Remove the Irritants and Thorns
But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell (Numbers 33:55).
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come (1 Corinthians 10:11).
God’s dealings with Israel in the Old Testament are filled with truths that help us in our walk with God today. Israel being led out of Egyptian bondage by way of the Red Sea is a type of our being delivered from the bondage of sin and being born again.
The land of Canaan, the land God promised to Abraham and his offspring, is a type of the born again, Spirit-filled, abundant life of the child of God today. When I was a boy we sang about Canaan’s land in church and the song referred to Canaan’s land as a type of heaven for believers. But that’s just not true! There are no inhabitants that oppose us that we must run out of heaven! Heaven is a place of rest from our labors. But here, we must fight the good fight of faith every day!
These inhabitants of Canaan were to be destroyed by Israel. They were gross idolaters whose habits were vile and repulsive. Israel was to run them out of every city as they conquered Canaan. In the above verse, God told Israel that if these inhabitants remained, they would be irritants in their eyes and thorns in their sides. God told them that these inhabitants of their land would harass them and make their life miserable.
These inhabitants of the land point to the habits of the flesh in our lives as believers. When we come out of the bondage of sin through the New Birth, there is a residue of the old man that is left in our souls. Our minds and emotions have inhabitants embedded in them from our old life before Christ. It’s our job to run them out.
These inhabitants include selfishness, envy, greed, pride, stubbornness, rebellion, anger, lust, bitterness, malice, gossip, self-pity, and a host of other things. Our responsibility as a new creation in Christ is to run these inhabitants out with the sword of the spirit, the Word of God. If we don’t confront these inhabitants, they become irritants in our eyes and thorns in our sides. They hinder our growth in God, and quench our joy. Don’t tolerate them in your land!
Israel did not conqueror these inhabitants all at once, and neither will you. Israel inhabited their promised land city by city. And it’s line upon line, precept upon precept that we grow in God and run these habits from the past out of out lives.
Be diligent to stay in the Word and keep your sword sharp. And when you come upon some inhabitants of your promised land from your old life, don’t put up with them. Run them out. Conquer your promised land little by little and you’ll walk in the peace of God and experience the best God has for you!