The descendants of Joseph are complaining about the size of their inheritance and the fact that some of the inhabitants they must drive out are better equipped for war than they are. They’ve lost sight of God’s word to them that He would go before them and drive out the inhabitants of the land, if they would obey His laws and worship Him alone. They couldn’t drive out the inhabitants because the Canaanites were determined to stay. But the reality is, the Canaanites would be no match for God if the Israelites were devoting themselves to God and trusting Him instead of their own abilities. The fact that when the Israelites grew in number, they chose to subject the Canaanites to forced labor, rather than drive them from the land, illustrates that the problem was not that they could not drive them out, but that they chose not to. They chose not to follow God wholeheartedly.
What battles are we losing because we are making half-hearted attempts to follow God? We forget that the same power that spoke a universe into creation, that called Lazarus from the grave, and that raised Jesus victorious, is at work through the Holy Spirit in us who believe. We put “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” on a coffee mug, but fail to apply it to the real battles we face each day. Battles against a gossiping tongue or a harsh, judgmental spirit. Lifelong wars against self-indulgence, lust, or greed. Skirmishes with anger and self-control. Some of these adversaries seem bigger and stronger than we are. According to many scientists, there are genetic components to our unique areas of weakness, but that should come as no surprise to believers who know we inherited a nature bent toward sin from Adam and Eve.
But the iron chariots of DNA and personal history have no power compared to our infinite God. God hasn’t called us to peacefully coexist with the sin that wants to devour us. He’s called us to drive it out of our lives. To utterly destroy and annihilate it. And He’s given us everything we need to do that when He gave us the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit was dwelling in them, Peter and Paul and other apostles were able to heal the lame and raise the dead. Those who’ve devoted their lives to reaching others with the gospel tell modern accounts of the same miraculous power today.
“Everything is possible to him who believes”
“Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:23-24)