Consequence of Compromise
"Wherever you set foot you will be on land I have given you--from the Negev wilderness in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, including all the land of the Hittites. No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you." Joshua 1:2-4
I'm intrigued by the journey of the tribe of Dan from inclusion in the inheritance of the promised land to a place of compromise to a place of extinction. Earlier the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh had seen how good the land was on the east of the Jordan. They asked Moses to intercede with God for them to receive that land rather than the unknown that lay across the Jordan.
Years later the land of Israel had basically been conquered. However some of the tribes had not come forward to receive allotment of their land. Joshua prodded them by asking how long they were going to wait to claim what God had given them. (Joshua 18:3) Dan was the last tribe to receive their inheritance, as designated by the casting of sacred lot, meaning God was sovereign in the choice.
In the 19th chapter of Joshua we read they had trouble possessing their land because the men were big (remember Goliath?), their chariots were many and their weapons were mighty. We don't know how long they wallowed in that state of dissatisfaction in the portion God gave them.
They were still there when Joshua, toward the end of his life, reminded the nation that God would drive out the remaining enemy before them. The nation served God all the days of Joshua until everyone who remembered God's great work in establishing the nation died. Then the people began to do what was right in their own eyes.
Judges 18 begins:
"Now in those days Israel had no king. And the tribe of Dan was trying to find a place where they could settle, for they had not yet moved into the land assigned to them when the land was divided among the tribes of Israel." Judges 18:1
They sent out men to scout out the land. Along the way, the scouts met up with a rogue Levite priest at the house of a man named Micah. They asked him to consult God about the success of their journey. The priest told them the LORD was watching over them. Subsequently, the men found what they were looking for in the town of Laish.
"So the five men went on to the town of Laish, where they noticed the people living carefree lives, like the Sidonians; they were peaceful and secure. The people were also wealthy because their land was very fertile. And they lived a great distance from Sidon and had no allies nearby." Judges 18:7
The land looked good and and the people appeared easy to conquer. The men returned to their waiting tribesmen with the good news. On the way back to Laish, the scouts pointed out the house of Micah. They looted his shrine of the articles of worship and invited the rogue Levite to come with them by appealing to his pride. "Isn't it better to be a priest for an entire tribe than for the household of just one man?"
First, the tribe was dissatisfied with the gift of God. Then they forgot His promise and looked for an alternative. They didn't question the counsel they received from a rogue priest and their actions ultimately were dictated by what they saw.
In the end, the tribe of Dan isolated themselves from the rest of Israel, living at the northern border. They became the cultic center of worship in the Northern Kingdom. When you tour Israel today, you may see the remains of an ornate temple to the god Pan. It is on the tribal lands of Dan.
Their experience is a caution to us in our walk with Christ today. They had a promise, but were dissatisfied with how it worked out. I have to ask myself, "am I dissatisfied with the circumstances of my life?" If I am, I need to confess that dissatisfaction and ask God to show me His will and His direction."
They searched for a different place that looked peaceful and easy. I have to ask myself, "am I telling God I want an easy life. I'm not willing to stay in a place of hardship?"
They asked for counsel from an unsanctified source. Do I look for counsel that will send me to the word of God or counsel that co-signs what I want to do? Can I recognize the difference?
In the case of the people of Dan, they should have known the priest was unreliable when he wasn't living in a Levitical city or the land designated for them. The big "red flag" should have been the presence of household gods and idols. But, they were so deep into compromise by that time they took the idols and artifacts along with them to use in their worship.
We need to daily ask God to search our hearts and make known to us any improper desire we are embracing, any impatience we may feel as we wait upon Him to reveal His will or change our circumstances. We need to stand firm on His Word and not compromise with the demands of the world.
"For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teacher who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear." 2 Timothy 4:3
Dan ended up following Jeroboam when, following the death of Solomon, he led the ten northern tribes into idolatry. They were captured by the Assyrians and removed from the Promised Land, dispersed to other lands, serving harsh rulers.
In the end, will they be remembered?
"And I saw another angel coming up from the east, carrying the seal of the living God. And he shouted to those four angels, who had been given power to harm land and sea. 'Wait, Don't harm the land or the sea or the trees until we have placed the seal of God on the foreheads of his servants.' And I heard how many were marked with the seal of God--144,000 were sealed from all the tribes of Israel:" Revelation 7:2-4
Scripture goes on to record 12,000 from each of twelve tribes are sealed. In the list Joseph is named instead of Ephraim. The name of Dan is omitted from the list. That information is all that has been revealed to us.
What we do know is that compromise means we don't fully trust God to be faithful to His promises. It puts us in a vulnerable place. The longer we compromise with the Word of God, the further away from Him we move. We isolate ourselves from the Body of Christ. On the outside we may look like we've got it all together. No Problem. Inside--life is drying up.
Heavenly Father, we ask You to search our hearts and put Your holy spotlight on any area of dissatisfaction or compromise in our lives. In Your tender love draw us to You and speak peace to us. Give us the ability to surrender any area of compromise to You, choosing to trust You to keep Your promise to go before us and defeat our enemies.
by Marilyn Allison
Editor's Note: Thank to autocorrect and a mind fogged by a respiratory infection, two glaring errors appeared in the original publication. These have been corrected. I apologize if anyone was confused by them.