The chastisement of God
But if you turn away from him and cling to the customs of the survivors of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry with them, then know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive them out of your land. Instead, they will be a snare and a trap to you, a whip for your backs and thorny brambles in your eyes, and you will vanish from this good land the Lord your God has given you. Joshua 23:12-13 NLT
Our devotion to God should result to obedience. Obedience to God is not optional in the life of every believer. This is what Joshua was telling the Israelites. Their success and welfare were hinged to their obedience to God. If they choose to ignore God’s warnings from His word, they will find that God will not let their sin pass His judgment. God’s word will never fail whether it is a promise of blessing or a promise of reprimand. God is devoted to His children and He will not let sin be left unpunished. He set His heart to us not because of our meritorious acts or we are worthy and deserving but because of His grace and mercy. Therefore, when we respond to His love by surrendering our lives and loving Him back, it follows that we will obey Him. This is what Jesus told His disciples. “‘Jesus replied, ‘All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me’” (John 14:23-24). Several times, God warned the Israelites through Moses not to forsake their love to God by turning to ungodly practices (see Exodus 23:20–33; 34:10–17; Deuteronomy 7:12–26). Joshua provided vivid descriptions if they ignore God’s commands; “the Lord your God will no longer drive them out of your land. Instead, they will be a snare and a trap to you, a whip for your backs and thorny brambles in your eyes.” They will be defeated and will be in so much suffering for they disobeyed the Lord. Also, they were told as part of consequence of their sin; “you will vanish from this good land the Lord your God has given you.” All these consequences happened when they were taken captive and exiled in Babylon. The chastisement is not because God is mean and cruel to us but because “discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (Hebrews 12:10-11). The enemy, the devil, will deceive us by telling us that bad is good and good is bad but it is God who really thinks of what is good for us and is determined to work towards it. “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6).