Canaan Conquered Completely – 10:28-12:24

The starting point for this expositional series can be found here.
The previous entry can be read here.

In a faraway land, there was a small band of heroes facing insurmountable odds. In fact, our heroes were trapped within the walls of a mountain fortress. Outside the fortress, thousands and thousands of Isengard orcs were attempting to break in and destroy all human life finding refuge within the walls.

Tolkien writes:

There suddenly upon a ridge appeared a rider, clad in white, shining in the rising sun. Over the low hills the horns were sounding. Behind him, hastening down the long slopes, were a thousand men on foot; their swords were in their hands. Amid them strode a man tall and strong. His shield was red. As he came to the valley’s brink, he set to his lips a great black horn and blew a ringing blast.

“Erkenbrand!” the Riders shouted. “Erkenbrand!”
“Behold the White Rider!” cried Aragorn. “Gandalf is come again!”
“Mithrandir, Mithrandir!” said Legolas. “This is wizardry indeed! Come! I would look on this forest, ere the spell changes.”
The hosts of Isengard roared, swaying this way and that, turning from fear to fear. Again the horn sounded from the tower. Down through the breach of the Dike charged the king’s company. Down from the hills leaped Erkenbrand, lord of Westfold. Down leaped Shadowfax, like a deer that runs surefooted in the mountains. The White Rider was upon them, and the terror of his coming filled the enemy with madness. The wild men fell on their faces before him. The Orcs reeled and screamed and cast aside both sword and spear. Like a black smoke driven by a mounting wind they fled. Wailing, they passed under the waiting shadow of the trees; and from that shadow none ever came again.[1]

