In the book of Judges, God allows the wicked nations to remain in the land for a very specific reason. If you will recall, the book of Judges comes after Joshua’s leadership comes to an end. The people go through cycles of deep faith, falling away, coming under bondage, crying out for deliverance, and God faithfully raising up a judge to deliver them from bondage.
The Israelites were supposed to wipe out all the people when they took the land, but through disobedience, they did not. God used the fruits of their disobedience to test them over and over again. In Judges 3, we see that God left the evil tribes to test the people, to see if they were going to follow the LORD, or the gods of those around them.
And they were left, that He might test Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.
God already knows the answer to the test. They would fail. Yet the principle still remains to this day: will we follow Him even though wicked rulers rule over us? This principle is found in every age for believers: will we follow the LORD, trusting in Him, or make alignments with wicked men for deliverance?
We must not get lost in the idea that we can save ourselves. Only the LORD can do so. I’m sure there were those in the day of Judges who advocated supporting the wicked ruler over them, so they could have an easier life. Yet, easier and prosperous lives are never the believer’s goals. Obedience to the LORD and His word is always the goal. It is never compromise, never pragmatism, never hope in human institutions.
Some might want to discount this passage from Judges because it is part of the Old Testament, but realize that the God of the Old Testament is the same Triune God found in the New Testament. He never changes and His requirements are the same. The difference comes in our understanding of those righteous requirements. While the people did not know Christ as we know Him today, they still were to trust in the LORD for their deliverance by faith, just as we are trusting in Him today for our salvation.
To look to ourselves or human institutions for our deliverance is the same mistake the people made in the book of judges. They were looking to themselves when captivity came. Sadly, it took the captivity to remind them that they belonged to the LORD, not the world around them. It took captivity to help them see that obedience was better than sacrifice. One can only wonder if the LORD is bringing about such a captivity for His people today.