The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little; you will not be able to put an end to them quickly, for the wild beasts would grow too numerous for you. But the LORD your God will deliver them before you, and will throw them into great confusion until they are destroyed. He will deliver their kings into your hand so that you will make their name perish from under heaven; no man will be able to stand before you until you have destroyed them.
Moses explains to the Israelites what the conquest of the Promised Land is going to look like. He has already mentioned, and will mention again, the blessings and benefits of obedience to God’s commands. One of those blessings is that God will fight on behalf of the Israelites. And that fighting includes the conquest of the Promised Land.
Moses mentions something that I had not noticed before this morning. He says that God will clear away these nations … little by little.
I had always been under the impression that there was some disobedience when the book of Joshua ends and the Israelites had not wiped out those who had been living in the Promised Land. It seemed like a sort of oversight that should have been rectified and left me wondering how Joshua could say that he and his house would serve the LORD.
As it turns out, Joshua remembered what Moses said here and knew that the conquest of the Promised Land would be a gradual thing. Sure, there were miraculous victories and strongholds were gone, but there was still work to be done. Caleb still had giants to dispossess on his land.
This provides a principle for me. Believers often feel that we should be set free from everything instantaneously; that every sin in our lives should be wiped out the moment we invite Christ to take up residence within us. And with some things, that is precisely what happens. But driving out everything in our lives in an instant would have unforeseen (by us) consequences.
The Israelites could not drive out all the inhabitants of the Promised Land right away because the wild beasts would grow too numerous. God did not say that He would not drive out the inhabitants of the land, only that He would do so gradually, at a pace that allowed the Israelites to grow into the Promised Land.
There are the sins I know about and am aware need to be driven out of my life. I will call these the inhabitants of the land. But there are also things in me that are sinful that I think are just normal behavior. I will call these the beasts of the field. God does not drive out inhabitants so that they can be replaced by wild animals. He did not, in my own life, drive out anger in an instant, but made it a gradual conquest. Anger is now under control, but other sins became apparent in me as anger was brought to heel. Sins that would have completely blindsided me had anger been driven out in a moment.
Thank You, Father, for the deliverance You have already effected in my life. Thank You for the deliverance You have yet to effect, but will in due season. You have promised to drive out the inhabitants at a pace that is appropriate. Please give me the ability to wait on Your timetable and the obedience needed to drive things out as You instruct they be.