Today’s Text

Our historian writes, “On that day Joshua captured Makkedah and struck it down with the sword, including its king. He completely destroyed it and everyone in it, leaving no survivors. So he treated the king of Makkedah as he had the king of Jericho.  Joshua and all Israel with him crossed from Makkedah to Libnah and fought against Libnah.  The LORD also handed it and its king over to Israel. He struck it down, putting everyone in it to the sword, and left no survivors in it. He treated Libnah’s king as he had the king of Jericho.  From Libnah, Joshua and all Israel with him crossed to Lachish. They laid siege to it and attacked it.  The LORD handed Lachish over to Israel, and Joshua captured it on the second day. He struck it down, putting everyone in it to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah.  At that time Horam king of Gezer went to help Lachish, but Joshua struck him down along with his people, leaving no survivors in it.  Then Joshua crossed from Lachish to Eglon and all Israel with him. They laid siege to it and attacked it.  On that day they captured it and struck it down, putting everyone in it to the sword. He completely destroyed it that day, just as he had done to Lachish.  Next, Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron and attacked it.  They captured it and struck down its king, all its villages, and everyone in it with the sword. He left no survivors, just as he had done at Eglon. He completely destroyed Hebron and everyone in it.  Finally, Joshua turned toward Debir and attacked it. And all Israel was with him.  He captured it—its king and all its villages. They struck them down with the sword and completely destroyed everyone in it, leaving no survivors. He treated Debir and its king as he had treated Hebron and as he had treated Libnah and its king.  So Joshua conquered the whole region—the hill country, the Negev, the Judean foothills, and the slopes—with all their kings, leaving no survivors. He completely destroyed every living being, as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded.  Joshua conquered everyone from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza, and all the land of Goshen as far as Gibeon.  Joshua captured all these kings and their land in one campaign, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.  Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal. When Jabin king of Hazor heard ⌊this news⌋, he sent ⌊a message⌋ to: Jobab king of Madon, the kings of Shimron and Achshaph,  and the kings of the north in the hill country, the Arabah south of Chinnereth, the Judean foothills, and the Slopes of Dor to the west,  the Canaanites in the east and west, the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, and Jebusites in the hill country, and the Hivites at the foot of Hermon in the land of Mizpah.  They went out with all their armies—a multitude as numerous as the sand on the seashore—along with a vast number of horses and chariots.  All these kings joined forces; they came together and camped at the waters of Merom to attack Israel.  The LORD said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid of them, for at this time tomorrow I will cause all of them to be killed before Israel. You are to hamstring their horses and burn up their chariots.’  So Joshua and his whole military force surprised them at the waters of Merom and attacked them.  The LORD handed them over to Israel, and they struck them down, pursuing them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim, and to the east as far as the Valley of Mizpeh. They struck them down, leaving no survivors.  Joshua treated them as the LORD had told him; he hamstrung their horses and burned up their chariots.  At that time Joshua turned back, captured Hazor, and struck down its king with the sword, because Hazor had formerly been the leader of all these kingdoms.  They struck down everyone in it with the sword, completely destroying them; he left no one alive. Then he burned down Hazor.  Joshua captured all these kings and their cities and struck them down with the sword. He completely destroyed them, as Moses the LORD’s servant had commanded.  However, Israel did not burn any of the cities that stood on their mounds except Hazor, which Joshua burned.  The Israelites plundered all the spoils and cattle of these cities for themselves. But they struck down every person with the sword until they had annihilated them, leaving no one alive.  Just as the LORD had commanded His servant Moses, Moses commanded Joshua. That is what Joshua did, leaving nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.  So Joshua took all this land—the hill country, all the Negev, all the land of Goshen, the foothills, the Arabah, and the hill country of Israel with its foothills—  from Mount Halak, which ascends to Seir, as far as Baal-gad in the Valley of Lebanon at the foot of Mount Hermon. He captured all their kings and struck them down, putting them to death.  Joshua waged war with all these kings for a long time.  No city made peace with the Israelites except the Hivites who inhabited Gibeon; all of them were taken in battle.  For it was the LORD’s intention to harden their hearts, so that they would engage Israel in battle, be completely destroyed without mercy, and be annihilated, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.  At that time Joshua proceeded to exterminate the Anakim from the hill country—Hebron, Debir, Anab—all the hill country of Judah and of Israel. Joshua completely destroyed them with their cities.  No Anakim were left in the land of the Israelites, except for some remaining in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod.  So Joshua took the entire land, in keeping with all that the LORD had told Moses. Joshua then gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. After this, the land had rest from war. The Israelites struck down the following kings of the land and took possession of their land beyond the Jordan to the east and from the Arnon Valley to Mount Hermon, including all the Arabah eastward:  Sihon king of the Amorites lived in Heshbon. He ruled ⌊over the territory⌋ from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Valley, along the middle of the valley, and half of Gilead up to the Jabbok River (the border of the Ammonites),  the Arabah east of the Sea of Chinnereth to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea), eastward through Beth-jeshimoth and southward below the slopes of Pisgah.  Og king of Bashan, of the remnant of the Rephaim, lived in Ashtaroth and Edrei.  He ruled over Mount Hermon, Salecah, all Bashan up to the Geshurite and Maacathite border, and half of Gilead to the border of Sihon, king of Heshbon.  Moses the LORD’s servant and the Israelites struck them down. And Moses the LORD’s servant gave their land as an inheritance to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh.  Joshua and the Israelites struck down the following kings of the land beyond the Jordan to the west, from Baal-gad in the Valley of Lebanon to Mount Halak, which ascends toward Seir (Joshua gave their land as an inheritance to the tribes of Israel according to their allotments:  the hill country, the Judean foothills, the Arabah, the slopes, the desert, and the Negev of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites):  the king of Jericho: one, the king of Ai, which is next to Bethel: one,  the king of Jerusalem: one, the king of Hebron: one,  the king of Jarmuth: one, the king of Lachish: one,  the king of Eglon: one, the king of Gezer: one,  the king of Debir: one, the king of Geder: one,  the king of Hormah: one, the king of Arad: one,  the king of Libnah: one, the king of Adullam: one,  the king of Makkedah: one, the king of Bethel: one,  the king of Tappuah: one, the king of Hepher: one,  the king of Aphek: one, the king of Lasharon: one,  the king of Madon: one, the king of Hazor: one,  the king of Shimron-meron: one, the king of Achshaph: one,  the king of Taanach: one, the king of Megiddo: one,  the king of Kedesh: one, the king of Jokneam in Carmel: one,  the king of Dor in Naphath-dor: one, the king of Goiim in Gilgal: one,  the king of Tirzah: one, ⌊the total number of⌋ all kings: 31.”

Where we’ve been…

Just as the heroes in Tolkien’s narrative were facing overwhelming odds, so also the people of Israel in our text today. But just like the heroes in Tolkien’s narrative were “miraculously” rescued, so also—in a much greater way—Israel gained the advantage and thus realized the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham in Genesis 15:5-16.

