HOW CAN WE JUSTIFY THE ACT OF GOD IN DRIVING OUT THE HEATHEN FROM THEIR LANDS AND GIVING IT TO ISRAEL? WASN'T THAT UNFAIR?
We first need to know who God is in relation to the land. The Psalmist declares:
The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (Psalm 24:1)
We are not the owners of this planet, or of any property that we possess; it is entirely the Lord's. He is the Creator and Maker of it all. He has placed man and assigned him the task of managing it well according to His divine plan.
When the tenants of a house do not stick to the rules and regulations of the contract, the owner has the full right to ask them to vacate. And that is fair. So also God-the owner of all the lands on planet earth-has the moral right to vacate an individual, a group of people, a nation, and the world, His free tenants, when they do not comply with the rules. Therefore it should not surprise us when the
Canaanites and the rest were driven out of their habitation.
When Adam and Eve sinned they were driven out from their Eden home (Genesis 3:23, 24). When Cain committed the murderous act of killing his brother, Abel, he too was driven from his home outside Eden-to the "east of Eden" (See Genesis 4:12-16). The
best and the most fertile lands were denied them, because of sin.
God gave Abraham a free land, as he was faithful to the light that he received, and obeyed God to the fullest, as it is written:
Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. (Genesis 26:5)
God decided to give him the best of lands, as that's the way it goes! That's the way and the rule of God. The land of Canaan was the best land on earth. It is written of it:
The land that floweth with milk and honey. (Deuteronomy 6:3)
The land of Canaan was very fertile. We see this when the spies went to investigate; and they came back with clusters of grapes.
How heavy was a cluster? This is what was said:
Cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs. (Numbers 13:23)
Wow! People had to carry one cluster upon a staff! That would have been very heavy. For sure the size of each was big! That fertile the land was.
Another reason why God wanted Abraham and his descendants to have that land was that it was the center of three main continents- Asia, Europe and Africa. God wanted the light of His Gospel to go to the entire world from the center point.
ONE MIGHT SAY: All this is fine, but was it fair and just to drive out the already existing occupants?
Well, please don't forget the basic reason of God in driving away Adam and Eve from their Eden home, and later Cain far from
Eden. It was because of the sin that they committed. Sin drives a person from blessings, from the best things around. This is the reason why the Canaanites were driven out also from the land.
Let us read the Word of God to the Israelites even before they could occupy the Promised Land.
Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:
And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. (Leviticus 18:24-28)
You see! They defiled themselves and the land with their great sins. "And the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants".
Look at the people in Noah's day. The whole world got into deep sin and they had to be wiped out! So also it was with Sodom and Gomorrah. And so will it be when Jesus returns!
The judgments on the heathen were a warning to Israel. The
For there is no respect of persons with God. (Romans 2:11)
When Israel repeated the sins of the previous occupants, they too were visited with great judgments. Many kingdoms invaded the Land of Promise by the permission and command of God. Chief among them was the Babylonian kingdom under king Nebuchadnezzar. God did not protect them from the invasion, for they deserved it; and it was already predicted. Most of them were taken into captivity during the three invasions of Nebuchadnezzar. When they repented, God brought them back from their captivity. But most of them died in the captivity of 70 long years (Daniel 9:2). You also see this happening at the end of the Jewish nation period (as a chosen people), after the rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. The Romans came and invaded their land and destroyed their world famous temple in A.D. 70 (See Luke 21:20-22).
That is what sin does. It even drives one from his land. That is what will finally happen to all sinners, who have refused to be cleansed from their sins by the great provision made at Calvary. All sinners will be resurrected to finally die the second death in the lake of fire, (Revelation 20:11-15; 21:1). And God will make all things new, as the Scriptures declare-a New Heaven and a New Earth- and only the saints will be there. Jesus declared it emphatically in the Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)
Therefore the driving out of the heathen from the land of
Canaan was just a demonstration of the principle of God in His dealings with his stewards, from the entrance of sin till the exit of it-that principle is followed!