“And it happened, when the children of Israel grew strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out.” – Joshua 17:13
In direct contrast to the whole-hearted faithfulness of Caleb seen in yesterday’s passage, these next chapters of Joshua testify to the whole-hearted failure of the tribes of Israel to follow the command of God and totally remove unbelievers from the land. In fact, with each description of failure, the sin gets worse. In chapter 15, Judah allows the pagans in one city to remain alive. In chapter 16, Ephraim also allows the sinners of one city to remain alive and they turned them into “forced laborers.” This is worse because if Ephraim had the power to turn the pagans into slaves, then they surely had the power to put them to death. In chapter 17, Manasseh allows the unbelievers in many cities found in “three hilly regions” (vs. 11) to remain alive.
In this growing denigration of God’s will, in this half-hearted devotion to the Lord, in this purposeful sin and rebellion, we see an Old Testament picture … of us! Here, sad to say, is our own less than stellar life of faith and obedience.
In God’s Church today, the Ten Commandments will be read. This practice is done because so easily we tell ourselves that “I’m not so bad. There are worse people than me. I am pretty good.” But God’s holy law and these verses of Scripture tell us the truth: we are great sinners. Thankfully, the Lord has sent us an even greater Saviour! Look in faith to Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
Suggestions for prayer
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the sin that hides within you. Pray for an ever increasing awareness of how great a Saviour we have in Jesus Christ our Lord. Pray that around the world today the great good news of the Gospel of our Lord would go forth with power.