He took him outside and said, “Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then He said to him, “Your offspring will be that ⌊numerous⌋.”  Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.  He also said to him, “I am Yahweh who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.”  But he said, “Lord GOD, how can I know that I will possess it?”  He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old cow, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”  So he brought all these to Him, split them down the middle, and laid the pieces opposite each other, but he did not cut up the birds.  Birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.  As the sun was setting, a deep sleep fell on Abram, and suddenly great terror and darkness descended on him.  Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know this for certain: Your offspring will be foreigners in a land that does not belong to them; they will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years.  However, I will judge the nation they serve, and afterward they will go out with many possessions.  But you will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a ripe old age.  In the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

When we left Israel at the end of the previous post, they were enjoying a miraculous victory over the Southern Coalition of Canaan who had tried to destroy Gibeon for making a peace treaty with Israel. When we pick up today, it is still the same lengthy day that God had brought about when Joshua prayed for the sun to stop in the sky. From there, the Northern Coalition will try to wipe out Israel, and again, they will be utterly destroyed. Our historian wants us to grasp beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is faithful; that His faithfulness is shown when He fights for His people; and that when He fights for His people, His victory is total and resistance is futile.

God’s people finish the mission He called them to (10:28-43)

First, we see that God’s people finish the mission He called them to accomplish. We read in 10:28-43, “On that day Joshua captured Makkedah and struck it down with the sword, including its king. He completely destroyed it and everyone in it, leaving no survivors. So he treated the king of Makkedah as he had the king of Jericho.  Joshua and all Israel with him crossed from Makkedah to Libnah and fought against Libnah.  The LORD also handed it and its king over to Israel. He struck it down, putting everyone in it to the sword, and left no survivors in it. He treated Libnah’s king as he had the king of Jericho.  From Libnah, Joshua and all Israel with him crossed to Lachish. They laid siege to it and attacked it.  The LORD handed Lachish over to Israel, and Joshua captured it on the second day. He struck it down, putting everyone in it to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah.  At that time Horam king of Gezer went to help Lachish, but Joshua struck him down along with his people, leaving no survivors in it.  Then Joshua crossed from Lachish to Eglon and all Israel with him. They laid siege to it and attacked it.  On that day they captured it and struck it down, putting everyone in it to the sword. He completely destroyed it that day, just as he had done to Lachish.  Next, Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron and attacked it.  They captured it and struck down its king, all its villages, and everyone in it with the sword. He left no survivors, just as he had done at Eglon. He completely destroyed Hebron and everyone in it.  Finally, Joshua turned toward Debir and attacked it. And all Israel was with him.  He captured it—its king and all its villages. They struck them down with the sword and completely destroyed everyone in it, leaving no survivors. He treated Debir and its king as he had treated Hebron and as he had treated Libnah and its king.  So Joshua conquered the whole region—the hill country, the Negev, the Judean foothills, and the slopes—with all their kings, leaving no survivors. He completely destroyed every living being, as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded.  Joshua conquered everyone from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza, and all the land of Goshen as far as Gibeon.  Joshua captured all these kings and their land in one campaign, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.  Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.”

If we backtrack to our text last time, we will quickly see that it looked as though the people left their task unfinished. Joshua 10:19-20 reads, “‘But as for the rest of you, don’t stay there. Pursue your enemies and attack them from behind. Don’t let them enter their cities, for the LORD your God has handed them over to you.’  So Joshua and the Israelites finished inflicting a terrible slaughter on them until they were destroyed, although a few survivors ran away to the fortified cities.” Joshua told them not to let them enter their cities, but then the very next verse says, “a few survivors ran away to the fortified cities.” Did they fail?

No. You see, if we look at verse 15 and then down at verse 43 we will see something very similar:

  • Joshua 10:15 (HCSB)  Then Joshua and all Israel with him returned to the camp at Gilgal.
  • Joshua 10:43 (HCSB)  Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.

Everything that occurs in the midst of these verses is a part of the same narrative. In 10:15 our historian is telling us that victory was achieved. But then in 10:16-42 the specifics of that victory are described. I would argue that the sun stood still the whole time from 10:15-43, except that when they get to Lachish in verse 31-32, we read that “The LORD handed Lachish over to Israel, and Joshua captured it on the second day” (emphasis added). The men of Israel had left the five kings on trees—and attacked Makkedah (28) and Libnah (29-30)—before returning at sunset to take the kings down from the trees (10:26-27).

