Summary: Be ruthless about the sin in your life.


Joshua 10.16-12.24

S: Removal of Evil/Sin

C: Purpose of the Community

Th: A People with Purpose


TS: We will find in our study of Joshua 10.16-12.24 how Joshua succeeds in keeping to the task of possessing the land.

Type: Narrative

I. HIDING (10.16-28)

II. UNFINISHED (10.29-43)

III. UNEVEN (11.1-15)

IV. HARDENED (11.16-20)

V. HUGE (11.21-23)

VI. COMPLETION (12.1-24)

PA: How is the change to be observed?

• Persevere in what God gives you to do.

• Be uncompromising about sin.

• Put to death the sin that is in your life.

• Live the good life.

Version: ESV

RMBC 20 August 06 AM


ILL War: Hagar the Horrible at the Dentist

In the comic strip Hagar the Horrible we find Hagar ruminating to himself: “I have my sword and shield, but I don’t want to be bogged down with unnecessary equipment.”

Then going out the door, he proclaims to his wife, “This is it Helga! I have to face the enemy. And if perchance I fail to return, please think kindly of me! I don’t want to go, but I’m a Viking, and a Viking must do what a Viking must do! So the time has come… Farewell and good-bye, my beloved!”

He goes out, and the door slams behind him. Meanwhile, Helga is knitting and sighing, she says, “That man just hates to go to the dentist.”

Humorously, this tells us that…

1. We cannot avoid all the battles that come our way.

There are some things we just must do, like going to the dentist (my apologies to those of the tooth persuasion).

We don’t like the pain that goes with it at times, but we know it is pain that is ultimately to our benefit.


We have been studying the book of Joshua since June, and it has been a book of battles.

We saw in our first study that…

2. Joshua was given the responsibility to possess the land (Joshua 1.6).

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.

He was told to be of good courage because God was going with him.

The nation was going to possess it.

To do it though, he would need to be an obedient leader to the will of God.

After receiving this exhortation from the Lord, Joshua sent spies to Jericho who found a city in fear and a family that needed saving.

Then the nation miraculously crossed the Jordan, and followed it up by defeating Jericho and Ai.

Last week, we studied how Israel fell for the Gibeonite deception, making a treaty with an enemy.

Then they defended them successfully, keeping their promise to the Gibeonites that was made before God.

Today, we come to the report of the final battles.


3. We will find in our study of Joshua 10.16-12.24 how Joshua succeeds in keeping to the task of possessing the land.


As we go through this long passage, we are going to hit bits and pieces rather than the whole passage.

But throughout we see how Joshua perseveres and overcomes his enemies, the first being those in...

I. HIDING (10.16-28)

There were five kings that had led a united army against the Gibeonites.

But Israel, as we made mention before, kept their promise and marched all night for a surprise attack that sent this army on the run.

It was a fantastic rout, which included the smart bombs of hailstones and the sun standing still.

Somehow, in the midst of all of this…

4. The five kings got separated from their troops.

The text does not say so directly, but it looks like these kings had abandoned their troops.

To protect their own lives, they ran together and hid in a cave.

They were found, though, by the Israeli troops, but because they were in the midst of finishing the mop-up operations of the day, Joshua couldn’t attend to them right away.

But that time did come…

(24) And when they brought those kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, "Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings." Then they came near and put their feet on their necks. (25) And Joshua said to them, "Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight." (26) And afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees.

We can see here that…

5. They started the fight; Joshua finished it.

The five kings had joined together in violent opposition, but their armies had been soundly beaten and utterly destroyed.

So, Joshua brings out his officers to do a symbolic act, putting their feet on the necks of these defeated kings.

These kings were pretenders to the God Almighty, but now they were helpless.

This act would be an encouragement to Joshua’s leaders that they were able defeat the enemies of the Canaanites.

Then Joshua did as he ought, properly executing these violent, immoral men.

Joshua’s leaders needed the encouragement, for ahead of them were battles that were yet…

II. UNFINISHED (10.29-43)

The strategy was working well.

Though a treaty with the Gibeonites had not been in the original plan, the union of the five kings and their defeat had, all at once, successfully created a wedge between the south and the north.

So, now Joshua moves southward.


6. Methodically, the southern area was taken.

City after city gave way.

