Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The consequences of incomplete obedience

When Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not drive them out completely.
Judges 1:28

The book of Judges opens with this description of how each individual tribe in Israel was left with challenges to complete the occupation of the Promised Land after the death of Joshua. Yet in every bit of territory, with every tribe, there was some unwillingness to complete the task. And "easier" solution was accepted, and each solution seemed to make economic sense: force the Canaanites into slavery. But this domination was not obedience.

The result was slavery, which was not God's will. God did not call Israel to be slave masters in the Promised Land. But the result of incomplete obedience was this new social system that God had not asked of them. These Canaanites grew quietly strong and resistant under a slave economy. Eventually they would rise to dominance in a generation or two, and the cycle of the book of Judges would decay Israel spiritually, socially, economically, and politically. All because they chose an expedient sinful solution that offered an easy way out.

If Israel had obeyed the military rules of engagement under Joshua (wipe out and forcefully relocate Canaanite people groups) they would not have suffered under the Judges. Incomplete obedience eventually has its painful consequences. That is a principle still bearing fruit today.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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