Long story short: Israel goes—with Joshua at their head—from town to town conquering the natives of Canaan. Makkedah falls. Libnah falls. Lachish falls. Eglon falls. Hebron falls. Debir falls. And then our historian concludes the matter by writing in verses 40-43,

So Joshua conquered the whole region—the hill country, the Negev, the Judean foothills, and the slopes—with all their kings, leaving no survivors. He completely destroyed every living being, as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded.  Joshua conquered everyone from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza, and all the land of Goshen as far as Gibeon.  Joshua captured all these kings and their land in one campaign, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.  Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.

Joshua’s success is not attributed to his military prowess or to his smarts or to his skill with a blade. Rather, he was simply doing what “the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded.” Joshua’s success—in what reads as if was a short period of time—is attributed to the fact that “the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.”

The point of the section is simply this: to God alone be the glory. Victory comes from Him! However, despite these points, it is not an excuse to sit back and say, “God’s got this.” Joshua and the people of Israel obeyed what God had commanded. In addition, as i have been saying throughout this study, the conquest of Israel is a picture of the Gospel conquering hearts. God has commissioned us to “Preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15), so if we are failing to do this in the claim that, “God will do His work,” we are missing the point. God’s people finish the mission He called them to.

How are you doing?

Do your friends and neighbors know you are a believer? Or do you play coy with Christianity around them? Or—God-forbid—do you not even have a single unbelieving friend? This post might help you. We must be preaching the gospel to the lost. This is what every Christian has been called to do. Inviting to church is a part of it, but we have to be bold and speak the gospel to those we know and love.

How are you doing in this area?

God is faithful to help His people accomplish their mission (11:1-23)

Second we see that God is faithful to help His people accomplish the mission He gave them. We read in 11:1-23, “When Jabin king of Hazor heard ⌊this news⌋, he sent ⌊a message⌋ to: Jobab king of Madon, the kings of Shimron and Achshaph,  and the kings of the north in the hill country, the Arabah south of Chinnereth, the Judean foothills, and the Slopes of Dor to the west,  the Canaanites in the east and west, the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, and Jebusites in the hill country, and the Hivites at the foot of Hermon in the land of Mizpah.  They went out with all their armies—a multitude as numerous as the sand on the seashore—along with a vast number of horses and chariots.  All these kings joined forces; they came together and camped at the waters of Merom to attack Israel.  The LORD said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid of them, for at this time tomorrow I will cause all of them to be killed before Israel. You are to hamstring their horses and burn up their chariots.’  So Joshua and his whole military force surprised them at the waters of Merom and attacked them.  The LORD handed them over to Israel, and they struck them down, pursuing them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim, and to the east as far as the Valley of Mizpeh. They struck them down, leaving no survivors.  Joshua treated them as the LORD had told him; he hamstrung their horses and burned up their chariots.  At that time Joshua turned back, captured Hazor, and struck down its king with the sword, because Hazor had formerly been the leader of all these kingdoms.  They struck down everyone in it with the sword, completely destroying them; he left no one alive. Then he burned down Hazor.  Joshua captured all these kings and their cities and struck them down with the sword. He completely destroyed them, as Moses the LORD’s servant had commanded.  However, Israel did not burn any of the cities that stood on their mounds except Hazor, which Joshua burned.  The Israelites plundered all the spoils and cattle of these cities for themselves. But they struck down every person with the sword until they had annihilated them, leaving no one alive.  Just as the LORD had commanded His servant Moses, Moses commanded Joshua. That is what Joshua did, leaving nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.  So Joshua took all this land—the hill country, all the Negev, all the land of Goshen, the foothills, the Arabah, and the hill country of Israel with its foothills—  from Mount Halak, which ascends to Seir, as far as Baal-gad in the Valley of Lebanon at the foot of Mount Hermon. He captured all their kings and struck them down, putting them to death.  Joshua waged war with all these kings for a long time.  No city made peace with the Israelites except the Hivites who inhabited Gibeon; all of them were taken in battle.  For it was the LORD’s intention to harden their hearts, so that they would engage Israel in battle, be completely destroyed without mercy, and be annihilated, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.  At that time Joshua proceeded to exterminate the Anakim from the hill country—Hebron, Debir, Anab—all the hill country of Judah and of Israel. Joshua completely destroyed them with their cities.  No Anakim were left in the land of the Israelites, except for some remaining in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod.  So Joshua took the entire land, in keeping with all that the LORD had told Moses. Joshua then gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. After this, the land had rest from war.”

