The LORD had allowed [some of the] nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua. (Judges 2:23, NIV 1984).
My Musings – After the death of Moses, God told Joshua (Moses’ successor, who had served him since leaving Egypt), “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5, NIV 1984). Nevertheless, a funny (difficult to explain or understand; strange or odd) thing happened on the way to the conquest of the Promised Land. “The LORD had allowed [some of the] nations to remain.” Why? We find at least two reasons within the extended text.
Testing – “I [the LORD] will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their forefathers did.” (Judges 2:22, NIV 1984). Moses and Joshua, two dynamic and God-favored leaders were dead. Along with the entire generation that had left Egypt. Those that had witnessed the miraculous deliverance from the Egyptians and the provisions of water, manna, and quail in the wilderness. Would this new generation keep the way of the LORD, when conditions were not so favorable to them?
Training – “He [the LORD] did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience.” (Judges 3:2, NIV 1984). Israel would always have foes, as Satan worked to frustrate God’s promise to Abraham. So, they needed to always be prepared. This generation had not yet been called to battle, and they lacked the experience to do so. God used the nations Satan brought to oppose them to provide the necessary training.
My Advice – We too will face testing to see if we have the resolve to continue “to walk in [the faith] as [our] forefathers did.” The foes we are called to face, absent the training that only God can provide, will require spiritual “battle experience.” So, as life grows difficult, and you question why God does “not drive them out at once,” think on these things and be encouraged. He “will never leave you nor forsake you.“