Here stands another one of those “push it to the back burner” moments. I have questions for God, but I am nervous about bringing them up. However, when Jesus died and rose again, the veil was torn — so I can boldly go before Him. Boldly, perhaps…but definitely with humility and trembling:
Didn’t the Lord promise to give the land over to His people? Over and over I have read that the Lord keeps his promises. In many cases, He did…
However, he did not give them all the land at one time. When Joshua died, several tribes still had not conquered their lands (where were they living all that time?) After Joshua died, the tribes could not drive out the native inhabitants.
…but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had iron chariots.”
21 The Benjamites, however, failed to dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem”
27 But Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan or Taanach or Dor or Ibleam or Megiddo and their surrounding settlements, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land. 28 When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely.
Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, and Danites also were unable to drive out the people and ended up putting them under slavery (forced labor). Then, within the very next generation, the people of Israel turned away from the Lord and started worshipping the gods of the natives…just as the Lord had predicted when He told them to completely destroy the natives.
Why didn’t He go before them and fight for these tribes as He did for the tribe of Judah?
Apparently, He allowed them to fail in their efforts to drive out the natives because he wanted to test their resolve in truly following Him:
“Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers and has not listened to me, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22 I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their forefathers did.” 23 The LORD had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.
I’m still pondering why the Lord would first promise a certain outcome and then go back and turn it completely opposite in the form of a test. My faith tells me that the Lord IS faithful and He does keep all his promises. He is above all Perfection. So there must have been a reason he decided to test them. A clue can be found in verse 20 above. Somehow the Israelites had begun disobeying Him. They violated the covenant. How? By not continuing their pursuit of the natives? By failing to follow the festivals and offerings? Judges 2 does not specify how they violated the covenant or even which covenant it was: did they begin to love themselves and puff themselves up in their victories?
Somehow, a test was necessary. God had a contract with his people. When the people broke it, all bets were off, and the contract became invalid. The Lord stopped leading them into victory and instead allowed them to be pursued and defeated.
Phew! Sometimes writing things out like this help me grasp a concept. I have to give thanks right now to the Lord for giving me the wisdom and knowledge to make sense of my questions! I know not all of my questions will be answered…but then again, I am human and a mere reflection of The Image. I couldn’t possibly understand the answers even if I somehow knew all the questions.