(40) So Joshua struck the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings. He left none remaining, but devoted to destruction all that breathed, just as the LORD God of Israel commanded. (41) And Joshua struck them from Kadesh-barnea as far as Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, as far as Gibeon. (42) And Joshua captured all these kings and their land at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.

Now the south is solidly taken.

It is a successful campaign because Joshua has been obedient.

It is a successful campaign because God has fought for His people.

Returning to their home base of Gilgal, it is time to look northward.

But, if they think this will be a fair fight, they should not count on it.

Instead, it looks…

III. UNEVEN (11.1-15)

For Israel…

7. The largest task was the alliance of the north.

Jabin, the king of Hazor, has formed a tremendously huge alliance.

According to the historian, Josephus, the north had superior numbers and superior armament.

It was an army of 300,000 soldiers, 10,000 cavalry and 20,000 chariots.

It was a most daunting challenge and would take a massive battle.

Note how the text records it…

(6) And the LORD said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel. You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire." (7) So Joshua and all his warriors came suddenly against them by the waters of Merom and fell upon them. (8) And the LORD gave them into the hand of Israel, who struck them and chased them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim, and eastward as far as the Valley of Mizpeh. And they struck them until he left none remaining. (9) And Joshua did to them just as the LORD said to him: he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.

Again, note that God says go and Joshua goes.

There is no reluctance.

He goes forward with another surprise attack.

Jabin was not ready.

They were gathered in counsel, unprepared for battle, and the surprise puts them on the run.

The heart of the resistance falls apart immediately and the enemy is chased down.

8. It was a strategic win.

It was successful because they took away the horses.

We may not like the sound of that because we consider horses to be noble animals, but taking away the horses and killing them, removed the advantage of the cavalry and chariots.

Now the battle was even.

Now they were all on foot and as a result, the coalition is annihilated.


These chapters of Joshua are hard to read in a way.

To be frank, there is a lot of killing and maiming.

It makes us squirm a bit.

I think in one sense, it is supposed to.

But we are to note that Israel really had no choice.

They were facing opponents whose hearts were…

IV. HARDENED (11.16-20)

(18) Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. (19) There was not a city that made peace with the people of Israel except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. They took them all in battle. (20) For it was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses.

What we have just studied took longer than it does to read it.

We have studied the condensed version.

What one reads over a few minutes took over seven years to occur.

The defeat of the Canaanites did not happen quickly.

There was tough resistance all the time.


9. God’s revelation and grace was continually rejected.

Saying that it was “tough resistance” really isn’t strong enough.

It was a violent opposition of God’s work.

They were opposed to everything Israel represented.

If they were not destroyed, they would come back and try again.

This is why the text tells us that God seals their hearts.

When things were not going well, it would have been a temptation for the enemy to surrender under false pretenses.

But this is not the whole story, as we know.

Rahab and Gibeonites show this to us.

They convey to us God’s unchanging purpose, “that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” even if they are Canaanite.

Those that respond in faith to God’s revelation will know His grace.

The final people who were overcome were…

V. HUGE (11.21-23)

(21) And Joshua came at that time and cut off the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua devoted them to destruction with their cities. (22) There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel…

You see…

10. Even the giants were vulnerable.

You might remember the story in Numbers 13.

Ten of the spies were terrorized by the Anakim, these extra large men.

They were so scared that no one believed Joshua and Caleb, who encouraged the people to obey God and take the land.

They said, “With God’s help, the land is ours.”

“Let’s go.”

But the rest of the spies were scared.

This fear caused the judgment of wandering in the wilderness.

Now, though, forty years later, they are in the land.

And Joshua has led them to battle these huge human beings.

It is a battle that is successful.

Joshua had been right all along, and he proved it by waging war against them effectively.

As we come to chapter 12, we have…

VI. COMPLETION (12.1-24)

(1) Now these are the kings of the land whom the people of Israel defeated and took possession of their land beyond the Jordan… (toward the sunrise, from the Valley of the Arnon to Mount Hermon, with all the Arabah eastward…)

As we noted before…

11. Joshua had persevered to see the job complete.

Joshua had led the fight until they didn’t need to fight anymore.

We did not read it, but each king is listed individually.

It is like a checklist.

He challenged God.

He failed.


He challenged God.

He failed.


He challenged God.

He failed.


I like how Doug Goins describes this chapter:

“There were thirty-three petty kings, political and military authorities who tried to stand up against God of all the earth. They got squashed. God will brook no competition, and he mows down thirty-three kings, because he is sovereign and his plans and purposes will be accomplished.”


