“But the children of Joseph said, ‘The mountain country is not enough for us; and all the Canaanites who dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron, both those who are of Beth Shean and its towns and those who are of the Valley of Jezreel’" (Joshua 17:16).
Following the conquering of the majority of the Promised Land, Joshua begins dividing up the inheritances among the tribes of Israel. It was up to each tribe through God’s help to finish driving out the remaining Canaanites from within their inherited territory. After receiving his inheritance, Caleb did exactly this. He drove out the remaining Anakim (i.e. giants) from within his inheritance (Joshua 15:13-17). Caleb is a great example of perseverance!
However, many of the tribes did not follow through with keeping God’s command to drive out the remaining Canaanites from within their inherited territory. For example, Ephraim failed to drive the Canaanites out of Gezer (Joshua 16:10). Judah failed to drive the Philistines out of the cities of Ekron, Ashdod, and Gaza which was within their inherited territory (Joshua 15:45-47). As a result, these peoples became a thorn in Israel’s side by tempting them with the worship of their idols. In fact, after a couple of generations, the Philistines would be one of the people’s that God would allow to oppress Israel because of Israel’s rebellion against God (Judges 13;1). Later Goliath and the Philistines would pose a great threat to king Saul and Israel (1 Samuel 17:1-11).
All of this happened because of Israel’s failure to persevere or follow through in keeping God’s command to drive the Canaanites out of the land they were inheriting. As the opening verse indicates, God’s people, such as the children of Joseph, began doubting God’s power and began fearing the power of the Canaanites. Although Joshua did his best to encourage them to trust in God’s power to drive out the remaining Canaanites (Joshua 17:15, 17-18), the children of Joseph failed to drive out them out (Joshua 17:11-12).
As Christians, we have need of perseverance to follow through in keeping God’s commands. Many times we start of well and then get distracted by the temptations the world offers or, like ancient Israel, begin doubting God’s power and fearing the power of others. Like God’s people of Joshua’s day, the failure to persevere results in our becoming entangled with the world and growing distant from God. Today, I will strive to follow the example of Caleb and other faithful servants of God who persevere in keeping God’s commands!
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with ENDURANCE the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him ENDURED the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).