“So the nose of Yahweh burned against Israel and he said, ‘Because this nation transgressed the covenant which I commanded to their fathers and did not listen to my voice, I will not continue to dispossess mankind from before them — from the nations which Joshua left at death — for the purpose of training Israel by them; whether they are keeping by the way of Yahweh to walk in them just as their fathers did…or not.’ Thus Yahweh left these nations, lest they be dispossessed quickly, and did not give them into the hand of Joshua.”
As we begin to wind down the summary of the book of Judges, once again we find the refrain that God was angry with the people because they stubbornly would not walk in his ways. Of course, we might wonder why the text repeats this language over and over — yet, we ought not wonder, for is this not the same crisis that plagued Israel through Biblical history and that still plagues the church today? How frequently we choose to walk in our own ways or the ways of the world around us instead of walking in the ways of God.
The punishment is that God will no longer dispossess the nations. This language we have seen as well, though there is a nuance here that ought to be mentioned. Instead of saying, “I will no longer dispossess the nations…” as many translations will render, the Hebrew text reads, “I will no longer disposes man…” The nuance is small, but it communicates the enormity of the judgment — God will no longer remove any human obstacle from their midst. And the purpose of this — to see whether they will walk in the ways of their forefathers…in the ways of God. How often God places obstacles in our way to teach us reliance upon him. He does this in the lives of individuals and in the lives of churches as well. We so often strive to do our own thing and God is constantly calling us back to do His will. The question remains, “In whose ways will we walk?”