The names may not sound like much to us.
So what? Why not let the inhabitants live in this region since they wanted it so badly?
The Lord knew why.
The failure of the tribes to drive out the inhabitants defied God’s commandments to resist the culture. Instead, God’s people tolerated the culture . . . and then embraced it.
Their example urges us to evaluate God’s commandments in our own lives.
His rules have reasons. (And they are good ones.)
The Reasons for Rules
Ephraim and Manasseh refused to drive out the Canaanites in these key cities. These sites dotted the busy international highway that represented the front door to Israel. Not taking control of these cities amounted to not locking one’s doors at night.
This compromise produced disastrous results, just as the Lord had it would:
Their gods will be a constant temptation to you (Judges 2:3, NLT).
God’s Commandments Serve to Protect Us
It always seems easier to mingle with the culture than to oppose its influence—to find the middle ground rather than stand on our own.
But God knows better, and so He commands us:
- “Do not be conformed to this world.” (Romans 12:2)
- “Flee immorality.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
- “Do not covet.” (Exodus 20:17)
God gives specific commands to protect us from dangers we cannot discern on the surface. (Tweet that.)
God’s Commandments Reveal that All Decisions are Spiritual Ones
Controlling those key cities in Israel meant monitoring key points of entry into their lives. It wasn’t just a military issue.
It was spiritual.
In the same way, we must guard the critical points of entry into our hearts. For example:
- church doctrine
- music, television
- the Internet
No doubt, obedience to God’s commandments is tough. It comes at a hard price—but not as hard as the results of compromise.
Just as with the Canaanites, our culture fights to stay entrenched in our hearts—hearts we have given to God. As we consider our culture’s tug today, we must also consider God’s words again:
“They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you.”
God knows more of what we need than we know ourselves.
Question: How do you apply God’s commandments to guard against your culture? Please leave a comment.
Adapted from Wayne Stiles, Going Places with God: A Devotional Journey Through the Lands of the Bible (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2006), page 102.