Joshua 16: Snowball effect

Joshua 16 follows the same lines as Joshua 15, outlining the territory given to the descendants of Joseph (i.e., the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh). More particularly, this chapter focuses on the inheritance of Ephraim, which was north of that of Judah but still on the west side of the river (versus Manasseh, which was going to be east of the Jordan). But what grabs my attention today is the same thing that grabbed my attention in Joshua 15: the very last verse.

In Joshua 16:10, we discover that, even though the Ephraimites had been given this wonderful territory as their own, they still “did not dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezer,” opting instead to make them a labor class to do all the dirty work. Of course, the only problem with this decision was that God had commanded that Israel either completely eradicate or expel the former inhabitants of the land. They were supposed to be gone! And yet here we have a second tribe that decided that it would be expedient to have some of these Canaanites stick around.

So once more, Israel compromised, sliding even further down the slippery slope which they had started down when they fell for the Gibeonite deception and chose not to go back and do it over.

Now, I understand that this doesn’t seem like a big thing. And I get that having these Canaanites around was probably rather convenient. I mean, who really likes to take out the trash, etc.? But it also introduced a critical temptation into the mix of Israel. Suddenly, living right there alongside them, there was a remnant of this bunch of people that God had condemned for their utterly wicked ways. And they weren’t about to give up their wicked ways just because a family of Israelites moved in next door!

And sooner or later, as God had warned through Moses, those wicked ways were going to rub off on Israel, the nation which was supposed to be uniquely the people of God.

This is the third time that the Israelites allowed a bunch of Canaanites to remain in the promise land. With each such compromise, they are drifting further from what God had commanded them to do. With each such compromise, the danger that they will stray completely away from God is growing. And yet, with each such compromise, their sensitivity to the risks of decisions like these is declining.

You see, they’re becoming acclimated to compromise.

So it seems more and more okay.

Except that compromise is not always okay. And if we keep compromising and keep compromising, even the slightest allowances eventually accumulate into a critical difference.

For instance, in January 2003, a piece of falling debris opened a hole which experts estimate may have been as small as 6 inches in diameter in the leading edge of one of the space shuttle Columbia’s wings. A 6-inch-wide hole on a vehicle 122ft long and with a wingspan of 78 feet doesn’t seem significant at all, but as the orbiter started re-entry, superheated gases called plasma began to whittle away at that hole, eventually causing what NASA officials called LOV: the complete loss of vehicle.

Indeed, small compromises can snowball into a critical problem.

We all make compromises from time to time. It’s a necessary part of life. We can’t afford the five bedrooms we want, so we settle for four. We can’t get the Ferrari we like, so we settle for the Kia. We want to paint the living room camouflage and blaze orange, but the wife wants brown, so we slather the walls with a couple gallons of brown.

But there are also compromises which we can never afford to make. When it comes to obeying God, one little allowance is too much. Such a compromise invariable cracks a floodgate. And a cracked floodgate is no better than no floodgate at all.

So don’t compromise on God’s commands.

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1 Response to “Joshua 16: Snowball effect”


  1. 1 Jolene November 19, 2016 at 5:36 am

    compromises eventually lead to a loss of integrity which can be dangerous for anyone


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