Versions of Obedience

Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages; but the Canaanites continued to live in that land. When Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not in fact drive them out. Judges 1:27 – 28

If a customer in a restaurant ordered a fish fillet, the restaurant would give them exactly what the customer ordered. You don’t give the customer your choice because you think that would be delicious, or a bowl of salad, because you think it’s good for them. It would be inappropriate, presumptuous, wrong, and could lead to unforeseen consequences. Likewise, obedience to God is not about what you think; it’s about fulfilling specific demands. Our versions of obedience will not please God. In the case of the Israelites in the book of judges, God gave them specific instructions. Conquer the territories of Canaan and drive out all the inhabitants from those places. However, they did not drive out all the Canaanites. Some continued to live among them. Eventually, they were put into forced labor to show that they had conquered them. That was not what God wanted them to do! As a result, there were intermarriages which led to idolatry. The Canaanites who lived among them influenced their beliefs and culture. This is a great example of why we need to be determined and dedicated to obeying the exact commands of God.

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