allowed the people they were to drive out remain with them in the land that was allocated to them – Josh. 1:22-36. They had compromised the agreement the Lord made with their fore-fathers when he promised to lead them to, and give them a land flowing with milk and honey. It was therefore to be expected, when the angel of the Lord appeared in Bokim, to deliver the decision of the Lord on this act of the dis-obedience to His Instructions and breach of agreement, which is the foundation scripture for today’s devotion. The Lord too had chosen not to continue to help drive out these people from the land allocated to each of these families but more importantly, he was going to watch the retained people and their gods, become thorns in the flesh of the Israelites who had decided to leave them in their midst. This was coming despite the Lord promising earlier not to break His Covenant with His people but then by their actions, they had destroyed the foundation of that Covenant He made with their fore-fathers.
Most Christians today find themselves in a similar situation where they lose the support of the Almighty God in fighting their battles which He started with them. The promised support of the Lord came with conditions which must be adhered to till the end. To suddenly and unilaterally change, compromise or stop the implementation of a joint decision in the agreed manner will be seen as disrespect for the other party or parties involved in the agreement just as it will be seen as a breach of agreement with the appropriate penalties to follow. The Christian cannot change the rules of the game as agreed with the Lord at Will without expecting some form of repercussion. For the Israelites who chose to allow strangers to live in their midst instead of driving them out as directed by the Lord, they immediately lost the support of the Lord as they not only breached an agreement but they also showed total disregard for his reason for issuing such conditions for prosecuting the war, which in this case was the possibility of these people becoming a thorn in their flesh and also polluting their spirituality by introducing them to their gods. To be a thorn in their flesh will mean to be a constant source of annoyance and trouble.
Not completing a task that was started with the involvement and approval of the Lord is same as showing dis-respect for the Lord and Christians must avoid situations like this as they will definitely carry very serious implications. Non-completion in this case will mean not achieving all the set targets of the task and in the appropriate manner. The reason of the Christian not completing the task will not matter to the Lord especially if the decision to end the implementation of the task was taken unilaterally. The consequence will be;
- The immediate withdrawal of further support for the task by the Lord.
- The introduction of pain and discomfort into the joy that the victory already achieve has brought.
Do all you can to avoid compromising or breaching the conditions agreed with the Lord for the implementation of tasks. That remains the only way that the victory achieved can last. May God grant us all the resilience to fight His battles till the end in Jesus name. Amen.