Spiritual Slippage

Joshua 15:63 (ESV)
"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."

In today’s verse, we see the inability of Israel to drive out the nations despite the previous promises made by God to Joshua that no one will be able to withstand their force and that the Lord will cause them to inherit the lands promised (Joshua 1:5-6).

So, the obvious question would be, “Why could they not do what God commanded them to do?”

The answer lies not in the ability of God to deliver His promise, but in the people of Israel themselves. Earlier in Joshua, we saw the effects of what one man’s sin had on the outcome of the Battle of Ai (Joshua 7:1-26), so it is highly probable that the inability to drive out the Jebusites was directly related to a growing lack of faith and rebellion within the house of Israel.

The Jebusites were part of the Amorite tribes that God focused His wrath upon for their abominable practices in earlier Scripture (Genesis 15:16; Deuteronomy 20:18) and were therefore to be completely annihilated, so as not to allow any intermarriage out of fear of Israel adopting their pagan rituals.

So with the Lord’s edict still standing, it is clear God had no desire for any Jebusite to remain, yet they clearly did and not just for a brief period: we see instances of them clear through David’s time (see 2 Samuel 5:6).

This passage of Scripture serves as a precursor for the tumultuous times Israel would experience during the period of the Judges where we see a constant cycle of rebellion and lawlessness, followed by repentance, followed again by more rebellion. On display throughout this time is God’s unbounded mercy and infinite love, while He watched His children turn away from Him time and again.

Fast forward to the New Testament and see a similar progression of circumstances when Jesus returns to His hometown, where “He could do not mighty work there” (Mark 6:5-6). Just as it was with Israel earlier, it was not the Persons of the Trinity that were the reason, but those on the receiving end. There was an astonishing lack of belief in Nazareth so much that He was mocked and harassed and He therefore saw no reason to perform miracles in the face of such hostility.

Sound similar to our study verse?

When we stand in open rebellion in the face of God, we cannot expect His protection and deliverance, let alone His bestowing of good gifts.

If you are struggling now and do not feel the Lord’s presence in your life, you must simply ask yourself: “Who moved away?”

And if you don’t know the answer, go look in the mirror.