God's people were given a generous inheritance in the land of Canaan. The map was drawn, the cities listed, the territories assigned. The only little problem was the requirement to actively take possession of what was rightfully theirs. To do that, the people of God had to drive out the pagans who occupied the land. A theme emerges in today's Old Testament reading (Joshua 16-18), in which God's people failed to take action. Although they received the deed to their allotted portion of land, they failed to march in and claim it.
The tribe of Ephraim " . . . did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites have lived in the midst of Ephraim to this day but have been made to do forced labor . . ." (Joshua 16:10). The tribe of Manassah, too, found that they could not really own what was rightfully theirs. "Yet the people of Manasseh could not take possession of those cities, but the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. Now when the people of Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out." (Joshua 17:12-13)
There is a good lesson in this. Think of all God would give us, if we are bold enough to claim it! What am I entitled to claim? Do I have a habit to break? Are there patterns in my relationships which God would have me to change? Do I feel trapped, when in reality I'm free to move out of my self-imposed prison? I can think of at least two occasions within the past week when God had written my name on a specific victory, but I simply failed to step forward and claim what was mine. I am sorry I didn't grab what God has given me the right to possess.
May the Lord help us to be bold and brave when it is our right and obligation to put on battle gear and go on the war path. Help us to claim what is ours, and relentlessly drive out the enemy. Help us to set boundaries, marking off the territory God has given us. When (and not if) we find a pagan presence within our boundaries, may God's presence and power make us fearless to call out our enemies by name, and to utterly and completely drive them out by the power of God's word. We can depend upon our God to make it so, for we ask in Jesus' name!