As the Israelites were attempting to settle in the Promised Land, there is a repeated phrase, “They could not drive out the ites.” (The “ites” are people like Canaanites, Hivites, Jebusites, etc.) God told them that they should completely clear the land of the ites, but they didn’t. Instead, they just subjected them to forced labor.
Oops! These small ites eventually became the downfall of Israel. The ites continued to practice their pagan worship observances, and eventually enticed the people of Israel to join them. As a result, Israel was humiliated, defeated, and carried off into captivity.
Can I make a parallel to our lives?
The Promised Land is a Christ-follower’s life in Christ. The ites are our sinful tendencies.
I know the ites are there, but it seems so difficult to remove them: the Bible uses the phrase they were determined to live in that land. So the ites are allowed to coexist, and I determine to use my willpower to make sure they stay contained.
After awhile the ites have behaved themselves. They seem harmless enough. In fact, I’ve gotten so strong, so mature, in my Christian faith, I know I’ll never give in to the pull of the ites again. I can relax a little bit now.
But the ites wait. They bide their time. They find just a crack to slowly worm their way in. Then when I am at a vulnerable time, they strike. The slave becomes the master. The ites retake possession of my life.
Willpower will not work. Only complete elimination will work.
God will help you if you will let Him.
- What ites are you trying to hold down by sheer willpower?
- What ites do you tolerate now that you didn’t tolerate earlier in your faith walk?
- Do you think you are immune to some ites now that you are more mature?
The Bible’s warning is loud and clear:
These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about [willpower]; it’s useless. Cultivate [God-power].
A slight case of the ites is a serious thing! Don’t let it continue!