But the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the people of Judah could not drive out, so the Jebusites dwell with the people of Judah at Jerusalem to this day. However, they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites have lived in the midst of Ephraim to this day but have been made to do forced labor. Yet the people of Manasseh could not take possession of those cities, but the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land.
Now when the people of Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out. Then the people of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given me but one lot and one portion as an inheritance, although I am a numerous people, since all along the LORD has blessed me?” And Joshua said to them, “If you are a numerous people, go up by yourselves to the forest, and there clear ground for yourselves in the land of the Perizzites and the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you.”
The people of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us. Yet all the Canaanites who dwell in the plain have chariots of iron, both those in Beth-shean and its villages and those in the Valley of Jezreel.”
Then Joshua said to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, “You are a numerous people and have great power. You shall not have one allotment only, but the hill country shall be yours, for though it is a forest, you shall clear it and possess it to its farthest borders. For you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong.” (Joshua 15:63, 16:10, 17:12-18)
The Israelite’s have conquered the land but must now possess it. In this they failed, leaving Jebusites and Canaanites to live among them. This is a perfect analogy for us today. We must “fully possess” what God has given us. When we fail to do so we leave remnants of our past alive in us allowing them to be a constant thorn, reminding us of our past failures and threatening our future. When the tribes complained and asked Joshua for more land because they needed more and “could not” defeat the alien nations his answer was “you are strong, defeat them.” Basically, he tells them to do what God first told them to do. Take full and complete dominion over the land. They have chosen instead to take partial dominion and ask for more to offset the need that exists only because of their disobedience. Joshua, God’s mouthpiece in this moment, says in response “go do your job.”
God tells us the same today. We are to completely vanquish the evil and sin that was once in us, taking no prisoners and leaving no survivors. The Israelite’s failed to do this because after exercising the faith in God’s strength to conquer the land they did not believe Him strong enough to help them possess it. Choosing instead to possess it by their own strength they found themselves not wanting to pay the price the conflict would require. They had the necessary strength but not the will to exercise it. We should not repeat their mistake. God is in us. He is alive and walks and talks through us. He is stronger than anything in our past or future and our strength comes from faith in His strength. But we must exercise that faith. We must trust Him when the objective seems difficult or impossible.
Our God is a God of promises and faithfulness, but they hinge on our obedience.