Read Joshua 11
Northern Kings Defeated
1 When Jabin king of Hazor heard of this, he sent word to Jobab king of Madon, to the kings of Shimron and Akshaph, 2 and to the northern kings who were in the mountains, in the Arabah south of Kinnereth, in the western foothills and in Naphoth Dor on the west; 3 to the Canaanites in the east and west; to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites and Jebusites in the hill country; and to the Hivites below Hermon in the region of Mizpah. 4 They came out with all their troops and a large number of horses and chariots—a huge army, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. 5 All these kings joined forces and made camp together at the Waters of Merom to fight against Israel.
6 The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them, slain, over to Israel. You are to hamstring their horses and burn their chariots.”
7 So Joshua and his whole army came against them suddenly at the Waters of Merom and attacked them, 8 and the Lord gave them into the hand of Israel. They defeated them and pursued them all the way to Greater Sidon, to Misrephoth Maim, and to the Valley of Mizpah on the east, until no survivors were left. 9 Joshua did to them as the Lord had directed: He hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots.
10 At that time Joshua turned back and captured Hazor and put its king to the sword. (Hazor had been the head of all these kingdoms.) 11 Everyone in it they put to the sword. They totally destroyed them, not sparing anyone that breathed, and he burned Hazor itself.
12 Joshua took all these royal cities and their kings and put them to the sword. He totally destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded. 13 Yet Israel did not burn any of the cities built on their mounds—except Hazor, which Joshua burned. 14 The Israelites carried off for themselves all the plunder and livestock of these cities, but all the people they put to the sword until they completely destroyed them, not sparing anyone that breathed. 15 As the Lord commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and Joshua did it; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses.
16 So Joshua took this entire land: the hill country, all the Negev, the whole region of Goshen, the western foothills, the Arabah and the mountains of Israel with their foothills, 17 from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, to Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. He captured all their kings and put them to death. 18 Joshua waged war against all these kings for a long time. 19 Except for the Hivites living in Gibeon, not one city made a treaty of peace with the Israelites, who took them all in battle. 20 For it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses.
21 At that time Joshua went and destroyed the Anakites from the hill country: from Hebron, Debir and Anab, from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua totally destroyed them and their towns. 22 No Anakites were left in Israelite territory; only in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod did any survive.
23 So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.
At first glance, this chapter doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem fair for Joshua who, in his obedience to God, finds himself surrounded by a great horde of enemies. It doesn’t seem fair for the Canaanites to be killed and pushed out of their land. After all, they were there first! In Genesis 15, God referred to the Amorites as he made his promise to Abraham. The Lord said, “their iniquities are not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16). He gave them hundreds of years to turn from their sins but instead they grew increasingly wicked. We know God is patient towards people. Scripture says in 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” God had given them time to repent, yet they stayed in their sin.
Instead of comparing ourselves to others or trying to decide if our circumstances are fair, we have an opportunity to surrender to the fact that they simply are not. We can thank God that He is not fair. Not only does He withhold punishment from us that we deserve, but He also gives us far more than we could ever ask or imagine.
Joshua had a choice. We have a choice. We can look to our circumstances and complain. We can look at situations that others are in and declare them as unfair. Or we can look to God and trust that He is in control and He is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28). God’s sovereignty can be our peace. In all things our lives can bear witness to the greatness of God. When we experience victory over a stronghold in our life we can give glory to God. When we find strength to persevere in the face of trials, we can give glory to God. When we think about the destructive patterns of our own lives that have been exchanged for peace, we can give glory to God! Joshua didn’t need the horses and the chariots of his oppressors. He did not have to shrink back or change his route when he found himself surrounded by many who wanted to see him fall. He drew courage and strength from the voice of His God.
- Do you find yourself focusing more on the fairness of life or on God’s sovereignty over all circumstances?
- Joshua listened to the voice of God when the odds were stacked against him. Where do you feel God encouraging you to not be afraid?
- Joshua’s victory did not come quickly nor did it come without complete obedience (v. 15). Where have you held fast to the commands of God?
Did You Know?
The Anakites that Joshua defeated (verses 21-22) have been referenced before in Numbers 13:28. When the ten spies were sent out in Numbers, they feared the Anakites because they were gigantic warriors.