Completing the Conquest

Posted: February 26, 2009 in Joshua

Joshua 11-12, “Completing the Conquest”

Thus far in Joshua we’ve encountered some pretty exciting battles: the walls falling at Jericho – the defeat & ambush of Ai – the routing of the 5-kingdom confederacy, the sun standing still in the sky, and more. Tonight we get one more battle & things will slow down a bit in the next several chapters as we see the allotment of the land given to the various Israelite tribes.

The battle we do see is immense…as if all the other battles Israel had faced up to this point had been a dress rehearsal. That’s not unlike how our walk with Christ is & how we face battles against sin & temptation. We’re cruising along, learning to fight the little battles – when out of nowhere comes a massive attack from the enemy & a temptation to go back to doing things in our power rather than the Lord’s. Just as that would be a mistake with us, it’d be one with Israel…and (at least this time) they do things the right way starting out. They wait for the word of God & act upon His promises.

Joshua 11 (NKJV)
1 And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor heard these things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, to the king of Shimron, to the king of Achshaph, 2 and to the kings who were from the north, in the mountains, in the plain south of Chinneroth, in the lowland, and in the heights of Dor on the west, 3 to the Canaanites in the east and in the west, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite in the mountains, and the Hivite below Hermon in the land of Mizpah. 4 So they went out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore in multitude, with very many horses and chariots. 5 And when all these kings had met together, they came and camped together at the waters of Merom to fight against Israel.

A. Israel had just got done fighting one alliance of nations (city-states)…now they were facing another one. Except this one was a lot bigger than 5 against one – by the time the armies were assembled, Israel was in trouble. They faced “as many people as the sand that is on the seashore in multitude, with very many horses and chariots…” The Jewish historian Josephus asserts that there were 300,000 soldiers, 10,000 cavalry troops, and 20,000 chariots – talk about overwhelming!

B. What do we do when we face overwhelming odds? Maybe we’re hit with a job loss and a major house repair at the same time – how do we deal with the stress? Maybe we’ve gotten to a point with some kind of recurring besetting sin that we think we’ve actually got a handle of things & then circumstances spin out of control & we’re faced with massive temptation – what do we do? [] In Israel’s case, the Scripture is silent on how they faced these odds. There’s no mention of prayer or fasting or seeking the Lord…but at the same time, there’s also no mention of acting out in their flesh or seeking poor counsel. Sometimes when we’re overwhelmed we don’t necessarily know how to react the right way – but there’s much wisdom in just waiting on the Lord if we know all the other ways are wrong.

6 But the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow about this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel. You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.”

A. To proceed in the flesh would have been suicide for Israel…but to proceed in the Lord is walking in faith. This has often been the pattern…when Moses tried to free the Hebrews in his flesh, he ended up killing a man & running for his life. God sent him back in the power of the spirit & Moses did something even more bold (give demands unto Pharaoh!) – but instead of living in fear, Moses was proceeding in the faith of God. Same thing with the Red Sea: by the accounting of man, it was foolish to end up trapped between the Egyptian army & the beach – but in the eyes of God, it was just patience in waiting for His miracle. [] For Joshua, imagine the relief he must have felt to receive this word from the Lord. No longer would he be facing a suicidal battle; he’d be walking in faith in the victory that God had already promised.

B. How to face down overwhelming odds? First, when you’re doing things God’s way – don’t be afraid. [] God gives us many things in the Body of Christ, but fear isn’t one of them. 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. [] When we start experiencing fear as a result of our circumstances, the 1st thing we can be assured of is that fear didn’t come from the Lord – and that should give us hope & confidence to start seeking the Lord again in faith.

C. Second, when you’re doing things God’s way, He’s the One doing the work. God would “deliver all of them slain before Israel”…the wording almost makes it seem as if all Israel would have to do is show up & they’d see a battlefield full of dead enemies. Obviously God was still calling Israel to fight, but He Himself was the One responsible for their power & victory…Israel simply had to show up.
__a. Keep in mind that all of our battles are foundationally spiritual battles – we do not battle against flesh & blood, but principalities & powers (Eph 6:12). And when it comes to spiritual issues such as sin & spiritual attack, Jesus has already won the victory – that was proven at the Resurrection & with His ascension. Thus we fight from victory; not for victory. We simply show up in the power of the Spirit, standing on the word of God, trusting in God to be true to His promises.

7 So Joshua and all the people of war with him came against them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and they attacked them. 8 And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who defeated them and chased them to Greater Sidon, to the Brook Misrephoth, and to the Valley of Mizpah eastward; they attacked them until they left none of them remaining. 9 So Joshua did to them as the LORD had told him: he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.