This section begins very similarly to chapter 10, except instead of southern kings, this time the kings dwell in the north. Also, instead of five kings and cities, we read the following:

When Jabin king of Hazor heard ⌊this news⌋, he sent ⌊a message⌋ to: Jobab king of Madon, the kings of Shimron and Achshaph,  and the kings of the north in the hill country, the Arabah south of Chinnereth, the Judean foothills, and the Slopes of Dor to the west,  the Canaanites in the east and west, the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, and Jebusites in the hill country, and the Hivites at the foot of Hermon in the land of Mizpah (11:1-3).

This amounts to more or less four specific kings, and all the other various kings of all the people in the land. The way it is written it reads as though every person in the whole northern part of the land comes down to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Verse 4 adds an important note: “They went out with all their armies—a multitude as numerous as the sand on the seashore—along with a vast number of horses and chariots” (emphasis added). God had promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the sand on the seashore (Genesis 22:17), and by this point in Israel’s history they are numbered at 600,000ish males of fighting age. This advancing army made Israel look small. The Jewish historian, Josephus, writes, “Now the number of the whole army was three hundred thousand armed footmen, and ten thousand horsemen, and twenty thousand chariots.”[2] It is possible that this number is correct, and it is certain that it is no smaller, but the fact that Josephus didn’t even live until almost 1500 years later would cast doubt on the specific accuracy of his number. Our God-inspired historian said that they were innumerable.

Joshua sees this force and, like any human being, his first thought is to be afraid. But God steps in and comforts him. Verse 6 reads, “Do not be afraid of them, for at this time tomorrow I will cause all of them to be killed before Israel. You are to hamstring their horses and burn up their chariots.” God is faithful.

And then we read the entirety of the battle in verses 7-8. “Joshua and his whole military force surprised them at the waters of Merom and attacked them.  The LORD handed them over to Israel, and they struck them down, pursuing them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim, and to the east as far as the Valley of Mizpeh. They struck them down, leaving no survivors.”

Our historian is on top of his game here. He paints a picture of an insurmountable force for four verses and then in the course of two says, in effect, “The LORD is on our side and He destroyed them.” We have nothing to fear when we keep God in our focus.

The chapter continues by describing the specific destruction of Hazor—the instigator of the Northern Coalition against Israel. In verse 15 we see that Joshua fulfilled the commands of Moses as far as the taking of Canaan were concerned: “Just as the LORD had commanded His servant Moses, Moses commanded Joshua. That is what Joshua did, leaving nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.”

In verse 18, we see that this was not a quick campaign. Whether this refers to chapters 10-11 or just chapter 11 is unsure, but our historian tells us, “Joshua waged war with all these kings for a long time.” The point is that victory does not occur overnight. Just like with Jericho—see this post—so also with our Christian life, our evangelism won’t convert the world in one day and our conversion doesn’t wipe out our sin in one day. We must continually put our sin to death and preach the gospel to the lost—waging spiritual war for a long time—before the results will be totally visible. Are you in it for the long haul, or just the short term? God calls you to the long haul. Get on track if you’ve fallen off; repent today!

In verses 19-20 we see the grace of God yet again. Verse 19 describes the only city that made peace with Israel—Gibeon—and verse 20 says that every other nations’ hearts were hardened so that they would fight Israel and be defeated. If God had wanted Gibeon destroyed as well, He would have hardened their hearts too. Point being: God has mercy on whom He wills, and He hardens whom He wills (cf. Romans 9:14-23). God had grace on Gibeon and brought them amongst His people—graciously. He has done the same with you if you have trusted in Jesus. Praise Him today!

Verses 21-22 show that God looks out for His people’s faith. “At that time Joshua proceeded to exterminate the Anakim from the hill country—Hebron, Debir, Anab—all the hill country of Judah and of Israel. Joshua completely destroyed them with their cities.  No Anakim were left in the land of the Israelites, except for some remaining in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod.” The Anakim—in the book of Numbers—are the reason the people rebelled and refused to go in to take possession of the land. Numbers 13:28-33 gives an account of their report:

However, the people living in the land are strong, and the cities are large and fortified. We also saw the descendants of Anak there.  The Amalekites are living in the land of the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the sea and along the Jordan.”  Then Caleb quieted the people in the presence of Moses and said, “We must go up and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!”  But the men who had gone up with him responded, “We can’t go up against the people because they are stronger than we are!”  So they gave a negative report to the Israelites about the land they had scouted: “The land we passed through to explore is one that devours its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of great size.  We even saw the Nephilim there—the descendants of Anak ⌊come⌋ from the Nephilim! To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them.”

