Small capitulations lead to big failure.
The book of Joshua concludes with “the servant of the Lord” in his last days going to great lengths to safeguard the future of all the people of Israel to continue to walk with God. He challenges them again and again to “fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and faithfulness.” (24:14) He urges them to “choose this day whom you will serve.” (24:15) The people respond as they have by and large responded throughout the book, with declarations of faith and obedience. These have been the earmarks of Joshua’s generation, unlike the one that preceded it.
However, as we enter the book of Judges, we see that, with new leadership centered in the tribe of Judah, and with new challenges from the Canaanites, come ominous evidence of capitulations. Though God tells them that He has “given the land into his hand,” (1:2) we see on many fronts that the various tribes lack the resolve to drive the Canaanites out completely; content sometimes to concede defeat, and other times to keep the peoples around as servants to make their lives comfortable rather than to obey God. These may seem minor. They no doubt did to the Israelites of the day, but they are the origin of the problems both within and without that lead to the trouble and evil we see in this book, not least of which that the people “did what was right in their own eyes.” (17:6; 21:25)
Very rarely do we fail spectacularly as our first step out of God’s will. Satan knows that we will not turn away from God so quickly and he is patient and cunning. Instead, Satan offers us little concessions, small capitulations, to the will of God and our sinful flesh responds, whether out of laziness, fear, or a desire for some forbidden thing. As the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, so often the failure of God’s people begin with one step. Christian, every obedience matters. Every thought. Every word. We must be on our guard, always maintaining a heart of prayer and repentance, and a watchful eye for small capitulations to God’s will.