A. As with the previous battle (Ch 10:9), Joshua & the Israelites take the enemy army by surprise… They defeat them in battle & pursue them to their utter destruction. [MAP] Exactly what the Lord said would happen happened. Go figure. 🙂

B. Why hamstring the horses? Couldn’t the Israelites have adopted them as their own – like taking their weapons & put them into their own arsenal? From a human point of view, that would have made a lot of sense… From a spiritual point of view, it would have been exactly the wrong strategy! They were fighting a spiritual battle & God was the one fighting for them. For them to take the enemy’s horses & chariots would have been like using the enemy’s tools to fight the Lord’s battles…
__a. Ultimately, this comes down to an issue of trust. Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God. [] Do we trust God to be sufficient in Himself with whatever promises He’s given? Is His word true? Or does He need help from us & whatever methods we think best? Take political issues for example…there’s nothing necessarily wrong with petitions & phone campaigns, etc. Christians & non-Christians alike use them with great success. The problem comes in when it’s the only method of activism we’re using, when the 1st things we ought to be doing is praying & sharing the gospel… When people’s hearts are changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, their actions will follow.

10 Joshua turned back at that time and took Hazor, and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor was formerly the head of all those kingdoms. 11 And they struck all the people who were in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them. There was none left breathing. Then he burned Hazor with fire.

A. Remember the city of Hazor was the instigator behind all this – Joshua completely destroys the city & burns it with fire…

12 So all the cities of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua took and struck with the edge of the sword. He utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded. 13 But as for the cities that stood on their mounds, Israel burned none of them, except Hazor only, which Joshua burned. 14 And all the spoil of these cities and the livestock, the children of Israel took as booty for themselves; but they struck every man with the edge of the sword until they had destroyed them, and they left none breathing.

A. Why didn’t Joshua destroy the other cities? Because Israel was supposed to live in them! That was part of the promise of God – that they’d live in houses they didn’t build & harvest vineyards they didn’t plant (Deut 6:11)…they were inheriting a home; not a barren wasteland.
__a. We need to keep the same thing in mind when we think of the Promised Land as our salvation & walk in Christ (as per Heb 4). Sometimes the Christian walk is made out to be some sort of legalistic list that no one would want to take part in (Do this; don’t do that…) – but we weren’t given a wasteland of a life by God; we were given a glorious life in the Spirit! It’s not a matter of being jealous for the things that were killing us in the past – it’s the joy & privilege of living as a child of God today. Keep in mind the Hebrews were supposed to keep the houses; not the high places & idolatrous altars from before. The life we have in Christ we ought to enjoy in Christ – we have the wonderful privilege and invitation to worship God in spirit & truth – to pray directly to Him without any interference – to give glory to Him through our lips & our actions – to walk in the power & joy of the Spirit. There’s nothing ‘barren’ about the Christian life…God has given us an inheritance not just for the future, but for today!

B. The people were utterly destroyed. Was this just? Absolutely – it was the justice of God. They had filled up on the measure of their wrath & God used Israel as His instrument to pour it out upon them. As harsh as this may look from a 21st Century mindset, this was the will of God – and thus we can trust that the Judge of all the earth always does right.

15 As the LORD had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.

A. Joshua did everything God had told him to do: he brought the people into the land – he had faith in the Lord – he fought the battles – he divided the land among Israel…truly Joshua was faithful. Keep in mind that Joshua is in many ways a type (foreshadowing) of the Lord Jesus. If Joshua was faithful in everything God had commanded him to do, we can be assured that Jesus was even more so! Jesus did everything God wanted Him to do (John 5:19), and keeps everyone God calls Him to keep (John 6:39). Our salvation (rest – inheritance) is absolutely complete in Jesus Christ because it’s absolutely dependent on Jesus Christ & He is absolutely faithful!

B. Does that mean there wasn’t work for Joshua & Israel to do? No – Just because they were in the land didn’t mean that Israel was supposed to sit on their hands & become couch potatoes – and as Judges proves, they didn’t get off the couch near enough!
__a. We receive new life in Christ – praise God! But as long as we draw breath, we will always be engaged in a battle against sin. The Lord Jesus paid the price for it at the cross & won the victory in the resurrection – our battle has nothing to do with the penalty of sin (that work has already been fully accomplished). Our ongoing battle has to do with dealing with the dead body of sin that remains with us as long as we live in these fleshly fallen bodies. [Paul’s struggle in Rom 7] Romans 7:23-25 (23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (24) O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (25) I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. [] Never give up the fight against sin! We don’t fight against it due to guilt or condemnation (because there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus – Rom 8:1); we fight against it because it’s dead to us & we have something so much better to live for – Christ! And to settle for anything less than the life He has for us is to settle for 2nd best.

