Today’s Reading: Judges 3-5
Today’s Reflection: Judges 3:3-4
3) These are the nations: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived on Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. 4) They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.
When God led the children of Israel into Canaan, He instructed them to utterly wipe out all of the pagan and idol-worshiping peoples in the land to ensure they weren’t influenced to turn away from God (a task they sadly failed to complete, as we discussed yesterday). But afterwards, God made the decision to allow some of these nations in and around Canaan to remain. Why would God allow this, knowing the potential for negative influence on Israel? The Word tells us it was for the purpose of testing Israel’s faithfulness.
God gave man the gift of freedom. His intent wasn’t for us to do whatever we pleased, but for us to trust in God and freely choose to follow Him. So going all the way back to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden, the option of choosing to disobey was made available to us. Now, as was the case with Israel in Canaan, God allows obstacles and negative influences to exist to test our faithfulness. Why? For the purpose of showing us the truth about ourselves, where we stand with God and what we need to repent of.
In the Lord’s prayer, the line “lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13) is really a plea for changed hearts so that we no longer need God’s tests to show us our need for repentance. So as challenging and trying as they are, we should not be discouraged by the trials we face. Instead we should see that even showing us where we still need to change is an act of incredible love and mercy by a God unwilling to allow us to perish in our sins.