“It is fitting, then, that the chronicle of Israel’s conquests should end with this account of a triumph over perhaps Canaan’s most feared inhabitants.”[3] God knew that His people’s faith had almost been totally overthrown by these fearful warriors forty years earlier. For this reason, he annihilates them from the land so that future generations need not fear them. God does not give His people more than they can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God is faithful to help His people accomplish the mission He gives them. While we must obey God and not say, “Well, God will take care of it,” we must also make sure that we are not trusting ourselves to accomplish His mission for us. He will deliver us in a moment of need; He will grant victory to us, even if it takes years; He is full of electing grace, that should cause us to never count anyone outside of the bounds of His saving power; and He knows us well enough to know where we are weak and where we need extra grace. He gives us everything we need to accomplish our mission.

Do we trust Him?

God is Victorious (12:1-24)

Thirdly, we see that God is totally victorious. We read in verses 12:1-24, “The Israelites struck down the following kings of the land and took possession of their land beyond the Jordan to the east and from the Arnon Valley to Mount Hermon, including all the Arabah eastward:  Sihon king of the Amorites lived in Heshbon. He ruled ⌊over the territory⌋ from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Valley, along the middle of the valley, and half of Gilead up to the Jabbok River (the border of the Ammonites),  the Arabah east of the Sea of Chinnereth to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea), eastward through Beth-jeshimoth and southward below the slopes of Pisgah.  Og king of Bashan, of the remnant of the Rephaim, lived in Ashtaroth and Edrei.  He ruled over Mount Hermon, Salecah, all Bashan up to the Geshurite and Maacathite border, and half of Gilead to the border of Sihon, king of Heshbon.  Moses the LORD’s servant and the Israelites struck them down. And Moses the LORD’s servant gave their land as an inheritance to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh.  Joshua and the Israelites struck down the following kings of the land beyond the Jordan to the west, from Baal-gad in the Valley of Lebanon to Mount Halak, which ascends toward Seir (Joshua gave their land as an inheritance to the tribes of Israel according to their allotments:  the hill country, the Judean foothills, the Arabah, the slopes, the desert, and the Negev of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites):  the king of Jericho: one, the king of Ai, which is next to Bethel: one, the king of Jerusalem: one, the king of Hebron one,  the king of Jarmuth: one, the king of Lachish: one,  the king of Eglon: one, the king of Gezer: one,  the king of Debir: one, the king of Geder: one,  the king of Hormah: one, the king of Arad: one,  the king of Libnah: one, the king of Adullam: one,  the king of Makkedah: one, the king of Bethel: one,  the king of Tappuah: one, the king of Hepher: one,  the king of Aphek: one, the king of Lasharon: one,  the king of Madon: one, the king of Hazor: one,  the king of Shimron-meron: one, the king of Achshaph: one,  the king of Taanach: one, the king of Megiddo: one,  the king of Kedesh: one, the king of Jokneam in Carmel: one,  the king of Dor in Naphath-dor: one, the king of Goiim in Gilgal: one,  the king of Tirzah: one, ⌊the total number of⌋ all kings: 31.”

This section is very simple: God’s victory is total! There is no escape for those who refuse to submit to God as Lord and God and Savior. The first portion of the chapter describes Israel’s victories under Moses prior to the book of Joshua, and the second half describes the victory under Joshua. The land conquered by Moses was given to the two and a half tribes who were given land east of the Jordan (which was discussed in this post), and the land conquered by Joshua was given to the remaining tribes. God’s people have inherited the land under the leadership of two men of God. God has fulfilled His promise. Those who fight against God will be defeated and added to this list of thirty-three kings.

Do you believe that God is victorious? If you do not, i plead with you to reconsider! He will win. Your resistance is futile.

Do you forget that God is victorious? Does the sin in your life overwhelm you at times? Remember that God is victorious. He will enact victory in your life, but you must both trust and obey Him. Trusting without obeying is disobedience and laziness and not really trust; obeying without trusting is legalism and doomed to failure.

Trust God and know that He is victorious!