16 Thus Joshua took all this land: the mountain country, all the South, all the land of Goshen, the lowland, and the Jordan plain—the mountains of Israel and its lowlands, 17 from Mount Halak and the ascent to Seir, even as far as Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. He captured all their kings, and struck them down and killed them. 18 Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.

A. Summary of the general conquest…

B. God did give huge decisive quick victories to Israel; but they weren’t all that way. With these kings, “Joshua made war a long time…” Scholars estimate the time based on the accounts of Caleb’s age (listed in Ch 14:7,10)…he was 40 years old at the time of the spying at Kadesh – 38 years in the wandering – 85 y.o. at the end of the conquest…makes for a 7 year total conquest. (Interesting prophetically…) However long it was, it was a long time with hard fought-out battles along the way.
__a. Are we ready for a long war against the flesh in the power of the Spirit? I praise God for the testimonies of people who get saved & then never struggle a day against their previous besetting sin…but those testimonies are far & few in-between. Most of us experience what Israel did…there are massive victories that are only due to the miraculous intervention of God – and then there are longer drawn out battles in sweat & tears clinging to the promises in His word.
__b. That’s not to be scary or depressing – simply real life. But we need to remember that in all of this, we’re never alone. Jesus never leaves us to fight these battles out by ourselves. He sent us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit to abide with us forever (John 14:6) – the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us (Rom 8:26) – Jesus Himself constantly makes intercession for us (Rom 8:34) – and He promised never to leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:15).

19 There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. All the others they took in battle. 20 For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, and that they might receive no mercy, but that He might destroy them, as the LORD had commanded Moses.

A. Not even Gibeon should have received peace from Israel [review]… But it’s interesting that no other nations even bothered asking for peace. They simply weren’t interested in anything other than fighting against the people of God at all costs.

B. Why? God hardened their hearts. This is the same word & phrasing used of Pharaoh when Moses repeatedly asked for the Hebrews’ freedom. Throughout the 9 plagues, Pharaoh would appear to relent, but his heart was hardened. At first, the Scripture makes it clear that Pharaoh heart was hardened on his own (Exo 7:13, 22, 8:15, etc) – but over time, Scripture also makes it clear that God hardened his heart (Exo 9:12).

C. To many of us, this starts to get into some tricky territory. After all, if God hardened their heart, how can we say that God gave them the opportunity to repent? I suggest that those are two separate questions.
__i. Did God give them the opportunity to repent? YES! It was 400 years earlier to Abraham that He first mentioned the iniquity of the inhabitants of the land & said at that point that the “iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Gen 15:16). They had 4 centuries to repent! The fact God waited for so long only goes to show His mercy…
__ii. Did God have the right to harden their hearts? Yes…He’s God. Because He is God, in some senses He is wholly unlike us & has rights we do not have. Part of His rights include to harden some & show mercy to others. But let us beware that we do not accuse God of wrongdoing – as with the Amorites & with Pharaoh, His hardening only serves to showcase His far greater mercy. Romans 9:14-17 (14) What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! (15) For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” (16) So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. (17) For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” []
__iii. “So where does free-will come in?” The same place it always does. Simply because God hardens some does not change the reach of the gospel in the slightest. He still is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9), and there’s no indication that this promise is any less true for Pharaoh or the Amorites than it is for us. Our hearts are already hard due to sin – and in Pharaoh’s case (at least) we know he hardened his heart 1st. God simply completed the work Pharaoh had already begun.
____i. Whatever the case, we can be assured that God is good – that He’s merciful – that He desires men to repent – that He’s made provision for men to repent through Christ – and that He’s given witness of Himself through creation, conscience, & the Scripture. The workings beyond that of what actually takes place in a person’s heart prior to salvation is a mystery & reserved for God to know…and that’s ok. God is God; we’re not. 🙂

21 And at that time Joshua came and cut off the Anakim from the mountains: from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel; Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities. 22 None of the Anakim were left in the land of the children of Israel; they remained only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod. 23 So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had said to Moses; and Joshua gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Then the land rested from war.

A. Who were the Anakim? The reason Israel balked from entering the land the 1st time. When the 12 spies went into the land, they complained that the children of Anak were giants & the Hebrews were like grasshoppers in their sight (Num 13:33). Now after all this time, Joshua & the Hebrews come in the power of God & wipe these guys out like they could have done 40 years before.
__a. Interestingly, the Anakim remained in Gaza & Gath – the lands that became home to the Philistines. Who was the giant warrior from Gath who fought for the Philistines? Goliath.

B. Did Joshua really take the whole land? Yes – scholars will argue about the extent of land promised & whether or not Israel ever took every single square inch, but as a whole, Joshua did take the whole land. Every part of the land that God commanded Joshua to go into, he went into & claimed a victory. The individual tribes were supposed to take it from there & complete the task in their individual inheritance.

