After the Israelites crossed the Jordan, God told them to take possession of the land that He had promised to give them. But He didn’t just give it to them ready to go. He made them work for it a bit and in doing so, He tested their resolve to obey Him like they said they would (see Joshua 24:1-27). Their instructions were to go in and completely destroy the cities of Canaan and to completely drive out the people who were living there. The tribe of Judah did a good job at first (Judges 1:1-18). Then, we see the word “but”. “They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains…” (Judges 1:19) That “but” signifies a compromise, a failure to completely get rid of what God had told them to get rid of.
From this point on, we read about failure after failure to drive out the people living in the lands the Israelites were supposed to be living in. In fact, what we see more often than anything is that the Israelites, rather than driving the people out, moved in with them and lived in the land with them. (See Judges 1:21 for example.) Again, the Israelites compromised their position in their land. They allowed the Canaanites to live among them and in doing so, soon turned to the Canaanite gods and away from the God they had sworn to serve.
We read of the repeated failure of Israel to stick to what they said they would do, and we shake our heads at their stupidity and backsliding. But are we really so different? “I want to lose weight.” Then why do you keep buying cookies? “I want to stop gossiping.” Then why do you keep inviting your gossiping partner to have coffee with you? “I want to think purer thoughts.” Then why do you keep buying Danielle Steel novels? “I want to spend more time with God.” Then why do you turn on the TV the minute you get out of bed and the minute you get home from work?
We all compromise. We all back-slide. We all allow Canaanites to live with us. God has given us everything we need in Christ. He is our Promise. But when we don’t completely drive out the things in our lives that bring us closer to sin than they do to Him, we fail to take possession of all that He has for us. Christ came to save us from our sin. Why then, do we allow compromises in our lives? When we do that, it’s only a matter of time before we start worshipping Canaanite gods rather than taking hold of our Promise and serving Him alone.
Have you escaped from a land of compromise? Do you have any advice or encouragement for the one who is trying to get out?