Title: Judges: Chap 2: Tests reveal true desire. The need of opposition.
Announcements / opening prayer:
We have already noted that God promised that He would drive out the Canaanites slowly so that the land would remain cultivated, but vs 21 is not that.
EXO 23:29 I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate, and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you.
EXO 23:30 I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land.
The determination not to exterminate the Canaanite sin in one single year, was a different thing from the purpose of God to suspend their gradual extermination altogether.
This is not an instance of God changing His mind and violating the promise. It is only a delay in the fulfillment of the promise, in fact such a delay will continue until the second coming of the Lord.
The former purpose to slowly drive out the nations over a few years had immediate regard to the well-being of Israel; the latter, on the contrary, was primarily intended as a chastisement for its transgression of the covenants, although even this chastisement was intended to lead the rebellious nation to repentance, and promote its prosperity by a true conversion to the Lord.
The nations that the Lord will let remain are listed in 3:3.
The world is a mirage. It is not permanent. Baal does not exist and therefore what he promises does not exist. God gave to Israel the real satisfaction of all desire in Him.
The world holds nothing that can be considered actually real since all of it will fade away. The eternal things given to the believer are the things in Christ. The things of Romans chapter 8. These are all eternal. When we share the fruit of the Spirit with one another this is eternal. In Israel's case the worship of Baal promised several important things. First was fulfilled sensuality in sex, food, drink, social life, but could it deliver on them? All of it was temporary pleasure which was overdone in order to give it a wow factor, but such a way only decreases sensitivity and increases selfishness as well as increases damage to body and soul. God gave marriage so that fulfilled sexual desire would result in lifelong closeness of soul and partnership, it increases the isolation of the husband and wife as a unique bond which they share with no other, it produces children which strengthens the family as well as the town and the nation in which they life, it reveals to each one the commitment of God to them as Christ has done to the church, and it glorifies God. Each of these have in them an aspect of eternity and therefore they are real. I would challenge you to look at other gifts from God that are tangible in this world like friendship, wealth, logistical provisions, social life, work, entertainment and find the eternity in them when they are accepted and used in God's way.
JDG 2:20 So the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He said, "Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not listened to My voice,
JDG 2:21 I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died,
JDG 2:22 in order to test Israel by them, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk in it as their fathers did, or not."
JDG 2:23 So the Lord allowed those nations to remain, not driving them out quickly; and He did not give them into the hand of Joshua.
The use of the word quickly or hastily (mahar in the Hebrew) seems to be at variance with vs. 21 where God states that He is not going to suspend the rapid extermination of the nations but of any further extermination at all. Therefore, we conclude that God is in mercy going to exterminate them if Israel repents of their idolatry. As long as they continue in idolatry and apostasy these nations will remain.
And so we think of the reign of David and the beginning of Solomon's reign in which Israel was in a golden age and almost all of those who opposed God were driven out of the land, but then when apostasy regained its hold upon the people in the later part of Solomon's reign, which continued through his son, the enemies of Israel regained their strength and they oppressed Israel.
JDG 3:1 Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan;
JDG 3:2 only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly).
It is reiterated that these nations remain in order to test each generation, because of their potential for apostasy, the potential for war must always exist.
This point is very enlightening. All of us possess the latent potential for apostasy. The potential for great suffering, which in Israel's case is actual war, must always exist so that we will fear its effects. In essence this is fear of God. We come to know that no matter how great the suffering, with God we can possess prosperity of soul, but without Him we will be hopelessly defeated by the enemy. Our war is invisible while Israel's was very visible, they wrestled against flesh and blood while we wrestle against the invisible Satan and the kingdom of darkness. But failure in both visible war and invisible was cause the same effects of sorrow of heart, anxiety, and sinful fear.
The opposition against the church age believer are arrayed to stop him from maturing to the measure and stature that belongs to Christ.
The "wars of Canaan" refers to Joshua's wars in the central, south, and north of the land in which Joshua had thoroughly defeated all armies through the almighty arm of the Lord. The subsequent generations had not fought in those wars and so did not experience the anxiety of battle and the succeeding deliverance of the Lord. If they had been a faithful generation, just knowing of these wars would have been enough, but they, just like ourselves, possess the very real potential for apostasy, they must live in great conflict themselves.
Is it enough for every new generation of believer to simply read of the struggles and victories or OT and NT saints and find the strength and faithfulness that they need to fight the good fight of faith? While we need to understand their struggles we must come to know them in light of our own struggles. Every believer has to face his own conflicts and apply the truth by his own faith and recover from his own failures and learn for himself the very power of his inheritance in Christ. Paul prayed that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened.
Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
Joshua and the Israelites of his time had not overcome these nations by their own human power or by earthly weapons, but by the miraculous help of their God, who had smitten and destroyed the Canaanites before the Israelites.
The omnipotent help of the Lord, however, was only granted to Joshua and the whole nation, on condition that they adhered firmly to the law of God.
They had to faithfully observe the covenant of the Lord in order to experience victory; whilst the transgression of that covenant, even by Achan, caused the defeat of Israel before the Canaanites
Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.