A description of the land given to the tribe of Ephraim. We learn that they did not drive out the Canaanites from Gezer as God commanded, but instead allowed the Canaanites to remain as slaves to Israel (Joshua 16:10).
Here we see the first mention of the fatal mistake of failing to exterminate idolatry in their midst (John Macarthur Study Bible). Unlike our buddy Caleb who believed God’s promise and courageously drove out the inhabitants in his land, the Ephraimites failed to drive out their inhabitants.
Allowing Canaanites to remain in their land, even as slaves, did not exterminate the worldly influences of idols and false gods. To compare it to today, this would be akin to a believer in Jesus marrying an atheist – an unequally yoked arrangement which makes a faithful life difficult. The presence of false teachings and idols in the mixed culture would eventually make its way into the accepted way of living of Israel. This is also what Paul warned us of when in Romans 12:2 he said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” God’s command wasn’t meant to give them undue trouble – His will is always for our good and well being. God was trying to protect his people from influences that would distract them from Himself.
The exact reason Ephraim refused to attempt a total takeover is anyone’s guess. It may have been fear of the unknown or carelessness, but we know one thing for sure (from experience, no doubt!) that the number one reason we fail to obey God’s precepts is that we simply don’t believe it’s the best thing for us.
Have you ever received clear direction from God before? How did your respond?
There have been plenty of times when I’ve heard clear direction from God regarding a decision. Sometimes I reply with obedience. Yes, Lord, and move forward. Like when my husband proposed. Easy yes. But some things are not as easy to accept and respond with obedience. Like when I was convicted to quit grad school, which I had worked very hard to get into. I heard God tell me one day, this isn’t the place for you. I had it in my mind that I needed to pursue a certain program and ran ahead of my Lord without consulting him first. the command was so authoritative I absolutely knew Whose voice it was. It wasn’t easy, but I knew it was right. Needless to say, that Yes, Lord was a little less enthusiastic than getting engaged… It took serious work (read: prayer and wrestling) to submit to but in the end it was either that or risk stepping outside of His will.
Actions begin in the heart. If we believe what God says is true, we will take the necessary steps to complete that faith. “I will show you my faith by my works” James 2:18.
Lord, thank you for speaking to us through your Word and our prayers. We desire to be directed by you and hear your answers. Sometimes I wish you would just flash a giant neon arrow in the direction I should go but you are more subtle than that. You require us to be still and listen for you. Help us to take heed of the Ephraimites’ story of disobedience and not make the same mistake. And even when we stumble, let us hold onto your promises and allow you to set us back on solid rock again.