As the tribes of Israel divide the Promised Land and draw boundaries for each of their tribes (Joshua 16-18), their disobedience continued. Israel permitted the ungodly to live among them and share the land, “they did not drive out the Canaanites” (Joshua 16:10; 17:13), as they had been commanded to do. This did work partly to their advantage, however; the Canaanites provided an additional labor force that served the Jewish nation. Sin is always packaged with benefits.
The problem was with the Canaanites was their number one god, Baal, the rain god. The Israelites would learn they could not count on the Jordan River for water and irrigation; half the year, the Jordan slowed to a trickle. Israel needed rain. Their life and prosperity depended on it, and they would be confronted with a choice: depend on Yahweh, the one true God, or follow Baal, the false, but enticingly named, rain god. Too often, Baal prevailed. Thumb through the remainder of the Old Testament and the name of Baal never goes away, and eventually it leads Israel back into slavery. Yahweh delivered Israel out of Egypt, out of slavery. Baal put them back.
Joshua tried to lead Israel to obey. He repeatedly challenged the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?” (Joshua 18:3). As God is at work shaping us into his likeness, he is frustrated not so much by our great sins, but by our dragging feet.
God Almighty, as I watch the world around me, my faith is strengthened daily. There are signs of You everywhere. The joys of spring as the world blossoms and new life emerges everywhere reminds me that You are the Author of all life, and I can trust fully in You.
My God, I pray that my life, as well, is a continual reminder of You. That I reflect You in my actions, my thoughts, my faith. That I trust my life to You and walk forward at once in courage and faith, knowing that You go before me.