Scripture: Judges 3:1 Now these are the nations that the Lord left to test all those in Israel who had no experience of any war in Canaan 2 (it was only that successive generations of Israelites might know war, to teach those who had no experience of it before): 3 the five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites who lived on Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. 4 They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their ancestors by Moses. 5 So the Israelites lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; 6 and they took their daughters as wives for themselves, and their own daughters they gave to their sons; and they worshiped their gods. 7 The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, forgetting the Lord their God, and worshiping the Baals and the Asherahs.
Observation: Well, this was predictable. God had given strict command to the Israelites to completely eliminate the peoples living in the Promised Land. Why? Because if they were allowed to live, God’s people would be tempted to worship their pagan gods (see verse 7). Yet what is surprising here is the explanation given in verse 4. The writer suggests it was God’s plan to leave some alive in order to test Israel. If I’m honest, it sounds like spin to me. The more likely reality is that God’s people failed in accomplishing the task, so this explanation is given to justify that failure. Which was then repeated until Israel was completely subjugated under foreign rule.
Application: I do it. You do it. We all do it. Instead of facing a failure, we try to justify it. We make excuses. We blame other people. We blame God. We blame the devil. We blame politics. We blame ________ (fill in the blank). Now, I understand it’s human nature to do this. The problem is, when we don’t take responsibility for our shortcomings and mistakes, we tend to repeat them. The hole just gets deeper. This morning I’m taking a bit of time for self examination. Where am I making excuses instead of owning up to my shortcomings? What about you?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, in a culture that is obsessed with success, it can be hard to admit failure. Which only leads to more failure. In fact, some of us are in a hole of our own making right now. Give us grace to own up to our mistakes so that we might get our lives back on track. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.