Today’s Reading: Joshua 22-24
Today’s Reflection: Joshua 23:4-8
4) Behold, I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. 5) The LORD your God will push them back before you and drive them out of your sight. And you shall possess their land, just as the LORD your God promised you. 6) Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, 7) that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, 8) but you shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day.
Close to the end of his life, Joshua, the General who oversaw Israel’s conquest of Canaan, gave a final charge to the people. While recognizing the great things God had already accomplished in the victories already won, Joshua reminded Israel there was still more to do. For there were still tribes who’s allotted inheritance of land was occupied by the idol worshiping peoples of Canaan at that time. So Joshua instructed Israel to move against these nations, promising that God would remove them from the land just as He had removed their other enemies. He also warns Israel not to turn away from what God has instructed them to do.
Though Israel had already settled vast territories, enough for the people to live on, they hadn’t settled ALL of the land God had promised to them. Though the ways of God ruled most of the land, a strong undercurrent of pagan idolatry continued to exist within Canaan’s borders. Occupation of part, or even most of the territory may have satisfied Israel, but in God’s eyes the conquest of the Promised Land was incomplete while even one small un-Godly community remained. Furthermore Israel was warned that the influence of idolatry would threaten the devotion of Israel for their God and lead to disastrous consequences for them.
Joshua 23:11-13 – 11) Be very careful, therefore, to love the LORD your God. 12) For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, 13) know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the LORD your God has given you.
You yourself are territories for God’s conquest. When you open the borders of your lives to God and invite Him in, He begins to overcome and cast out your sins, bad habits, poor attitudes, and pride. Bit by bit as God occupies your internal territory your character becomes more like His. But God wants to make sure the job is finished. Because mankind is born in sin and shaped in iniquity (Psalm 51:5), the bar for appearing to be very righteous to our way of thinking isn’t actually very high, and it is easy for us to be comfortable allowing just a few small sins to maintain a beachhead in our lives.
But God knows even a little sin is intolerable. Every thought, behaviour, and feeling that is disloyal to God—that serves idols instead—must be rooted out and destroyed for the territory of your heart to truly belong to Him. For even a barely perceptible trace of sin will grow into a stronghold that will eventually turn your allegiance away from God and possibly doom you to destruction.
1 Corinthians 5:6-8 – 6) Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7) Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8) Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
In truth partial conquest is no conquest at all. Continue to allow God to lead you to identify the areas in your life that are not fully under His dominion and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to keep fighting for you until your victory is complete.
Philippians 1:6 – And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.