Displacing Canaan — taking the initiative to finish what you start

Judges 1


It might mean getting your hands dirty, but the work must be done.

It’s hard to finish what you start. Insecurity wraps you up, choking and restraining you until your motivation is spent.

Or maybe you just keep getting distracted by Facebook.

In college, I wrote numerous papers living on the edge of sanity, producing the majority of my five-page papers after eleven o’clock the night before the deadline. But I always wanted to finish, because the alternative was the inevitable doom of a failing grade. So, I’d finish.

I can’t say I’ve completed all of the projects I’ve set before me, though, and I would consider myself generally industrious. And I know you’re reading this and suddenly remembering that one thing you haven’t finished off — it could be something around the house, or that book you’ve been meaning to write. Go ahead, get the dishes done, and then come back. I’ll still be here.

Much like ourselves, Israel is having a hard time finishing things off.  Joshua is dead, leaving Caleb sort-of in charge. He lets all of the tribes know there’s still one annoying task to complete if they expect to enjoy the land they’ve been waiting for: they must get rid of the Canaanites.

Some of the tribes respond, and the Lord blesses their respective conquests. However, several of them don’t finish the job, and they settle for keeping the Canaanites in their towns under their supervision, placing the Canaanites in servant positions.

It’s kinda like finding rats in your house, then poisoning half of them and feeding the remainder just to keep them busy.

Removing the Canaanites completely is imperative for Israel. Canaan presents a constant military threat. They represent the temptation to serve false gods. They threaten the racial preservation of the Jewish people, which is politically and religiously significant. Most importantly, God has specifically asked Israel to not have Canaanites hanging around in their land.

But the Canaanites stay.  As we progress through the rest of Judges, we’ll see the consequences of poor decision-making and consistent disobedience to God, starting with this crucial misstep.

Does this apply to modern Christianity? I believe that the whole Word of God is significant, and this is no exception. While grace — the extension of God’s love through His Son and the dissolution of our potential condemnation — puts us in a position to receive eternal life, the consequences of sin on earth remain. It doesn’t make God “mad” if we screw up, but it doesn’t really help how people perceive Christians or our relationship with God while on earth.

If there is a particular thing that God would like for you to dispose of to reinforce your relationship with Christ, finish the job and get rid of it. You can use a hundred figures of speech to illustrate this. Do the dirty laundry before it gets moldy. Change your kid’s diaper. Pull the weeds.  Whatever. But get it done, now.

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