Summary: Three principles for spiritual conquest.
A Study of Joshua
The Final Conquest
God’s purpose for His people is complete victory. We are told in 1 John 5:4, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.” If someone were to offer everyone in this congregation tonight a gift of $ 10,000, we would think anyone who would not accept anything larger than $10.00, a little muddled in their thinking. Yet this is the exactly what many Christians are content to do in their spiritual lives. The Lord offers them spiritual wealth beyond comprehension, but they take salvation but leave untouched the blessings of victory over sin, continued fellowship with God, fruitful service and the confident expectation of a glorious future.
1. IT IS ALWAYS TOO SOON TO QUIT 11:1-5
Ours is the responsibility of completing the conquest. The principle of follow through is important in business, in sports and in spiritual endeavors. In any endeavor in the spiritual realm it is follow that is “the” most important. It is one thing to begin a race well but what is important is how you finish it. It is one thing to begin to apply the principles of spiritual growth to your Christian life; but it is another to follow through to victory.
The battles to win Canaan are condensed into a very short narrative, it only takes 20 minutes or so to read chapters 10 and 11, but it took a long time for these events to transpire. Verse eighteen helps us to clarify our understanding on this point, it says, “Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.” This was not a quick and easy victory. But in all fairness this appears to be one of the pattern’s of God’s work with his people. God’s power still works, but we do not see it displayed necessary in bright flashes, but over the long haul. God calls his people to lasting fidelity over a long period of time. Even when God is at work, many days consist of washing your face, brushing your teeth, taking out the garbage and going to work. The writer of Hebrews reminds us in (10:36), ”For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.”
Although Joshua had achieved stunning victories over the Canaanites during the first weeks of his invasion of their territory, it would require seven years to fully occupy and consolidate Israel’s claims to all of the Promised Land.
2. NEW PROBLEM - SAME GOD (11:1-5)
Up to this point there have been only three major engagements with the enemy, at Jericho, at Ai and on the hills near Gibeon. Now in verse one we read,“And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor heard these things, that he sent to [the other kings of Canaan], (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.”
Joshua is now faced with more kings, more armies composed of superior numbers and superior armament. Josephus the Jewish historian, writing about this incident many hundreds of years later stated that the combined forces of the Canaanites numbered 300,000 foot soldiers, 1000.000 cavalry, and 20,000 chariots. Even if these numbers are exaggerated the biblical account says that they are, “as many people as the sand that is on the seashore in multitude, with very many horses and chariots.” But if Joshua is fearful of the size and armament of the foe it is offset by God’s promise found in verse six, “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.”
The Lord had previously promised the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 20:1, “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”
Although this is undoubtedly one bloodiest and violent of the battles of the entire conquest, all we are told is “the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel” and “they attacked them unto they left none of them remaining” (v. 8).