Read Judges 1
“Be very careful to love the LORD your God. For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations . . . the LORD will no longer drive them out . . . they will be a snare and trap” (Joshua 23:11-13).
God told them what would happen. The LORD God had made it abundantly clear that if His children did not unabashadly obey, completely and without holding back, He would stop fighting on their behalf. He would stop driving the Canaanites out before them in the Land of His Promise. That would lead to less-than Promised Land living. Less-than victorious life.
Still, they failed to obey Him, and God kept true to His word. The children of Israel took possession of the land God had promised them. They lived in and lorded over the land of the Canaanites and the other people groups whom God had given them. But they failed to drive them completely out. They failed to wholly obey.
And, in God’s view, partial obedience is no obedience at all. From His perspective, partial victory is not actually victory.
The Israelites had access to all that God had promised. Abundance beyond imagining. Life and provision and land greater than all they could comprehend. But they didn’t lay claim to what God had offered. Instead, they kept hold, if only just a little, of the life they’d grown accustomed to. They held on to their own understanding and their own ideas of what might be best.
Those hill country inhabitants? They have iron chariots! We can’t take them. What could it hurt if we just let them stay? Those Canaanites in Manasseh’s territory? And Zebulun’s. And Ahser’s. And Naphtali’s. We could just let them be and use them as slaves. What’s the big deal if we we let some of them just stay here in Gezer among us Ephraimites? No harm. No foul, right?
It probably made perfect sense in their minds. Avoiding battles was always a good thing, wasn’t it?
Sure. Unless God had commanded otherwise.
The thing is, the Israelites had it pretty good for a while. That’s what we read here in this first chapter of Judges.
They had slaves. They had land of their own.
But they were missing the more that God had promised.
God wanted to bless them beyond measure, but they settled for less. It led to cycles of unnecessary demise and great pain for that nation of God.
Have you settled for less than whole obedience? As we look to God’s Word in the book of Judges over these next few weeks, consider this: what have you been missing by settling for less than all God has offered?