Joshua 10. 28-43: Battles - pt 2
January 16, 2011 Series: Joshua: Lord's Army
Topic: Old Testament Passage: Joshua 10:28–10:43
Introduction – Dealing with the Kings
This is one of those sermons where you wonder what the Holy Spirit could possibly pull from this text. But then He shows up, which is what he does every week for me and proves that God doesn’t waste a word. In case your tempted to tune out and dismiss passage, know that back half of Joshua 10 is snarfing ridiculous. That means good.
By way of review, last week we read how Joshua fulfilled his promise to a people who deceived him into giving it. Since Joshua was more concerned with upholding God’s reputation more than his own, he humbly goes all out in fulfilling his “illegal” treaty with a confederate of cities led by Gibeon. And because God’s man proved himself willing, God proved Himself faithful. The first half of Joshua 10 describes the unbelievable battle against the five Kings listed in verse 5, namely, the Kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon. Having won, Joshua brings the leaders of Israel forward, instructs them to set there feet on the heads of these defeated kings ALL pointing toward the day when Jesus would “CRUSH THE HEAD OF SATAN”—which he did on the cross.
The execution of these kings ends the first real battle in the southern campaign and the last battle that is detailed for the rest of the book. The second half of Joshua 10 summarizes the capturing of the people and the cities of those five kings. The kings are dead but, according to Joshua 10.20-21, their people are sitting in fortified cities, silent, and hopeful that Joshua will just go away, and leave them and their Canaanite friends. Joshua can’t do that as it would be disobeying God. Silence does not mean sin is conquered.
I have said from the beginning, this book of Joshua is not about WAR for land, as much as it is a war over the purity of worship. For us, the book of Joshua is a picture of our sanctification and if it had a cool title today it would be SIN NEVER SLEEPS. If Joshua leaves not only will he be disobedient, he will leave the door cracked for idolatry to slowly, but powerfully, creep back into the land. Joshua has much to do.
Joshua 10.28-39 Conquest of Southern Canaan
28 As for Makkedah, Joshua captured it on that day and struck it, and its king, with the edge of the sword. He devoted to destruction every person in it; he left none remaining. And he did to the king of Makkedah just as he had done to the king of Jericho.
29 Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Makkedah to Libnah and fought against Libnah. 30 And the Lord gave it also and its king into the hand of Israel. And he struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left none remaining in it. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.
31 Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Libnah to Lachish and laid siege to it and fought against it. 32 And the Lord gave Lachish into the hand of Israel, and he captured it on the second day and struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it, as he had done to Libnah.
33 Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish. And Joshua struck him and his people, until he left none remaining.
34 Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Lachish to Eglon. And they laid siege to it and fought against it. 35 And they captured it on that day, and struck it with the edge of the sword. And he devoted every person in it to destruction that day, as he had done to Lachish.
36 Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron. And they fought against it 37 and captured it and struck it with the edge of the sword, and its king and its towns, and every person in it. He left none remaining, as he had done to Eglon, and devoted it to destruction and every person in it.
38 Then Joshua and all Israel with him turned back to Debir and fought against it 39 and he captured it with its king and all its towns. And they struck them with the edge of the sword and devoted to destruction every person in it; he left none remaining. Just as he had done to Hebron and to Libnah and its king, so he did to Debir and to its king.
V. 28-32 7 Kings, Cities, and their People
7 Different Kinds of Battles
And in what reads like an effortless campaign, seven different cities are conquered. Every battle is not detailed so these cities probably represent a conquest over the entire Southern region. Each battle is fought successively, each battle is fought uniquely, and each battle is fought victoriously.
1. STRATEGIC: Joshua and Israel fight each battle as it comes. A MAP of the Southern campaign reveals a geographic pattern to Joshua’s conquests. In other words, Joshua is strategic and intentional in his fighting—not reactionary and random like many of our own spiritual “battle plans.” They plan, fight, and win, one battle at a time. They do not fight two at once, they are not distracted by looking ahead to the next city; they concentrate on the battle that is before them. Do know what your major battle is right now? What smaller fights are you ignoring right in front of you to attack what you view as the larger more “spiritual” ones? What smaller battles are you fighting that you should be ignoring because you don’t want to fight the bigger more important ones in front of you?
2. UNIQUE: Each battle is described just a little bit differently. There are various combinations of fighting, besieging, and capturing. In one battle Joshua strikes with a sword, in another all of Israel captures, one battle requires fighting (warring)for an indefinite time, another is besieged and taken on the second day, and still another has a city taken in one day. Every battle against God’s enemies is different, just as our battles against sin are different. Each battle, therefore, requires a unique strategy. In Christ, we can conquer all sin; but we are not all going to conquer sin in the same way. What works for you may work for me, it may not. The goal is simply to find what works for new ways sin attacks us. We fight differently, but we all fight.
3. VICTORIOUS: Each battle is strategic, each battle is unique, and each battle is finished. In other words, they do not stop fighting until they are either dead or victorious. They don’t quit if the battle doesn’t go as well a previous one, even if results aren’t immediate. They stay in the battle for as long as it takes—THEY STAY IN THE BATTLE FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES. Surrender is not an option. The battles are fought until it is won or until they are dead. This vigilance reminded me of Winston Churchill’s famous speech 1941 where in speaking about his resolve said, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
Effort in Obedience turns into effortless obedience
The less you give in, or better yet, the more you stand firm, the easier it is. Battle upon battle, Israel defeats every King, every people, every city, and devotes everything that breathes to God, by God’s power. And in this case, God fights for them as they are obedient. Each battle builds on the next one, as does their readiness to obey. Does God only fight for those who are obedient? No. In fact, Jesus only saves sinful people. Jesus fought and died for me knowing I was a disobedient idolator. But He made me alive, he adopted me, he gave me a new mind, a new heart, with new desires to be an obedient worshipper. Worshippers obey or they are not worshipping. In verse 25, Joshua said to His men, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” When they fight God will destroy enemies. Israel’s progressive success here seems to demonstrate that effort in obedience can turn into effortless obedience. . It is the same that long-term physical training has on the body’s ability to endure longer and more consistently. Reading the Bible turns into full on immersion. Praying for a few minutes turns into long conversations with the Lord. Gathering at the church turns into being a part of the church. And for Israel, it is clear with their consecutive victories, OBEDIENCE to what God commands makes following His commands easier.
