e”There remained among the people of Israel seven tribes whose inheritance had not yet been apportioned. So Joshua said to the people of Israel, ‘How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?'” (ESV – Read the chapter)
When the people of Israel conquered the land, they did so by sacking the major cities, decimating the Canaanite resistance. But they didn’t finish the task God gave them. Over and over again in the course of the last several chapters of the book describing the dividing up of the land among the various tribes, we are told that they failed to completely drive out the peoples of the land as they had been instructed to do.
At the end of chapter 17, it actually appears some of the people of Joseph were complaining to Joshua about not getting enough land. His response was to tell them to go claim some more of it themselves which prompted them to complain more that it was too hard. Joshua told them to go do it anyway.
When God calls us to a task, we’ve got to stay with it until it’s completed. He doesn’t call us to this or that because He simply wants to see what will happen. He does so because He has a plan for our good that He is working steadily to see unfolded in our lives and His world generally. Failing to finish the task to which we’ve been called will result in consequences both now and on down the road; consequences we don’t want to face.
For Israel, failing to completely drive the Canaanites out of the land (a failure they blamed on its difficulty which is silly when you consider whose help they had available in doing it) resulted in their leaving in place a culture that would tempt them away from faithfulness to the Lord and become a perpetual thorn in their side.
For us, it could be all kinds of things. Whenever we fail to complete God’s commands, we set ourselves up for trouble down the road. We leave in place trouble not only for ourselves, but for those who follow after us as well. Let us stick with God’s commands until they are carried out to completion.