Read Exodus 23
Focus on verse 29 – 30
Breaking up new farm land can be a slow process, particularly if the land being developed is inhabited by mature trees and large rocks. The trees and rocks have to be removed, and the soil must be leveled and broken up before it can be planted with agricultural crops. If the newly broken up land is left unplanted, it will become overtaken by wild plants and a new crop of trees in surprisingly short order.
In today’s reading God informs the Israelites that He will drive the inhabitants of Canaan out before them “little by little”.
I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. (v. 29-30)
It took many years for Israel to fully possess the land and drive the Canaanites out not just because it was a a difficult process, but because it was by God’s design. God could have driven them all out with a plague or natural disaster of some kind in short order, but He did not, because if they took it over little by little, then they land would not become a wilderness in the absence of human habitation. This way Israel could very often take over cities and vineyards that were already established.
This, once again could be compared to the process of progressive sanctification in the life of a follower of Jesus. When we repent and choose to follow Jesus there is a moment at which our life is changed, but most often there is a process that follows by which we grow, “little by little” into he image of Christ. Old habits are dropped… new habits are developed…and occasionally we run into particularly stubborn habits that are very difficult to “drive out” just as Israel occasionally encountered tribes that had human giants that had to be overcome.