The presence of the peoples in the midst of which Israel lives is caused by Israel’s unfaithfulness in the past. But God will not stop there. He uses these peoples to test the faithfulness of His people. He hands them over to the results of their disobedience, but does so that they may ask for Him again.
Day after day they live among these nations. They are thereby put to the test whether they will remain faithful and obedient to the LORD and chase away these enemies anyway. Their presence is on the one hand a testimony of their unfaithfulness in the past, and on the other hand it is a challenge to drive out their enemies and take possession of what God has given them, or to restore what they have lost.
What do these enemies represent? They are a picture of spiritual powers that want to influence the behavior of God’s people. What kind of influences these are, we can deduct from the meaning of their names. Every Christian or community of Christians is exposed to these influences. The big question is how we respond to it. Do we give in, let ourselves be influenced by these enemies, or are we going to attack them and defeat them with God’s Word? That is the test for us in the spiritual sense as it is for Israel in the literal sense.
About the meaning of the name Canaan (‘merchant’) another application can be made that we might recognize. Sometimes, without knowing or wanting, we can easily be influenced by this enemy. This is not about a financial benefit. There is also social benefit to be gained. Something can give a certain status to someone.
Some great men on earth claim to be Christians. Anyone who wants to come to the flattery of such prominent guys will have to show himself a Christian and adopt Christian values. In this way, the Christian goods are turned into a trade. It is not a question of whether someone is a real Christian or just in name. In many cases only God can answer that question. What matters is the way we act, the way we deal with the things of God.
I read an illustration of this in the newspaper. A list of the top six favorite preachers of U.S. President Bill Clinton (president from 20-01-1993 to 20-01-2001) was published. You wonder what’s the value of that. If you’re part of that, of course, it scores well, especially if you’re number one for him. It puts the preacher’s person in the spotlight and also his supporters. That makes a profit. If you are number 1 or 5 or 6 for Clinton, there will be many more who want to join you and your group. Many would much rather identify with a celebrated and influential person in the world than with a rejected and despised Christ in heaven. How God judges the value and profit of such a top six, will be left to Him.
Their name means ‘sons of horror’. The influence they exert lies in the atmosphere of instilling fear. This enemy tries to strangle the mouths of Christians. His proven weapon is fear. Many Christians are afraid to open their mouths to testify of their Lord. This may be a word to unrepentant people, but it may also be a word to be heard among believers.
Why are so few believers preaching the gospel? Why do so few children of God in the church open their mouths to thank God or to pray? Fear grips the people of God. Afraid to lose your face. Afraid, because you are too busy with yourself. When the heart is full of the Lord Jesus, shyness and fear are overcome, for what the heart is full of the mouth speaks out (Mt 12:34b34You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.). The presence of this enemy is the challenge to occupy yourself with the Lord Jesus. Then you can beat him.
They are the ‘talkers’, that is one of the meanings of their name. It is a very different enemy than the previous one that gaggles you. Someone can talk a lot, but without really saying anything. An easy talker uses a lot of words. Please note here it is about an enemy. It’s about talking as a negative feature.
There are Christians who are afraid to testify of the Lord Jesus, but who can show up whole stories about Christian values. Just look at the ‘Christian’ politics. This enemy must be overcome by fellowship with the Lord. When the “mind of Christ” (1Cor 2:1616For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.) takes over the mind life, the “talkers” are defeated. Then the words get substance and they work out something in those who hear.
Perizzites means, among other things, ‘rulers’. They represent a spiritual class above the common people. They are the people who can know, because after all, they have studied for it. It is not what they say, but what they are. A person who has not studied, has no title in his name, cannot speak with authority. In a community where this applies, the Perizzites are in charge.
The teaching of the Lord Jesus that He gives when He is on earth is not accepted among other things, because He does not possess the papers that are judged necessary (Jn 7:1515The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?”). That’s still how it works today. A person who has not followed recognized religious education is ignored in large parts of Christianity, no matter how much he speaks God’s truth. They just don’t listen to him, because he’s not a ‘colleague’. This enemy is overcome by listening to what the Lord Jesus says in Luke 22 (Lk 22:25-2725And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’26But [it is] not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.27For who is greater, the one who reclines [at the table] or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines [at the table]? But I am among you as the one who serves.).
The Hivites are the counterparts of the Perizzites. In contrast to the Perizzites, the ‘rulers’, we see in the Hivites the ‘villagers’. That is the meaning of their name. They are the common people, the lay people. They are not concerned about the interpretation of the Bible. They have their ‘rulers’ for that, who are paid by them. The convenience serves mankind, and if one pays for it, one can thereby reassure one’s conscience. Many Christians like not having to take responsibility and refrain from any activity.
In 1 Corinthians 12 we meet both the Perizzites and the Hivites. There we hear someone say that he is “not of the body” (1Cor 12:15-1615If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not [a part] of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less [a part] of the body.16And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not [a part] of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less [a part] of the body.). It seems that a ‘Hivite’ is speaking here. Although it is about someone who is dissatisfied with the place he has in the body, it can be applied to this enemy. The result of laziness and dissatisfaction is the same: nothing happens.
Every child of God has its own unique place in the body (the church) and may, yes, even has to perform the function that goes with it. Its function is for the benefit of the whole body (the whole church).
We also listen to a ‘Perizzite’(1Cor 12:21-2221And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”22On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary;). He can do it and doesn’t need the others. He is above it.
Both enemies are defeated by watching what God has willed (1Cor 12:18,2518But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.25so that there may be no division in the body, but [that] the members may have the same care for one another.). God wants this to be visible in the local church (1Cor 12:2727Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.) and therefore these enemies must be ‘chased away’.
The Jebusites close the list. The meaning of their name, ‘trampling ones’, shows the end result of what we’ve noticed in the previous enemies. They trample all that is of God. They overrun it. They resemble the dogs and swine of Matthew 7 (Mt 7:66“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.). The Lord Jesus warns His disciples there that they will not give them “the holy” and “your pearls”, for they will trample it and tear it apart.
When we think of ‘the holy’ we can think of the Lord’s Supper. This is not for those who are not converted, but only for those who, through conversion to God and faith in the Lord Jesus, belong to the church. Unbelievers understand nothing of its meaning. They do not participate in the work of redemption of the Lord Jesus. All they can do with the Lord’s Supper is trample it under their feet.
When we think of ‘your pearls’ we can think of the precious truths that the Bible contains about the church and about so many blessings of the believer. All these truths are not for unbelievers, but for believers. Unauthorized people cannot appreciate these precious truths. They ridicule and mock them. That is why we should not discuss this with them.
This enemy can be conquered by ensuring that no not converted person is accepted at the Lord’s Table. We must not allow someone who does not have a life from God to participate in the service in the church. This can be done by maintaining discipline in the church, as the Scripture indicates, among other things, in 1Corrinthians 5 (1Cor 5:1-131It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.2You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.3For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present.4In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus,5[I have decided] to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.6Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump [of dough]?7Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are [in fact] unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.8Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.9I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;10I [did] not at all [mean] with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.11But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within [the church]?13But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.). This can also be done by keeping to what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6-7 and in 2 Timothy 2 (2Cor 6:14-1814Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?15Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?16Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.17“Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.18“And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.; 2Cor 7:11Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.; 2Tim 2:16-2216But avoid worldly [and] empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness,17and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,18[men] who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.19Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”20Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.21Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these [things], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.22Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love [and] peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.).