Joshua 12 (NKJV)
1 These are the kings of the land whom the children of Israel defeated, and whose land they possessed on the other side of the Jordan toward the rising of the sun, from the River Arnon to Mount Hermon, and all the eastern Jordan plain:

A. Going to list out the various kings & lands defeated by God through Israel…starts with the kings defeated by Moses; moves on to Joshua. (Quick)

2 One king was Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt in Heshbon and ruled half of Gilead, from Aroer, which is on the bank of the River Arnon, from the middle of that river, even as far as the River Jabbok, which is the border of the Ammonites, 3 and the eastern Jordan plain from the Sea of Chinneroth as far as the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea), the road to Beth Jeshimoth, and southward below the slopes of Pisgah.

A. Review: (Num 21) Sihon had refused passage to the Hebrews through his land, as had Edom & Moab before him. However, Sihon wasn’t under the protection of God & had no family relation to Israel. This was Israel’s 1st taste of victory in the promised land.

4 The other king was Og king of Bashan and his territory, who was of the remnant of the giants, who dwelt at Ashtaroth and at Edrei, 5 and reigned over Mount Hermon, over Salcah, over all Bashan, as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and over half of Gilead to the border of Sihon king of Heshbon.

A. Review: (Num 21) Og was next on the list & apparently didn’t even get a chance to refuse Israel if he had wanted to. God simply delivered their army into the hands of Israel. Both Sihon and Og were crucial 1st battles for Israel as they learned to trust the Lord & walk in His power & victory.

6 These Moses the servant of the LORD and the children of Israel had conquered; and Moses the servant of the LORD had given it as a possession to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh.

A. Tribes that settled on the east side of the Jordan. They truly did “settle” because they saw that the land was good for the livestock, but they were stopping short of what God truly had intended for them.

7 And these are the kings of the country which Joshua and the children of Israel conquered on this side of the Jordan, on the west, from Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon as far as Mount Halak and the ascent to Seir, which Joshua gave to the tribes of Israel as a possession according to their divisions, 8 in the mountain country, in the lowlands, in the Jordan plain, in the slopes, in the wilderness, and in the South— the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: (vs. 9-24 list 31 kings conquered by Israel)

A. Quite a list! Why the details? After all, all these kings are lost to history. That’s the point. At the time, they most definitely were NOT lost to history – they were the powerhouses in Canaan, and going down the list of names, it’s obvious that God miraculously took the land from their hands and gave it to Israel. We may not know their names, but the people around them at the time certainly did. But for today – who’s still here? When was the last time you met a citizen of Aphek? Or Tirzah? They’re gone – God judged them. But to name a Jew is easy. Even before the nation of Israel was re-established, the Jewish people never died out…God kept them and preserved them through the centuries as a testimony to His covenant and His power.

Congratulations Joshua! The land has been conquered. The very thing that they’ve been working towards for close to 50 years has finally come to pass: they now have a home of their own.

So how did they get there?
A. It was a sovereign work of God. He had judged the inhabitants of the land for their sin, hardened their hearts, and had miraculously delivered the land into the hands of His people.
B. It was a completed work of God. Everything He had commanded Joshua to do, He had enabled Joshua to do – not a single thing was left undone.
C. It was an ongoing work of God’s people, empowered by God. The land was theirs, but there would be pockets of Canaanites who remained for years. Unless God’s people continued to do things God’s way, their enemies would continue to plague them (which historically, is exactly what happened).

How similar it is to our own salvation & walk with Christ!
A. It is a sovereign work of God. God alone sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins – raised Him from the dead – draws us to Christ through the gospel – convicts us of sin, righteousness & judgment through the Spirit – and gives us the faith needed to respond to the gospel. We are not absolved of the responsibility to respond to His glorious offer, but our salvation is completely due to His work & not our own.
B. It is a completed work of God. When Jesus hung on the cross, He declared “It is finished!” Not a single ounce of effort more was needed for salvation – as the hymn declares, “Jesus paid it all!”
C. It is an ongoing work of God’s people, empowered by God. We are justified fully at the cross, but we are sanctified throughout our lives – growing in holiness, living in purity, and maturing in our walk with Christ. Till the day we die we will struggle against sin – not to justify ourselves from it’s stain, but to continue to reckon ourselves dead to it & alive in God.

Are you trusting in His work & relying on His power? As with Israel, to face the world’s temptations & sin without God is suicide…of course we’re going to fail – why wouldn’t we? When we were without Christ we always failed before; that doesn’t change. But in Christ, empowered by the Spirit, and holding fast to the promises of God we can face sin & temptation in faith & walk in the victory God has already won.


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