The Living God spoke to Moses from the Burning Bush saying, “I have observed the misery of my people in Egypt, and have heard them crying out because of their oppressors. I know about their sufferings, and I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and to bring them from that land to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the territory of the Canaanites, Hethites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites” (Exodus 3:7–8).
Forty years later, before crossing the Jordan, God gave further instructions. “You must completely destroy them. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy. You must not intermarry with them... Tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars, cut down their Asherah poles, and burn their carved images” (Deuteronomy 7:1–5). “The Lord your God will cross over ahead of you as a consuming fire; he will devastate and subdue them before you. You will drive them out and destroy them swiftly, as the Lord has told you... The Lord will drive out these nations before you because of their wickedness” (Deuteronomy 9:3–4).
God directed His people to utterly destroy the parasite, the termites, the other-ites ... and the Jebusites. But during the thirty-year conquest of Canaan, “the descendants of Judah could not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem” (Joshua 15:63).
“After the death of Joshua ... the men of Judah fought against Jerusalem, captured it, put it to the sword, and set the city on fire”(Judges 1:1, 8). They must not have completely defeated them because a few verses later we discover that “the Benjaminites did not drive out the Jebusites who were living in Jerusalem” (Judges 1:21).
Four-hundred years later, the Jebusites still lived in the fortified city of Jerusalem.
When king Saul died, David was crowned as king over Judah and Benjamin, tribes in southern Israel. Seven-and-a-half years later, David unified the twelve tribes and served as king for another thirty-three years (2 Samuel 5:3-5). For the first years, David’s home was in Hebron. As king over all of Israel, David made a strategic decision to move his capital to the north, to a more central location. He chose Jerusalem, a fortified city located on a hill, a city still held by the Jebusites.
The Jebusites were confident that they could easily defend their city. They had defended their stronghold for centuries, and surely they could defeat David’s advancing army. The Jebusites mocked David, saying “You will never get in here. Even the blind and lame can repel you” (2 Samuel 5:6). Soon, with apparently little effort and even less fanfare, David captured the city of Jerusalem, “the City of David.”
This is a cautionary tale, for “pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Every nation, in every age, must learn from the Jebusites and remember God’s declaration: “The Most High God is ruler over human kingdoms and sets anyone he wants over them” (Daniel 5:21). Nations rise and fall at God’s command.
Oh, that America might once again be “one nation under God!” That we might heed God’s invitation. “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NKJV).