“These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the LORD’s commands, which he had given their ancestors through Moses.” (Judges 3:1-4)
God is so amazing! He is able to use our shortcomings and turn them around for a useful teaching and eventually, a positive end-result. How does He do it? That is why He is God and we are not!
Everything could have been very simple. The instructions were certainly simple: “Take the land and kill everyone in it.” The people in these countries, for the most part, had no hope of turning to God or repenting; they were evil. But, just like us, the children of Israel did not follow the instructions; they started reasoning their own ways of utilizing the enemy; their own little ways of doing things apart from the clear instructions of the Lord. It is there that we start getting into deep trouble. The amazing thing about the reality of these verses is that even when the children of Israel clearly disobey God, God is able to work a useful plan in the midst of our stupidity.
Many of us wish that we never have to go through temptations, suffering, wars and all of those uncomfortable emotions; however, as many of us already know, Biblically speaking, they are inevitable. In these verses, we see, basically, three powerful reasons why God allowed these nations to stay among the Israelites:
1. So that the new generation would be able to experience war.
2. So that the older generation would teach the new generation about warfare.
3. To test them, in order to be able to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands.
War is necessary! God actually allowed these nations to be around for the purpose of them experiencing war. We are also able to see how war gave one of many connections between the older generation and the new. The old generation was to teach the new generation on how to fight these wars. A key element in this teaching was for them to learn to rely on God. We must learn to trust God. The older generation needed to desperately teach the young fellows how to property fight. Lastly, nothing will test our obedience to God like a bloody war.
As we continue on our journey; we must realize the only Victor of our battles. The overwhelming reason printed in the history of Israel, and perhaps in our own, is that we must learn that it is God who fights our battles. How can we know the majestic powers of our God if we never see Him moving like a Mighty Warrior against the giants of our lives? He shows Himself strong against Egypt to show the Israelites what He’s able to do. Today, He wants to show Himself strong, on your behalf, in the midst of great wars to show you what He can do.