“These are the nations the Lord left in order to test Israel, since the Israelites had fought none of these in any of the wars with Canaan. This was to teach the future generations of the Israelites how to fight in battle, especially those who had not fought before.” (Judges 3:1-2, HCSB).
All the various nations that remained in the land of Canaan after the Israelite conquest were intended to serve as a test for God’s people.
Verse 3 provides a list of these remaining nations (or tribes) that seems to cover the whole geographical expanse of the promised land: the Philistines in the southwest, the Sidonians in the northwest, the Hivites in the northeast, and the Canaanites in the southeast.
In fact, there was nowhere in the promised land that Israel’s enemies weren’t lurking!
But God allowed these nations to remain in the land as a test to teach the Israelites two important matters: faithfulness (or obedience) and warfare.
You may think that seems like an odd combination, but the ancient Israelites (and today’s Christians) couldn’t learn one without learning the other.
You can’t learn to be faithful to God without learning to fight for your faith!
Just as there were nations throughout the promised land waging war against the Israelites, there is evil lurking everywhere in this world to test your faithfulness and resolve to serve God.
So God used the enemy nations to build the Israelites’ faith and obedience. Whenever the Israelites were faithful and relied on God, He would defeat the enemy nations waging war against them.
In the same way, God uses the evil that is present in this world to develop your faith, equipping you for obedience and faithfulness to Him. When you are faithful and obedient to God, He will defeat the evil that wages war against your soul.
After all, whether you like it that way or not, the Christian life is a fight, a fight for your faith.
So, if your faith is a faith worth having, then it’s a faith worth fighting for!
“Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life” (I Timothy 6:12, HCSB).