Last week in our study on Judges, we talked about the command for Israel to completely remove all other people from their Promised Land. God wanted his chosen people to be set apart—holy—completely unlike any other people. Instead, they allowed small groups of people to remain as slaves, servants, or even just in return for helping in their military endeavors.
As time went on, these decisions led to big problems. The coexistence of Israel and the other peoples led to intermixing of ideas and even intermarriage. Othniel was singled out (and we'll learn more about him as we continue through Judges) because he didn't intermarry. But many, many others did. Undoubtedly, the men who took wives from other groups had to put up with a lot of stuff that God didn't want. Imagine married life— your spouse has a small idol on your mantel and you know it shouldn't be there. So you suggest taking it down and it causes a big fight so you just decide to leave it alone so you don't have to fight about it anymore. Over time, little things like this slowly erode your dedication to the LORD (Yahweh) as you grow closer and closer to your wife. That is exactly what God didn't want to happen. He didn't want intermingling because He knew it would pull people from their allegiance to Him.
But it did happen. It happened a lot. It happened over and over and over again. The people of Israel kept forgetting what God had commanded them in favor of what the pagan nations around them believed.
God commanded the complete removal of these people, but the Israelites didn't see it through. We compared it to weeding. When you weed, it's important to get the entire plant—root and all—or else the problem will just continue. By leaving a remnant of the people they were supposed to conquer, their problems just continued. Rather than having their own Promised Land, the Israelites shared their land. They weren't set apart as God commanded; they lived side-by-side with the enemy.
In our own lives, we need to identify the weeds that keep us from obeying God. Eventually, if the weeds are allowed to stay, our relationship with Jesus will grow weaker and our relationship with the world will grow stronger. Let's not allow that to happen. Pray and ask God to help you identify your weeds and remove them completely so they don't come back again and so you can grow closer and closer to your Savior.