In other words, the fact that the King of Jerusalem worked with five other kings to attack Gibeon was not the primary reason to battle—they did not fight out of obligation to men. Though they did defend Gibeon, their intent was to possess the land as God had commanded in the beginning. Their plans may have been expedited, but their goal had always been the same, to establish and preserve purity of worship in the land. If Exodus is a picture of our redemption, Joshua is a picture of sanctification—the lifelong process of loving Jesus more and sin less. God’s goal for us is to establish and preserve the purity of worship in our hearts. This begins with Jesus saving us and continues with Jesus changing us. Sometimes we pick the battles, but sometimes God brings them to us because we’d never pick them otherwise. SANCTIFICATION IS VERY INCONVENIENT SOMETIMES. Sanctification is the process of God showing us where He is not truly LORD, the places where we are weak, the things that satisfy us more than He does. As much as we want to plan our own sanctification, to preemptively strike all of our enemies, there are some battles that come to us. Though they may surprise us, they do not surprise God, it is stated will in 1Thessalonians 4.3-5: 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;
Though we are justified by Jesus work once, we are continually sanctified. In other words, as long as we are alive, we will hate as we shouldn’t and not love as we should. Until we die, we will be at war with sin that cannot ultimately condemn us, but will continue to plague us.
v. 33 An Unfinished Battle at Gezer
One “Little” City
The question is, how are we to fight that war? On that note, verse 33 is interesting. In the middle of this list of battles is a city named Gezer, just West of Gibeon. Apparently, the King of Gezer decided to help Lachish. And though there is an account of the defeat of the King and his army, there is not ever an account of Israel taking the city. 33 Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish. And Joshua struck him and his people, until he left none remaining. So though their battle was successful against the King, they chose not to capture some cities completely. Perhaps they felt Gezer wasn’t a threat or that it was “basically” defeated. This report matches what we later read in Joshua 16.10, as well as Judges 1.29, where the city of Gezer is identified as a place where the Israelites failed to dislodge the Canaanites. There are no little sin or insignificant compromises. We need not and cannot be perfect in ourselves, but must be vigilant in pursuing Christ’s perfection—even the smallest sins have consequences. Though we might not start well, we must finish well. Sin never takes a vacation, but it certainly follows it on ours. Proverbs 6.10-11 says, A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.
Take the City
This should not lead us to despair but to hold on to the cross that much more tightly. We’ve heard it say be careful to pick your battles. Though that might be true with some things, it is never true with sin. If sin is present, it must be fought against until it is destroyed, until the “sin city”, the stronghold, is conquered and submitted to the Lordship of Jesus. When cities are allowed to get established, they have influence. They preach a way, a truth, and a life that is contrary. 2Corinthians 10.3-6 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. This is a less a spiritual battle that has fleshly implications.
v. 40-42 Joshua captured, The LORD God fought
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. 43 Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.
In conclusion, as we see what victory in this Southern part of Canaan required, we must also see what victory over sin will require in our own life.
v. 41 Victory takes Discipline
Verse 42 says that Joshua defeated all of these kings and their land at one time. The immediate implication seems to be one campaign lasting maybe a few days. Earlier, however, in Exodus 23.27-30 God had told Moses about how long the battle would take. He said: 27 I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28 And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. 29 I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land. In other words, this didn’t happen in one day, one campaign, one week, or even one year. These battles, as with most, took years. That is SANCTIFICATION. The truth is, just because we choose to start fighting doesn’t mean we don’t get our nose broken and our butts bruised for a while. You do not become a skilled fighter, athlete, or farmer overnight. And even if obedience becomes easier, that doesn’t mean the battles do. Each fight is hard, each race difficult, each crop tiring.
v. 42 Victory takes God at the Center
And though I have said this before, I will say it again. It does matter how we fight. Verse 42 also says that Joshua captured, but the Lord God fought. Without the gospel at the center, victory is short-lived and really not victory at all. We have to do more than just NOT sin. That is why there is a crucifixion and a resurrection, a death and a new life. The fight for sanctification takes place on two biblical battle fronts - fleeing from the lies of sin that so easily entangle, and fighting to believe in and be satisfied with the promises of God’s truth. But victorious repentance, both victoriously resisting idolatry or victoriously worshipping, is only possible through trust in God to fight as you follow. You are a bad fighter. If you, and not Jesus, is at the center of your fight, then you will begin to fight the wrong battles or the right battles apart from Him—both for your own righteousness. We must come to the place where we believe that though we can fight, we cannot have victory over any sin apart from Christ.
V. 43 Victory takes Community
Finally, I will close with a focus on the last verse where it says, “ALL ISRAEL” returned with Joshua. If ALL Israel returned that means that ALL Israel battled the entire time together. We are not Rambos. We were built to fight as soldiers in a platoon together, not as lone mercenaries in a one-man army. God has called us as Jesus’ church to soldier with each other. Gospel community is a means of grace and at the very heart of God’s character. Hebrews 10.23-25 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
1Thessalonians 5. 4-114 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
Romans 13.11-14 11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Ephesians 5.15-2115 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.