The other Battle of Armageddon

I started this post with Tolkien’s description of the Battle of Helm’s Deep in Middle Earth. Now i must more clearly explain why that was my starting point. In Joshua 12:21 we read that one of the defeated kings was the King of Megiddo. In chapter 11, we had seen how all of the kings of Northern Canaan had joined forces against Israel in an attempt to destroy them. Read Revelation 16:12-16.

The sixth poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the east.  Then I saw three unclean spirits like frogs ⌊coming⌋ from the dragon’s mouth, from the beast’s mouth, and from the mouth of the false prophet.  For they are spirits of demons performing signs, who travel to the kings of the whole world to assemble them for the battle of the great day of God, the Almighty.  “Look, I am coming like a thief. The one who is alert and remains clothed so that he may not go around naked and people see his shame is blessed.”  So they assembled them at the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.

Armageddon. This is Greek for the Hebrew that is translated into English as, “mountain of Megiddo.” This battle is further described in Revelation 19:11-21:

Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and He judges and makes war in righteousness.  His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on His head. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself.  He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is the Word of God.  The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen.  A sharp sword came from His mouth, so that He might strike the nations with it. He will shepherd them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty.  And He has a name written on His robe and on His thigh: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.  Then I saw an angel standing on the sun, and he cried out in a loud voice, saying to all the birds flying high overhead, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God,  so that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of commanders, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of their riders, and the flesh of everyone, both free and slave, small and great.”  Then I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and against His army.  But the beast was taken prisoner, and along with him the false prophet, who had performed the signs in his presence. He deceived those who accepted the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image with these signs. Both of them were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.  The rest were killed with the sword that came from the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

There are some scholars who would argue that the book of Joshua is an inaccurate representation of God’s character due to repeated statements of, “he left no one alive” (e.g. 11:11). A scholar with this view writes, “When you take God incarnate in the historical Jesus out of the picture, what you have left is a God more concerned about ritual purity than the lives of human beings, a God for whom herem is not only the essence of Yahweh war but its ‘climactic aspect,’ and ‘the vanquished enemies become . . . a [human] sacrifice, something “devoted to God”.’”[4] This is a scholar who has taken both the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation out of his functional canon of Scripture. He obviously has not read that Jesus is going to break back into history and wreak destruction upon those who refuse to bow the knee to Him.

Revelation 19 describes the battle of Armageddon as follows: “He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is the Word of God.  The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen.  A sharp sword came from His mouth, so that He might strike the nations with it. . . . The rest were killed with the sword that came from the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh” (19:13-14, 21).

According to Revelation 16, all the kings of the earth assemble in that locale to wipe out God’s people, much like the northern coalition in Joshua 11 gathered together to wipe out Israel. Revelation 19 proves that this is a pointless attempt on behalf of the world. Christ will return and destroy those opposed to Him and His people.

However, there is a curious phrase in Revelation 16. Jesus Himself speaks: “Look, I am coming like a thief. The one who is alert and remains clothed so that he may not go around naked and people see his shame is blessed” (16:15). There will not be a rapture to convince unbelievers that they have seven years to choose Jesus; Christ can return at any time, and when He does, it will be the battle of Armageddon. At that time the lines will have been drawn in the sand, and it will be too late to change allegiances. We do not know the day or the hour, but we do know that Christ is coming soon. When He returns you can’t say, “Now I believe!”

You must believe today! The day of salvation is still here. Please place your faith in Christ today. I would much rather see you defeated by the Gospel than see you mangled before the army of the Lord on that final day. Please come to Him. He died for you. He rose again. Believe that, and believe that He is the Son of God, and you will be saved.

I beg you!

In conclusion, our historian’s report of the conquest of Canaan is at a close, but the conquest of the earth for God’s salvific purpose is still in full swing! Let’s trust Him, obey His great commission, and take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth!

In this with you.

Soli Deo Gloria
Solus Christus

The next post can be found here (add link when written).

Thus ends part 1 of this Joshua study. I will be expositing Mark for the foreseeable future, but when i come back to this study, the link to Joshua 13:1-?? will be added above.

Thanks for reading.

 

[1] J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers (New York, NY: Del Rey, 2012), 158-159.
[2] Flavius Josephus, The Works of Flavius Josephus, trans. William Whiston, (Hartford, CN: S. S. Scranton, 1905), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 153.
[3] David M. Howard, New American Commentary – Volume 5: Joshua, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 274.
[4] C. S. Cowles, “A Response to Tremper Longman III,” in Show Them No Mercy: Four Views on God and Canaanite Genocide (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 192.

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