So what do we learn from this today?

First, I believe…

12. If we are to succeed in battle, we must wage warfare God’s way.

We should ever remember that we serve and worship the “With-Us” God.

God is with us.

So when He commands us to a battle, it is not to lose.

Victory is for the taking, because God will help us defeat our foes.

But if we are to be victorious, we must obey Him no matter what.

Even when life is hard…

Even when it seems were losing…

Even it seems blasé and not worth the fight…

…we are to press on…

…and follow the orders of our Lord.

In the midst of this, we must remember this startling fact…

13. Death does have a role in the life of the Christian (Romans 8.13; Galatians 5.24; Colossians 3.5).

It sounds contradictory, but note how Paul describes it in three of his letters – Romans, Galatians and Colossians…

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

In the same way Joshua could not have sympathy for the Canaanites, we are to be fiercely opposed to sin in our life.

Sin is never a small matter.

It always takes us where we do not want to go.

It always leads to hurt and destruction.



There is no such thing as a small sin.

There is never a small bad result from sin.

It is always big.

It always hurts.

And it inevitably hurts others as well.

ILL Sin: Living with a Tiger

In 2003, The New York Times reported:

His obsession began innocently enough, with the puppies and broken-winged birds many little boys beg to bring home. Over the years, Antoine Yates’ taste in animals grew ever more exotic, neighbors said, and his collection came to include reptiles, a monkey or two, and a hyena.

But when Yates’ most exotic pet — a tiger he named Ming — grew to more than 400 pounds and let loose a fearsome roar, the trouble began.

Terrified by the beast, his mother, Martha, packed up and moved to a suburb of Philadelphia earlier this year, neighbors said.

Yates, increasingly hard pressed to control the tiger, apparently decamped too, to a nearby apartment.

He continued to feed the tiger by throwing raw chicken through a door opened just enough to keep a paw the size of a plate from swiping through, neighbors said.

On Saturday, police arrived, after being alerted by phone tips. They removed the tiger, and an alligator, after a sharpshooter shot them with tranquilizer darts.

Police now are trying to determine where Yates, 31, got a tiger and how he managed to raise it in a public housing project for years.

The story became even more poignant a couple days later. After a court hearing, Yates was released without bail. Limping and with his arm in a sling, both injuries caused by the tiger, Yates continued to profess his love for Ming. Outside the courtroom Yates commented to the reporters, "I never feared him at all. He was like my brother. He was my best friend. He’s my only friend, really."

Citation: "A Tiger Grows in Harlem," New York Times (10-6-03) and "Tiger Guy Charged, Tells of Devotion" New York Times (10-8-03); reported in the Chicago Tribune

What looks fun…

What looks innocent…

What looks harmless…

What seems to be our friend…

…will grow beyond our control and hurt us.

This is why we must be ruthless.



Do not allow it.

Put it to death.

Give it no room to exist in your life.

And if it finds room, kill it.

Kill it with confession…

Kill it with repentance…

Kill it with a substantive plan that will help you not go there anymore.

What kind of life are you living?

You see, it is one thing to start the race of the Christian life well.

But it is a whole other thing to finish it well.

For spiritual victory requires that the enemy be completely defeated.

Put to death what keeps you from the Lord.

And then…

15. Be just as determined to live the good life God has designed (Colossians 3.12-14).

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

God has your best in mind.

He has a great life for us.

Just as the Promised Land was going to be a great place for the Israelites, God has great things for us.

But it is up to us to follow Him completely in order to receive it.

That’s our challenge this day.

Let’s not settle for any less.

For Further Study: Numbers 13:28-33; Psalm 20.7; 110.1; Romans 6.3-4, 11; 8:35-39; I Corinthians 15.25; Philippians 3.13-14; Hebrews 10.13, 36


Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.



Cook, Pat Rumble in the Jungle

Goins, Doug Victory at Gibeon

____ The Final Conquest

Hamby, John The Final Conquest


Boice, James Montgomery. Joshua: An Expositional Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989.

Campbell, Donald K. No Time for Neutrality. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1981.

Creach, Jerome F. D. Joshua Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, ed. James L. Mays. Louisville: John Knox Press, 2003.

Goslinga, C. J. Joshua, Judges, Ruth. Translated by Ray Togtman. Bible Student’s Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1986.