Meditating on the Judgements of God:
Ex 24:23 My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out.
Lev 18:24,25 Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.
Now we progress this subject to see the Lord’s specific intentions as to how He intends to get Israel into the Promised Land. We finished the previous meditation noting the Lord reiterating His purposes in respect of the land before the plagues start. The next time there is any mention of the land is briefly in the instructions to follow the Passover rituals for the years to come: “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony.” (Ex 12:24,25)
Now in this study we are going to focus on one specific thing and I do not apologise for the repetition because it is necessary to take in this particular truth. In Exodus 24, in our verse above, the Lord has just said He will send His angel ahead of them into the land to deal with the occupants. Then He goes on, “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.” (Ex 23:27-30)
The picture there is very specific: He will use fear to drive out the occupants. Later the innkeeper/prostitute Rahab testifies to the spies about their reputation, “When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” (Josh 2:11) In the event the hold of the occult within the people in the land meant that many of them stayed there to be confronted by Israel but the reality is that God’s intent was first and foremost that the people of the land should flee the land as Israel came in.
See this again as the Lord instructs Moses: “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, `I will give it to your descendants.’ I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. (Ex 33:1-3). He repeats this: ““Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites,” (Ex 34:11) again and again in the midst of His various instructions: “I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the LORD your God.” (Ex 34:24)
To recap and expand on this, we have seen and you can go on seeing these references to the Lord driving out the nations before Israel: Ex 23: 28, 23:29, 23:30, 33:2, 34:11, 34: 24, Lev 18:24, 20:23, Deut 7:22, 9:4,5, 11:23, 18:12, Josh 3:10. At least fourteen times in these early verses the Lord says that He will drive out the occupants of the land. We will see some more of these references as we progress with this part in these studies. All told, there are at least thirty references using the word ‘drive’ or ‘driven’ in respect of what is to happen to the occupants of Canaan in the books of Exodus through to Joshua.
In the next study we will identify the two specific reasons why this is going to happen and then in the following one we will see the other side of the coin to that which we have seen here, the call for Israel to take possession of the land. This will involve fighting and it will involve completely clearing out all signs of the prevailing cultures but we need to be quite clear in our minds that where death comes it does so purely and simply because the existing inhabitants of the land are so locked into the land (for reasons we will see along the way) that they refuse to leave when the fear of the Lord comes.
Remember, at least fourteen times in these early verses (and 30 overall) we have seen references to the Lord driving this people out of the land. Death was not the key issue. If they had responded they would simply have left the land – and lived! Death follows only because they refuse to go and are therefore a stumbling block to the Lord’s plan to reveal Himself to the world through this holy nation.