"Therefore I also said, 'I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.'"Judges 2:3(NASB)
The children of Israel made a covenant with the Lord. He gave them the Law with its 613 regulations, which included the ten moral commandments.. and Israel unanimously promised, "all that the Lord has said, we will do!" But from the very start of their covenant relationship with God, the chosen people of Israel disobeyed His laws and refused to execute His commands.
They had been saved from Egyptian slavery, by grace through faith in God's Word on that first Passover.. but started to murmur against the Lord during their long, wilderness wanderings, and they flirted with insubordination under the leadership of Joshua, when, by God's grace, they entered the promised land of Canaan.
Although they started to drive out the inhabitants of the land, as instructed by God, and were victorious in the great battles of Jericho and certain other cities, the children of Israel disobeyed God's direct order NOT to make a covenant with the inhabitants of Canaan, but to drive them out of the land completely.
Israel grew strong under the leadership of Joshua, but instead of obeying the Lord and expelling the Canaanites completely, they started to live alongside certain of the inhabitants of the land. They made peace treaties with certain tribes, and conscripted others to carry out hard labour for them.
This was completely against God's explicit command to drive them out unreservedly, and as a result we read that the Lord said to them, "I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you."
There was a reason that God commanded the extermination and eradication of the former inhabitants of the land. He knew that they had become so infected with sin, satanic practices, and demonic wickedness, that cohabitation would mean that Israel herself would be irreversibly infected with their idolatry.
God had promised the people that by His supernatural power, He would drive out ALL the inhabitants of the land. He promised to provide their warriors with superhuman strength to defeat their foes and to give them inexplicable miracles, which would provide victory over the entire land. However, God knew that if they fraternised with these sin-soaked satanists, His people would become mortally infected with their wickedness and sin.
But because Israel broke their part of the covenant and disobeyed God, He withdrew His part of the bargain. He told them that He would not now drive away the Canaanites that they had failed to dispel from the land, but would use them as a judgement upon His people. And not only in the book of Judges, but throughout Israel's entire history, we see how the people who were left in the land would become an ongoing and increasing thorn in Israel's flesh - indeed, we see this today that the surrounding nations continue to ensnare them and remain a thorn in their flesh.
As we look at the failure of Israel to trust in the Lord with all their heart, and as we witness their growing apostasy and rebellion against His specific orders, we understand why God gave His specific command to His people.
Israel's failure to trust the Lord and obey His commandments, is an incredible object lesson to all of us who are part of the Body of Christ. It should cause us to reflect upon our own behaviour, examine our own faith, and challenge us to see if we are walking in spirit and truth... or if we are pandering to the lust of the flesh, our own inflated egos, or binding ourselves to unbelievers.
Israel's problematic history should help us to understand the importance of obeying God's Word and seeking His will for our lives - for HE alone knows the end from the beginning. And when our hearts are wholly prepared to do His will, He will direct our steps in the best way that we should go. If only we would trust Him in all things and not lean on our own understanding and prideful ego!
Heavenly Father, thank You for the history of Israel and the lessons that I can learn from the mistakes they made. Keep me from criticising them for their failure, but may their disobedience prompt me to listen to Your voice, obey Your commands, and in all things to do Your will, to Your praise and glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.