God handed Canaan to the Israelites. But they didn’t arrive in limousines—they had to fight for it, and the instructions were to kill everything that breathes. They started out with guns blazing: Jericho, Ai, Jerusalem, Jarmuth, Lachish, Eglon, Gezer, Debir, Geder, Hormah, Arad, Libnah, Adullam, Makkedah, Bethel, Tappuah, Hepher, Aphek, Lasharon, Madon, Hazor, Shimron Meron, Achshaph, Taanach, Megiddo, Kedesh, Jokneam, Dor, Gilgal, Tirzah. Thirty-one kings down, lickety-split.
The first sign of a stall comes in Joshua 13:13:
“Yet the people of Israel did not drive out the Geshurites or the Maacathites, but Geshur and Maacath dwell in the midst of Israel to this day.”
After the death of Joshua we find a mixed bag. Some of the news is good:
“The house of Joseph also went up against Bethel, and the LORD was with them” (Judges 1:22).
Some of the news is getting depressing:
“But the people of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem, so the Jebusites have lived with the people of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day. … Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth-shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages, for the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land” (Judges 1:21-27).
In case you are wondering if that was the Lord’s idea, that they pace themselves and take a breather, we read:
“Now the Angel of the LORD … said, ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars. But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this that you have done?’” (Judges 2:1-2)
God parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River (Joshua 3), sent hailstones and lengthened the day, and in everything they did “the LORD fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:14). But He would insist on their cooperation.
The conquest of the residual sin in your life is the spiritual mirror image of the physical conquest of the land between the Jordan and Mediterranean. It is God who accomplishes it in you from first to last—but He will insist that you engage in the process with Him with all your might.